Learn to Fly
7 day IFR Rating
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED
conducted at FSDO's, flight
schools, and among flight instructors have shown that the following
questions are typical of those most frequently asked by the person
interested in becoming a student pilot. If your question is not
answered, we suggest that you contact the nearest FSDO. The FSDO will
be able to furnish current information regarding changes in procedures
or revisions to regulations.
- Q. Is
it difficult to fly an aircraft?
No. It is not particularly difficult. From the beginning you will do
most of the actual flying (handling the controls of the aircraft).
When may I begin to fly?
Immediately. However, you will need to apply for certain certificates,
as described in this guide, in preparation for solo flight.
- Q. Is
there a set number of flight instructional hours I will receive before
No. The instructor will not allow you to solo until you have learned to
perform certain maneuvers. These maneuvers include safe takeoffs and
landings. You must be able to maintain positive control of the aircraft
at all times and to use good judgment.
- Q. Is
Well-built and well-maintained aircraft flown by a competent and
prudent pilot make flying as safe or safer than many other forms of
- Q. If
engine failure occurs, what will happen?
Modern aircraft engines are very reliable and complete engine failure
is a rare occurrence. If the improbable does happen, however, you will
not "fall out of the sky." Just do what the instructor had you practice
during lessons; select a good landing area and land.
REQUIREMENTS MEDICAL AND STUDENT PILOT CERTIFICATES
- Q. When
do I need a medical certificate?
You will need a medical certificate prior to solo flight if you are
operating an airplane, helicopter, gyroplane, or airship. Balloon or
glider pilots may write a statement certifying that they have no known
medical defect that would make them unable to pilot a balloon or
glider. It is suggested you obtain your medical certificate prior to
beginning flight training. This will assure you are aware of any
condition which could prevent you from obtaining a medical prior to
making a financial investment in flight training.
- Q. When
do I need a Student Pilot Certificate?
Prior to solo flight.
- Q. If
required, how do I get a medical certificate?
passing a physical examination administered by a doctor who is an
FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner.
- Q. How
do I obtain a Student Pilot Certificate?
your request, a combination medical certificate and Student Pilot
Certificate will be issued by an FAA- authorized aviation medical
examiner upon the satisfactory completion of your physical examination.
Student Pilot Certificates may be issued by an FAA inspector or an
FAA-designated pilot examiner. Applicants who fail to meet certain
requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but
not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest FSDO.
- Q. What
are the requirements for a Student Pilot Certificate?
be eligible for a Student Pilot Certificate, a person must:
- be at
least 16 years of age. If the certificate is limited to the operation
of a glider or balloon, the applicant must be at least 14 years of age;
- be able
to read, speak, and understand the English language;
- hold at
least a current Third-Class Medical Certificate or in the case of a
glider or balloon, certify that he or she has no known medical defect
that would make him or her unable to pilot a glider or balloon.
- Q. Where
do I get my medical certificate?
From any FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner. There are
approximately 6,000 doctors who are FAA-authorized aviation medical
- Q. Where
can I get a list of FAA-authorized aviation medical examiners?
The FAA publishes a directory which lists all FAA-authorized aviation
medical examiners by name and address. Copies of this directory are
available at all FSDO's, air traffic control facilities, and flight
service stations. Airport managers and some aviation operators may also
be able to supply this information.
When required, what class of medical certificate must a student pilot
Third-class, although any class will suffice. Medical certificates are
designated as first-class, second-class, or third-class. Generally, the
first-class is designed for the airline transport pilot; the
second-class for the commercial pilot; and the third-class for the
student, recreational, and private pilot.
- Q. If
I have a physical disability, is there any provision for obtaining a
Yes. Medical certificates can be issued in many cases where physical
disabilities are involved. Depending upon the certificate held and the
nature of the disability, operating limitations may be imposed. If you
have any questions, contact an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner
prior to beginning flight training.
- Q. How
long are my Student Pilot Certificate and my medical certificate valid?
