I have a few questions about obtaining a PPL

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by TheHappyPeanut, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. TheHappyPeanut

    TheHappyPeanut Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi guys,

    I've been interested in obtaining a private pilot license for quite some time. I've done a bit of research, but had some questions. To clarify, I am located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    1. What can I do to prepare myself for flight training? Is there any literature I can read prior to beginning to ensure that I am as knowledgeable as possible as I start?

    2. Airplane rental runs between $90-300/hour and instruction runs between $50-55/hour. My research has indicated that you should assume you'll need around 60 hours of training to obtain your PPL, which then translates to ~$9,000. Is that accurate?

    3. Do your hours expire? Assuming you would want to obtain your PPL within 1 year, it would require 5 hours of instruction per month, which equates to $750/month. What is the average amount of hours that a students purchase (i.e. are they typically doing 1 hour per week, 5, etc.)?
     
  2. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Pattern Altitude

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    1. flying is easy, medicals are hard. read the medical topics forum here, make sure you don't have any issues BEFORE you go to an AME for your exam.
    2. yes.
    3. hours don't expire. the more frequently you can fly, the faster you will learn and the cheaper you will get your ticket. it's not uncommon to buy hours in blocks of $1000.

    Welcome to PoA!
     
  3. mscard88

    mscard88 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    edit: check on your flight medical first to ensure you have no medical problems that could prevent or delay you for training. Lots of threads on PA about it, or just ask.

    1. Visit a flight school and consult with a CFI. There free training books at FAA.gov, here's two good ones:

    https://www.faa.gov/regulations_pol...e_handbook/media/airplane_flying_handbook.pdf

    https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/phak/media/pilot_handbook.pdf

    2. Depends on your progression, but that figure would be in the ballpark.

    3. Hours don't expire, and what you're asking varies a lot with different pilots. I always adise to fly a minimum of two lessons per week. Flying once or twice a month for example may cause you to repeat part or all of the previous lessons.

    There's quite a few members of POA that are active on the site from the Charlotte area. Hopefully they'll chime in about flight schools in the area.

    Now for the million dollar question. You're in Charlotte, do you consider that the Southeast, or would you think a state like, oh say Alabama, would really be in the Southeast?
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
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  4. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    1. What can I do to prepare myself for flight training? Is there any literature I can read prior to beginning to ensure that I am as knowledgeable as possible as I start?
    Purchase a Private Pilot Ground School & Test Prep book. You’ll need it during the training and it doesn’t hurt to study the first few chapters prior to the first lesson.

    Here’s a few:
    http://www.kingschools.com/ground-school/private-pilot/courses/written


    https://www.pilotmall.com/product/G...MIhufXk6ru1wIVU57ACh1P3gKhEAQYASABEgLQ5vD_BwE

    2. Airplane rental runs between $90-300/hour and instruction runs between $50-55/hour. My research has indicated that you should assume you'll need around 60 hours of training to obtain your PPL, which then translates to ~$9,000. Is that accurate?
    Sounds accurate. Flying and flight training in particular isn’t cheap.

    3. Do your hours expire? Assuming you would want to obtain your PPL within 1 year, it would require 5 hours of instruction per month, which equates to $750/month. What is the average amount of hours that a students purchase (i.e. are they typically doing 1 hour per week, 5, etc.)?
    Budget for a minimum of 2 lessons per week, preferably 3. Any less than that will result in repeated lessons which will increase the total cost in the long run.

    Check into purchasing ‘block time’ which is a payment in advance of typically 10hrs. Usually the flight school will give you a discount if you purchase block time. The discount varies, but it’s usually 10% off or the 11th hour free.

     
  5. Ravioli

    Ravioli En-Route

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    +1 on confirming medical status.

    Many disagree with me on this, but take a weekend "teach the test" cram course get the written behind you. You'll pass and it's good for two years. You'll learn the information from your CFI without the TEST looming over you.

    As Mark said, Fly often, learn better, spend less. [like maybe $1,000 less]

    Your mileage WILL vary.
     
