FAQ

Questions commonly asked by those who want to learn to fly.

How long will it take me to get my Private Pilot Certificate?

The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight training, equally divided between flying with an instructor a minimum (15) and a minimum of flying solo (25). However, most students take about 70 (35/35) to 80 (40/40) hours. The length of time it takes you to earn this certificate will depend entirely on the time and energy you devote to study and practice.

How much will this cost me?

On average, the cost of  learning to fly and earning one's Private Pilot Certificate is in the national range of about $10,000 and, like swimming lessons, its a good investment For specific fees see SFS's rate sheet.

Is a low-cost introductory flight available?

Yes. Springfield offers prospective students an introductory, pre-enrollment for $80. This flight serves a dual purpose. It gives one a chance to get a feel for what piloting a small plane is like and also to observe and evaluate the prospective instructor's flying and teaching skills. Give us a call and we'll set it up!

What does pilot training entail?

Pilot training includes flight and ground training programs. Flight training covers everything a student needs to know to safely pilot an aircraft from take-off to landing. Ground training, which is integrated with flight training at SFS, covers flight rules, regulations and planning; navigation, radio procedures and weather.

How soon can I start flying?

With your CFI's help, you'll begin flying in your first lesson!

How long before I can solo?

That depends on you and your demonstrated ability to safely perform FAA-required skills in handling the plane. While there is no set number of required instructional hours for soloing, the national average of hours it takes a student to qualify ranges from 12 to 15. 

Frequency and consistency of training are major factors in the speed with which you will progress toward soloing. Missed lessons make flight training more expensive and more time consuming as students all too often have to review subject matter and/or brush up on skills or techniques previously learned. Students that train five to seven days a week averaged 13.4 hours at solo; those who train two or three times a week had an average of 17 hours; the average for once-a-weekers was 19 hours. This increased to 20.5 hours for the every-other-week set and to 22.5 hours for those who train less than that.

What is required for me to solo?

1) Be at least 16 years old. 2) Earn your CFI's endorsement that you are capable of safely piloting a plane without any help at all. 3) Have completed a pre-solo written test. This is an open book test related to rules and regulations, aircraft systems and performance, airport operations and traffic patterns, etc. This will be reviewed by your instructor. 4) Aquire a Medical Certificate from an FAA Medical Examiner. 5) Acquire a Student Pilot Certificate from the FAA with the help of your CFI.

What is a Medical Certificate and where and how do I obtain it?

Your Springfield instructor will refer you to an AME in the community who will perform a simple medical examination to ensure that you are fit to fly. You will need to fill out an FAA MedExpress form online before your appointment, and upon successful completion of the exam you will be issued the certificate the same day. Since you must have a Medical Certificate before you can solo, it might be a good idea to get it before you start flight training, especially if there is a possibility that you may have a health condition that could delay its issuance

What is a Student Pilot Certificate and how do I obtain it?

Your instructor will help you register with the FAA IACRA website, and will submit a recommendation for your Student Pilot Certificate. The FAA will verify your citizenship and information, and will usually issue your certificate within one to three weeks. 

What are my responsibilities as a solo student pilot?

As a solo student pilot you are now actually the pilot in command of the aircraft... So you must be understanding of the aircraft, rules and regulations, traffic avoidance, communications and emergency procedures that you have learned prior to solo.You must get your CFI to re-endorse your Student Pilot Certificate every 90 days, without fail. This is your responsibility, not your CFI's.

What is required to get my Private Pilot Certificate?

1) Be at least 17 years old. 2) Read, write and understand the English language. 3) Receive endorsement from the CFI who gave or reviewed your ground training and who will certify that you are prepared for a knowledge test. 4) Pass the knowledge test. 5) Receive endorsement from the instructor who conducted your training and who will certify that you are prepared for the practical tests. 6) Pass the FAA oral exam and check ride.

What does my Private Pilot Certificate permit me to do?

Your Private Pilot Certificate qualifies you to act as pilot-in-command of an aircraft carrying passengers and baggage. You can now travel any distance and to destinations that you and or your aircraft are capable of. However, you are prohibited from charging for your services. Unless you hold an instrument rating, you may fly only under VFR (visual flight rules) in good weather conditions. Remember whether you are student or a seasoned pilot, you should always question your own abilities before you take to the sky!

What is ground training?

Ground training and in-flight training are not handled separately at SFS. They are integrated in a concurrent approach which enables the student to apply in flight the lessons he/she has just learned in a pre-flight briefing and then, after landing to immediately undergo a post-flight debriefing. The latter includes not only a critique of the students performance in the aircraft, but also a discussion of what is to be covered in the next lesson and what home study the student should do to prepare for it. In ground training one learns the principles and procedures applied in flying an airplane and the FAA rules which all pilots must observe. We encourage all students to purchase one of the many online based home study courses available (your instructor can help recommend one that is continuously updated to reflect changes made by the FAA). The are extremely helpful in preparing for the knowledge test required to be completed prior to the practical oral and flight test. These allow you to study at home or where and whenever your study time is best for you. Our students save a great deal of money in the log run and have had a great success rate.

As a student what will I be flying?

Usually, SFS trains students in a Cessna 172. Training completed in such aircraft would qualify you for an SEL Private Pilot Certificate, assuming, of course, you met all other requirements. Students who elect to continue their flight training after receiving their Private Pilot Certificates may advance to other types of aircraft, depending on the certificates or ratings to be achieved.

Can I get a job flying?

Yes, if that is your goal and you are willing and able to continue your studies to master the skills required of those who choose to make flying their lifes work. After earning your Private Pilot Certificate (which gives you a foundation of at least 40 hours on which to build), you can work on acquiring additional certificates and ratings while accumulating the minimum of 250 flight hours which the FAA requires for a Commercial Certificate. Because it enables you to fly for hire, this commercial certificate constitutes the first major step up the ladder toward a career in flying.

The FAA predicts that jobs in commercial aviation, with its great variety of occupations, will be increasing in the future. In addition to pilot positions in the commercial airline industry and in the military, there are countless opportunities for employment as flight instructors and in such specialized areas as airborne law enforcement, emergency medical transportation, corporate piloting, survey and mapping, news and traffic reporting, crop dusting, and many other business and professional fields.

 

 

For anyone who learns to fly, a pilot certificate can be more than a passport to the sheer adventure of flying or a professional career in aviation. It can be an enabler, giving the person who possesses it the ability to meet the challenges of time and distance in his/her personal and/or business life. Plus it's "Totally Cool!"

Abbreviations Used

SFS
   Springfield Flying Service
 CFII
    Certified Flight Instructor Instrument
AME
   Aviation Medical Examiner

 FAA
    Federal Aviation Administration

AOPA
   Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association 
SEL
   Single Engine Land rating
CFI
   Certified Flight Instructor 
VFR
   Visual Flight Rules

NOTE: Prior to any training all students must present an original birth certificate and photo ID or current US passport to show US citizenship... No training can be done until we have recorded these in our files.