how to become a private pilot

How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)

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The dream of flying is as old as mankind itself. I fulfilled my dream of flying airplanes as a pilot and it seems that you have the same desire. In this blog post, I will tell you what it takes to obtain a private pilot license and share with you the steps necessary. How long does it take? How much does it cost and how to become a private pilot FAST? It definitely ain’t rocket science and if you have the same excitement for flying as me you will easily fulfil our dream. (All requirements and regulations are based on the European aviation authority)

how to become a private pilot

Flying The Small Birds

In my latest question and answer videos on my Instagram page, I noticed that so many of you had questions on how to become a private pilot to fly small planes just for fun. I am currently operating piston-engine aeroplanes regularly since I completed my flight training to become a flight instructor. My flight students train VFR flying to obtain the PPL (private pilot license), the LAPL (light airplane pilot license) and the ATPL (airline transport pilot license). You probably have heard of the PPL but the LAPL might sound new to you. It is a way to fly light airplanes faster. I will share more information about this license later in this article.

Check out this blog post in case you are interested in How To Become A Flight Instructor”.

how to become a private pilot
how to become a flight instructor

The Private Pilot License

The license of PPL(A) (EASA-FCL), which stands for Private Pilot’s License European Aviation Safety Agency Flight Crew Licensing. I am glad that we have so many abbreviations in the aviation language. This license allows you to fly two  and four-seater aircraft (such as our Cessnas C-172) in Germany as well as abroad, whereby it is valid only for one-engine aircraft which have a maximum permissible gross of two tons. The license can later be expanded by further licenses or class ratings. (like Instrument flying or multi-engine ratings.)

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

Requirements

  • Sec. 23 para. 2 Air Traffic Licensing Order (LuftVZO): minimum age to start training is 16 (license qualification with age of 17)
  • Aviation medical class 2
  • Declaration of pending criminal proceedings (Sec. 24 para. 3 no. 3 and 4 Air Traffic Licensing Order)
  • Extract of German Federal Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Drivers (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt) (Sec. 30 para. 8 of Road Traffic Act (StVG))

The following documents are needed in the course of the training:

  • Radio Telephony Certificate (BZF) – (is being acquired in parallel to the flight training)
  • Security background check

My insider tip: Before searching for a flight school in your preferred location, I would do the medical examination first so you know that you are fit to become a pilot.

how to become a private pilot

Find A Suitable Flight School

Finding the right flight school is probably the most difficult task on the way to becoming a pilot. The quality of your training highly depends on the flight school and their instructors. Let Google do the job for you to find flight schools at your preferred location.

My insider tips:  

  • Talk to former flight students and ask them for their opinion on the flight school
  • Visit them personally before signing a contract. Maybe they have an “open day”  to get to know the flight school.
  • Check the size and state of the fleet of aeroplanes. A small fleet could cause your flight missions to be cancelled more often because of technical issues.
  • Take your first flight lesson as a test to see if you like it and feel comfortable with the school.

Pricing for a private pilot license (flight school around Berlin):

how to become a private pilot
how to become a private pilot

Theoretical training

The theoretical part of the training contains 6 training subjects. In addition, there will be the theory for the Radio Telephony Certificate.

  • Technics (aerodynamics, aircraft knowledge)
  • Navigation
  • Meteorology
  • Air Law
  • Human Performance
  • behaviour in exceptional situations
  • Radio Telephony Certificate (BZF) theory

Practical training

The practical part of the training contains 45 flight lessons, 10 lesson hours of which have to be flown without a flight instructor (solo), whereby again at least 5 lesson hours of which need to be cross country flights. One of these cross country flights need to have a minimum flight route of 270 km containing two stops at foreign airports. Furthermore, controlled airports have to be approached as part of the training. On top of that, the training contains instructions in instrument rating and radio navigation. You also practice different airwork flight patterns to get to know the behaviour of the aeroplane in critical flight conditions.

