WHY LEARN TO FLY?
Many people learn to fly so they can transport themselves in a manner that is faster and less stressful than driving a car long distances. When you travel by private plane you make your own schedule and do not have to waste time arriving an hour before departure time to go through airport security. Many times you can travel to an airport that is closer to your destination. Small aircraft get about 15 miles per gallon which is more efficient than some cars/trucks, and many times a car cannot travel in a straight line the way a plane can. Most airports charge an over night parking fee around $10. You rent an airplane by the time the engine runs and fuel is included in “wet” rental rates.
Here are some examples of one way trip time and round trip cost from Palo Alto, CA:
Time/cost in Cessna 172 (130 mph/$120 hr) or Time/cost in C182 (160 mph/$170 hr)
Palo Alto – Reno: 1:30 each way, $360 roundtrip / 1:15 each way, $460 roundtrip
Palo Alto – LA: 2:30 each way, $580 roundtrip / 2:00 each way, $730 roundtrip
Palo Alto – Las Vegas: 3:10 each way, $715 roundtrip / 2:30 each way, $900 roundtrip
Some people learn to fly just because it is fun, challenging as well as relaxing. Some of my clients have told me it was one of the most rewarding experiences of their life. They enjoy sharing their love of flying with their family and friends on local sightseeing flights over San Francisco or on a tour of Alaska by plane. I enjoy flying in Northern California a lot, but one of my favorite things to do is rent an airplane when I am on vacation in the Hawaiian Islands. After a short checkout I am free to explore the islands at my own pace and enjoy spectacular views that I do not see everyday, and most people never see.
HOW TO CHOOSE A FLYING SCHOOL/CLUB
In general flying schools own their own aircraft, hire instructors as employees and seek to make a profit for the owners. Flying clubs leaseback aircraft from private owners, approve instructors to act as independent contractors, and they exist for the benefit of the clubs members, not to make a profit.
Things to look for in a flying school/club:
Do they have a large inventory of aircraft of well-equipped aircraft?
Do they have 3-6 training aircraft of the same type (so that an aircraft going down for maintenance does not stop you from flying.)?
Do they have faster high-performance and complex aircraft you can transition to later for travel and challenge?
Do they have newer aircraft (1-5 years age) as well as older aircraft (15-20 years age)?
Are you able to pay for your training as you go or do you have to pay for it up front?
Do they have an excellent maintenance program?
Do they have experienced flight instructors with 15,000+ hours of flight time?
HOW TO CHOOSE A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR
An ideal flight instructor is one that you enjoy spending time with who has good theoretical knowledge and a variety of experience in flying and teaching to draw upon, and loves to instruct as an end, not just a means to an end.
Most flight instructors teach as a way to build flying time required for a job with the airlines. Most who do this are good pilots, but do not consider flight instruction as a career, but as a means to an end. They do not put much effort into improving their instructional abilites over the years.
Most flight schools take advantage of this and pay a flight instructor a fraction of what they charge the student for their services. Because of this most instructors can only afford, or want to instruct for a few years, (often less that 500-1000 hours) and leave the moment they get a job with the airlines. This can be very frustrating for the student who must now look for another instructor, or worse have one assigned to them by the school.
When you fly with a more experienced instructor they can help you learn and progress faster. They are able to quickly pick up on student mistakes, common reasons for mistakes, and have more than one solution to solve the problems students might have. They are more comfortable letting students make mistakes, and this leads to less time learning how maneuver and land. They develop special techniques that isolate needed skills and improve the students handing of the aircraft. They also have thousands of hours interacting with air traffic control and weather, and can pass this practical experience on to their students. An experienced instructor can have 10 times the experience of a novice CFI, but usually only charge about 50% more per hour. To get an idea how this can affect the total cost of learning to fly in the SF bay area see my private pilot cost estimate section below.
At flying clubs flight instructors are independent contractors where the students choose their own CFI, and pay them directly. Because of this many of the instructors can afford to be full time career flight instructors who love to instruct and have given many thousands of hours of dual flight instruction.
A flight instructor should be well prepared for each lesson and keep track of a students progress through the use of a written syllabus that is given to the student. I use a written syllabus in conjunction with dozens of my own written handouts that let a student know exactly what to do and how to do it. This saves my clients time and money learning to fly and preparing for the FAA pratical test.
Click on the link below to see my handout list and a few sample handouts:
It is important to look for an instructor who can fly when you are able to fly.
If you would just like information on flying I would be happy to meet with you or answer your questions over the phone for FREE.
HOW IS FLYING IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
Flying is the San Francisco bay area is spectacular and challenging.
