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If you are an aspiring pilot, you will want to know about these three things. Granted there are A LOT of things that you need to know when you are becoming a pilot but what it all boils down to is that you need to have accomplished these three things before you are considered a real Private Pilot. - Flight Time - Your Checkride - The Private Pilot Written Exam So what do all these entail? Well, today we will explore these three things about flying a little bit closer and see what they are. After you finish reading them, you will see that getting your Private Pilot License really as easy as 1-2-3. 1. Flight Time Before you get your Private Pilot license, you must log a minimum of 40 hours of flight time. 20 hours must be with an instructor and the other 10 hours must be solo. During the 20 hours with the instructor you will learn everything from how to pre-flight an airplane, learn many different maneuvers, how to plan for and do a cross-country flight, how to fly at night, and how to manage various emergency situations. During the 10 hours of solo flight time, you will have to accomplish a cross-country flight with stops at three different airports and a few more things to. Basically your solo time is the time that you push through your comfort zone and practice what your instructor has been teaching you. If you were perceptive, you would have noticed that total number of hours for both the instructor time and the solo flight time didn't equate to 40 hours. That's because there is a 10 hour fudge factor in there which you can fill with either instructor flight time or solo flight time. But here is a warning, don't get too focused on the 40 hours. Your instructor will be keeping track of your hours for you (as should you) and though most people would love to finish their flight training within the 40 hours it very rarely happens. You will most likely finish more around the 50 hour make. So when you budget for your flight training, if you figure it out to 50 hours, you are more likely to not overrun on your budget.
2. The Checkride Oh, the dreaded "checkride." Before you can carry passengers, you must pass a "checkride," where an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) conducts both an oral exam and a practical (flight) test. During the "oral exam," the examiner will test your knowledge on everything from pertinent Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's) related to your flying privileges, weather, your cross-country preparations, and airplane systems. Be prepared to spend several hours covering all this information because it takes awhile to get through it and can last for several hours. It can be quit draining both physically and emotionally. If all goes well, and I'm sure it will, you and the examiner will then go fly the airplane you have been training in for the last several months. Officially this is the first time you are the "Pilot-inCommand" and the examiner is basically your first passenger. The examiner, for all practical purposes, is just an observer. Technically, they are there to "observe" your flying skills and decide if you meet the standards required to become a Private Pilot. They aren't there to instruct or help unless an actual emergency develops. So during the practical portion of your checkride, the examiner will ask you to perform many of the maneuvers that you have been practicing during your training. And just like an athlete who prepares for the big race, on race day, they are at their best. They would have prepared and practiced as hard as they could to do their best on this particular day. Your flight instructor will have done the same to get you to this point. On this day, you will be the best pilot you've ever been. Everything the examiner will ask you to do, you will most likely have seen several time before, so, just perform the maneuvers that they ask you to do. Typically small mistakes will be overlooked because we all make mistakes at some point. And if you do make a mistake, try to push the thought out of it out of your head and move on to the next maneuver. 3. Your Private Pilot Written Exam Maybe because it is a written test or our life-long fear of taking tests but the Private Pilot written exam is often the thing that is the most intimidating aspect to people trying to get their Private Pilot certificate. The funny thing is that the actual test is not a "written" exam at all these days. The test now consists of 40 multiple choice questions that you either have to know the answers to or you will be able to figure out by doing a little math and deductive reason. You will be allowed to take into the testing area a pencil, some clean paper, a calculator, a watch, and your brain. By the time you ready to take the test, you will be very well prepared and will have nothing to fear. So before you start day one at ground school for getting your pilot's license, get a feel for what is needed to pass the written test and make sure you capture that knowledge from class, your textbook or wherever you find it in your training. You can virtually build a database with the answers that the FAA test will have word for word and study that concentrated guide extensively before going for the test. Now since it is intimidating to take this exam, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you successfully pass the FAA Private Pilot written with high marks. Tip 1: Prepare Like Your Life Depends on It
There is just one thing that will defeat the jitters of taking the pilot's certification test and that is when your knowledge is so complete that there is literally nothing that they can ask you that you don't know well. When you attend ground school, approach it differently than you might have at high school. Be an aggressive listener and note everything of substance that you will need. Go in there like a hungry bear and gobble up the knowledge the instructor has to share with you. If you miss even one little thing or do not understand something, ask for clarification and sit on the front row so you do not miss a thing. In this way, you will walk out of each day of class with complete comprehension of what was taught. Then, when you get home, review your notes immediately. That way it will be burned into long-term memory. Be just as aggressive about the text book and any supplemental material you can pull together. The pilot's exam is not a mysterious entity. Lots of people have taken it so you will be able to find a huge amount of information out there on what to expect. Eat that information up and go over it every day, over and over again, until it is deeply burned into your brain. Then when each question comes up, the answers will flow out just as naturally as telling someone your name when they ask. This approach to taking the pilot's certification test has a double value. By being very active and going after the knowledge you need, you are also putting all your energies into becoming a great pilot too. And then when you finally get your pilot's license and start pushing ahead in your aviation career, your training will pay off every time you take an airplane into the air. Tip 2: Take the Test Many Times The FAA has provided all the questions and all the answers to all the questions on their website, FAA Airmen Test Questions They don't tell you the correct answer but if you take some time and do a little research, you can figure out the correct answer for yourself and I guarantee that you won't forget it when the time comes to take the test. When you were in school, it was considered cheating to know what was on the exam before you took it. But your instructors and the FAA want you to pass this exam. So you can pretty much know the questions you are going to have to answer before you get there. When you attend flight school, almost all of the classroom time will be devoted to preparing you for this test. So they can help you get a feel for what is going to be asked. But you can also order from the internet FAA test preparation kits, test manuals and example tests that will have the contents of the test laid out for you. Tip 3: Get A Good Nights Rest Since most of us have a sleepless night the night before any exam, it is important to try to get a good nights rest. A good nights sleep helps you think more clearly and focus more intently. Tip 4: Eat Well Before Your Exam Just like a good nights rest, eating a good meal before you are going to the exam is important. Low blood-sugar levels will cause your mind to wander and you will miss questions that you know the answer to. If you want the best score possible, eat a sensible meal before you
go. Tip 5: Relax On the day of the exam, DO NOT read anything or study anything associated with flying. Go into the test with confidence that you are going to do well and get a 100%. In other words...relax! Conclusion So there you have it, the 1-2-3's to getting your Private Pilot License. It really isn't that hard if you take it one step at a time. You must rely on your ground instructor and flight instructor to provide you with the best training you can get. You need to ask questions and be willing to experience new ideas and maneuvers with an open mind. You also have to make it fun and when you do that, you will be a Private Pilot before you know it.
Jeffrey is a captain at regional airline and is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He flies the CRJ200, CRJ700, and CRJ900. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, a CL-65 (CRJ200) type rating, and is a Gold Seal Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). He has over 4000 hours total flight time. He writes the blog "Almost the Speed of Sound" which is about his experiences, insights, and thoughts about being an airline captain and a flight instructor and maintains a list of resources that you may find helpful (http://www.flycrj.com/resources) He is also the author of "The CRJ200 Quicknotes Study Guide" which is an essential tool if you want to learn the CRJ200 quickly in an easy-to-understand format. It is available at [http://www.flycrj.com/order.html]
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