  6. asicer

    asicer Pattern Altitude

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    #2: Hobbs hours != CFI hours. There's usually a preflight brief and a post flight de-brief. Figure about CFI hours = 1.5x Hobbs hours.
     
  7. murphey

    murphey Final Approach

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    1. What can I do to prepare myself for flight training? Is there any literature I can read prior to beginning to ensure that I am as knowledgeable as possible as I start?

    The FAA website has all the material you need, and it is free PDF:
    https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/

    Start with the PHAK - Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25B), then:
    Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3B)
    Student Pilot Guide (Change 1)

    These are what are covered in formal Ground Schools. There are additional commercial books and online products that train you to pass the Written Exam (officially known as the Knowledge Test and is on a computer but we still call it the Written). Everything on the written is in these 3 books. Not terribly exciting to read (altho the color graphics help), no plot, no gunfights, no space wars, but will teach you what you need to know.

    Next, the Dreaded Medical. Definitely read thru some of the threads here. Far too many CFIs are new, young, and teaching to gain hours, and then will leave to fly bigger airplanes. Being new and young, they're usually healthy and assume everyone is the same.

    You're dealing with the Feds, not the locals, so DUIs for any reason are a stumbling block that can be managed but not reading any website. Same for certain meds and chronic conditions. They are stumbling blocks (sometimes, just tiny, little ant hills) to be resolved with expert help.

    You can download the Medxpress user guide which contains detailed instructions at

    https://medxpress.faa.gov/medxpress/Content/Docs/MedXPressUsersGuide.pdf

    Read Chp 6 - that's the actual form.

    Copy Chp 6, print it on paper, fill it out on paper. Then see what may be an issue. For starters, Question 18 is always the stopper - you must answer ANY TIME IN YOUR LIFE, not recent history. Example, under asthma, I'm required to check Yes and explain childhood asthma, and I've outgrown it. (Many people haven't). If there's anything that may be in question, contact an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) and ask for a Consultation. If they don't do consults, go to the next AME on the list.

    Only after you're satisfied there's no problems - or that you have documentation (from your personal physician that the AME in the consult requested regarding the issues), then and only then do you fill out MedXpress.
     
  8. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Line Up and Wait

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    Others have already provided links to the free copies of the FAA's Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the Airplane Flying Handbook. Those would be my recommendation for what to read.

    You can also buy them as physical books if you prefer to read them that way. They aren't expensive. Just make sure to get the latest version which you can verify with the FAA ID numbers found on the pdf versions. i.e. FAA-H-8083-25B is the current version, -25A is the previous version.
     
  9. Sinistar

    Sinistar Line Up and Wait

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    Curious, how old are you?

    If you're in high school and busy in other activities, flying twice a week when you're busiest might be tough.

    If 20-50 and have young kids, same thing.

    If you're 60 you probably have the time and money but might need more time than the high school or college kids who's brains are already full learning mode and faster responses.

    Personally, I think you're numbers for instructor cost and total hours are a bit low. I'd budget for 70hrs plane rental, 60hrs instructor time and $65/hr for the instructor. If you are not a "big" guy you can probably train in a 150/152 for the lowest possible wet rental rates.

    I would ensure medical before anything else. Any duis, drugs, felonies, meds, adhd, psych issues, breathing problems, heart problems, lots of ER visits, etc... you're medical will be a huge obstacle.
     
  10. rk911

    rk911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    personally, I don't believe you can ever be as knowledgeable as possible regardless of how many hours are logged. as for me I took and passed ground school before starting my flight training. that will give you some of the knowledge and perspective you're seeking.

    my experience: I had 15.5-hrs of dual in a C-152 when I started my flight training in 1982. then life got in the way...big time. flash forward 30-years to 2012 when I re-started my training. I put in 37.5-hrs of dual before I soloed and another 97-hrs (dual and solo) before my check ride. I tend to be my own worst critic and my instructor thought I was ready long before I did. looking back objectively he was right and I was likely ready for the ride somewhere around 35-hrs post solo but I have no regrets.

    no, your hours will never 'expire' but the greater the time between lessons the less relevant they may become. the 15.5-hrs I had in 1982 "counted" in the sense that those hours are part of my flying history but due to the 30-yr stretch between starting training and finishing neither I nor my instructor counted them. my 30-year break is extreme but if you fly 1-4 times a month like so many do your forward progress will likely be glacial.

