Your Q's and Our A's
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Q. Is it hard to learn to
People of all shapes and sizes, ages and abilities have learned to fly. It?s
fun, and from the beginning of your training, you get to do most of the actual
practical side?While flying isn?t a difficult skill to learn, you?ll have to be
willing to stick with it until you meet all the requirements. Also, you should
consider the cost of becoming a pilot?you?ll have to pay for your physical exam
and your lessons.
Q. When can I start?
Right away. All you have to do is find a flight instructor and sign up for an
introductory lesson. You don?t have to have a student pilot?s certificate or a
medical certificate to take flying lessons. Of course, you won?t be able to fly
solo right away. That takes time and the paperwork described in this guide.
How many lessons do I have to take before I solo?
depends on you. There is no set number of lessons or hours of flight training.
instructor must make sure you have learned to perform certain maneuvers before
allowing you to solo. These maneuvers include safe takeoffs and landings. You
must use good judgment when flying and be able to keep control of the aircraft.
you?ll have to get a medical certificate and a student pilot?s certificate to
Q. Is flying safe?
Yes. A well-built and well-maintained aircraft flown by a competent and prudent
pilot is as safe or safer than many other forms of transportation.
engine failure occurs, what will happen?
Modern aircraft engines are reliable and failure rarely occurs. However, your
lessons will cover what to do in this situation, including selecting a good
landing area and safely landing.
do I need a student pilot?s certificate?
Before you can fly solo. You don?t need a student pilot?s certificate to take
Am I eligible for a student pilot?s certificate?
are eligible if--
You are at least 16
years old. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you must be at least 14
You can read, speak,
and understand English.
Q. How do
I get a student pilot?s certificate?
Upon your request, an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner will issue you a
combined medical certificate and Student Pilot Certificate after you complete
your physical examination. Student Pilot Certificates may be issued by an FAA
inspector or an FAA-designated pilot examiner. Applicants who fail to meet
certain requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but
not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest FAA office.
Click here to locate an Aviation Medical Examiner
Q. How long are my student pilot?s certificate and my medical certificate valid?
They expire 2 years from the date they were issued.
Q. Can I
renew my student certificate and medical certificate?
but you can get a new one.
Q. If my original Student Pilot Certificate has been endorsed for solo flying,
do I lose this endorsement on my new certificate?
the endorsements are still valid. However, they are not transferred to the new
certificate. Keep the old certificate as a record of these endorsements.
Q. Should my flight instructor endorse my student pilot?s certificate before or
after my first solo flight?
Before. The endorsement certifies that you are competent to solo.
Q. If I solo in more than one make or model of aircraft, must I have an
endorsement for each on my student pilot?s certificate? If so, who should
endorse the certificate?
Yes. Your flight instructor must make this endorsement before you solo in each
make or model of aircraft.
Q. Does the endorsement to solo allow me to make solo cross-country flights?
You also have to get a cross-country flight endorsement from you flight
Q. Must I carry my student pilot?s certificate with me when I am piloting an
aircraft in solo flight?
Q. Is there a
charge for the student pilot?s certificate?
when it?s issued by an FAA Flight Standards District Office. However, an
FAA-designated pilot examiner can charge for issuing student pilot?s
certificates. Also, an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner can charge for
your physical examination in connection with issuing the combination medical
certificate and student pilot?s certificate.
Q. When do I
need a medical certificate?
need a medical certificate before flying solo in an airplane, helicopter,
gyroplane, or airship. We suggest you get your medical certificate before
beginning flight training. This will alert you to any condition that would
prevent you from becoming a pilot before you pay for lessons.
are going to pilot a balloon or glider, you don?t need a medical certificate.
All you need to do is write a statement certifying that you have no medical
defect that would make you unable to pilot a balloon or glider.
If required, how do I get a medical certificate?
passing a physical examination administered by a doctor who is an FAA-authorized
aviation medical examiner.
Q. Where do I
get my medical certificate?
From any FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner.
Q. Where can I get a list of FAA-authorized aviation medical examiners?
FAA publishes a directory that lists them by name and address. You can get a
copy from any FAA Flight Standards District Office, air traffic control
facility, or flight service station. Airport managers and some aviation
businesses may also be able to supply this information.
Click here to locate an Aviation Medical Examiner
Q. When required, what class of medical certificate must a student pilot have?
Third-class, although any class will suffice. Medical certificates are
designated as first-class, second-class, or third-class. Generally, first-class
is designed for the airline transport pilot; second-class for the commercial
pilot; and third-class for the student, recreational and private pilot.
If I have a physical disability, can I get a medical certificate?
Yes. Medical certificates can be issued in many cases where physical
disabilities are involved. Depending on the nature of the disability, you may
have some operating limitations. If you have any questions, contact an
FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner before beginning flight training.
