View Full Version : Flight school soon

10-07-2013, 03:07 PM
Hey guys I will be going into a flight school in February. I will be doing the 20 hours of ground school and the 10 hours of flight time. I have flown alot in GA aircraft and I was wondering what I should know before the classes start to be prepared. What will I be doing in the solo as well? Thanks

10-08-2013, 07:40 AM
Hi nomiddlemas,

Since you are doing a proper ground school, technically, you don't need to do any preparation. But having said that, any type of learning you do on your own will help you. One thing I would do is find out what curriculum the school uses and get the right book early. There are a number of curricula out there (Jeppesen, Cessna, etc).

Here are some other books/references that are important:

Federal Aviation Regulations and Airman's Information Manual (FAR/AIM 2013)
Gleim FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam Guide
FAA Practical Test Standards, this can be downloaded from the FAA website just like the Aircraft flying handbook, and the Airman's handbook of aeronautical knowledge.

I would also find out what specific aircraft you will be training in and download or buy a copy of the operating handbook and checklist.

As for the solo, it typically happens while practicing takeoffs and landings (called pattern work). Your instructor, having determined that you are ready, gets out of the airplane and you perform three takeoffs and landings by yourself. Before this, there's a step where you take an open-book written test that covers general knowledge and the aircraft-specific knowledge. Your instructor will review your answers with you and sign you off. Also, before you can solo, you need to have your third-class medical completed. The one exception is if you are only pursuing a Sport Pilot license which has no medical exam requirement. One piece of advice if you think you are going to solo on a given day: don't wear your favorite shirt. There's a tradition that, having soloed, the instructor cuts out a panel from the back of the shirt to symbolize that the student no longer needs constant correction (it goes back to the days of biplanes with tandem seating and no intercoms where the instructor would tug the student's shirt to get their attention. Some schools no longer do this, but I think that's a shame. Being a pilot means following in the footsteps of some very brave people and I feel that traditions that bind us to that history are important.

One other thing I would do is to seek out the blogs of others who have gone before you. It really helps to read what other student pilots have gone through as, at times, it can be really discouraging and it's reassuring to see how it can be achieved.

The one piece of advice I have for you is to remember that this is not an easy task, but it can be accomplished by most people provided they stick to it and make the best effort possible. There are a lot of good folks here who will encourage you to keep going and who give excellent advice. If you have the inclination, you might also want to write about your experiences. I know that that certainly has helped me as it has reinforced the notion that this is about more than just learning to fly, you are joining a community, one that wants to see you join them.

10-08-2013, 04:12 PM
So the test I take is not a fail or pass? Its just knowledge and your pilot goes over it?

10-08-2013, 06:46 PM
Hey guys I will be going into a flight school in February. I will be doing the 20 hours of ground school and the 10 hours of flight time. I have flown alot in GA aircraft and I was wondering what I should know before the classes start to be prepared. What will I be doing in the solo as well? Thanks

What are you going for? Private? Sport Pilot?

I noticed you said "the" 10 hours of flight time. That's not going to be enough flight hours to get any certificate.

10-08-2013, 07:16 PM
The test is scored on a flat 100% scale. There are 60 questions on the private written, so each one counts 1.667 points. You need 70 to pass. In addition to the % score, the subject area codes of every question you miss will be on the test report. It is required that your instructor review the areas you were deficient in prior to you taking the flight test.

10-09-2013, 07:59 AM
There are actually more than one test. The one I was referring to was the pre-solo test. That's the open book test. It's meant to show that you have studied the material and that, in particular, that you know the things you need to be safe in the airplane both on the ground and in the air. The pass/fail part of it is your instructor making a judgement call and signing your log book.

The other tests are the practical test and the written test which FlyingRon described. It's given on computer in FAA-designated test centers. You can take it at any time before your final flight exam with the caveat that any areas of questions you got wrong have to be reviewed with your instructor who has to be satisfied that you have mastered the material. That results in another sign off, the one needed to take your practical exam.

The practical is the big hurdle. It's given one-on-one with a designated pilot examiner (DPE). It begins with the DPE asking you to prepare a flight plan for a cross-country flight and with you doing some homework which includes reviewing the aircraft and engine logs and crafting the plan. The day of the exam, you meet with the DPE and undergo a long, detailed oral examination. There's a great youtube video of an oral examination that is really helpful it's here: Private Pilot Oral Exam - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr483zBbQKw)

Once the oral is complete and the DPE feels you have done well enough, you go to the aircraft and take the flying part of the exam. There's something that will really help you prepare for the practical. There's a requirement that you have three hours of dual instruction within six days of taking the practical. This is where your instructor checks determines that you are ready to take the test. You will probably do all of the maneuvers required and demonstrate the other skills needed to fly safely (radio work, preflight, checklists, emergency procedures, etc.).

This can all seem very daunting, but it's designed to be a step-by-step process to make you a safe pilot. It's best to think of the process as a series of smaller processes and to concentrate on completing each one in turn. There's a lot to learn and, thankfully, there are a lot of ways to learn it. I'm almost a year into the quest and while it has taken me longer than I expected, I've enjoyed the journey. When I look back on what I've learned (and think about what I have yet to learn!), I realize that being a pilot is a major accomplishment and a huge confidence-builder. And, most of all, it's a great deal of fun.

At this point, I've soloed and passed my written test as well as having finished almost all of my dual instruction requirements. I have my solo work to complete and the practical.

Bob Meder
10-10-2013, 04:16 AM
Actually, the practical isn't that daunting (until you get to the initial CFI ride - that's a workout). I tell my students that the "oral" or knowledge portion of the test is merely a chance to show off what they've learned as is the flight portion. If I've done my job right, the student shouldn't have too much difficulty passing. After all, the CFI's responsibility is to present candidates that are ready for any practical or knowledge test (note that every endorsement starts with the words "I certify that...").

Also, so you're aware, the "oral" portion of the check ride does not stop when it's time to fly. You will be asked questions during the flight and your knowledge of the airplane will be assessed as well. As I said, though, if your CFI did his or her job properly, not big deal.

10-20-2013, 01:59 PM
it has taken me about 2 years so far for my private rating. i had to take a break after a year and a half because i ran out of money. it has been quite the process for me. i am almost done though. I have to do about 5 more hours of solo, a cross country, and thats it. so far i have logged 68 total flying hours, and about 25 ground school hours. you dont even want to know the price tag for this. i couldve paid my car off by now lol. so if you are planning on doing this in cash, make sure you have it all saved up BEFORE you start so you dont have to stop then technically start almost all over again. you will spend much more than you need to. take it from me.