How Do I Get a Private Pilot License? Deciding Between Flight School, Private Instructor, and Flying Clubs

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Hiring a Private Instructor

Hiring a private instructor offers the greatest amount of flexibility.All of your lessons will be one on one with the instructor, including any instruction that needs to be done on the ground.The instructor is your employee, and you therefore have control over the pace.Unless the instructor has own his own aircraft to use for instruction, you will generally have to rent a plane from a commercial rental facility at the airport from which you will flying.Private instructors are commonly used by students who primarily intend to fly as a hobby.

Private Instructors are also a good option for those who plan to combine their lessons with business travel. This is a slower and more expensive option. However, people who do do a lot of business travel within a localized region, and who also have very little free time, find that combining some of their lessons with business trips is a practical way to get in some training hours that otherwise would have to be postponed. The student and instructor will fly together on the trip, and the instructor will teach along the way. To learn more about this type of training, read the following article about television celebrity Alton Brown in AutoPILOT magazine.

Join a Flying Club

Flying Clubs are another excellent option. Joining a flying club is a very practical way to learn to fly if you intend to fly a lot, but do not expect to purchase your own aircraft. Every member pays regular dues, making him/her a part owner of the club. A flying club will typically own several aircraft, depending upon the size of its membership, and usually has a few instructors who are also members of the club. In exchange for paying dues, aircraft rental and instructors’ fees are significantly lower than at commercial facilities. Depending upon the club, the difficulty of joining can vary. Some clubs require that you be “sponsored” by someone who is already a member. Others may require that you live in a certain community, or be employed at a particular company. Do some research on flying clubs in your area to see if such an opportunity might be available to you.

Attending a Flight School

Formal flight schools offer a more regimented experience. Your actual flight lessons will still be one on one with an instructor, but there will also usually be an extensive ground school segment of your training, where students are taught together in small to medium sized groups. This path will also involve a greater amount of testing along the way, and will also likely have group prep sessions for the written exam. There are two basic types of flight schools. Part 61 schools (defined under Part 61 of the Federal Air Regulations are less structured and more oriented toward the general public. Part 141 schools are more intense, more expensive, and are oriented toward those seeking a career as a commercial pilot.

This post is part of the series: Flight School Companion

Considering learning to fly? This series is designed to offer tips to help student pilots get more out of their trianing.

  1. Costs and Requirements to Become a Private Pilot
  2. How to Get a Pilot License and Where to Go to Earn it
  3. Flight School Companion: The Pilot Mentality
  4. Using Desktop Flight Simulators to Help Students Train for Real-Life Flights
  5. Flight School Companion: The First Solo Flight
  6. Student Pilot Tips For Dealing With Control Towers
  7. Cross Country Flight