Q. Must I
carry my medical certificate when I am flying solo?
Q. Where can I get
Contact any airport that handles private aircraft or the nearest FAA Flight
Standards District Office.
Does my pilot training include a written test?
Yes. Before flying solo, you must be familiar with some of the FAA?s rules and
with the flight characteristics and operational limitations of the make and
model of the aircraft you will fly. Your flight instructor will give you some
materials to study, and then test your knowledge. If you pass, your instructor
will endorse your student pilot?s certificate for solo flight. The endorsement
means that your instructor thinks you are competent to make solo flights.
Q. When do I
have to get the endorsement?
Within 90 days of your first solo flight.
After I?ve soloed, can I fly cross-country alone?
right away. Your instructor must review your pre-flight planning and preparation
for solo cross-country flight and determine that the flight can be made safely
under known circumstances and conditions. The instructor must also endorse your
logbook before cross-country flight stating you are considered competent to make
the flight. [Note: The relevance of the following sentence is not clear.] Under
certain conditions, an instructor may authorize repeated solo flights over a
Q. As a student pilot, can I carry passengers with me before getting my
recreational or private pilot?s certificate?
Q. Must I have an FCC radiotelephone operator's permit to operate an aircraft
Q. What is the difference between a recreational pilot?s certificate and a
private pilot?s certificate?
a recreational pilot, you have to fly within 50 nautical miles of the airport
where you learned to fly, you have to fly during the day, and you can?t fly in
airspace where communications with air traffic control are required. A private
pilot doesn?t have these limitations.
usually takes fewer lessons to get a recreational pilot?s certificate than a
private pilot?s certificate.
Q. How old do I have to be to get a recreational pilot?s certificate or a
private pilot?s certificate?
must be at least 17 years old. If you want to be a private glider pilot or be
rated for free flight in a balloon, you must be at least 16 years old.
Q. What tests do I have to pass to get a recreational pilot?s certificate or
private pilot?s certificate?
have to pass both a written knowledge test and a practical (flight) test. See
below for more information about these tests.
Q. How old do I have to be to take the recreational pilot or private pilot
least 15 years old. If you want to pilot a balloon or glider, you must be at
least 14 years old. Before taking the knowledge test, you may have to show proof
of age, such as a birth certificate.
should I prepare for the knowledge test?
should study the materials identified by your flight instructor or included in a
home-study course. For the recreational pilot test, the materials are based on
section 61.97 of the FAA?s rules. For the private pilot test, the materials are
based on section 61.105 of the FAA?s rules.
Q. What document or documents must I present before taking a knowledge test?
have to present identification that includes your photograph, signature, and
home address, AND, one of the following:
certificate of graduation from a pilot training course conducted by an
FAA-approved pilot school, or a statement of accomplishment from the school
certifying the satisfactory completion of the ground-school portion of such a
written statement from an FAA-certified ground or flight instructor,
certifying that you have satisfactorily completed the required ground
Logbook entries by an FAA-certified ground or flight instructor, certifying
satisfactory completion of the required ground instruction
certificate of graduation or statement of accomplishment from a ground school
course conducted by an agency such as a high school, college, adult education
program, the Civil Air Patrol, or an ROTC Flight Training Program.
certificate of graduation from a home-study course developed by the
aeronautical enterprise providing the study material
can?t provide any of the above items, you can have the home-study course you
have completed reviewed by an FAA inspector to assure you are competent to take
the desired knowledge test. Contact the local FAA Flight Standards District
Office to get an appointment with an FAA inspector. The inspector will review
your study material and may question you on some of the material. If you are
found qualified to take the test, the inspector will issue FAA Form 8060-7,
Airman's Authorization for Written Test. You must present this form when you
take your knowledge examination.
have to take the test over again, you must present either the unsatisfactory AC
Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test Report, or an airman computer test report (if
the test was taken at an FAA- designated computer testing center).
Q. If I fail the knowledge test, is there any way to determine the areas in
which I need additional work so I can study for a retest?
Yes. You will receive either AC Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test Report, or an
airman computer test report (if the test was taken at an FAA-designated computer
testing center). The test report will contain your test score and will also list
the subject matter codes for the knowledge areas in which you were found
deficient. An outline of the subject matter codes is located in the appendix of
each written test book. You may refer to the appropriate written test book to
determine the areas in which further study is needed.
Q. If I pass the knowledge test, will I receive the same information concerning
weak areas as I would if I failed the test?
Yes. (Refer to the previous answer.)
long is a satisfactorily completed knowledge test valid?
satisfactorily completed knowledge test expires two years from the day it was
taken. If a practical test is not satisfactorily completed during that period,
another knowledge test must be taken.
