Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a great pilot?
A good sense of direction is what makes a great pilot. The answer seems almost silly and over simplified, but it’s the truth. The question about what makes a good pilot is something usually asked by individuals who aren’t necessarily looking to learn, such as parents of teenagers, or others who are just chorus. From our experience, the greatest determining factor in the success of someone learning to fly is their sense of direction, which cannot be taught and is instinctual. To find out if someone has this good sense of direction about them we usually ask them a simple question, which way is north? Students that can point in the general direction of north tend to have excellent spatial awareness necessary for many aspects of flying, and these students also tend to be more comfortable with the finer aspects of navigation and directional control. Students that can’t answer this with any degree of accuracy will usually have a bit more difficulty along the way.
Flights are billed based on the amount of time you spend with the instructor and how much time you operate the aircraft. The length of all flights vary, some flight lessons are shorter (less costly) and others longer (more costly). As an example, if you were on the schedule from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, the actual instruction time given would likely be a little less, say around 1.8 (1 hour 48 min); and if you flew, the Hobbs time in the aircraft would be probably 1.3 (1 hour 18 min).
Yes. Instruction received from any licensed FAA flight instructor is valid toward the issuance of an FAA certificate (or rating) anywhere in the United States. The flight time never expires, however the relevancy of the learning and its practical application toward completing a certificate or rating may age with time and therefore have a reduced value to you. Additional if you change flight schools (or instructors) you’ll find some overlap in the instruction you receive, but this is normal as a new flight instructor would need to learn your learning style, and determine where you’re at in your training, or the equipment (ie: the aircraft) may be different which would likely add some additional time to your training.
A common misconception we deal with all the time is that the FAA published minimums for a pilot’s license requires 40 hours. I suppose if you were flying a very basic aircraft in the cornfields of Iowa somewhere, 40 hours would be quite possible. However, we live in a world where the aircraft are more sophisticated and the airspace is far more crowded, which results in additional hours of flight (and ground) training, over and above what the minimums had set many years ago. Today, pilots are trained much better as a result.
This is an honest estimate, while many flight schools will advertise costs as low as $7000 to get your license, this is simply not the case. Ask to speak with a student that just received their license, ask them how much they spent. My guess is they will tell you something north of $12,000 when they add it all up; yet that same flight school just quoted you something much less.
What’s the deal with that?
Well, flight schools are just like any other business, they have to get customers, and many will advertise the bare bones cost of getting your license to get you in the door. At some point along the way into getting your license, you’ll discover their estimate was wrong, you’ll feel that you’ve already made it this far, may as well continue. We call that false advertising.
Lets see how we come up with our estimate:
Aircraft Rental- The average student completes his/her training in 60-65 hours of flight time. (so we used 62.5 hours for our estimate) Flight Instruction- The instructor time is based on 52.5 hours in the plane flying with a flight instructor, plus something for pre and post flight (the time before and after you get in and out of the plane), and additional hours for 1-on-1 training on the ground. Add it up and we come out about 70.0 hours of time with an instructor.
Books and Material– We don’t sell you on a big expensive computer program, (although its available if you want it), we do recommend an excellent book, and software for studying for the written exam. The total cost $150. (You don’t need a headset because we provide them, and you don’t need a logbook if you took advantage of our introductory flight as it includes a professional logbook).
FAA testing fee
FAA Medical- Not much we can do here either, you need a medical, the cost is about $125 with a local doctor.
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Flight lessons between when you just start and all the way until you solo are usually 1.0 to 1.5 hours of “flight time”, with the whole lesson lasting usually 1.5 to 2.0 hours… After you solo, the lessons are usually a bit longer, something like 2.0 to 3.0 of flight time because you’re flying ‘cross country’, which means you’ll be flying to airports more than 50 nm away, but then again there are only a handful of these flights. In total, figure you’ll have about 65 hours of flight time when you receive your pilots license.
Accelerated flight instruction is sometimes a good option, but not always. Called immersion flight instruction by some, or more commonly accelerated flight instruction, it’s the process of starting and completing your flight instruction in a short period of time, usually 1-6 weeks. The industry in general does not like this type of flight instruction as evidenced by the fact that they often ask where pilots received their training, and they often choose not to hire pilots trained in this method. In fact, most pilots would not advise such a format for getting your pilots license or an instrument rating. However, if you already have a license and you just want to get an add-on, for example a seaplane rating, or receive a multi-engine add-on, its sometimes a quick and easy way to go.
We have a few students that take 2-3 lessons per week and they are progressing very quickly, and then we have students that fly sometimes as little as once per month, these students are not progressing hardly at all. So does this mean more flights per week is therefore better? No, I would caution you away from doing anything more than say 4 flights per week. The information from each lesson tends to blend into one another, students begin to retain information only in their short term memory and they don’t retain information in their all-important long term memory. So to answer your question, how often should you fly? We recommend students start by scheduling one-to-two lessons per week, see how it works, and go from there. You can rely on your flight instructors to provide you with honest feedback about your progress and pace of the lessons.