How long it takes to get a private pilot license?
So you decided to get your private pilot license. However, before you dedicate time to the training, you can’t find a genuine opinion on how long it takes to get a private pilot license.
Does that mean it takes forever to get a private pilot license? Most of my readers are PART 61 student pilots who enjoy flight training at their own pace. There is no precise answer to the question.
As PART 61 students take flight training during their spare time or on weekends, obtaining a private pilot license takes longer than four months.
Though there are ways to finish training quickly, there are limitations on how fast you can get the license.
Here we discuss the timespan you must dedicate to getting a private pilot license and tips to finish training quickly.
How long does it take to get a private pilot license?
Getting a private pilot license takes four months. To meet all the FAA requirements, passing the written exam and checkride takes only four months for a passionate flyer. A part-time flyer takes over six months to get a private pilot license. A lazy student pilot can stretch enough to make it in one year.
Does that mean getting a private pilot is difficult?
A private pilot license is the easiest, with hundreds of thousands of private pilots only in the USA.
You may ask why people take so long if it’s so easy.
Typically, folks procrastinate a lot because they fear new challenges. On the contrary, you can get your private pilot license in as few as two months with effort and time.
But getting the license in two months may not suit your busy life. Let’s say we consider four months for private pilot training.
But why would it take us months to get a license?
Many think flying an airplane is the same as driving a car. But it’s not. Practice on the wheel for a few days, yet you won’t be ready.
To get a private pilot license, you must follow the path as in following:
- Getting your student pilot license takes three weeks;
- Finishing a private pilot ground school takes one month;
- Passing your private pilot knowledge test takes a month to two months;
- Building adequate flying hours, including instructions, solo, and cross-country, takes two months;
- Waiting for the checkride schedule and taking the practical exam.
So each step mentioned above requires time, and the entire process of acquiring them all takes four months. It takes a lot less for individuals that follow several actions simultaneously.
Let’s dive deeper into why getting a private pilot license would take four months.
Each phase involves time, and without effort, you’ll delay progress. A student pilot can achieve all the steps above in a very short or some students can take years.
Getting your student pilot license takes three weeks.
To apply for a student pilot license, you need a third-class medical certificate as per requirement.
Getting a medical certificate is straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a few hours. All you have to do is visit an FAA-designated doctor, undergo some tests, and get your medical certificate.
Once you have your medical certificate, your flight school can apply for a student pilot license so that you can begin flight training.
Getting your student pilot license can take somewhere between 2 to 3 weeks.
Most student pilots would waste time while waiting for the student pilot license.
I suppose you’re intelligent. So, you would finish your private pilot ground school instead of wasting time.
Depending on your preference, you can enroll in an online or in-person ground school at your flight school.
Finishing your private pilot ground school takes only a month.
There are ground schools where students can get lessons in an accelerated program in days.
Assuming you have the liberty of studying at your own pace. You can enroll in an online private pilot ground school and have additional study materials at your disposal.
Yet with all the resources, you must study at your home. At this stage, you must dedicate a few hours every day to studying.
Because this is where you build the foundation for your private pilot practical training.
Some ground schools are very detailed and take weeks to finish; many courses are short and take only a few days.
But go for detailed ground courses. It would seem overwhelming initially, but it will be well worth it .
Don’t rush at this stage. If you need two months to finish the course, take your time. Not everyone has the same learning ability.
So while you’re waiting for your student pilot license, you’re also going through your ground classes.
Hence, overall it takes two months, and not more than that, to get your student pilot license and finish your ground school.
Passing your private pilot knowledge test takes a month to two months.
In the previous paragraph, I said you need an excellent online ground school to grasp aeronautical fundamentals better. However, taking ground school is essential to obtain your private pilot knowledge test endorsement.
During your ground school (in-person or online), you must take quizzes to evaluate your knowledge.
Upon satisfying the instructor for in-person school or your online instructor, you’ll receive an endorsement.
You must present this endorsement for your private pilot knowledge test at the testing center.
You must pass the FAA private pilot knowledge test (written exam) to become eligible for a private pilot license.
I always suggest aspiring pilots take their knowledge test before they begin flight training.
So let’s sum up the total duration of getting a student pilot license.
At first, you got your medical certificate and applied for a student pilot license. While waiting for your student pilot license, you enrolled in a private pilot ground school and got your endorsement.
Until now, you spent two months getting your student pilot license and passing your private pilot knowledge test.
So our goal is to get a private pilot license within four months, and it looks like we’re on the right track.
Building adequate flying hours, including instructions, solo, and cross-country, takes two months.
Two months passed for ground schooling and passing the private pilot knowledge test, and now you’ve another two months to complete your flight training.
You passed your knowledge test that boosts your confidence, and you’re up in the air taking actual flight instructions.
The FAA requires PART 61 student pilots to have at least 40 hours of flight time, of which 20 hours must be flight instructions from a CFI and 10 hours solo.
Nevertheless, a typical student pilot is not ready to apply for a private chekride after 40 hours of flight training.
Let’s breakdown the flight training into two phases for clarification:
- Flight training timespan to get your first solo flight;
- Building hours and meeting FAA requirements.
Flight training timespan to get your first solo flight.
Since you begin your flight training, your initial objective is to practice for a solo flight.
Some students get their first solo flight after 10 hours of flight instruction, and other get it after practicing for 25 hours. Some get their solo flight quickly, and some are late bloomers.
