Flight Training FAQ
Here are some of the most-asked questions about our programs.
Learning to fly is not difficult, but it does require study, practice, and commitment. The Federal Aviation Administration has a series of regulations that spell out the requirements for different ratings and aircraft. In short, you will follow a very specific series of steps when you learn to fly. For example, you must master some basic aeronautical knowledge as well as achieve a certain level of flight proficiency before you can fly alone in an aircraft or in less than ideal weather conditions. Finally, if your goal is to become a professional pilot, you’ll be required to amass training hours in aircraft.
But before that, you must meet the following basic FAA criteria:
- Be at least 16 years old (14 years old for operating a glider or balloon).
- Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
- Hold at least a third-class medical certificate from an aviation medical examiner (AME), who is an FAA-approved doctor. If you have physical limitations that make it difficult for you to meet the medical requirements, the FAA may place operating limitations on your pilot certificate to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft. Our team members at JA Flight Services are available to assist members in getting their medicals or obtaining waivers.
To earn a private pilot certificate, FAR Part 61 and/or FAR Part 141 detail the information you must learn and requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight training: 20 with an instructor and 20 solo. Few people complete their training in the minimum amount of time; most take 60 to 80 hours. If you learn to fly at a flight school that is governed by Part 141 of the FARs, the minimum is 35 instead of the 40 just mentioned, but most students take 50 to 60 hours in a Part 141 program. At JA Flight Training, students can train under either FAA program.
Whether you train at a flight school under Part 141 or Part 61, you’ll learn the same things and take the same FAA tests. The real difference is the fact that Part 141 schools must use a structured curriculum that teaches skills in a specific order. This ensures effective, efficient use of your training time. Part 61 schools are not bound to a structured curriculum; they can rearrange the order in which you learn things to suit your schedule, which benefits those who can fly only on weekends and evenings. As mentioned above, at JA Flight Training, students can train under either FAA program and train as part 61 or part 141 students depending on your particular circumstances.
Although most lessons are based on a one to two-hour flight, they usually take between three or four hours from start to finish because there are pre- and post-flight discussions in which you and your certificated flight instructor (CFI) talk about what you’re going to do during your flight, how you performed, what you did well, what needs work, and what you’ll do in your next lesson.
Student pilots cannot carry passengers when flying solo. Friends or family may ride along on dual lessons (when the instructor is in the airplane), with flight school and instructor approval.
Remember, you are going to be flying around thousands of feet off the ground at a high rate of speed with yourself and maybe your loved ones on board, right? You can’t be too thorough when picking a flight training program. Search the internet for aviation schools in your area, then call and visit them. Look around and have an instructor or school management personnel explain the school’s training program in detail, and what a typical lesson is like. Above all, be sure to ask a lot of questions. Questions like “Flight School vs College: Which One is Right for You?” Ask students how they feel about their training experiences as well. Lastly, take a good look at the school’s training equipment. Is it well maintained, state of the art, or old and not so well maintained? Then, choose the school that made you feel the most confident in their ability to deliver on the promises made in your meetings and facility tour.
Flight training is divided into two parts: ground school and flight training. Ground school teaches you the principles, procedures, and regulations you will put into practice in an aircraft, such as how to navigate from one airport to another. Before you can earn a pilot certificate, you must pass the FAA written knowledge test on this information. You have several ground school options, including a scheduled classroom course from a flight school, weekend ground schools, or FAA-approved home-study courses. We offer all of these options at JA Flight Training.
You’ll be flying in your first lesson, with your certified flight instructor’s help, of course. With each successive lesson, your CFI will be helping less and less, until you won’t need any help at all. When you reach this point, you will make your first solo flight, an important milestone in every pilot’s training, in which you will fly as the sole occupant of the airplane. After you solo, you and your CFI will work on such things as flying cross-country trips to other airports.
If you are pursuing a private, instrument, or multi-engine certificate with our team ,you will most likely learn to fly in a two- or four-seat airplane with one engine and fixed landing gear. Most training airplanes carry two to four hours of aviation fuel and fly about 100 mph.
The options are endless! Take local sightseeing flights with friends and family, travel farther for business or recreation. Test your mettle (and your stomach) learning to fly aerobatics for fun or competition. Build and fly your own aircraft or restore and fly antique/classic aircraft. Join a flying club to connect with other aviation enthusiasts. You can also support a growing number of flight organizations that support humanitarian causes, such disaster relief or transportation for non-critical medical treatment. Explore more of what you can do with your private pilot license.
If you want to fly professionally, JA Flight Training has one of the finest programs in the country to help get the training and flight time you’ll need to fly the “heavy metal”. Whatever your goals, we can help get you there safely and efficiently.