The Student Pilot Certificate and Third-Class Medical Certificate will
expire at the end of the 24th month after the month in which they were
- Q. May
my Student Pilot Certificate be renewed?
No, but a new Student Pilot Certificate may be issued by an:
aviation medical examiner, upon completion of the required examination;
inspector or FAA-designated pilot examiner if you already hold a valid
medical certificate or if you are not required to hold a medical
- Q. If
my original Student Pilot Certificate has been endorsed for solo, do I
lose this endorsement on my new certificate?
The endorsements are still valid, but are not transferred to the new
certificate. Retain the old certificate as a record of these
Should my flight instructor endorse my Student Pilot Certificate before
or after my first solo flight?
The endorsement on the Student Pilot Certificate certifying that the
holder is competent to solo must be made by the flight instructor prior
to the first solo flight.
- Q. If
I solo in more than one make and model aircraft, must I have an
endorsement for each on my Student Pilot Certificate? If so, who should
endorse the certificate?
Yes. A flight instructor must make this endorsement prior to the first
solo flight in each make and model aircraft.
- Q. Does
the endorsement to solo permit me to make solo cross-country flights?
No. The flight instructor must specifically endorse the Student Pilot
Certificate to permit cross-country flights.
Must I carry my Student Pilot Certificate on my person when I am
piloting an aircraft in solo flight?
Must I have my medical certificate or certified statement in my
personal possession when I am piloting an aircraft in solo flight?
- Q. Is
there a charge for the Student Pilot Certificate?
Not when the Student Pilot Certificate is issued by a FSDO. However, an
FAA-designated pilot examiner is allowed to charge a reasonable fee for
issuing Student Pilot Certificates, and executing the necessary
reports. The FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner will charge a fee
for the physical examination in connection with issuing the combination
medical and Student Pilot Certificate.
- Q. Where
can I obtain my ground and flight school training?
Most airport operators can furnish this information, or you may contact
the nearest FSDO.
- Q. What
should I know about the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's) prior to
my first solo?
The flight instructor will determine that you are familiar with
appropriate portions of FAR Part 61 and the general and visual flight
rules of FAR Part 91, and will administer and grade a presolo written
test prior to solo endorsement. The presolo written test will also
include questions on the flight characteristics and operational
limitations of the make and model aircraft to be flown.
What does an appropriate logbook endorsement for solo mean?
means an endorsement by an authorized flight instructor showing that on
the date specified the student was given dual instruction and found
competent to make solo flights.
When is such an endorsement required?
student pilot must have such an endorsement dated within 90 days prior
to any solo flight.
- Q. What
is the difference between a Recreational Pilot and a Private Pilot
The Recreational Pilot Certificate is more restrictive. The holder of a
Recreational Pilot Certificate is only allowed to fly an aircraft
within 50 nautical miles from the airport where instruction was
received and is not allowed to operate in airspace where communications
with air traffic control are required. Since training in these areas
would not be required, a person should be able to obtain a Recreational
Pilot Certificate in fewer flight hours than required for a Private
Pilot Certificate. All privileges and limitations of the Recreational
Pilot Certificate are listed in FAR Section 61.101.
Does a student pilot automatically have the privilege of cross-country
flying alone after soloing?
No. An instructor must have reviewed the pilot's preflight planning and
preparation for solo cross-country flight to determine that the flight
can be made safely under the known circumstances and conditions. The
instructor must also endorse the student pilot's logbook prior to each
cross-country flight stating the pilot is considered competent to make
the flight. Under certain conditions, an instructor may authorize
repeated solo flights over a given route.
- Q. As
a student pilot, am I permitted to carry passengers with me prior to
receipt of my Recreational Pilot or Private Pilot Certificate?
Must I have an FCC radiotelephone operator's permit to operate an
aircraft radio transmitter?
- Q. For
the purpose of obtaining an additional certificate or rating, may the
holder of a Recreational Pilot Certificate act as pilot in command on
flights in excess of:
Yes, provided an authorized flight instructor has given the
recreational pilot the required instruction in these areas and endorsed
the pilot's logbook for each flight. The recreational pilot will be
required to carry the logbook with the required endorsements on such
- the 50
sunset and sunrise; and
airspace which requires communication with air traffic control?
