Understanding Airplane Ratings: the Private Pilot Certificate

This month we are going to break down all of the ratings and certificates needed to become a professional airplane pilot. When prospective students contact our school with questions about the training program, there can be confusion about what ratings and certificates they need to achieve their goals. Our program is broken down into these courses: private, instrument, commercial, and flight instructor ratings. Each week on the blog, we will dive into one of these courses in detail and explain its importance in your development as a pilot.

The first rating that every pilot begins with, whether they are looking to fly for a career or just for fun, is the Private Pilot Certificate. This private pilot course is your introduction to the world of aviation and the foundation for future certificates and ratings. The course includes both flight and ground instruction. The flight instruction done one-on-one with your instructor in the aircraft and the ground instruction is done in a group setting, currently online due to COVID restrictions.

The Private Pilot Certificate allows you to fly almost anywhere by yourself or with family and friends on board. You will discover the joy of flying as you get behind the controls for the first time. In our course, you learn fundamental skills such as pre-flight preparation which includes aircraft weight and balance, filing a flight plan, and understanding aviation weather. Pre-flight preparation is crucial in any flight operation and will be a skill pilots use prior to every flight during their careers.

In private pilot training, you also learn basic aircraft maneuvers, navigation, and the ever-important take offs and landings. During the training you learn how to fly a single-engine aircraft in preparation for your first solo flight, which an extremely memorable event for any pilot. It’s when you fly the aircraft solely on your own without your flight instructor on board. As you prepare for this flight, your instructor will also teach you more about tower-controlled airport operations and emergency procedures so you that will have the skills necessary for your solo. During your private pilot training, you will also complete a cross country solo flight which will be to an airport that is 52 nautical miles away.

Before your take your FAA practical examination for this course, also known as the check ride, your instructor will make sure you have learned all the skills necessary for this course. Once you demonstrate all of the required knowledge to complete this course, you will take an oral and practical exam with an FAA-designated pilot examination. When you complete it successfully, you will be issued your Private Pilot Certificate. The FAA minimum hour requirement for a Part 141 Private Pilot Certificate is 30 hours of ground training and 35 hours of flight training, although the average completion time is 50-60 hours.

Since our school’s focus is on professional pilot training, most of our students move from the private pilot to instrument training, which we will dive into more next week. However, if you have any questions about the private pilot course or any of our courses, please contact our admissions team at 503.726.3000 or info@flyhaa.com. They would be happy to discuss our training program with you and how Hillsboro can help you meet your goals.