Private Pilot Certificate

After getting your private pilot certificate with Atlas Aviation, you will be legally able to fly just about any single engine (land) airplane (vs. sea plane), weighs less than 12,500 pounds and does not have a jet engine. You will also be able to split your flight expenses with friends and family. You will be able to fly just about anywhere as long as the weather is good (see instrument rating). Imagine flying your own airplane (or one of our rentals) to Key West or the Bahamas…only a few hours away!

The purpose of this page is to inform and educate you on the benefits and privileges of having a private pilot certificate, the costs, and what all is involved in getting your private pilot certificate.

Where do I start? The best way to start flight lessons is to give us a call and schedule a Discovery Flight. For $199, your instructor will walk you through the preflight and take you flying for a half hour. During the flight, you will have an opportunity to get a feel for the controls and see if flying is something you really want to do. Afterwards, you will sit with your instructor to talk more about the flight lessons and your instructor will answer any questions that you may have.

If you decide to go further, you will purchase and enroll in our online ground school, sign up for our online scheduler, and schedule your next lesson. Our online ground school, which is hosted by Cessna, will give you the knowledge you need to be a safe pilot and pass the FAA knowledge test. The syllabus we follow is integrated with both the online ground school and the flight portions so that you’ll know what to study next and what your next flight lesson will be. Your progress will be tracked online so we can see where each flight student is in his or her training.

The flight lessons are organized in a logical order. On your first flight lessons, you will start out with basic airplane control. After each lesson, your instructor will let you know how you performed and what to expect in the next lesson. Each lesson, we will add more advanced maneuvers to gain better control of the airplane. Once you have a pretty good foundation, you will start working on takeoffs and landings. Your first few landings will be terrible, but that’s okay. That’s completely normal. You have to have bad landings to get to the good ones. Eventually, you’ll be doing takeoffs and landings without your instructor’s assistance. Once you can takeoff and land without your instructor’s assistance, you’ll do an evaluation with the Chief Flight Instructor. If everything looks good, you’ll do your first solo flight. This is the most memorable flight for many aviators.

Why do we solo? The reason we solo people during private pilot training is to build up your confidence that you can fly the airplane on your own and make your own decisions. When you fly solo, you are pilot in command of your airplane.

Prior to soloing, you will need a student pilot certificate and a 3rd class medical. To get the medical, you will need to go to an aviation medical examiner (AME). Your instructor will give you a list of approved doctor’s. The AME will also issue you a student pilot certificate with your medical.

After soloing, we will start working on the cross-country stage of your training. You will learn the steps necessary to safely plan and fly a cross-country. Your cross-country flights aren’t really “across the country,” they’ll be to airports that are more than 50 nautical miles, like Ocala or Punta Gorda. Once you are comfortable with flying cross-countries, you will do a few on your own.

Once you have completed your first solo cross-country you will be reasonably close to meeting all the requirements to finish. You will also need to do a few night flights with your instructor; and take your FAA private pilot knowledge test.

Now that you’ve passed the FAA private pilot knowledge test and have met all the required flight experience, you can now take the private pilot practical test. We often times call this the check ride.

Once you pass your check ride, congratulations! You are now a private pilot.

How long does this all take? The answer to that question is, it depends. If you fly two to three times per week, you should finish in four to six months. If you fly more often you can finish in less time. If you fly only once a week, it will take a little longer.

How much time do I need to commit to studying? For every two hours of flight, we recommend spending three hours of studying. Studying is important so you have a better understanding of what you are doing when you fly the airplane.

How much does it cost? The answer to that question also depends. It depends on how many hours it takes to finish your training and which airplane you train in, plus the rates for airplanes and instruction are subject to change over time. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires a minimum for 40 flight hours to get their private pilot certificate. However, most people take a little bit longer. We feel comfortable saying the range to get a private pilot certificate is between 50 and 70 hours.

Let’s assume it only took 50 hours to get you private pilot certificate. If you train in our Cessna SkyCatcher (two seat light sport Cessna), which rents for $129/hour wet (includes fuel), you would spend $6,450 for the airplane. Out of those 50 hours, ten hours will be flown solo without an instructor. That means you will have flown a total of 40 hours with the instructor. Let’s add another 25 hours of ground instruction. If we add the instructor cost at $80/hour times 65 hours of total instruction (ground and flight), you get $5,200. So now the total cost is $11,650. This does not include the fee for the medical, online ground school, headset, charts, FAA knowledge test and examiner fee. Expect to an extra $1,500 in your budget for these additional expenses. The estimated total cost for the private pilot certificate using the Cessna SkyCatcher is $13,150 ($11,650+$1,500).

If you train in our Cessna 172 (four seat Cessna, non-G1000), the cost per hour is $189/hr. The difference in cost from the SkyCatcher is $60/hr. If we multiply 50 hours by $60/hour, we get $3,000. We can add the $3,000 to the total cost of the private pilot certificate using the SkyCatcher to get the total cost of the private pilot certificate using the Cessna 172. So the estimated total cost for the private pilot certificate using the Cessna 172 is $16,150 ($13,150 + $3,000).

When you shop around from flight school to flight school, you’ll notice that estimated total costs can vary by quite a bit. Many flight schools might quote you estimated total costs based off of FAA minimum flight times and not include formal ground instruction. In addition, the cost for the airplane per hour can vary substantially depending on whether or not you are training in a newer or older airplane. For example, one place might only charge $109/hour for a Cessna 172. Our rate for the Cessna 172 is $189/hour. What’s the difference? Most likely the Cessna 172 that rents for $109/hour was built in the 1970’s where our Cessna 172s were built 2001 or later and get very thorough maintenance and regular upgrades.

The reason we are giving you these conservative and realistic estimates is so that you can budget accordingly. Most people don’t finish in the required 40 hour minimum. If you are saving money to pay for flight training, or planning on taking out a loan, you don’t want to pay for most of your training only to fall short at the end. We want to see everyone who starts their training to finish their training.

If you have read this far, then I know you’re very committed and will make a great pilot. If you want to go ahead and schedule your discovery flight, please fill out the information below and we’ll contact your shortly.

We look forward to flying with you and helping you achieve your goals!