- Q. How
can the holder of a Recreational Pilot Certificate ensure that no
inadvertent entry is made into airspace requiring communication with
air traffic control?
The recreational pilot must select readily identifiable landmarks that
are well beyond the boundaries of the airspace requiring communication
with air traffic control. During training, instruction in
identification of airspace requiring communication with air traffic
control should be provided.
TRAINING MAY BE OBTAINED
Most airports have facilities
for pilot training conducted by flying schools or individual flight
instructors. A school will usually provide a wide variety of training
aids, special facilities, and greater flexibility in scheduling. A
number of colleges and universities also provide pilot training as a
part of their curricula.
There are two
types of schools. One is normally referred to as an "FAA-approved
school" and the other as a "non-approved school." An FAA-approved
school has been granted an Air Agency Certificate by the FAA. The
Certificated FAA-approved schools may qualify for a ground school
rating, a flying school rating, or both. In addition, they may be
authorized to give their graduates practical tests, knowledge tests, or
an FAA-approved school usually ensures a high quality of training.
There is assurance in FAA-approved schools that prescribed standards
have been met with respect to equipment, facilities, personnel, and
curricula. Many excellent pilot schools find it impractical to qualify
for the FAA certificate and are referred to as non-approved schools.
One of the differences between FAA-approved schools and non-approved
schools is that fewer flight hours are required to qualify for a pilot
certificate in an FAA-approved school. The requirement for a Private
Pilot Certificate is 40 hours in a non-approved school and 35 hours in
an approved school. The national average indicates most people require
60 to 75 hours of training; therefore, this difference may be
insignificant for a private pilot rating.
AC 140-2, List
of Certificated Pilot Schools, lists FAA-approved ground and flight
schools and the pilot training courses each school offers.
The FSDO will
provide information on the location of pilot training facilities in
your area. A current file is maintained on all schools within each
Individuals must make their
own decision on where to obtain flight training. Once you have decided
on a location, you might want to make a checklist of things to look for
in a school. Talking to pilots and reading articles in flight magazines
can help you in making your checklist and in the evaluation of a
Your choice of
a flight school might depend on whether you are planning on obtaining a
recreational or private certificate or whether you intend to pursue a
career as a professional pilot. Another consideration is whether you
will train part or full time.
Do not make
the mistake of making your determination based on financial concerns
alone. The quality of training you receive is very important. Prior to
making a final decision, visit the school you are considering and talk
with management, instructors, and students. Evaluate the items on the
checklist you developed and then take some time to think things over
before making your decision.
After you have
decided where you will learn to fly and have made the necessary
arrangements, you are ready to start your training.
flight training should be obtained as regularly and frequently as
possible. This assures maximum retention of instruction and the
achievement of requisite proficiency with the least expenditure of time
THE ROLE OF THE
training program is dependent
upon the quality of the ground and flight instruction received by the
student pilot. An FAA-Certificated instructor has an understanding of
the learning process, a knowledge of the fundamentals of teaching, and
the ability to communicate effectively with the student pilot. During
the certification process, a flight instructor applicant is tested on a
practical application of these skills in specific teaching situations.
The knowledge and skills acquired from a specialist in pilot
instruction will affect your entire flying career whether you plan to
pursue it as a vocation or an avocation.
A flight training course
includes the ground and flight training necessary to teach the
knowledge and skills required to safely and efficiently function as a
knowledge and skill areas for each category of aircraft are outlined in
the FAR's. Refer to FAR Sections 61.96 and 61.97 for the requirements
of a Recreational Pilot Certificate. Refer to FAR Sections 61.105 and
61.107 for the requirements of a Private Pilot Certificate.