    I scheduled instruction 2-4 times per week but there were plenty of scrubs due to weather, personal schedule conflicts, mechanical issues with the plane, life, etc. so on average I flew 7-8 times a month. the best advice I can give you is to fly as often as you can so as to minimize the time spent reviewing and re-learning the previous lesson. and you will also have some scrubbed lessons for the same reasons I did so maximize your training time as much as possible. if you're flying thru a school or club you might ask if there are discounts if your purchase blocks of time and if unused time will carry over past your check ride.

    good luck.
     
  11. CJ Rader

    CJ Rader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not much to add to what others have already said here. Your $9000 estimate is in the ballpark. When I decided to finally go for my PPL, I knew it would blow a $10,000 hole in my bank account. But I had already made allowances for that. The whole, 'if you want to build a tower, first sit down and calculate the cost to make sure you'll be able to complete it' axiom.

    I will add one or two publications to the list that my CFI highly recommends: Visualized Flight Maneuvers Handbook. If you actually decide to start taking lessons, I would recommend this book to help reinforce the processes and procedures with many of the maneuvers you'll be learning. William Kershner's Student Pilot's Flight Manual is also a good reference. But, I'm a copious reader, so I have a stack of aviation books a foot high on my desk.

    As to frequency of training, in a perfect world, we'd all be able to take 2-3 lessons a week and crank through those hours and get our PPL in less than a year. However, that scenario is not realistic for a great many of us. Speaking for myself personally, I have to work for a living. I work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. At this point I'm not planning on making a career of flying, so it's not reasonable or practical for me to essentially quit my job and take out a $10,000 loan for flight lessons, hoping there's a job waiting at the end of it. My easy-going and patient wife would murder me for that, and I wouldn't blame her one bit. I have a nice employer who has been willing to allow me to work a somewhat flexible schedule in order to get 2-3 lessons a month in. But 2-3 lessons a week with my schedule? lolololol! I don't begrudge those who are able to pull that off, I really don't. It may well take me 2 years to complete my license. But I'm at peace with that. I sprang for a CH Eclipse flight yoke and CH Rudder pedals along with X-Plane 11. In between lessons, I'm practicing procedures like a crazy man. For me, it has helped. This won't be the experience of everyone, I grant you. My CFI has encouraged my offline practicing and has merely countered by putting his cunning little suction cups over the gauges I'm most apt to stare at in a simulator, when we're up in the air. :)So far, we haven't been having to go back and re-learn what he has been teaching me and I'm making good progress. Like all things in life, you'll get out of it what you put into it and much will depend on your learning style as well as the teaching style of your CFI.

    I wish you success! And most importantly, have fun!
     
  12. vkumar

    vkumar Filing Flight Plan

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    New PPL student here too, why are the medicals considered hard?
     
  13. champ driver

    champ driver Line Up and Wait

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    They're not, if you don't have any medical issues.
     
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  14. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It depends.
    For most, if you can fog a mirror, you are good to go - and that's about the extent of the guidance that at least some instructors give their students.
    And, while you may think that you are quite healthy and fit with no medical issues, you may learn that the FAA has some definite phobia's about specific things that most people would consider no big deal such as a childhood diagnosis of ADHD. And, if you walk in unprepared then u b hosed. The FAA can demand lots of information that may require expensive and medically unnecessary tests with a tight deadline - that's when it turns into a nightmare.
    The tricky part is figuring out what the FAA considers to be "medical issues" and what they don't because you can't rely on common sense or your family doctor to guide you.
     
  15. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    Not completely true (it's not just your health now, it's your history and "habits.")

    Also some medications that you think are innocuous are big issues for the FAA. An old traffic stop for DUI can be fatal or at least onerous/expensive if not handled the "right" way. ADHD "diagnosis"- fuggedaboutit.

