From FAQs to a step-by-step guide, find out everything you need to know before getting your private pilot license.

By Redtail Air Adventures

In 1903, the Wright Brothers went down in history when they took to the skies in the first-ever aircraft! Aviation has come a long way in the many years since its groundbreaking flight. 

Today, there are many different styles of airplanes and many different types of pilot licenses if you are interested in learning to fly. Obtaining a private pilot license is a significant first step in learning about aviation and can help you turn your passion into a career.

Flying in a private plane can have many benefits — it allows you to forget about the hassles of commercial airlines. You can forget about the pains of airport security, flight delays, and over-packed cabins. When flying in a private plane, you can decide where you want to go and when. The sky is your oyster, especially when you are the pilot!  

Anyone can learn to fly and obtain their very own private pilot license with enough time and proper training. Redtail Air has been a successful flight operation since 1978, and our professional pilots can provide you with the extensive flight training necessary to allow you to obtain your own private pilot license.

From answers to the most frequently asked questions to a step-by-step how-to guide, here is everything you need to know before getting your private pilot license.

FAQs About Obtaining a Private Pilot License

What is a private pilot license?

While there are many types of pilot licenses out there that you can train for, a private pilot license (PPL) is a great first step that will open up future aviation opportunities for you. First, you will need to obtain a student pilot certificate, and then you will be well on your way to getting your private pilot license.

A PPL will allow you to fly most types of airplanes, even with passengers on board! While you cannot yet be hired or paid for flying, you will have the necessary base training to take your skills further if you would like to. If you dream of becoming a commercial pilot and making a career out of your aviation skills, obtaining your private pilot license is a necessary first step.

What are the requirements for getting your private pilot license?

First, you must meet a few requirements to obtain your private pilot certificate! 

  • Have a valid driver’s license 
  • Put in a minimum of 40 flight training hours 
  • Pass the FAA tests
  • Obtain an FAA medical certificate

You can begin training for your student pilot certificate as young as 16 years old and be well on your way to obtaining your private pilot certificate by the time you are 17. There are no upper age limits to obtaining a license — we believe it is never too late to strive to achieve your goals!

instructor and student taking a selfie inside airplane
flight training student sitting inside a single-engine airplane

What are the age restrictions for getting your private pilot license?

Are you old enough to operate a car? Then you can start training to fly! The Federal Aviation Regulations require potential pilots to be at least 16 years old to operate an aircraft solo and 17 years of age to obtain a private pilot certificate.

How much does it cost to become a private pilot?

Many people are apprehensive about obtaining their pilot license because of the time and money it demands. You should consider it an investment in your future. While getting a private pilot license can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, it’s actually cheaper to fly more often because you can retain the information more and not have to repeat the same training every time you fly. It is recommended to fly 2–3 times a week and that will help alleviate the cost of training. A pilot license never expires, and obtaining one once will set you up for life (with regular training).

Obtaining your private pilot license is an investment into your career and quality of life, and choosing the proper training will better prepare you for taking to the skies. 

With our private pilot training, we don’t waste any time — you will fly on your first day. We are efficient with our training while also taking every step to ensure you will be confident in your skills by the end of the program.

How long does it take to get your private pilot license?

Getting your private pilot license is a relatively short program compared to other certification courses and degrees. Most people who stay focused and dedicated throughout the program will finish and obtain their license within 4–12 months (depending on how often you fly each week). You must have a minimum of 40 logged flying hours.

What planes can a private pilot fly?

A licensed private pilot can fly any aircraft with ratings and certifications covered by the license. PPL holders can pilot a single-engine aircraft covering many small planes that are most common to rent or purchase. These single-engine planes are smaller, use less fuel, and are easier to handle and maintain.

small white airplane flying over a river in utah

What is the hardest part about getting your license?

Obtaining your private pilot license is a challenging and rewarding experience, and many people find different hurdles to overcome as they complete their program. 

