Longing for your first solo flight? Know the student pilot solo requirements first and act accordingly.
Make a plan and talk to your flight instructor that you want to get a solo flight endorsement as quickly as possible.
Here I discussed the standard requirements for student pilots and how you can meet your flight instructor’s expectations as a pilot.
A veteran flight instructor will train you adequately and release for your solo flight quickly. But first, you have to grasp aircraft controls.
Keep note of these:
- Master the flying skills as required by FAR/AIM Section 61.87;
- Meet your CFI’s expectations;
- Pass a pre-solo knowledge test administered by your CFI;
- Always remember the student pilot solo limitations.
The sooner you fulfill the requirements, the quicker your CFI will entrust you with the aircraft.
Let’s begin with the standard requirements for solo flying first.
Standard student pilot solo requirements.
There are some minimum requirements before one can get their first solo flight. The requirement includes:
- A student pilot must be at least 16 years old before flying solo;
- Be able to speak, read, write and communicate in English;
- Hold at least a Third Cless Medical certificate.
Thus if you are 16 years old and want to begin your flight training, you can do that.
Once you get your Third class medical certificate, you can fly an aircraft but with a flight instructor.
Next comes the pre-solo exam or knowledge test.
Pass the pre-solo exam administered by a certified flight instructor.
The pre-solo exam is a requirement by the FAA. A CFI must conduct a pre-solo exam to determine whether a student is known to operate solo flights.
If the student fails the pre-solo exam, the flight instructor must re-take the exam until they pass.
But before re-taking the exam, the flight instructor should discuss all the incorrect answers. Here the flight instructor must explain the subjects again to clarify the confusion of a student pilot.
The pre-solo exam will be on these subjects:
- Part 61 and Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations;
- Airspace rules and airport operational procedures for the airport where the student will perform first solo flight;
- Characteristics and functional limitations of the aircraft student pilot will use for solo flight.
How to prepare for the pre-solo exam? <3>
Buy a FAR/AIM and study PART 61 and PART 91. You don’t have to memorize everything but read thoroughly to have a basic understanding of the rules and regulations.
Next, read the aeronautical informational manual part of the book thoroughly.
Third, get the Pilot Operating Handbook for the aircraft you fly. Memorize the limitations of your aircraft and remember the critical information from that book.
The best practice is to memorize emergency procedures that will help you for your actual flight; likewise, it will help you pass the pre-solo knowledge test.
It is typical to see many questions in the pre-solo exam related to the aircraft you will fly.
To get your first solo, you must master the essential flying skills.
Your flight instructor will release you for a solo flight once he ultimately believes in you. You have to prove yourself to your flight instructor that you can safely take off and land the aircraft.
It’s the fight instructor’s responsibility to train you to become proficient in flying to reach that position.
However, to become proficient in flying takes a while.
Typically, student pilots get their first solo flight between 10 to 30 hours.
You may wonder why one takes a lot fewer flight hours than the other.
That’s because some people can grasp the flight controls quicker than others.
It all depends on you.
Prove yourself you are proficient in flying, and your flight instructor will release you for solo.
A student pilot must show that they have grasped the following abilities:
- Understand flight preparation procedures, including preflight planning;
- Ground operations, including runups;
- Standard and crosswind takeoffs and landings;
- Straight and level flight, and level turns;
- Climbing and Descending;
- Climbing turns and descending turns;
- Ability to make traffic patterns, including entry and departure procedures;
- Avoiding collision course, wind-shear, and wake turbulence;
- Regular descending and descending turns, using flaps;
- Maneuvering at cruise speed and slow flights;
- Stall entries and recovery from a stall at different attitudes and power combinations;
- Simulate in-flight emergency procedures and approaches to a landing area with simulated engine malfunctions;
- Maneuvering using ground reference;
- Slips to a landing; and
- Missed approach and go-arounds.
By reading the bullet points, the information may seem overwhelming to you. But the reality is these operational procedures are the minimum requirements by FAA.
As a student pilot, you will go through all the points during your flight training. These are part of the process.
During flight training, you may notice these are not difficult at all. AS you continue training, all these maneuvers and procedures will be your second nature as a pilot.
But like I mentioned, some student get their solo in lesser time than others. It is because some students grasp the knowledge quicker, and some prepare well for the flight training.
How can you prepare for actual flight training.
There is a book you can study to prepare for actual flight training. Many people think theory studies don’t help for real flight.
But remember these as well it’s not possible for a Flight Instructor to teach you every technique during your flight training. It will be difficult for you to grasp all the knowledge while learning to feel the aircraft control.
So it is best to study a book that teaches the technical skills of flying or, as the jargon goes, stick and rudder flying.
I did not believe books can help for actual flying. But the technical flying skills in the book can help you grasp flying maneuvers. You will learn particular things such as when to start descending, when to climb, how to trim correctly, how to smoothly transition from a turn to straight and level flight, where to look while you are on final, when exactly to flare and what to do if you encounter ground effect.
There are many more that you can find in a book to become better in actual flight.
I studied the How to fly an airplane handbook by Rod Machado to improve my flight skills.
This book is quite practical. How to use this book efficiently?
Before going to each flight, ask your flight instructor what maneuvers you will practice on your next flight.
Once you know about the next flight’s maneuvers, you can study how to fly an Airplane book referring to that specific chapter.
I can promise you that following the book’s techniques and implementing them in flight will meet your flight instructors’ expectations.
Thus your instructor will trust you with the aircraft and release you for a solo flight.
Finally, remember the student pilot solo limitations.
A student pilot should know what are his limitation for operating a flight without a flight instructor.
You got your first solo flight doesn’t mean you can operate solo flights at any condition.
The limitations are as follows:
- Don’t take off at night without an endorsement from your flight instructor. You will get an endorsement once you receive proper training for night flight;
- It would be best if you did not carry passengers until you get your private pilot license;
- You can’t fly farther than 25 nautical miles from your base airport without endorsement;
- Must not fly for compensation or hire;
- Don’t operate flights if the visibility is less than three statute miles or in Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) conditions;
- Lastly, don’t attempt to fly international routes even if it is close to your base airport.