Getting Started: How You Can Become a Pilot

The Private Pilot License (PPL) is the foundation of your life in the sky. It is the license most people refer to when they say they have a “pilot’s license.” With it, you can explore the country from the air, fly with your family and friends, and pursue advanced training.

With a Private Pilot License, you are a pilot.

Step 1

Take an Introductory Flight

You test drive a car before buying it, don’t you? If the school you are looking at offers an introductory flight lesson, take it. This is the best way to see the school in operation, and to see if they teach the way you like to learn. 

The Horizon Aviation Airman's Flight

You will fly the airplane with one of our Certificated Flight Instructors and experience flight training first hand during this one-hour introductor flight lesson.

Step 2

Learning to Fly

Once you have decided that you want to become a pilot and fly with Horizon Aviation, it is time to work with our managers to arrange a flight schedule that will work around your work or school demands, as well as your financial needs. Once you begin, our flight training course follows an FAA approved syllabus. This Part 141 course can be broken into three phases:

Stage 1: Learning the basics

During the first stage of your training , you are going to learn the very basics of how to fly an airplane. This a building-block process; learn the basic elements of flying and then apply those skills to more complex maneuvers. You will learn how to turn, climb, and descend an airplane before tackling takeoffs and landings.

At the end of Stage 1, you will make your first solo flight. You will fly an airplane from takeoff to touchdown completely by yourself as the sole occupant of the airplane. 

Stage 2: Learning how to navigate

Now that you’ve flown the airplane by yourself, it is time to learn how to navigate. You’ll start with the basics by flying from our home airport to nearby airports and landmarks. We’ll challenge you to start flying longer distances of 50 or 100 miles away using a variety of navigation techniques and skills. 

At the end of Stage 2 you will fly a flight of 50 miles away from our home base by yourself.

Stage 3: Refine and finish

Stage 3 is all about polishing the skills you have learned and expanding on your abilities as a pilot. You will learn different types of landings and fly further away from home. You will practice performance maneuvers and be able to fly them to FAA standards. 

The end of Stage 3 is a final review with an instructor before you take your FAA checkride to receive your Private Pilot License.

Step 3

The Checkride

At the end of your flight training you will take three tests to get your license: a written test, verbal exam, and a practical exam. The verbal and practical are done on the same day with an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) during what is called a “checkride.” The DPE will ask you about a variety of topics that you have studied and explored with your instructor, making sure you know the material. During the practical portion they will ask you to perform some basic maneuvers including takeoffs, landings, stalls, ground reference maneuvers and emergency descents to see that you are able to control the airplane and meet standard guidelines. 

At the end of your checkride, the DPE will shake your hand and say the phrase you’ve been looking forward to hearing, “congratulations, you are a pilot.” 

Cost, Scheduling and Requirements

How much does it cost to complete the Private Pilot training course?

The cost to complete the private pilot training course varies from student to student and is based primarily on the amount of flight hours it takes each student to become proficient in the skills required to pass the FAA checkride. The average time it takes to complete the training, nationally, is over 70 flight hours. Horizon Aviation students average 57 hours. Download our latest cost estimate below.

How much is each flight lesson?

There are usually two items you pay for each time you fly: the airplane time and the instructor’s time. Each lesson will be different, but you only pay for what you use. You may fly for 1.5 hours, and you may spend a total of 2 hours with your instructor including your preflight briefing, the flight itself, and the post flight wrap up. Some lessons will be shorter and some may be longer. You should plan for each lesson to cost between $325 and $375.

How long will it take to complete my training?

If you fly once per week, it will most likely take you one year to complete your private pilot training. Flying more frequently will help you complete the training faster.

May I make my own schedule?

Yes. We will work with you to design a personalized flight schedule. Our offices are open 7 days per week beginning at 9am. We strongly recommend that you schedule at least one flight per week, or as many times as your schedule and budget will allow.

How old do I have to be to begin my flight training?

We have worked with students as young as 10 years old. At that age we can take a relaxed approach as we begin to build a strong foundation in their skills as a pilot. The FAA requires that any person be at least 16 years old to fly an airplane by themselves, which will happen at the end of the first stage of their training. The first solo is the first big milestone for any aspiring flight student. Many students have made their first solo flight on their 16th birthday.

To qualify for the private pilot license you must be 17 years of age.

Am I fit to fly?

Before you fly by yourself for the first time, you must have at least a third class FAA medical certificate. You may obtain one by visiting with an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) and undergoing a flight physical. The AME is typically a regular physician that has undergone training with the FAA and is able to grant FAA medical certificates. We have a list of AME’s in the area that may assist you with getting a medical certificate.

The physical exam will look at your medical history, visual acuity, and color vision acuity. It is important to note that there are a handful of conditions or prescribed medications that may prohibit a person from obtaining an FAA medical certificate. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association maintains a thorough online resource to help you address any concerns you may have about obtaining a medical certificate:

These people became pilots. So can you.

Owen is a Pilot!