    This is why knowing you will pass muster before giving the doc your MedExpress number is vital.
     
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  16. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    More like 'tricky', as in, not based on health in the common sense of the word. You can run marathons and fail an FAA medical due to some ancient med you took(as a kid even) or some surgery that completely resolved a problem that they want extra 'proof' for.
     
  17. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    I'll only add, as for #3, the $750/month angle is a good way to look at it. It takes as long as it takes so obsessing over the total cost doesn't make a lot of sense. You'll still have to pay to fly when you're done too. $750 won't get you 5 hours of dual in most places though. I think 5 hours/month is okay. It might not be the best frequency in terms of retention but I managed to do it in 3 hrs/month(usually 2 lessons/month). Just find a budget you can sustain and go for it.

    If you find that you can only afford(either time or money) lower frequency, it helps to stay in the books, read and reread the material that your CFI specifies for the next lesson.
     
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  18. JonH

    JonH Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Have you done a discovery flight? I would go do that first.
     
  19. CJ Rader

    CJ Rader Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good info all the way around. :thumbsup:
     
  20. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    First of all, Welcome to POA. I too am located in Charlotte NC and would be happy to help you any way I can. I can even give some good recommendations for training.

    To answer question 1, like others have said. Go ahead an purchase an online ground school or a Gleim kit (or another company if you choose) and start reading up. That will help you get a heads up for when you get in the plane and are doing lessons with your CFI. Even if you choose to do an in person ground school as well (I did both and it worked out well for me), this will be a big help.

    Question 2 - You won't be in any $300 an hour primary trainers. I would say around this area, $90-150 should be about right. I can point you in the right direction of closer to the bottom end of that spectrum. And while $50-55 and hour is reasonable, I can point you in the direction of some good instruction for less than that. Overall, $9,000 dollars overall is a very good estimate. As others have said, the more often you fly, the cheaper it will likely be overall. It will go faster, the more often you fly, a lot is lost when flying less often and the beginning of a lesson might be spent re-learning something from a previous lesson the longer the time between flights.

    Your hours do not expire, the minimum is 40, and unless you are a phenom or have a bunch of flight hours with a parent or friend letting you take the controls before your training, it's going to take closer to 60 if not more. I would definitely suggest flying more than 5 hours per month. That will take you quite a while to get your ticket, you have to show proficiency, not just have the right number of hours.

    Feel free to send me a private message and I would be happy to give you some more information, answer any questions you might have, and even give you some info about some local flight schools.

    Tony
     
  21. danhagan

    danhagan Cleared for Takeoff

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    +1 recommend this.

    1. You're going to go over your estimate when you include headset, and other items.
    2. The FAA has online downloadable books for prepping before hand, learn the control surface names and what they do and aircraft systems for your trainer.

    I did the discovery flight years ago (2006) after watching borrowed Sporty's course from a friend, reviewing some flight books and playing around with flight simulator X. At discovery flight, CFI reviewed things pre-flight (I lucked out - he didn't charge for pre- and post flight time ever). He told me he'd let me fly to the point I was "losing it" by giving oral commands only. Got talked through a run-up, take off and in the pattern - he took over at the flare. On the second lap I landed with him "lightly" touching controls. I had a no wind day and thought, "Gee this is going to be easier than I thought." You get humbled later when you hit a plateau or item that everyone else gets easily and you keep flubbing.

    2006 Costs:

    CFI $30 per hour and no charge for pre-post flight review
    C-152 started at $55 an hour ended at $70 wet
    Total time 67 hours - but we had several "fun" flights doing things that aren't PTS requirements (extra Class C TNGs with light gun simulation is an example), and he wanted an extra solo XC flight.
     
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  22. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    Here's a free ebook you can download that will pretty much answer any question you could have about becoming a Private Pilot. No sign-up needed. Just click and download:

    www.FreeFlyBook.com
     
  23. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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  24. CJ Rader

    CJ Rader Pre-takeoff checklist

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  25. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    I read that book when I was curious about flying, before I took my first small plane ride and/or discovery flight.
     
  26. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

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    I still get a smile thinking about "flippers."
     
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