Private Pilot Requirements

Private Pilot Certificate (Airplane Single Engine Land)

The traditional private pilot certificate is the most prevalent and well known pilot rating. This certificate allows you to fly light, single engine aircraft anywhere in the United States and even into Canada and Mexico. With some additional training you will be able to fly high performance and twin engine aircraft, and fly in limited visibility conditions. The private pilot training is broken down into four main stages as outlined below.

Stage I – Pre Solo

This stage will introduce you to aviation in general. Before you begin flying, your instructor will introduce you to the aircraft and show you how the various flight controls work and how they affect the aerodynamics of the airplane. You will learn how to conduct a preflight inspection before each flight. Once in the air, you will be introduced to slow flight, steep banked turns, emergency procedures, and takeoff and landings.

Stage II – Solo

After you demonstrate basic competence in the airplane and you feel comfortable, it’s time for you to take the airplane on a few flights by yourself. In the air, you will review the maneuvers you have practiced with your instructor and practice your takeoff and landings.

Stage III – Cross Country

During this stage you will be introduced to planning and flying cross country flights (more than 50 nautical miles). You will learn how to plan aircraft fuel burn, compensate for winds aloft, examine weather patterns, navigate, and talk to air traffic control. The cross country routes can be individually tailored so if there is a certain destination you want to visit let your instructor know.

Stage IV – Checkride

The end of your training will consist of preparation for your practical test. You will work with your instructor on all of the required ground knowledge items and flight maneuvers until you can meet the standards of the practical test. The practical test is taken with an FAA designated examiner and will consist of an oral exam and a flight test. Your instructor will insure that you are completely prepared not only to pass the checkride but that you are an overall safe and competent pilot. Once you pass your checkride, you will receive your airman’s certificate and you will be a fully certified private pilot.

FAA Requirements

To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must:

  • Be at least 17 years of age. (You only have to be 16 to solo the airplane.)
  • Obtain at least a third class FAA medical certificate. We have a doctor in Hannibal that can complete this for you.

FAA Requirements Continued…

  • Pass a 60 multiple choice exam covering aeronautical knowledge items such as weather, aircraft performance, airspace, weight and balance and navigation. Your instructor will show you how to prepare for this test.
  • Receive the required flight training and a logbook endorsement from your instructor, certifying that you have met the requirements of the private pilot rating. This required flight training is explained below.

Aeronautical Experience

  • At least 40 hours of total flight time that includes:
    • At least 20 hours of dual flight training from an authorized instructor
    • At least 10 hours of solo flight training
  • Dual flight training must include:
    • 3 hours of cross country flight training
    • 3 hours of night flight training
    • One night cross country flight of over 100 nautical miles total distance
    • night takeoff and landings
    • 3 hours of flight training on the control and maneuvering of the airplane by reference to instruments only
    • 3 hours of flight training in preparation for the practical test
  • Solo flight training must include:
    • 5 hours of solo cross country time
    • One solo cross country flight of at least 150 nautical miles total distance with full stop landings at three points
    • Three takeoff and three landings at an airport with an operating control tower

Completion Time

The completion time of the private pilot certificate will vary based on scheduling, weather, and competency level of the student. More frequent training will result a better skill retention level and a faster completion time. Therefore, students training 1-2 times per week should expect 3-6 months to complete the requirements, whereas students training 3-4 times per week can expect 4-6 weeks to complete training.

Estimated Cost

Course Books (Gleim Private Pilot Kit)$162.85
55 Hours Aircraft Rental (Cessna 172 @ 105/hour)$5775.00
35 Hours Dual Instruction$1050.00
Flight Physical$127.00
Private Pilot Knowledge Test$100.00
FAA Private Pilot Practical Test (Test Fee and Aircraft Rental)$355.00
Optional Additional Pilot Supplies$100.00
Total Approximate Cost$7669.85

* Note: The above estimated costs are based on a historical average of 55 hours of flight time needed to be prepared for the practical test. The current national average for a private pilot certificate is 70 hours of flight time. Additionally these prices are subject to change.

*Instructors are $40 an hour

Additional Information

The following websites contain a wealth of additional information that you may find helpful:

We would be more than happy to answer any additional questions you may have.  Feel free to contact us anytime at the phone number listed above.