The idea probably started thousands of years ago, when our ancestors first looked up to watch the birds. What would it be like to fly? It was only in the last 100 years that man actually conquered powered flight, and what an achievement! Today, getting a pilot’s license is more thrilling than ever before.

With a pilot's license, you will achieve a previously unknown freedom and a new perspective on the world below. You can soar the skies with friends and family to new destinations–ones you may not have considered visiting by car. Vacations, weekend trips, and perhaps even your work commute will take on a whole new meaning. Rental aircraft are readily available at most airports, and you may even decide to buy your own aircraft!


Private Pilot – With this license, you can fly single-engine planes under VFR (visual flight rules) conditions, day or night, with passengers. Typical cost $6000-8000. You can later add ratings for instrument, multi-engine, and more.

Recreational Pilot – This license limits the pilot to single-engine aircraft with four or fewer seats, one passenger, and a flying distance of 50 miles from the training airport. Typical cost $4000. Time logged training for a Recreational Pilot license can later be applied to a Private Pilot license.

Sport Pilot – This recently-created category makes flying more accessible with fewer requirements at less expense. Sport pilots fly in designated light sport aircraft during the day, and can take a passenger. No medical certificate is required. Typical cost $2800-3500. Time logged training for a Sport Pilot license can later be applied to a Private Pilot license.

Regardless of which license you train for, various financial aid and scholarship programs are available. Since students typically pay for the aircraft and the instructor by the hour, expenses can be reduced by flying as often as possible. The more frequently you fly, the more quickly you’ll learn and get your license.

Groundschool programs are available at many local flight schools and colleges. There are also online, CD and DVD tutorials. Topics covered include aerodynamics, rules and regulations and navigation. At the end of ground training, students take a 60–question multiple-choice written test. A passing score of 70% or better is required.


When you’re ready, your instructor will recommend you for a check ride, or practical test. A representative from the FAA will evaluate your flying abilities through an oral exam followed by an hour in the air. Upon successful completion of your practical test, you will become a pilot!


You’ll pilot a plane! During dual flight, an instructor will be in the aircraft with you. Your skills will progress from taxiing the airplane to mastering landings. Once the instructor feels you are ready to fly alone for the first time, you will solo. Ask any pilot–this is a flight you will never forget! Although the initial solo is usually limited to a few takeoffs and landings, the flight represents the first time you will function as pilot–in–command.

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Copyright 2006 Werner Publishing Corp.