The period to get the first solo flight varies depending on the students.
Bear in mind: Getting your first solo later in your flight training impacts the duration of the entire flight training.
Because the FAA has several other requirements for students to fulfill as solo pilots.
Building flight hours and meeting the FAA requirements as a solo pilot.
FAA mentions in 14 CFR PART 61 that a student pilot must accumulate 10 hours of solo flight before applying for the private pilot checkride.
Therefore, spending too much time to get your first solo is correlated to building solo hours for a private pilot license.
As I mentioned, not every student’s brainpower is equal, and some need more time to grasp it. As a result, more time is spent on flight training.
The requirements to fulfill as a solo pilot are the following:
- Solo cross-country flight for three hours;
- Three hours of night flight;
- Introductory instrument flight for three hours.
Meeting all these requirements within forty hours of flight training is a big challenge for most student pilots.
Mastering flight operations in appropriate areas commonly take 55 hours of actual flight training. Many students exceed 70 hours to be ready for the private pilot checkride.
But understand this you must be prepared to spend at least 55 hours in the sky to practice flight maneuvers.
Training in an airplane for 55 hours may take more than two months for an irregular student after passing the private pilot knowledge test.
Most PARt 61 student pilots prefer training in their free time and on weekends, so ensure to fly 5 hours each weekend.
It would take more than two months to build 55 hours if you fly five hours weekly.
Hence at this stage, I recommend student pilots who wish to complete flight training within the next two months devote some more time to flight training each week.
If you can afford to fly three times and fly at least 8 hours each week, you can reach your goal of becoming a private pilot in the next two months.
There are several benefits of flying frequently.
Flying 8 hours a week, you can build roughly 6 hours in 2 months;
Furthermore, there are other obstacles to flight training that you can overcome by flying more often.
One of which is flying frequently makes you less vulnerable to forgetting flight lessons.
Fly more often, and you don’t have to repeat lessons from previous flight lessons and consequently grasp matters quickly.
Another hindrance to flight training is adverse weather. Poor weather conditions in the vicinity can alter your schedule, and you might need to cancel your flight.
So flying more often gives you more flexibility and accumulates hours quickly despite several challenges and obstacles.
Finally, you’ve reached the stage to take your private pilot checkride.
Four months have passed since you started your private pilot license training. I hope you spent less than four months preparing for the private pilot checkride.
Because now you have to wait again for a designated pilot examiner’s schedule to take your oral and practical exams.
Waiting for the checkride schedule and taking the practical exam.
Finally, it’s time to schedule a date for your big day.
The date depends on your area’s Designated Pilot Examiner’s (DPE) availability.
Often the DPE is available for the practical and oral exam on the following weekend upon request. In rare cases, the DPE is unavailable, and it might take months to complete your checkride.
However, study and prepare for the checkride as if it’s on your next weekend. You can’t compromise failing your checkride after spending months for this day.
Once you pass your private pilot checkride, you can call yourself a private pilot.
If you’ve come this far in this post, I believe you already understood how long it takes to get a private pilot license (PPL) and how you can amplify the process of getting your PPL.
Getting a private pilot license from scratch may take more than four months, but ideally, you can get one in 4 months.
The duration I mentioned is for a PARt 61 student pilot. Likewise, the duration is applicable for PART 141 students.
Multiple factors can alter the duration of getting a private pilot license:
Lastly, I would like to mention some factors that can change your private pilot flight training time.
Adverse weather conditions:
If you begin your private pilot training during the rainy season, you can expect many canceled flights, as most of your training flights would be VFR.
If the weather in your air base vicinity is primarily gloomy, you’ll have more canceled flights, significantly impacting training duration.
Availability of money to fund flying lessons:
If you don’t allocate a healthy budget to get your private pilot license, you may run out of cash to fund private pilot training.
Bear in mind many student pilots begin flight training only by looking at the hour requirements to get a private pilot license.
In reality, most student pilots are not ready to get a private pilot license after forty hours of flight training.
Students often don’t have the budget to fund the extra 20 hours of flight training that I clarified in this article, hence running out of cash to continue training.
Consequently, they delay their flight training.
Your flight school has many grounded aircraft.
Remember to ask your flight school how many airworthy aircraft they have in their flight school. Also, learn about the number aircraft to students ratio.
General people see many aircraft in the hangar and think the flight school has many aircraft. But often, most aircraft are grounded and not ready to fly.
So you may enroll in a flight school where you see many aircraft before enrollment and later find out they only have two aircraft worthy of aerial operations.
So if a flight school has many students and a small fleet, you would wait for days to get a flight schedule.
That will impact your pilot training progress and delay achieving your goal. You can read here to know more about how flight schools scam.
The time to get a private pilot is variable for each student pilot. Some students get their pilot license quickly, and others delay intentionally.
It’s unusual for a student pilot to take more than four months to get a private pilot license.
Considering multiple radical factors getting a private pilot license may take longer.
A lot depends on students’ progress, willpower, and cash flow to get a private pilot license quickly.
If you intend to get a private pilot license, you can contact us to learn more about getting a private pilot license and how to finish training quickly.
Thank you for explaining that it can take six weeks to two months to get your PPL. I’ve been curious about the timeline since my son mentioned wanting to become a pilot. I’ll have to share this with him and see if we can find a good schedule for him to get in his hours.