Frequently Asked Questions


Are there any special skills required to begin training?

Not at all! All you need to successfully learn to fly is the desire and dedication! No special skills are required to get started. You'll learn all that is required during the course of your training.

Where Do I begin?

Starting out with a Discovery Flight is the best place to start. It's the easiest, least expensive way to determine whether or not becoming a pilot is for you. 

Is Learning To Fly Difficult?

Not necessarily.  As with any other skill you master, flying is learned step by step. It is a fascinating experience, but not particularly difficult. Practically anyone who is willing to invest time and effort can learn to fly. Thousands of people have done so - you can, too!

Are There Any Requirements to Begin Flight Training?

There are four basic requirements for learning to fly powered airplanes in the United States:

You must be at least 16 years old to fly "solo" in an airplane.
You must be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
You must be in good general health.
You must provide proof of citizenship (such as a U.S. birth certificate or current passport.

You can start a Student Pilot application once you turn 13 years old, but you can't complete it until you're within 90 days of your 14th birthday, or older. When you are 17, you can apply for a private pilot certificate. There is no maximum age limit. It is health, not age, which determines a person's ability to fly.

What is an FAA Medical?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to pass a routine medical exam every 2 years (every 5 years for persons under 40 years old). This simple physical examination ensures that pilots do not have medical problems that could interfere with their ability to fly safely. There are allowances made for many physical limitations. For example, glasses and contact lenses are perfectly acceptable. There are three classes of the medical exam based on your goals and aviation aspirations. For the private pilot applicant, the 3rd Class Medical is what you need. The commercial pilot applicant requires the 2nd Class Medical.

The physical exam can be obtained anytime, but you must have it prior to solo flight. If you're planning to learn to fly, you may wish to complete the physical exam early in your flight training to assure that you are medically qualified (most people are). This exam must be performed by an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). You may visit the FAA website at to find an AME near you.

What is Involved in the Training Process?

The training process really has two aspects:

Ground training, most students are opting for online ground schools which I highly recommend. The freedom and flexibility of using an online ground school and the quality of learning is exceptional.  I personally conducted all my ground school online and continue to stay proficient in my on development through the use of technology.  It involves learning about flight rules (regulations), flight planning, navigation, radio procedures, weather, and other important topics.

Flight training takes place in the airplane under my supervision. This is where you will learn the hands-on skills needed to pilot the airplane yourself.

Each flight lesson begins with a ground briefing, where we will discuss precisely what we are going to do in the air and how we will do it. Next, we will fly what we have planned on the ground (I will demonstrate the maneuver to you using my flight controls, and then you will perform that exact maneuver using your flight controls). After we land and have secured the airplane, we will go back to the classroom and debrief our flight. During the debrief, we will discuss what we did in the air and how we can do it better during our next lesson and answer any questions you have. Finally, we will discuss the next lesson and I will assign any homework for you to do prior to our next meeting. By the time you complete your training, you'll be secure in the knowledge that you're a safe, confident, and competent pilot.

FAQ's Continued


How Long Will It Take Me To Become A Private Pilot?

The Federal Aviation Administration specifies minimum flight experience requirements for each pilot certificate. To be eligible for a Private Pilot certificate, you must have logged at least 40 hours of flight time. However, in addition to the 40-hour minimum flight experience requirement, you must also be proficient at specific tasks (for example, takeoffs and landings). Your flight training, in large part, will be devoted to learning those tasks and then practicing them to the required level of proficiency. This includes time spent flying with an instructor aboard ("dual" time) and time spent flying alone ("solo" time). Training will include some night flying, some instrument flying (flying solely by reference to the airplane's instruments), and some "cross-country" flying (that is, flight to and from other airports).

Obviously, everyone learns at a different pace. Most people require more than the FAA minimum of 40 hours to become proficient enough to earn a private pilot certificate. In fact, the national average (based on data from all flight schools in the U.S.A.) is between 60-70 hours. Although you may complete your training faster, initially budgeting for 60 - 70 hours of flight time would be most practical.

You will maximize the efficiency of your training by flying on a regular basis. By doing so, you will retain more knowledge between lessons and thus progress faster. For most people, two to three lessons per week (each lesson lasting 2 hours) provides for a good learning experience. Depending upon the flight schedule you commit to, a four to six month period to accomplish your goal is quite reasonable. If you are only able to take lessons once a week, then you can expect it to take about a year to obtain your private pilot certificate.

How To Prepare For My First Lesson?

If you have not taken a Discovery Flight lesson yet, then your first flight will be just that. The Discovery Flight will give you an opportunity to discover my teaching style and whether or not seeking a pilot license is for you.  

PRIOR TO First Lesson: (please complete and obtain the following)

1.  Submit an online Application and be approved for a Student Pilot License by the FAA through IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application).

2.  It is highly recommended that you schedule a Medical Examination with an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) to obtain your Medical Certificate.  This process begins by completing an online Medical Application with the FAA through MedXpress followed by a medical examination by an approved AME.

3.  Provide TSA Approval with a valid photo ID and proof of citizenship (such as a U.S. birth certificate or current passport).

4.  Purchase yourself a Pilot Logbook (they usually are around $15 and can be purchased online) (Sporty's Pilot Shop is where I purchase most of my supplies )


1. We will review your Student Training Syllabus,  Student Pilot License, Medical Certificate, TSA approval and provide an introduction to the aircraft you'll learn to fly. 

You'll be briefed on the avionics, instruments, controls, equipment in the plane, and what to watch for when you're flying.

2.  I will endorse your pilot logbook for TSA Approval.

3.  We will conduct your first flight lesson.

After the pre-flight briefing, we will take off. Once aloft, working under my close supervision, you'll take control of the airplane. We will then go over, and you will perform the four basic flight maneuvering: straight & level flight, turns, climbs, and descents. When we return, we will debrief the flight by discussing how you performed and how to improve your performance. Afterwards, we will discuss the next lesson and schedule our next flight lesson.

When Do I Begin My Home Study Course

I recommend you begin your Online / Home Study Course (Ground School) fairly quickly.

Here are a few Online Ground School's that I recommend:

Another good online resource is The Finer Points Podcast by Jason Miller.

What Supplies Will I Need to Purchase?

Here is a basic list of items you will need for Private Pilot Ground & Flight Training and can be purchased online from a variety of vendors.

  • Headset
  • Manual or Electric E6B Flight Computer
  • FAA Aviation Weather Text Book
  • FAA Airplane Flying Handbook
  • Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
  • Pilot's Log Book
  • FAR/AIM 
  • Sectional Plotter
  • VFR Flight Plan Forms

What Kind of Tests will I Take?

No test is required for a student pilot certificate. But before a private pilot license is issued, you must pass two tests. One is a written FAA examination, which you will study for on your own through the private pilot course of your choosing that you will purchase. I will assist you in getting the right curriculum specific to your learning style and will help you in understanding topics you may have difficulty with.

Following the written exam is a practical examination of your flying ability. Not unlike a driving test, you will take an official examiner for a flight. The examiner, who has been specially designated by the FAA to give flight tests, will require you to demonstrate your ability to maneuver the airplane safely and confidently. But, as with the written test, you will have practiced everything many times before. There will be no surprises and you will be fully prepared.

Why Should I Learn to Fly with MACKEY (Aviation Services)?

My goal is to help you become a confident, competent, and safe pilot.  As a full-time flight instructor, I am dedicated in completing your training from start to finish. I am fully dedicated to what I do. I am committed to seeing your training through from beginning to end.