RECREATIONAL PILOT AND PRIVATE PILOT KNOWLEDGE TESTS
What is the minimum age requirement to take the Recreational Pilot or
Private Pilot knowledge test?
applicant must be at least 15 years of age (with the exception of the
private pilot balloon or glider knowledge test). Applicants for the
balloon or glider test must be at least 14 years of age. Prior to
taking the knowledge test, an applicant may be asked to present a birth
certificate or other official document as evidence of meeting the age
- Q. How
should I prepare for the knowledge test?
adequately prepare for the knowledge test, an applicant should refer
regulations require an applicant to have logged ground instruction from
an authorized instructor, or to present evidence of having
satisfactorily completed a course of instruction or home-study course*
in the knowledge areas appropriate to the category and class aircraft
for which a rating is sought.
Section 61.97 (if preparing for the recreational pilot knowledge test);
Section 61.105 (if preparing for the private pilot knowledge test).
home-study course is a course of study in certain aeronautical subject
areas organized by a pilot school, publisher, ground or flight
instructor, or by the student. The applicant may develop a home-study
course from material described in appropriate government or commercial
- Q. What
document or documents must I present prior to taking a knowledge test?
applicant for a knowledge test must present appropriate personal
identification. The identification must include a photograph of the
applicant, the applicant's signature, and the applicant's actual
residential address (if different from the mailing address). This
information may be presented in more than one form. The applicant must
also present one of the following:
certificate of graduation from a pilot training course appropriate to
the certificate or rating sought conducted by an FAA-approved pilot
school, or a statement of accomplishment from the school certifying to
the satisfactory completion of the ground-school portion of such a
- A written
statement from an FAA-certificated ground or flight instructor,
certifying that the applicant has satisfactorily completed the ground
instruction required for the certificate or rating sought.
entries certified by an FAA-certificated ground or flight instructor,
certifying satisfactory completion of the ground instruction required
for the certificate or rating sought.
certificate of graduation or statement of accomplishment from a ground
school course appropriate to the certificate or rating sought conducted
by an agency such as a high school, college, adult education program,
the Civil Air Patrol, or an ROTC Flight Training Program.
certificate of graduation from a home-study course must be developed by
the aeronautical enterprise providing the study material. The
certificate of graduation must correspond to the FAA knowledge test for
the certificate or rating sought. The aeronautical enterprise providing
the course of study must also supply a comprehensive knowledge test
which can be scored as evidence that the student has completed the
course of study. When the student satisfactorily completes the
knowledge test, it is sent to the course provider for scoring by an
FAA-certificated ground or flight instructor. The instructor personally
evaluates the test and attests to the student's knowledge of the
subjects presented in the course. Upon satisfactory completion, a
graduation certificate is sent to the student.
who are unable to provide any of the previously listed documents may
have the home-study course they completed reviewed by an FAA inspector
to assure they are competent to take the desired knowledge test. To
assure an FAA inspector will be available, it is desirable to contact
the local FSDO to secure an appointment. The inspector will review your
study material and may question you on some of the material. If you are
found qualified to take the test, the inspector will issue FAA Form
8060-7, Airman's Authorization for Written Test. This form must be
presented when you take your knowledge examination.
- In the
event of re-testing, the applicant must present either the
unsatisfactory AC Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test Report, or an airman
computer test report (if the test was taken at an FAA-designated
computer testing center).
- Q. If
I fail the knowledge test, is there any way to determine the areas in
which I need additional work so I can study for a re-test?
Yes. You will receive either AC Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test
Report, or an airman computer test report (if the test was taken at an
FAA-designated computer testing center). The test report will contain
your test score and will also list the subject matter codes for the
knowledge areas in which you were found deficient. An outline of the
subject matter codes is located in the appendix of each written test
book. You may refer 'to the appropriate written test book to determine
the areas in which further study is needed. If you do not already have
the appropriate written test book, appendix 1 contains information on
how to purchase the book as well as other study material.
- Q. If
I pass the knowledge test, will I receive the same information
concerning weak areas as I would if I failed the test?
Yes. (Refer to the previous answer.)