This is a transformation. Yesterday, Owen was not a pilot. He could actually fly of course, but he was a student pilot still working on earning his wings. Today though, today and hereafter he is a Pilot. Congrats Owen.  

Conor is a Commercial Pilot!

Many of our clients are pursuing a dream of flying professionally. They have a vision of themselves flying jets across the sky, around the world, and earning a comfortable living doing so. So, first they tackle the Private Pilot certificate and become a certificated...

James Solos!

What is James going to remember more: graduating high school or flying his first solo flight? Our bet is that his recent first solo stays with him…especially after he heads off to college to continue his flight training and future career in aviation. Well done, James!

Sam Solos!

Sam is more than many things. High school senior. Student leader. Eagle Scout. Future Western Michigan University student in the aviation program. He also has some of the best aeronautical decision making as a student pilot we’ve ever seen. Among all these attributes,...

Matt is a IFR pilot!!!!

Working at a flight school while also working on your own flight training is not an easy undertaking. While you do get to immerse yourself in aviation every day, there is also the added pressure of every instructor, every student, every maintenance tech, and even the...

Warren is a Pilot!

Aviation occupies a significant portion of Warren’s persona. It is a hobby, lifestyle, pastime….its a passion and something that sustains him. This week, Warren is able to say he is a certificated  pilot and is free to explore the friendly skies! He stuck with it...

JR is a Pilot!

JR originally visited us to take his Private Pilot written exam (Horizon Aviation’s Norwood location is a testing center.) He was doing his training elsewhere but switched over to working with us thereafter. We are thrilled to report that JR completed his Private...

Tom Solos!

"Tom had his first solo today. After he landed he remarked how over-prepared he felt, and that is the best statement to describe what kind of pilot Tom is, always over-prepared. After having to take a 7+ year hiatus from flight training he has come back with a renewed...

Carter Solos!

"Carter is the most motivated 17 year old I have ever met. He records audio all of our lessons and reviews them throughout the week. Even though he is on the schedule only once a week, he is able to progress rapidly as he truly applies himself in all he does. He...

Anurag is a Pilot!

It has been a long journey of almost two years but all the hard work and persistence paid off for Anurag! Coming from the small and beautiful city of Bhopal in central India, Anurag grew up listening to his father's stories from the time when he trained on a vintage...

More tips and guides to help you start flying

Going the Distance

The cross country phase of your initial fight training is some of the most fun you will ever has a pilot. It is the first time you will ever be able to explore from the air! Here are some ways to get the most out of your x/c training experience: Visit a place, not...

Alphabet Soup: Acronyms You Should Know As A Pilot

Spend more than 30 seconds in aviation and someone is probably going to throw out an acronym of some kind. We polled our team to find out what they think are most helpful, funny or useful acronyms they’ve:  Zeke: ABCDEF "If you experience an engine failure, time is of...

Smitten with the Written

A passing score for any of the written pilot exams is 70%. The question then, is what 30% of the material covered on the exam doesn’t matter? The “written” is often looked upon as an annoying hurdle to overcome while enroute to a pilot certificate. The majority of...

Redbird Flight Sim for the Win

Pick a word to describe this winter: bad, terrible, gross, relentless, or yuck, Any of them would be fair. We experienced the worst winter flying weather we have seen in years, oftentimes making VFR or even IFR flying an impossibility. Through it all, many of our...

Earn Your Tailwheel Endorsement With Us!

We are proud to announce that you are now able to earn your tailwheel endorsement with us in our ACA Super Decathlon. Taildraggers harken back to an earlier era of aviation when fabric and wood were the dominate materials used to make airplanes. It wasn’t until Cessna...

Getting Back in the Saddle

At least once per week, if not every day, someone will contact our school and tell us a story. That story sounds like this: “I flew when I was younger. I loved it. But, life happens. I had kids. Had to save for college. Work got busy. And so it has been 20 years or so...

How to Navigate FBOs Like a Pro

It is a simple question that we hear often. What do you do once you get to your destination airport? In many cases you will be visiting a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) rather than going through a passenger terminal. Here are 5 things you can do to make the most of your...

Why You Should Love Flying Out Of Busy(er) Airspace

To the onlooker, T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, RI (PVD) can appear too big, too busy and too complicated for flight training. Ask any of our students and they’ll tell you the exact opposite. It is precisely the combination of size, volume of aircraft traffic, and air...

After the First Flight: Your Next Steps Towards Becoming a Pilot

You did it. You took your first flight lesson and now you're hooked. You need to become a pilot! Here's what you need to do to make that happen: 1: Call or visit us to customize your schedule and choose which type of Cessna is right for you. Horizon recommends flying...

Flying in the FAA WINGS Program

Staying current in aviation means that you are flying often enough and engaged with flying often enough to maintain your skills, knowledge, and judgement. As we’ve all experienced recently, sometimes currency is a difficult thing to maintain. There are ways you can...

Call us today to become a pilot

Warwick, RI:  401-736-5115

Norwood, MA: 781-762-7600

You can fly. We can teach you.