Because flying is fun.
Don’t you just love it when dreams come true? Growing up, many of us fantasized about one day taking to the skies, but sadly for many people, this dream is never realized.
The main reason is that most people don’t know how simple it is to become a pilot. Getting a private pilot license (PPL) is the first step to becoming a commercial pilot. However, for many people who learn to fly, the PPL is sufficient.
Why? Because flying is fun, with or without the payment.
Whether you want to graduate to become an airline pilot or would simply love to cruise at high altitudes, here is what you need to get your PPL.
1. Meet the eligibility requirements
When people think of pilots, they imagine the kids who topped physics and math at school. Fortunately, there are only three main requirements needed before you can enroll in flight school and none of them is academic.
The first requirement is that you must be 16 years old (17 in some countries), the second is to pass a third-class aviation medical exam and third, you need to be proficient in written and spoken English.
If you can read this post and have graduated from high school, then you only have the medical exam to take care of. The aviation medical examiner will check your eyesight, cardio and your mental and neurological health, to ensure you are fit to fly.
Once you are through with the test, which costs between $75-$150, you are permitted to fly solo, but not just yet…
2. Go to flight school
The next step is to register with a flight school. There are many options to choose from. You can pursue it as part of an aviation degree or just on its own. The aviation school will check if you meet the requirements and will in most cases be able to refer you to an aviation medical examiner.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a flight school such as location, length of the course, cost, and planes available.
If you are getting your PPL as part of your university degree or en route to a commercial pilot license, then you may be enrolled full time and be required to work on other things as you learn to fly.
For most people who just want to fly for the fun of it, the length of the course does not really matter, as they plan attendance around their jobs or other activities. So, this could take up to two years.
If you want to get it done quickly, there are schools with intensive courses that can get you certified in 2-4 weeks.
3. Take the written exam
Depending on the aviation school you attend, you may be required to write an exam before you are allowed to start flying. Other schools will allow you to take the exam after you have begun flying, while others may even let you do it at the end.
Whatever the case may be, having the practical experience will not prevent you from doing the theory exam. In fact, you cannot get a license without it.
It is also beneficial to attend the lectures and write the theory exam early on, as it will make flying easier. You will learn about meteorology, the laws of aerodynamics, aviation regulation, navigation, safety procedures and so much more.
4. Flight training and practical exam
This is when the excitement begins. Flight training involves dual flights with your instructor (at least 20 hours) and solo flights (15 hours). You will get to fly short distances and cross country with and without someone else co-piloting with you.
Learning how to fly involves learning how to plan your trips, communicate with air traffic control, check the weather and handle uncertainties. This is when you get to find out if flying suits you or not.
But if you do make it through practical training and you still want your PPL, then you need to take the practical exam. Before the final exam, you are required to clock at least 45 hours of flight time.
Once that is done, you become a licensed private pilot.
What to do after obtaining your PPL
Learning to fly is a very rewarding experience. It can be challenging, and most students need more than the required time to get licensed. But it is worth it! It is also a remarkably straightforward process to learning a highly-coveted skill very few people can boast of.
Having completed your training, you are free to fly a single-engine aircraft anywhere in the world. You are allowed to take a couple of passengers with you or light cargo, but never for commercial purposes.
Whether you decide to stick with PPL or you move on to a commercial license, you will undoubtedly enjoy the satisfaction of finally achieving one of your life-long goals.