Your Flying Lessons
What will your flying lessons consist of and look like?
The process of learning to fly and your flying lessons are divided into three phases;
In the first phase of flying lessons you will learn about:
• Aerodynamics - how the airplane flys
• Flight controls - how the flight controls work and how they
move the airplane around on the ground and in the air
• Maneuvers - you will learn specific flight maneuvers
• Instruments, checklist, communication, airspace, weather,
weight and balance, performance, and safety.
During each 3 hour flying lesson we will first discuss that day's lesson as it directly applies to flying the airplane. Then we take to the sky where you take the controls and apply what you've learned. We will practice turns, climbing and descending, and take-offs and landings. After we fly for an hour or so, we'll land and debrief.
When you have learned how to safely fly the airplane and feel comfortable, you'll be ready to solo - fly the airplane completely by yourself.
The second phase of flying lessons is all about leaving your local airport and flying to other airports. Together we will take several short flights to nearby airports to prepare you for your first solo cross country flight - a solo flight to an airport more than 50 miles away.
You will also learn advanced takeoff and landing techniques such as landing or taking off from a short runway or a grass strip.
In this phase of flying lessons you will perfect your skills and fly several solo cross country flights to various airports:
• Cross country airports such as Modesto, Salinas, and
Santa Rosa, etc.
• We will also do some night and instrument flight.
• We will then review everything you have learned to prepare
you for your final checkride.
Your flying lessons are complete and you are now ready to take your checkride with an FAA Designated Examiner to earn your Private Pilots Certificate. The checkride is typically four hours and consists of discussion about regulations and everything you have learned. You will then go out and fly to demonstrate your skills.
You pass...and you are now a Private Pilot...Congratulations!!! A whole new world of opportunity will open up to you.
Imagine flying to Tahoe for the weekend and being there in 90 minutes from the Bay Area. How about San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara for lunch? Even Oregon or the LA basin are within 2-3 hours by small airplane. Whether you are 10 or 90 years young, it might be just the right time to take Flying Lessons.
If all this sounds great, how about trying an Introductory Flight with me today!
Learn more about Flying Lessons at Sky Blog
What to Expect From Flight Training
Everyone starts out as a student, so don't be afraid to ask lots of
questions. As your flight instructor, I am here to guide you through the process to achieve your goals and dreams of flying.
Student Pilot Requirements
You can start taking flying lessons at any time, as long as you can reach the rudder pedals and see out of the airplane.
After you have trained for a while with your flight instructor, you will be ready to fly the airplane by yourself, or "solo". To do this you will need to be at least 16 years old and pass a 3rd Class medical exam given by an FAA designated doctor or an Aviation Medical Examiner, or AME. You will also have to pass a pre-solo knowledge exam and get an endorsement from your flight instructor. Then you can fly in the local area by yourself.
What's required to get a pilot's license?
You must be 17 years of age, and be able to read, write, and speak English fluently. The FAA requirements are 40 hours of actual flight training, but the national average is around 65-75 hours, or more.
20 hours of dual flight instruction to include:
• 3 hours of cross-country flight to airports more than 50
• 3 hours of instrument training
• 3 hours of night flight including a 100 nautical mile round
trip and 10 night takeoffs and landings
• 3 hours of flight instruction within 60 days prior to your
10 hours of solo flight including:
• 5 hours of cross-country flight including a 150 mile trip
• 3 takeoffs and landings at an airport with a control tower
You must also pass the private pilot knowledge test with a score
of 70% or better. Laser Grade Testing is available at Palo Alto Airport.
Then comes the practical test with an FAA-Designated Examiner.
This will include both an oral exam and a flight test. The
Practical Test Standards (PTS) gives all of the requirements.
Flight School or Flying Club?
Traditionally, the way to learn to fly was to go to a Flight School. In recent years, there seem to be more Flying Clubs emerging than Flight Schools. Most of the operations in the Bay Area are Flying Clubs.
A flight school has an owner and is usually run according to only what that owner wants.
Typically, in a flying club, the airplanes are individually owned and put on leaseback with the club to help cover some of the costs of the airplane owner. The airplane owners set the prices for their own airplanes and can make them as competitive as they want for the renters. The Flight Instructors are all independent contractors and thus have more flexibility to meet the needs of the clients.
The progressive format of this type of Flying Club benefits the airplane owners, the flight instructors, and most importantly, the renters/clients.
Ground School or DVD Course?
Included in your training will be some type of Ground School. This could be a formal ground school, usually once per week at one of the Flying Clubs, or you could purchase a DVD course, (such as Sporty's Private Pilot Course), and study on your own. Many find the DVD course very convenient as you can work on your own computer at your leisure.
You will learn all about how the airplane flies, what the flight controls do, how to read the instruments, the weight and balance of the airplane, how the airplane performs, navigation and chart reading, and of course weather. The ground school or DVD course are designed to educate you as well as prepare you for the Written Test.
All of these subjects will be reinforced by your flight instructor and will be taught from a practical sense to fly the airplane.
How much do flying lessons cost, how long does it take?
The ideal schedule would be to take a flying lesson 1-2 times per week. The more often you fly, the quicker your flight training will move along, and usually less hours are needed. If you fly less, it will take longer to learn and retain the material, and will require more hours. If you fly two or three times per week, you may complete everything in 4 - 6 months. If you fly less, it will could take 6 months to a year. But who's in a hurry? The process of learning to fly should be just as enjoyable as actually being a pilot.
If you are shopping prices for flying lessons, be sure to compare apples to apples. Many schools or clubs will quote you a cost based on the minimum 40 hours required by the FAA. This will not likely be realistic, especially in the Bay Area.
You should budget a minimum of $14k - 15k for flight training, depending on what model of airplane you choose to fly, and how often you will be taking flying lessons per week.
A good way to benefit the most from your flying lessons with your flight instructor is to be as prepared as possible. Consider taking a ground school, available at West Valley Flying Club, and/or purchasing and utilizing Sporty's Private Pilot Course concurrently with your flight training.
When you purchase flying lessons, you will then need to join a club for aircraft rental prior to the first lesson. We can discuss the different clubs/locations to decide which one best fits your needs. See the "Contact" page for clubs/locations. (Not required for the Introductory Flight)