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Basic Qualifications – You must be at least 16 years of age to solo an aircraft with a student pilot certificate and 17 years of age to obtain your private pilots license. You must be able to fluently read, speak and understand English and obtain a third-class medical certificate. Note: Although a student pilot must be 16 before flying solo with a student pilot certificate, and 17 to obtain a license, it is not uncommon for students begin flying lessons as early as 14 years of age.
Knowledge Requirements – You must pass a proctored written exam at an approved testing center that demonstrates your understanding of a variety of topics such as airspace, airport operations, navigation, and weather.
Flight Training Requirements – You must complete a minimum 40 hours flight time with an instructor and also solo flight time. These lessons cover flight maneuvers, navigation, basic instrument operations and night flight.
Proficiency Requirements – You must demonstrate safe and proficient skills while performing a number of flight maneuvers with an FAA pilot examiner. The FAA requires you to pass a comprehensive practical exam that includes a verbal exam and flight exam prior to awarding you a private pilot certificate.
Students are not allowed to carry passengers on solo flights. However, a passenger may observe a flight lesson with the approval of a flight instructor. Once a private pilot certificate is earned this will allow you to fly and carry passengers in good weather conditions. A private pilot may not pay less than their share of the flight. i.e. If a pilot takes 2 passengers, they may not pay less than 1/3 of the flight.
Flight training is divided into 3 stages. Typically, a student will solo at the completion of stage 1. The flight instructor will monitor progress and continually give more responsibilities to the student as their flight training progresses. When the student is proficient in preflight and ground operations, specific aerial maneuvers, takeoffs and landings, and conducts the flight with little to no help with the instructor, it is time for solo!
Your first solo typically includes three take-offs and landings, and generally occurs within the first 25 hours of training.
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