What are the steps to becoming a pilot?

Learning to fly is one part science, one part art, and one part meeting a complex series of federal requirements which can sometimes be difficult to plot your way through. There are many valid ways to meet these requirements and complete your training, however, not all paths are equal when it comes to the amount of time and money you'll spend. Let us help you choose the most efficient route to meet your goals and save you a pile of time and money. We're happy to help you with a customized approach, but as a starting point, here is one of the most efficient paths to obtaining your licenses and ratings:

First Flight

The first step in an amazing journey! Your first flight is a chance to experience flying as a pilot rather than a passenger and decide whether taking to the sky is for you.

Learn more about our Discovery Flights! 0 Hours

Fundamentals and First Solo

The first part of your flight training will involve learning the basics of flying an aircraft. You will learn to talk to air traffic control, make sound aeronautical decisions, and everything else you need to know to fly the aircraft by yourself. You will get a medical exam from an FAA approved doctor who will issue your medical certificate. You will also go through an online application process with the Federal Aviation Adminstration to obtain your student pilot certificate. The culmination of this stage is your first solo flight!

Cross-Country and Test Prep

In this segment of your training you will learn the skills required to navigate to other airports. You will also spend time learning to perform the things you'll be required to do on your flight test. This is also the time you'll buckle down to study and pass your written test.

Private Pilot Checkride

This is your chance to prove to the Federal Aviation Administration that you have learned all of the things you are supposed to know as a private pilot and you are proficient and safe while flying a single engine aircraft. When you pass your flight test, you will be an officially licensed private pilot which means you can fly without an instructor and carry passengers, however, you cannot fly in bad weather and you cannot make money as a pilot.

(Note: The FAA sets the minimum time needed to get your license at 40 hours. While this is possible, the national average is around 55 hours.)

55 Hours

Cross-Country Time Building

After you pass your Private Pilot checkride, you will spend about 50 hours flying to airports at least 50 miles away. Not only will this build your experience and confidence, but it also fills in the requirements you will need to meet to begin your next big phase of training. Now that you are a private pilot and can carry passengers, this is a great time to share the rewards of your hard work with your friends and family. How about day trip to the beach or an overnight to visit those out of town friends you never get to see? The world is an accessible place when you're going 150mph in a straight line to your destination!

Multi-Engine Add-On

Getting your multi-engine add-on allows you to fly twin engine aircraft. As a private pilot, flying a twin typically means you can carry a few more passengers and/or baggage while going a little higher and a little faster. Having a second engine can also be a confidence boost when flying at night or over long stretches of water. If you plan on becoming a commercial pilot with the intention of getting a job in the airlines or in the corporate world, earning your multi-engine rating is a must. This training usually takes about 10 hours of flight time and another checkride.

100 Hours

Begin Instrument Training

An instrument rating allows you to fly through clouds, bad weather, and in situations where you otherwise could not safely handle as a non-instrument rated pilot. Your instrument training will consist of another 40 hours of flight training with an instructor. You will also study for and pass the written test during this time.

110 Hours

Instrument Checkride

Once you have met all of the requirements for your instrument training, you will once again have the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to a designated check airman who can issue your instrument rating. Once you have your instrument ticket, the potential for using your aircraft for travel really opens up since you are no longer limited to flying on days with fair weather.

150 Hours

Specialized Time Building

After your instrument checkride, you have a lot of time to fill until you meet the requirements to take your commercial checkride. This is an opportunity to get a jump on things ahead and shape your training to benefit the type of commercial flying job you are trying to land. Flights into dense traffic areas, international flights, and specialized training (such as additional ratings or aerobatics) will be a terrific use of your time.

Begin Commercial Training

At this point, you already know how to fly and your time building efforts have turned you into an experienced, safe, and confident pilot. During your commercial flight training, you will learn what it takes to fly at a professional level. This means learning more advanced aircraft systems, more in-depth aviation theory, and flying to higher standards than have been required of you to this point. You will again study for and pass a written test and may need to visit your FAA-approved doctor for another medical exam which is just a little more strict than the one you had done to get your private license.

230 Hours

Commercial-Multi Checkride w/ Multi-Instrument Add-On

When you reach 250 hours (and have met all of the other requirements along the way) and your commercial training is complete, you will again demonstrate to an FAA check airman that you are a safe, competent, and capable pilot with the skillset neccessary to perform at the professional level. During this checkride you will perform the required instrument flying tasks to allow you to fly multi-engine aircraft in poor weather.

250 Hours

Commercial Single Engine Add-On

Finally, to round out your skillset, you will complete a short training course and checkride that will allow you to act as a commercial pilot in single engine aircraft.

255 Hours

Ready to begin your journey?

Contact Star Flight Training today! We will help you plan out your most efficient route to your destination and be there to help you achieve your goals every step of the way.