Private Pilot Certificates


An FAA Practical Test consists of an oral test and a flight demonstration of flying abilities all with a FAA Examiner or an FAA Designee. An Examiner is an actual FAA employee who as part of his job gives Practical Tests. A Designee is a private individual designated by the FAA to give Practical Tests (you'll probably have to pay a Designee a fee for his time).


In order to qualify to take the Practical Test you must have first passed the FAA Knowledge test. Additionally you must have an Endorsement in your logbook made by your Flight Instructor certifying that in his opinion you are "good enough" to not only pass the Practical Test, but that you are a safe, responsible and competent applicant for a Private Pilot Certificate.


There are several other things you will need that are not important for this discussion, but the big thing you will need is at least a minimum amount of flight time. The flight time you will need is sort of complicated to describe. But essentially you will need at least 40 total hours of flight time.


Of that 40 hours, at least 20 hours must be dual hours; i.e., 20 hours of time that you and your Flight Instructor have spent together flying the airplane.


Then of that 40 hours you will need at least 10 hours of solo flight time. The other 10 hours (of the 40 total hours) may be either dual or solo flight time.


But within this minimum of 40 hours you have to have various amounts of flight time doing special things like day cross-country solo flight (both long and short trips), night flight, night cross-country flight, instrument flight (flight with a "hood" on so you cannot see the horizon or the ground) and flights into an airport controlled by a Control Tower.


It is pretty hard in just 40 hours to "learn to fly" and at the same time get in all that special flight time. For this reason most people take more than the minimum of 40 hours to get ready for a Practice Test.


It is impossible to know just how much flight time it will take for you to acquire the skills necessary to pass an FAA Practical Test. But this is for sure. By the time you have 40 hours of flight time under your belt you will be flying the airplane solo. You will not be able to carry passengers, but with your Flight Instructor's blessing you can go almost anywhere. And this new skill of flying an airplane will be with you forever. So what's the "big deal".


Once you are in the solo phase of your training you’re the pilot and the only thing that passing the Practical Test will do for you is


allow you to carry passengers by yourself, and


get out from under the watchful eye of your Flight Instructor.


If you aren't quite ready to take an FAA Practical Test after you have the minimum amount of flight time, don't worry, this flying stuff is forever you know. "Grab" the airplane and go flying.


© SilverPilot 2014