Private Pilot License

Earn your first pilots license that allows you to fly anywhere you wish, carry multiple passengers and fly night or day. This certificate gives you the most freedom as a pilot and is the traditional first step to a flying career. To earn your private certificate, you must be at least 17, though you can become a student at 16. Federal regulations require 40 hours in the air, divided between different types of flying (i.e., night, solo, cross-country, etc.). You must pass an FAA written exam as well as a medical exam performed by a doctor specializing in aviation medicine. Finally, you must pass a practical exam demonstrating your skills in the airplane with a pilot examiner on board. Most students take from between 60 to 80 hours to complete their private certificate and spend anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000. Here is a great article if you wish to learn more. Here is also a free e-book about learning to fly and becoming a pilot

Instrument Rating

After the private pilot’s license, there’s little question the instrument rating is by far the most valuable follow-on ticket. If the private allows expanding your horizons, the instrument rating lets you do it pretty much on demand, certainly not in any weather, but in most reasonable conditions.

Instrument flying is a very different skill from VFR operation, however, and accordingly, the FAA requires more experience than for the private. Specifically, the feds proclaim you eligible for an instrument rating after you’ve acquired at least 50 hours of cross-country flight as pilot-in-command and 15 hours of instrument time. You’re also required to have logged 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time. In the real world, expect to need more like 50 to 55 hours of instrument training before you’re ready for the flight test. The written test for the instrument is regarded by many as the toughest of any flight rating, and you’ll be required to pass the written before you can take the oral and the flight test.

Multi Engine Rating

Although anyone who’s qualified can earn a multi-engine rating, it’s only of value to those who have access to a twin engine plane or who expect to fly one professionally. Most multi-engine airplanes are prohibitively expensive to rent, and difficult or impossible to qualify for insurance until you have experience. But for those who really want to take to the skies on two propellers instead of one find a way.
There , is no written test for the multi engine rating. Most multi students train to proficiency in 10 to 20 hours before they’re ready for the checkride. The flight test concentrates heavily on your ability to recognize an engine failure and fly the airplane properly on one engine.

Commercial Pilot License

The commercial license has few advantages if you’re not planning on flying for a living, but it’s a sign of increased proficiency and a credential that may lower insurance rates. Probably because the commercial is regarded as an entry to professional flying, the FAA makes the requirements considerably stiffer than for the private.

In addition to holding a second-class medical, the commercial requires passing an extensive written test and an instrument rating as prerequisites, along with at least 250 hours total time. You’ll be required to have logged at least 100 hours in powered aircraft, 50 hours in airplanes and 10 hours in a complex airplane with retractable gear, a controllable pitch prop and flaps.

You’ll need at least 20 total hours of instruction, including 10 hours of instrument training and 10 hours in a complex aircraft. Finally, you must have at least 100 hours pilot-in-command time, including 50 hours of cross country.

Written Test Preparation

Take a session or two to sit down with an instructor and study for your next written test.

Other Ratings

Complex Endorsement: Pilots need a complex endorsement to fly airplanes with retractable gear, flaps and a constant-speed propeller. When flying such an aircraft, you’ll find that the airspeed gets a significant boost with the gear up because it doesn’t interfere with the relative wind.

High-Performance Endorsement:
Speed is the name of the game for this particular add-on. It’s required of pilots who fly aircraft that run on more than 200 hp. And, like the complex endorsement, the high-performance endorsement requires no more than five to 10 hours of training.

Tail Wheel Endorsement:
This is perfect for the pilot who wants to go back in time by flying a conventional-gear airplane. Some say that the controls provide a better feel for the airplane and its environment. Taildgraggers, however, are notorious for groundlooping during landing, which is why a tailwheel endorsement is needed. Expect anywhere from five to 15 hours of training.

High Alnttitude Endorsemet:
Flying higher into the flight levels means getting to experience a whole new different set of sky. It also means that pilots need to be equipped to handle hypoxia and decompression sickness, which is why the high-altitude endorsement is needed when flying pressurized airplanes with a service ceiling of more than 25,000 feet. This endorsement requires only two to five hours of training.