One of the most exhilarating accomplishments I've ever experienced was flying solo for the very first time as a student pilot in Magnolia, Arkansas in 1993. I remember it like it was yesterday. I am excited that you have an interest in pursuing aviation. Becoming a Private Pilot is your first step in a lifetime of exploration and adventure.
We will go over this more in detail when we connect, but here are the basics. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined the minimum requirements for a Private Pilot Certification to be 40 hours of total flight time. However, the nation's airspace, navigation / communication systems, weather reporting services and aircraft systems have increased dramatically in complexity.
Today, the national average of flight time before earning a Private Pilot certification is approximately 60 hours (total flight time). That may sound like a lot of flight hours, but for some pilots, it's what they need to be proficient and prepared to pass their Practical Test. I believe with a proactive plan, commitment to study and frequency of flight training, that you can accomplish your goal in a time frame that best suits your learning style. Frequency is critical to the learning process.
The FAA has set the Airmen Certification Standards to help us through this process.
The commercial pilot certificate is where you will demonstrate to the FAA that you have a safe, professional command of your aircraft and are prepared for all types of in flight emergencies.
The commercial certificate will allow you to fly (in limited scenarios) passengers and/or cargo for hire. This is the first step toward becoming a professional pilot. Commercial pilot training will build on skills you already have from your primary flight training and instrument training (if applicable).
You will demonstrate a greater precision in flying, flight planning and understanding federal regulations, as well as a greater knowledge of weather and aircraft systems.
Once again the FAA has been very helpful in providing the Commercial Airmen Certification Standards to assist us in helping you be the very best pilot you can be.
Some of my greatest learning's have come from a Flight Review. Too often we stress over conducting a flight review as if it is a pass / fail inspection. A Bi-Annual Flight Review is a great opportunity to hone our skills and zero in on piloting areas needing some proficiency and practice. Taking a flight review every 24 months is a requirement for licensed pilots, but it's not a check ride. It is an opportunity to become a better pilot. A flight review consists of a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training. We recommend planning for 2 hours of flight to meet the FAR 61.56 guidelines and best help you hone your skills.
FAR 61.56 sets the minimum guidelines
The complex & high performance endorsements are relatively easy to obtain, yet affords a pilot the ability to fly a wider range of aircraft. A complex aircraft is defined as any aircraft that possesses flaps, retractable landing gear and constant speed propeller(s). The definition of high performance is "an airplane with an engine of more than 200 horsepower." Unlike other certificates and ratings, the complex & high performance endorsements are conveyed solely by a Certified Flight Instructor.
The guidelines are specified in FAR 61.31
Can operate aircraft with flaps, retractable landing gear and constant speed propeller(s) (complex) and more than 200 horsepower (high performance).
The complex & high performance endorsements must be added to a certificate and therefore, the candidate must hold at least a private pilot certificate. There are no time requirements associated with a complex or high performance endorsement, but the candidate must exhibit complete competence in the operation of a complex and/or high performance aircraft. Upon the demonstration of proficiency, the Certified Flight Instructor will award the candidate a complex and/or high performance endorsement or both.
Time & Cost Considerations
Due to the fact that there are no specific time requirements for obtaining these endorsements, it is nearly impossible to estimate a cost. The cost will vary from pilot to pilot because the amount of training depends solely on the pilot’s ability to demonstrate proficiency in the operation of the aircraft. We generally find that this takes 3 – 5 hours of dual flight for proficient pilots.