Learn to Fly


Milestone Hours
PPL: Private Pilot License 40 Hours
IR: INSTRUMENT RATING cross-country >= 50 hours
Commercial Pilot Certificate 250 Hours
CFI 250 hours
ATP: Airline Transport Pilot 1,500 Hours
Type Rating

Multiengine: an addon, no written tests.


  • Airplane Single-Engine Seaplane (ASES)
  • Airplane Multi-Engine Seaplane (AMES)


Airman Certification Standards (ACS) replaces the Practical Test Standards (PTS) for the Private Pilot Airplane certificate and the Instrument-Airplane rating.

ACS only lists the items for certification; the handbooks are based on ACS to provide more details; then there are many non official test prep books.

ACS (the standard) => PHAK (the handbook) => Test Prep Books


Airplane Flight Manual/Pilot’s Operating Handbook (AFM/POH)

Sectional Charts

Legend can be found on FAA website https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/digital_products/aero_guide/media/editions/cug-complete.pdf

Private Pilot License


The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours flight time to undertake the practical test for getting your private pilot certificate.

  • 20 hrs with CFI
  • 3 hrs cross-country
  • 3 hrs night
    • 1 cross-country over 100 nm
    • 10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop
  • 3 hrs IFR
  • 3 hrs prep for the practical test with CFI
  • 10 hrs solo
    • 5 hrs solo cross-country
    • 1 solo cross-country of 150 nm, with full-stop landings at 3 points, one segment of flight consisting of a straight-line distance of >50 nm
    • 3 takeoffs and 3 landings to a full stop with an operating control tower

How long it takes

The average total flight time for private pilot training in the U.S. is approximately 55 to 70 hours. National average is 65 hours.


Airplane rental (2-4 seats), wet, per hour: $100-250

Instructor fee per hour: $40-90

How to save time and money?

Written Exam

  • Books
    • Rod Machados Private Pilot Handbook
    • Private Pilot Test Prep
    • The Student Pilot's Flight Manual
  • ASAs Color E6B Flight Computer
  • CX-3 Flight Computer

Handbooks for free


Free online ground school


Questions when shopping flight schools

  • Fees: What are the initiation and monthly fees? Most clubs charge a monthly fee, a few also charge an initiation/application fee. Also, some clubs charge you a monthly fee even in months you don't fly.
  • Ground school: What are the options for ground school? Do you need to attend a class or can you self study?
  • Rental: are they rented wet (with fuel) or dry (without fuel)?
    • Cross Country / Overnight: If you plan to use aircraft for longer trips, what are the daily minimums when booking the aircraft for a full day?
  • Insurance: What insurance is provided to you? What are the deductibles?
  • Instructors: Find an instructor that teaches the way you learn the best.
    • Do instructors charge by wall time or Hobbes + N?
  • Fleet: Is the fleet primarily glass or steam gauge? (Either can work, some people have a preference.) Only 172 / Piper or does it have some step-up options? Which years?
  • Schedule: How far out do you have to look on the schedule to find time? 2 weeks or so is typical, try to avoid places where you have to book a month out. Make sure the school is not oversubscribed.
  • Part 61 or Part 141? 141 is a much more structured curriculum but has lower hour minimums. 141 may be recommended for Instrument, but for Private, you can go either way.
  • Blocktime: Can you buy flight time in bulk to get a discount?

Bay Area Flight School

  • [SQL] San Carlos Flight Center: https://sancarlosflight.com/
  • [PAO] Advantage Aviation
  • [PAO / SQL] West Valley Flight Club
  • [PAO] Sundance (http://flysundance.org): a small club with a few 172's, a few PA-28's, and a couple of step-up aircraft. The ambiance of the place is very informal. Probably the lowest-cost club at PAO.

Instrument Rating

  • 50 hours of Pilot in Command cross country
  • 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument time
  • 15 hours of flight instruction towards instrument rating

cross country >= 250nm (e.g. SF to LA ~300nm)

Online Resources

  • http://skyvector.com/

  • vfrmap.com

  • tfr.faa.gov

  • sua.faa.gov

  • airnav.com

  • see how it flies (book) by john denker

  • Pilot Edge to practice radio calls

  • Sporty's flight lessons


High Performance vs Complex

  • high performance > 200hp
  • complex:
    • retractable landing gear
    • adjustable pitch propeller
    • has flaps

"night time"

  • night time: sunset to sunrise; nav lights on
  • night time when taking passengers: 1hr after sunset to 1hr before sunrise

Which tire should land first

the upwind main gear

Airplane direction during pre-takeoff check?

engines are air-cooled, pre-takeoff check turn the airplane in the direction of the wind


ad=airworthiness directive (like car recalls?)


Aircraft Flight Manual


true air speed

why have 2 ignition systems

for increased power


create a spark, does not need a source of energy

pitot tube drain hole

let moisture out

air cooled or water cooled

Rotax engines are water-cooled

Prep for written tests

what part of the aircraft generates lift?

The whole aircraft. any objects moving through fluid generates lift .


Garmin G3000 (variations: G2000/G5000): for light turbine aircraft


  • 3rd class for training
  • 2nd class for commercial flights