Many beginners think the hardest part will be learning to fly the plane, but pilots may tell a different story. Some aspects of the training that people find difficult are the time commitment and intense bookwork.

Is getting your private pilot license worth it?

That is, of course, entirely up to how you will use it! A private pilot license is worth it for individuals who:

  • Are attempting to build a career in private flights or scenic tours (though there are additional certifications necessary to start a career in flying)
  • Have access to private plane rentals
  • Enjoy self-guided adventures and flexibility with flight options
  • Want to decide when and where they fly
  • Want to fly anywhere in the world because there are no major restrictions on traveling with your private pilot license

If any of the points above describe you, you could be a great candidate for a private pilot license!

instructor and flight training student taking a selfie inside airplane
instructor and student flying a single-engine plane

Where should I obtain my pilot license?

Moab, Utah, is an extraordinary place to obtain your pilot license! Redtail Flight School flies over incredibly scenic terrain while you grow your skills in the pilot seat. 

If you are interested in dipping your toe in to the world of flying, our Discovery Flight is the perfect first impression of the craft. This is a 1-hour flight in which you will get to fly for the majority of the time. You will learn about basic flying procedures, airport operations, and more. It may be your first step into a new career or life-long hobby!

Steps to Achieving a Private Pilot License

Step 1: Student Pilot Certificate

Obtaining a private pilot license is well worth it but challenging. Do your research to be sure that it is something you genuinely want before spending your time and money on the endeavor. You will start by first acquiring a student pilot certificate.

Redtail Air provides private flight instruction with professional instructors in Moab. You can expect to schedule the flights for around 2 hours. This time frame will involve a lesson on the flight that day, preflight, flight time, and a debriefing after the flight. This ensures that you have enough time to learn effectively. The good news is you can easily schedule your lessons around your schedule! At Redtail Air, we strive to be flexible with planning for your convenience.

Your instructor will help you fill out an application for your student pilot certificate. This certificate is needed in order for you to solo (fly without the instructor). This is a wonderful achievement and the first step towards obtaining your PPL.

Step 2: Medical Certificate

You will need to acquire a Medical Certificate from an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). There are different classes for the medical certificate that you can choose from (Class 1, 2, or 3), depending on if your PPL is for personal experience or you plan to pursue a career in aviation. You will want to get this as soon as you start your flight training. There are certain medications or other medical situations that could prevent you from getting your Medical Certificate. If you are denied, then you will no longer be able to get your PPL. It’s best to talk to one of our CFIs who can help guide you on which AMEs are the closest and who to reach out to if you have any questions pertaining to your medical history.

instructor and student in airplane hanger during private pilot lesson
woman in airplane getting private pilot's license

Step 3: Written Exam & Flight Test

You will be required to take a written exam before you get your license. There are many great online ground classes you can choose from to help you get ready for the exam. You can reach out to our CFIs and find out which ones they recommend. It is also recommended to start the ground classes as soon as you can, and it helps to start them before you begin your flight lessons. This will help give you the knowledge that will transfer to your time in the air.

Your instructor will let you know when they think you are ready to take the final step, the checkride. This test must be done with an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) who will assess your flight skills and knowledge over 1–2 hours of ground and flight time. Once you pass the checkride, you will receive your Private Pilot License!

A Lifetime Achievement

A private pilot license does not expire! Once you have worked hard to earn it, it will last you a lifetime. It is important to refresh your flight knowledge every two years with an instructor to ensure your piloting skills are maintained. 

A private pilot license can allow you the freedom to take weekend getaways and provide you with the necessary foundation for a future career in aviation. You can take your family and friends out on flights, sightsee magnificent places easily, and even use your skills to fly for business or charity purposes. The possibilities are endless once you take the leap and get your private pilot license.

student getting private pilot's license
woman in pilots seat during flight instruction

If you want to work toward a private pilot license, Redtail Air would love to help you achieve your goal. We can provide flight training and resources to help you succeed! Please get in touch with us through our online form, or call us at (435) 259-7421.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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