L3Harris Flight Academy

How to Become a Private Pilot in the U.S.

Ever wanted to pursue a career in aviation? Or dreamed of being able to fly a plane, just for fun? Becoming a private pilot is one of the most sought-after aviation qualifications. For some, it acts as a route into an aviation career, and for others, becoming a private pilot creates a new hobby or new way to travel.

Whether you are looking to kickstart your career or challenge yourself to learn a new skill, you might be wondering, what do you need to become a private pilot? Our world-class PPL training program will provide all the theoretical knowledge and flying experience you need to complete your FAA practical exam and become a private pilot.

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Private Pilot License Course Overview

The quickest way to become a private pilot is to complete our PPL course which helps cadets obtain their Private Pilot License (PPL), qualifying them to fly an aircraft for private or personal purposes, day or night. Private pilots are trained to navigate small aircraft by themselves, and in essential emergency procedures, aircraft maneuvers, cross-country flying and navigation.

Cadets will be based at our Florida Flight School; equipped with one of the largest aircraft fleets in the state including:

  • Over 100 single and multi-engine aircraft
  • 5 different advanced FTDs (Flight Training Devices)
  • State of the art facilities such as:
    • High-intensity runway lighting
    • AWOS weather reporting system
    • FAA control tower
    • Pre and post-flight briefing areas
    • A dispatch center

Find out more about what learning to become a private pilot at our Orlando Flight School is like by watching our video.

Before you can apply for our PPL training program, there are several steps you need to take. To support you with preparing to become a private pilot in the US, we have outlined the stages you will need to go through.

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Stage 1: Take a Trial Flight

Undertaking any form of aviation training is a large personal and financial investment, whether you are completing a PPL to become a private pilot or an Accelerated Airline Pilot Track to become a commercial pilot. If you have never had the chance to fly a plane before then booking a trial flight is a great way to see if pursuing a Private Pilot License and training to become a private pilot is right for you.

During a trial flight a Certified Flight Instructor can explain what is involved in becoming a private pilot and give you a flavor of life in the air.

Book a Discovery Flight

Stage 2: Check Your Eligibility

To start your journey towards becoming a private pilot you will need to meet eligibility criteria.

Minimum admission requirements for training to become a private pilot are as follows.

  • At least 17 years old in order to receive your Private Pilot Certificate
  • Proficient in reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English
  • Able to obtain an FAA medical certificate

To learn more about additional requirements for becoming a private pilot, and to ask any questions you have about our eligibility criteria, contact admissions or request information today.

How to apply

Stage 3: Obtain Your Medical Certificate

Alongside meeting the necessary eligibility criteria, every cadet looking to become a private pilot will need to obtain a Third-Class FAA-Approved Medical Certificate in order to fly in an aircraft unaccompanied.

This medical certificate is a requirement to help ensure the safety of all pilots while up in the air during their PPL training.

Obtaining your medical certificate is similar to a routine physical check-up, with a greater focus on mental and neurological health as well as vision and hearing.

All third-class medical certificates are valid for 5 years for individuals under 40 years old, and 2 years for those over 40.

If you are planning on applying to continue your aviation career after becoming a private pilot, you may need to meet other requirements. Learn more about the qualifications and certificates needed to become a pilot in the U.S.

Qualifications to become a pilot

Stage 4: Research PPL Flight Schools

Finding the right school for you to complete your private pilot training is important.

At the L3Harris Flight School, you will have everything you need to become a successful private pilot. Cadets have the opportunity to train in our Flight Training Devices and have access to one of the largest aircraft fleets in the state. With over 300 days of excellent flying weather each year thanks to our location in sunny central Florida, our cadets have more time to fly than anywhere else, meaning there is no better place to complete private pilot training.

We make every effort to ensure all our students receive the best quality private pilot training in state-of-the art facilities.

Our Flight School

Stage 5: Complete Ground School Training

When thinking about what you need to become a private pilot, there are two types of essential training that will prepare you. Every student training to become a private pilot will need to attend both ground school and flight school training.

Ground school takes place in a traditional classroom setting and is designed to introduce cadets to the theoretical concepts of flying and aviation. The key concepts of aviation covered by ground school include topics such as:

  • Federal Aviation Regulations
  • Radio communication protocols
  • Aerodynamics and other concepts

When completing ground school, cadets will need to take the FAA Written Pilot Exam in order to progress with becoming a private pilot. Once this exam has been completed, cadets will be ready for their FAA Practical Exam to gain their Private Pilot License.

Programs and Courses

Stage 6: Complete Flight School Training

The next step towards earning your Private Pilot License is to complete flight school training, and importantly, learn how to fly an aircraft.

One of the most integral parts of preparing to become a pilot, flight school training encompasses all of the procedures before, during and after a flight including:

  • Flight preparations
  • Navigation
  • Emergency protocols
  • Take-off and landing procedures

PPL students will be trained in one of our 5 FTDs and in our fleet of approx 100 single and multi-engine aircraft to prepare for life in the air.

Programs and Courses

Stage 7: Complete your FAA practical exam

Your practical exam, also often called a ‘Checkride’ is the final requirement for obtaining your Private Pilot License and becoming a private pilot.

In order to complete your ‘Checkride’ and become a private pilot in the U.S., students will also need to have completed:

  • 20 hours of flight time with an Instructor
  • 10 hours of solo flight time
  • 5 hours of solo cross country flying and one cross-country flight of over 150 nautical miles with landings at 3 different airports
  • 3 hours of night flying
  • 10 take-offs
  • 3 hours of basic instrument training
  • Gain an Instructor endorsement

The practical exam is designed to test your theoretical and practical knowledge of aircraft and flying. Cadets will take two 1.5 hour exams, one flight exam and one oral exam, each conducted by an FAA approved inspector.

Upon passing the FAA practical exam, you will be a certified private pilot!

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What’s Next After Becoming a Private Pilot?

Once you have obtained your Private Pilot License you may find that you have discovered a love for flying and want to undertake further training.

After becoming a private pilot, cadets can add ratings to their certification to build up their flying qualifications, such as an Instrument Rating for flying at night or in adverse weather.

Some private pilots also go on to a career in commercial aviation and undertake a commercial pilot training program to build up the qualifications and experience needed for a commercial career.

Take a look at our extensive range of individual pilot training courses and learn what could come next for you after becoming a private pilot.

Whether you decide to build on your qualifications after obtaining your PPL or simply use your license for recreational flying, becoming a private pilot opens a whole host of opportunities and experiences.

If you have any questions about becoming a private pilot in the US, check out our Private Pilot License course or get in touch with us today.

Career prospects

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