- Q. How
long is a satisfactorily completed knowledge test valid?
satisfactorily completed knowledge test expires at the end of the day
of the 24th month after the month in which it was taken. If a practical
test is not satisfactorily completed during that period, another
knowledge test must be taken.
Will my instructor review the areas in which the test report showed I
Yes. Your instructor is required to review the areas in which you were
deficient and must endorse the written test report or provide a written
endorsement indicating this review has been completed.
TO STUDY FOR THE KNOWLEDGE TEST
textbooks and other sources
of information which are available from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, and the FAA. Appendix 1
lists suggested study materials and explains how to obtain the
materials. Commercial publishers also provide a source of study
materials, and these materials may be desirable, especially for
aircraft categories where government materials are limited.
HOW TO STUDY
The applicant should recognize
the advantages of planning a definite study program and following it as
closely as possible. Haphazard or disorganized study habits usually
result in an unsatisfactory score on the knowledge test.
study program would be to enroll in a formal ground school course. This
offers the advantages of a professional instructor as well as
facilities and training aids designed for pilot instruction. Many of
these schools use audiovisual aids or programmed instruction materials
to supplement classroom instruction.
applicant who is unable to attend a ground school, the self-study
method can be satisfactory, provided the proper study materials are
obtained and a reasonable amount of time is devoted to study. The
applicant should establish realistic periodic goals and, equally
important, a target date for completion. Self-discipline is important
because it is too easy to "put off' the study period for some other
WHEN TO TAKE
has shown that the
knowledge test is more meaningful to the applicant, and is more likely
to result in a satisfactory grade, if it is taken after beginning the
flight portion of the training. For optimum benefit, it is recommended
that the knowledge test be taken after the student has completed a solo
cross-country flight. The operational knowledge gained by this
experience can be used to advantage in the knowledge test.
WHERE TO TAKE
FAA-designated written test
examiners and FAA-designated computer testing centers have been
certificated to administer FAA knowledge tests. Applicants will be
charged reasonable fees for the administration of FAA knowledge tests.
local FSDO to obtain information concerning an FAA designated written
test examiner or FAA-designated computer testing center in your area.
WHAT THE TEST
ITEMS ARE LIKE
contains only questions of
the objective, multiple-choice type. This test method conserves the
applicant's time, eliminates any element of individual judgment in
determining grades, and saves time in scoring.
PILOT AND PRIVATE PILOT PRACTICAL TESTS
- Q. Prior
to taking the practical test, what aeronautical experience must I have?
The specific aeronautical experience requirements are outlined in FAR
Part 61. For the Recreational Pilot Certificate requirements, refer to
FAR Sections 61.99 and 61.100. For the Private Pilot Certificate
requirements, refer to FAR Sections 61.109, 61.113, 61.115, and 61.117.
Must I provide the aircraft for my practical test?
Yes. An applicant must provide an airworthy aircraft with equipment
relevant to the pilot operations required for the practical test.
What papers and documents must I present to the FAA inspector or
FAA-designated pilot examiner prior to my practical test?
The applicant may be asked to produce and explain the:
applicant will be asked to present:
operating limitations or FAA-approved aircraft flight manual (if
weight and balance data;
- FCC radio
and engine logbooks or other maintenance records; and
- FAA Form
8710-1, Application for an Airman Certificate and/or Rating, (with the
flight instructor's recommendation);
satisfactory grade on an AC Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test Report, or
an airman computer test report (if the test was taken at an
FAA-designated computer testing center);
- a medical
certificate (when required), and a Student Pilot Certificate endorsed
by a flight instructor for solo, solo cross-country (when appropriate),
and for the make and model airplane to be used for the practical test;
- the pilot
- and a
graduation certificate from an FAA-approved school (if applicable).
What pilot operations are required on the practical test, and how will
my performance of these operations be evaluated?
a detailed explanation of the required pilot operations and performance
standards is desired, refer to either the Recreational Pilot or Private
Pilot Practical Test Standards. The practical test standards may be
purchased from the Superintendent of Documents or U.S. Government
Printing Office bookstores. Appendix 1 explains how to obtain the
publications. A good instructor should have a copy of the practical
test standards and should review them with you prior to your practical
What is the minimum age requirement for a Recreational Pilot or Private
applicant must be at least 17 years of age (with the exception of an
applicant for a private pilot glider or free balloon rating).