It is spectacular due to the picturesque landscapes that surround this area of the world: ocean, mountains, and valleys. Most of the year we have excellent flying weather. In the summer we have about 7 months of rain-free weather with a morning marine layer (advection fog) that occurs about ever other week from June to August. Private training is still possible in the mornings if training occurs in a 4 seat aircraft that can depart through this layer of low clouds.
In the winter we do have sporadic storms that bring clouds and rain. At times the clouds are too low to the ground, or rain can lower the flight visibility below 3-5 miles, which is too low to conduct VFR (visual flight rules) flights. On the bright side, between storms we often have cool, clear, excellent flying weather. We usually do not suffer the persistent ground (radiation fog) that the central valley experiences, sometimes for weeks between storms.
Flying in the bay area is challenging due to the proximity of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose airports and their respective airspace. It does take those who learn to fly here some extra effort to become comfortable to operating in and out of Palo Alto, and San Carlos airports. Those who do though are able to fly anywhere in the world comfortably.
HOW OFTEN TO HAVE LESSONS
Many people take 2 or 3 lessons per week. Each lesson is about 2.5 to 3 hours. You can have 1 lesson a week if you are willing to accept that it will take you a little longer and cost a little more due to some forgetting and re-learning of knowledge and skills. You can also take 4 or more lessons a week but just be sure to set aside enough time for reading lesson material between lessons during the reading intensive portions of the training. I have had private and instruments students who have ranged from 3 weeks, to a year to complete their training. If you take 3 lessons a week you can finish in about 3 months.
Introductory Flight Lesson
An introductory flight or Intro Flight allows an individual to experience flight in a 4-seat training aircraft. They handle the flight controls under the instruction of a CFI (certified flight instructor) for 90% of the flight of the flight. Once an introduction flight is purchased you can print it out, or I can email the gift certificate to you. If you are paying for the introduction flight yourself it can be paid for on the day of the flight.
Click here for more details about introductory flights or to purchase a gift certificate.
Anyone can take one introductory flying lesson no matter their citizenship.
If you are a non-US-citizen and would like more information on the TSA process for approval of flight training in the United States click HERE.
If you would just like information on flying I would be happy to meet with you or answer your questions by email email@example.com or over the phone 510-299-3940 for FREE.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN LEARNING TO FLY
Private Pilot training is usually broken down into three phases. Solo, Cross-country, and finally test preparation.
The first half of the solo phase is devoted to handling the plane at high and low altitudes. The second half of the solo phase concentrates on learning how to land and becoming proficient at simulated emergencies such as practice power-off approaches. The solo phase culminates with the student making their first solo flight. This phase takes about 50% of the students time and resources and encompasses most of the reading on the following subjects: Aerodynamics, systems, airport/air traffic control, navigation, weather, and FAA regulations.
The Cross-country phase starts with specialty takeoff’s and landings, introduces radio navigation & flight by reference to instruments. Then several dual Cross-country flights are made first, then several solo cross-country’s. This phase takes about 30% of a students time.
During the final phase the student takes the written knowledge test (if they have not already), continues solo and dual practice of all the maneuvers required by the FAA for the practical test as well as preparing for the oral portion of the practical test. This phase takes about 20% of a students time.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN PRIVATE CERTIFICATE
The syllabus I have created has 40 lessons. If you take 3 lessons a week it would take about three months. If you are able to take more lessons each week you accomplish it faster and may slightly reduce the number of lessons. If you take fewer lessons a week it will take longer, and additional lessons. At 2 lessons per week it can take 4-5 months and at 1 per week it can take 10-12 months. Each lesson costs about $325-$400 depending on the type of aircraft you choose to learn in.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST
This is largely affected by airplane and instructor time. The FAA minimum is 40 hours total which many websites use to give a false lower cost estimate, but the national average is about 75 hours of total flight time. I have had students finish in 55 hours. Most earn their Private Certificate in 60-70 hours.
Here are some estimates based on a more realistic 60 hours of flight time (10 of those are solo), and 30 hours of ground instruction: The misc. items are: Books & supplies, medical, headset, club fee’s, testing fee’s.
|Aircraft Cessna 152/162
||60 hrs @ $99 hr = $5,940
||Cessna 172n, Piper Warrior
||60 hrs @ $120 hr = $7,200
|Total Instructor hrs
||80 hrs @ $95 hr = $8,000
||Total Instructor hrs
||80 hrs @ $100 hr = $8,000
|Remainder of misc. expenses
||Remainder of misc. expenses
These estimates area based on flying with expert instructor with an aviation degree and 10 times the flight experience of a novice CFI with 500-1500 hours of flight time. Visit my Instructor Info page to view my experience.