Q. Will my instructor review the areas in which the test report showed I was
Yes. Your instructor must review the areas in which you were deficient and must
endorse the written test report or provide a written endorsement indicating this
review has been completed.
Must I provide the aircraft for my practical test?
Yes. You must provide an airworthy aircraft with equipment relevant to the pilot
operations required for the practical test.
Q. What papers and documents must I present to the FAA inspector or
FAA-designated pilot examiner prior to my practical test?
must have the following items available for inspection:
The aircraft's registration certificate
The aircraft's airworthiness certificate
The aircraft's operating limitations or FAA- approved aircraft flight manual
The aircraft?s equipment list
Weight and balance data for the aircraft
Your FCC radio station certificate
The aircraft and engine logbooks or other maintenance records
must present the following items to the inspector:
Your FAA Form 8710-1, Application for an Airman Certificate and/or Rating,
(with the flight instructor's recommendation)
Your satisfactory grade on an AC Form 8080-2, Airman Written Test Report or an
airman computer test report (if the test was taken at an FAA-designated
computer testing center)
Your medical certificate (when required) and student pilot?s certificate
endorsed by a flight instructor for solo, solo cross-country (when
appropriate), and for the make and model of airplane to be used for the
Your pilot?s logbook;
Q. What does the practical test consist of, and how will my performance be
test standards are described in the Recreational Pilot or Private Pilot
Practical Test Standards. Your instructor should have a copy of the practical
test standards and should review them with you prior to your practical test.
your instructor doesn?t have them, you can buy them from the Superintendent of
Documents or US Government Printing Office bookstores.
Q. When can I take the recreational pilot or private pilot practical test?
can take the test as soon as, in your instructor?s judgment, you are ready. By
endorsing your test application, your flight instructor is making a written
recommendation to this effect. Your flight instructor's written recommendation
shows that you have met all the prerequisites for the practical test.
Q. Where can I
take the practical test?
FAA Flight Standards District Offices conduct practical tests for pilot
certification either at the office?s location or periodically in cities within
the district. The offices are usually located on or adjacent to an airport. The
FAA has also designated many flight instructors as pilot examiners. You should
make an appointment for your practical test to avoid wasted time.
Is there any charge for taking the practical test?
you take the test from an FAA inspector, there is no charge. If you take the
test from an FAA-designated pilot examiner, you will have to pay. This is
because the pilot examiner conducts tests without pay from the FAA.
Q. May I exercise the privileges of my pilot?s certificate immediately after
passing my practical test or must I wait until I receive the actual pilot?s
don?t have to wait. The FAA inspector or FAA-designated pilot examiner will
issue a temporary pilot?s certificate effective for a specific time period. The
FAA will issue your permanent pilot?s certificate after we have reviewed your
Q. Is there a
charge for issuing the pilot?s certificate?
We don?t charge for issuing the original pilot?s certificate. However, we do
charge to replace any pilot?s certificate or medical certificate. As noted
already, you may have to pay for certain other services, such as a physical
Q. As the holder of a recreational pilot?s certificate, how do I ensure that I
don?t inadvertently enter airspace where I am required to contact air traffic
must select readily identifiable landmarks that are well beyond the boundaries
of the airspace where contact with air traffic control is required. During your
training, your instructor will tell you how to identify this kind of airspace.
Q. I already have a recreational pilot?s certificate, and I want to get an
additional certificate or rating. For training purposes, can I fly beyond the
50-nautical-mile limit, after dark, or in airspace where I have to contact air
Yes, if your instructor has given you the required instruction in these areas
and has endorsed your pilot's logbook for each flight. You will have to carry
the logbook with the required endorsements on these flights
Q: What exactly
is a microburst?
A: It?s a powerful wind that comes down from a thunderstorm
and it can be deadly, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University.
?Microbursts are often only one-half mile to a mile wide but they are capable of
producing winds of well over 100 miles per hour,? he explains. ?What makes them
so deadly is that they can be a major aviation hazard and we know now they have
been responsible for dozens of airplane crashes. A strong microburst can push a
plane down to the ground quickly, causing it to crash. These types of winds are
often associated with windshear conditions which have been responsible for many
do microbursts most often occur?
A: They form in areas that have frequent thunderstorms, such
as the Southwest, Midwest and southern parts of the United States, McRoberts
adds. ?Today?s pilots are trained in learning how to avoid microbursts, and the
advent of Doppler radar and other systems have made locating microbursts
somewhat easier. But predicting where microbursts occur can be difficult, and
most of them only last 5-15 minutes. We know that there are dry and wet
microbursts, with wet ones usually the most dangerous because they are usually
in or near a severe thunderstorm.?