Applicants for the private pilot glider or free balloon rating must be
at least 16 years of age.
When can I take the recreational pilot or private pilot practical test?
The FAR's establish the minimum ground school and flight experience
requirements for the Recreational Pilot and Private Pilot Certificates.
However, the flight instructor can best determine when the student is
qualified for the practical test. By endorsing the student pilot's
application, the flight instructor actually makes a written
recommendation to this effect. The flight instructor's written
recommendation shows that the applicant has met all the prerequisites
for the practical test.
Where can I take the practical test?
The FSDO's conduct practical tests for pilot certification either at
the FSDO or at periodic intervals in outlying cities within the
district. FSDO's are usually located on or adjacent to an airport. The
FAA has also designated many flight instructors as pilot examiners.
Practical tests should be scheduled by appointment to avoid conflicts
and wasted time for the applicant.
- Q. Is
there any charge for taking the practical test?
Since an FAA-designated pilot examiner serves without pay from the FAA
for conducting practical tests and executing the necessary reports, the
FAA-designated pilot examiner is allowed to charge a reasonable fee.
However, there is no charge for the practical test when conducted by an
- Q. May
I exercise the privileges of my pilot certificate immediately after
passing my practical test or must I wait until I receive the actual
Yes. The FAA inspector or FAA-designated pilot examiner will issue a
temporary pilot certificate which is effective for a specific time
period. This temporary pilot certificate is issued to a qualified
applicant pending a review of qualifications and the issuance of a
permanent certificate by the Administrator. The permanent certificate
is issued to an applicant found qualified and a denial thereof is
issued to an applicant found not qualified.
- Q. Is
there a charge for the pilot certificate?
No. There is no charge for any original certificate which is issued by
the FAA. However, fees will be charged by the FAA-authorized aviation
medical examiner for the medical examination and by the FAA-designated
pilot examiner for services rendered. The FAA does charge to replace
any pilot or medical certificate.
1. HOW TO OBTAIN STUDY MATERIALS
Many of the study materials
listed are issued by the FAA as Advisory Circulars (AC) and are
cataloged in AC 00-2, Advisory Circular Checklist, which is issued
annually. It is suggested that, before ordering any FAA publications,
consult a copy of AC 00-2, Advisory Circular Checklist, and AC 00-44,
Status of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
circulars contain current information regarding availability, cost (if
any), and ordering instructions.
SUGGESTED STUDY MATERIALS -
The following Online
items are available:
are hard copy cost
items available from:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, DC 20402-9325
FREE ITEMS -
- FAR Parts 1,
61, and 9l
- Notices To
Airmen (Class II)
- AC 00-6,
- AC 00-45,
Aviation Weather Services
- AC 61-13,
Basic Helicopter Handbook
- AC 61-21,
Flight Training Handbook
- AC 61-23,
Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
- AC 67-2,
Medical Handbook for Pilots
- AC 91-23,
Pilot's Weight and Balance Handbook
- FAA-S-808 1 -
1, Private Pilot Practical Test Standards
Recreational Pilot Practical Test Standards
Recreational Pilot and Private Pilot Written Test Book
There are many free items listed in
the Advisory Circular Checklist. The free items are available from:
Department of Transportation
Services Section, M-443.2
The Airport/Facility Directory and
Aeronautical Charts are available on a subscription basis from:
The National Transportation Safety
Board Regulation Part 830 is available free of charge from:
Department of Commerce
Distribution Branch, N/CG33
- Riverdale, MD
Comments regarding this publication
should be directed to:
Transportation Safety Board
- ATTN: Public
- 490 L'Enfant
Plaza East, S.W.
Operations Standards Development Section, AFS-631
P.O. Box 25082
Oklahoma City, OK 73125-0082
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
Flight Standards Service