I have had students transfer to me after flying with a novice instructor (billing them $60/hour) who have 40+ hours and have still not soloed. I can usually solo a student in the 20-25 hour range. It is common for a student flying with a novice CFI to log more than 80-100+ hours of instruction and still not pass their certification test the first time.
The cost of just 10 hours extra hours of aircraft rental time at $120/hour+ $60/hr for instructor, and 10 hours extra hours ground time with an novice instructor charging $60 per hour will increase the total training cost by $2,400. And even with this extra time a novice instructor passes on less knowledge, skill, and judgment which are so critical to flying and making safe decisions as a pilot.
WHAT TYPE OF PLANE SHOULD I TRAIN IN
The most common trainers are the Cessna 152 or C162 (a 2 seat, high-wing airplane), a Cessna 172 (a 4 seat, high-wing airplane), a Piper Warrior or Archer (a 4 seat, low-wing airplane). I recommend that students try a flight in each of the primary trainers that they are interested in and then choose themselves which one to complete the rest of the training in.
For more details and pictures of the outside and inside of each of these please click the Training Aircraft tab.
WHAT ABOUT SPORT PILOT?
Why do some pilots opt for sport rather than private pilot certification?
The initial cost is lower 33 hours training time* (I estimate 40 hours as the SF bay area is a complex area to learn to fly) for sport pilot vs 60 hours training time for private pilot.
If you have never failed an FAA medical, and you have a USA drivers license, then you can self certify and don’t need an FAA medical.
Sport pilot vs Private pilot:
The sport pilot certification has some significant limitations that do not apply to a private pilot certification.
1 maximum aircraft weight – 1320 lbs – limited to Cessna 162 or smaller. (note -Cessna 162 with 3 hours fuel can only carry 2 170 lb people with zero baggage)
2 Cannot fly at night.
3 Cannot fly with less than 3 miles of visibility.
4 Cannot fly without surface reference. (above a cloud layer)
5 Cannot fly above 10,000 feet.
6 To fly to a towered airport like Palo Alto or San Carlos you need additional training in radio communications, navigation, and ATC radar services.
I can teach sport pilot in a Cessna 162. You would need to weigh 175 lbs or less to train with me in this airplane.
Cost estimates for sport pilot (based on 25 total lessons):
Aircraft rental $100 per hour X 40 hours = $4,000
Instructor Darryl K $100 per hour X 50 hours $5,000
Other cost like headset, written, flight test at least $1,000
Total cost for sport pilot at towered airport $10,000
*reference: AOPA – says sport averages 33 hours with tower communication training: http://www.aopa.org/Advocacy/Regulatory-,-a-,-Certification-Policy/Quick-comparison-of-pilot-certificates
WHAT IS INVOLVED WITH GETTING AN INSTRUMENT RATING
The major subject areas are: Basic attitude instrument flying, coping with instrument failures, partial panel practice (no attitude or heading indication), VOR, ADF and DME navigation, holding procedures, Approach procedures (VOR, ILS, ADF or GPS), many short cross-country and local practice flights, and one long cross-country flight of 250 NM total roundtrip distance.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN INSTRUMENT RATING
There are 27 lessons of 2.5 to 3 hours in my instrument syllabus. If you take 3 lessons a week it would take about 9 weeks.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST
Unlike the private 40 hour requirement, many students are able to complete the instrument rating close to, or just over the 40 hours of minimum set by the FAA. Of the 40 hours, 20 many be done in a simulator.
Note: Remember before you take the instrument FAA practical test you must have 50 hours of PIC (pilot in command) cross-country time. This time must be 50 NM cross-countries where your first landing must be at least 50 NM from your departure airport. 10 to 15 hours of this time can be obtained during your instrument training.
||25 HRS @ $120 = $3,000
||BASED C172n OR PIPER WARRIOR
||20 HRS TOTAL = $1,000
||20 hours AATD Sim.@ $50
||65 HRS TOTAL TIME @ $100 = $6,500
||BASED ON GOLD SEAL CFI (ME)
|MATERIALS: BOOKS, CHARTS, TEST, ECT
||(22 HOURS OF GROUND INCL. IN 66 CFI HRS)
HOW DO SIMULATORS HELP SAVE TIME AND MONEY
Simulators save time by allowing you to do all of the following: re-position the plane is seconds. Place the aircraft at any position relative to an approach procedure, hold or other navigational objective; change with wind direction and velocity to practice many possible correction techniques; fail instruments in a realistic way; seeing the plane’s position on a map from time to time help’s develop situational awareness; and of course the biggest reason; real planes do not come with a pause button, which is great to stop action and clear up any questions.
