Many people believe the sky is the limit-but for a lucky few, it’s home. For thousands of years, people have longed to fly. We are lucky to live in a time when anyone can acquire the necessary skills.
There’s nothing quite like the freedom of flying a small aircraft. If you can see yourself piloting your own plane, you’ll need a private pilot’s license. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about how to get one.
How long does it take to get a pilot’s license?
Pilot’s licenses in the U.K. are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA requires that you spend 45 hours in the air before you are qualified to take the pilot’s licensing test. Of this time, 25 hours are to be with an instructor, and 10 hours are to be flown solo. Of these, five hours must be spent on cross-country flights.
While the minimum required flight time is 45 hours, it may be longer before your instructor feels you are prepared. If you are prepared in less time, you will still be required to undergo instruction until you have achieved 45 hours of flight time.
How can I accumulate the required hours in an aircraft?
Most people take a private pilot’s license (PPL) course at a flying club or flight school in order to prepare for the test. During this course, instructors will fly with you, prepare you to solo safely, and ensure you get the necessary experience. The flight school you choose should be accredited by the CAA.
How much will it cost to get a pilot’s license?
If you enroll in a course at a flying club, you may be charged by the hour or charged a flat fee for all flight time. The fees vary by school, but may cost between £100 and £200 per hour or around £5,000 for a flat-fee programme. Some schools have discount options, so be sure to ask around.
In addition to flight time, the following may or may not be included with the cost of your lessons. Be sure to ask before choosing a flight school, as the cost for these additional materials and services can be significant:
- Books, charts, and log books
- Landing fees
- Membership fees
- On-ground training
- Navigation equipment
- The cost of the seven written tests (£20 each)
- Medical exam: about £150
- CAA Examiner’s Skills Test: £150
- Radio Examiner’s Fee: £70
- CAA License issuance: £146
- Re-tests for the written exam: £23.50 each
Can I fly with passengers before I get my pilot’s license?
No; you will not be allowed to fly with anyone but the instructor in the aircraft until you have earned your pilot’s license.
How old do I have to be to get a pilot’s license?
Legally, you are allowed to start studying for a pilot’s license at fourteen-but you can’t fly solo until the age of sixteen. There is no upper age limit, provided you can pass the required medical examination.
What will I be tested on?
After you’ve passed a PPL class, you will be prepared to take the licensing test. The test covers air law, navigation, flight performance and planning, aircraft general and principles of flight, human performance and limitations, and radio telephony.
In most cases, you will be required to pass the air law section of the test before flying solo for the first time. All sections of the test are multiple-choice, and there are books and study materials published for each section of the test.
Will I have to pass a medical examination?
Yes. In addition to earning the required hours and passing the written test, you will need to pass the Initial JAR Class 2 medical examination for private pilots. You’ll need to have reasonably good eyesight and hearing, as well as no previous or current health conditions that could interfere with flying an aircraft. The medical test must be performed by an Aeromedical Examiner (AME) licensed by the CAA.
Whether you plan to be a private pilot or to fly commercially, earning your pilot’s license gives you access to the sky. Flying is an activity that’s sure to bring you a lifetime of fun and reward.
Why not try one of our taster flying lessons to see if this is a hobby you would like to pursue. The flying time taken on one of our flying lessons will count towards your private pilot’s license.