Simulators save money in several ways: First by being over 3 times less expensive that the typical IFR (instrument flight rules) training plane; also you do not have to preflight them; and you can log all of the hobbs time without having to subtract 2 or 3 tenth’s from each flight the way you must for airplane flights (For startup, taxi, takeoff, landing, and taxi back to parking. All which cannot be done while wearing a hood.)
WHAT TYPE OF PLANE IS GOOD FOR INSTRUMENT TRAINING?
Most people choose a Cessna 172, Piper Warrior or Archer, or if they favor a newer plane, a Cessna 172SP.
Commercial Single-Engine FAQ’s
WHO NEEDS A COMMERCIAL CERTIFICATE?
Any pilot who flies’s for hire. See Multi-Engine FAQ’s for Commercial Multi-Engine
WHAT ADDITIONAL FLIGHT MANEUVER WILL I LEARN?
Chandelles, Lazy Eights, Steep Spiral, Eight on Pylons, and 180° Power-off Accuracy Approach’s.
WHAT ARE THE TIME REQUIREMENTS?
A pilot must have 250 hours total time. Most people will need 15-20 hours of flight training to prepare for the Commercial Airplane Single-Engine Land practical test.
COST SUMMARY FOR COMMERCIAL SINGLE-ENGINE:
||15 HOURS CESSNA 172RG @ $170 = $2,625
|FLIGHT & GROUND INSTRUCTON
||30 HOURS @ $100 = $3,000
|WRITTEN & CHECKRIDE COSTS
WHAT IS INVOLVED WITH MULTIENGINE TRAINING?
This mainly requires that you learn how to fly a Multi-Engine (2 Engine) aircraft with one engine simulated inoperative during various phases of flight including an instrument approach.
There are two different types of multi-engine training. One is Private Multi-Engine for those seeking the additional performance and safety of a Twin-Engine aircraft. The other of Commercial Multi-Engine training for those who want work for hire as a Multi-Engine Pilot.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The amount of time varies depending on whether a pilot is seek Private Multi-Engine (10-15 flight hours), Multi-Engine Commercial ADD-ON (15-25 flight hours) or Commercial Multi-Engine initial (25-30 flight hours due to the supervised solo equipments.)
COST SUMMARY FOR MULTI-ENGINE TRAINING:
|AIRCRAFT (DA42 is $330 air hobbs
||15 HOURS BE76 @ $330/HR = $4,950
|FLIGHT & GROUND INSTRUCTON
||25 HOURS @ $100/HR = $2,500
|WRITTEN & CHECKRIDE COSTS
CFI Training FAQ’s
WHAT IS INVOLVED WITH CERTIFIED FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR TRAINING?
Learning fundamentals on how to teach. Reviewing all you have learned during Private & Commercial training and being able to explain this knowledge at in instructional level. Making lesson plans and a syllabus. How to fly from the right seat to test standards and provide instruction simultaneously. Recognizing common student errors.
COST SUMMARY FOR BASIC CFI TRAINING (TO TEACH PRIVATE & COMMERCIAL):
||10 HOURS C152 @ $99/HR = $990
||10 HOURS C172RG @ $170/HR = $1,700
|FLIGHT & GROUND INSTRUCTON
||50 HOURS @ $100/HR = $5,000
|WRITTEN & CHECKRIDE COSTS (if FAA checkride)
COST SUMMARY FOR INSTRUMENT CFI TRAINING
||12 HOURS C172 @ 120/HR = $1440
|FLIGHT & GROUND INSTRUCTON
||25 HOURS @ $100/HR = $2500
|WRITTEN & CHECKRIDE COSTS
COST SUMMARY FOR MULTI-ENGINE CFI TRAINING:
|AIRCRAFT (DA42 is $330 air hobbs)
||12 HOURS BE76 @ $330/HR = $3960
|FLIGHT & GROUND INSTRUCTON
||20 HOURS @ $100/HR = $2000
|WRITTEN & CHECKRIDE COSTS
I will help any CFI who trains with me find a CFI job!
As of March 2016 all of the applicants I have sent to the FAA ASI or DPE have passed on the first test. The national or local 1st time pass rate for initial flight instructor is 50%.
FOR MORE DETAILS ON CFI TRAINING OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF PILOT TRAINING PLEASE EMAIL ME AT D.firstname.lastname@example.org OR CALL ME AT (510) 299-3940.