Examinations

The training will be completed by a theoretical and a practical examination. For logical reasons, the theoretical examination will be taken after the student pilot’s first solo-flight, whereby all subjects of the theoretical training will be examined by means of multiple choice. The practical examination will be taken at the end of the training when you will fly together with an examiner for about 60 minutes.

how to become a flight instructor

How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)

There are a few ways to become a private pilot a little bit quicker. In general, it takes a minimum of two months for flight training. Once you have passed your examinations you have to apply for the license and your aviation authority in charge. This can take another few weeks. It took the German LBA over 6 months to issue my flight instructor license.  This is definitely not acceptable in our faced-paced aviation world.

  1. Easing of training restrictions

If you have a license for gliding, it is possible to reduce the flying time by 10 %, whereby a maximum of 10 flight hours can be accepted.

  1. Pick the right time of the year

Your VFR flight training highly depends on the weather. If the weather is below VFR minimums, you will not be able to fly so the flight mission needs to be cancelled. So pick a time of the year for your location in which you have the best flying weather. In case you are in doubt, ask the flight school for the best starting time.

  1. Have all your papers and documents ready

Before you start with your flight training, make sure that you have all the papers on board and requirements fulfilled.

  1. Light aeroplane pilot license

The LAPL allows you to become a pilot quicker. The downside is that you will not be able to add class ratings like IFR or multi-engine. Additionally, you are only allowed to fly within the European Union with a maximum of 3 passengers on board in aeroplanes that weigh below two tons. The advantage is that you only need 30 flight hours in total and the costs are reduced by about 25%, so a total of 8,000€ approximately.

My insider tip: GO for the full Private pilot license which allows you to fly globally.

how to become a private pilot

I hope you find my blog post on “How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)” helpful and could clarify some uncertainties. Make sure to like the post and share it with others who might be interested in this topic.

Drop me an e-mail to flightstudent@pilotpatrick.com, in case you are searching for a flight school in Berlin. I am happy to help you out and maybe I will even be your flight instructor.

Always happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


how to become a flight instructor

How To Become A Flight Instructor

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Dear Aviator,

Welcome back on board my blog. It has been a while since the last time I posted here. I have a viable excuse for this. For the last two months, I have been busy with the training to become a flight instructor. The 10 most frequent questions regarding the training will be answered in this blog post. So buckle up, sit back, relax and enjoy my insights into the flight instructor rating. 

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

1. Why did I become a flight instructor?

You never forget your education and skills when working in the aviation business. Obtaining the pilot license sets the foundation for different ratings. Whether it is a type, examiner or in my case, the instructor rating. There are many ways to upgrade your pilot license and your personal proficiency. Becoming a captain was my biggest goal once I started flying as a First Officer. Once this was accomplished, I quickly noticed that I enjoyed passing on my experience and knowledge to my younger colleagues on the ride side. Before getting the 4th stripe on my uniform I was seated in their position and I expected from my superior that he/she would guide and teach me so that I could become a captain one day. 

To be in the position of a flight instructor on a regular flight, which I enjoyed very much, led me to become a flight instructor.

It must be a great feeling to pass on my passion and knowledge and to be able to teach people how to fly!

how to become a flight instructor

2. Which does the flight instructor rating grant?

ATPL(A), Airline transport pilot license: that is the pilot license I am currently possessing. This permits me to fly commercially in a two-man cockpit both as a First Officer or Commander.

The flight instructor for fixed-wing aeroplanes (FI(A)) gives me the qualification to instruct future pilots (flight students) on single piston aircraft to fly VFR (visual flight rules). Basically, when you decide as a pedestrian (that is how aviators call people who do not fly) to get a private pilot license (PPL) I could be your instructor. A PPL as the name suggests permits you to fly private so non-commercially. I am not only entitled to train up in the air but also on the ground during theory courses.

If a flight instructor is licensed according to EASA-FCL, his license will be titled FI(RP) during his first 100 hours of training. This abbreviation means “Restricted Privileges” – one restriction is, for instance, that a FI(RP) is not allowed to declare a flight student to be permitted to perform his/her first solo flight.

 

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3. How long does the training last?

In the aviation business, you always need to be ready for last-minute changes and amendments, which may lengthen the training significantly. Especially when you need VFR flight conditions in Germany during spring, it may take a little bit longer. All in all, it took me 7 weeks to have the entire training including the examination completed.

4. What are the costs of the training?

This depends immensely on the location and the flight school. The cost for a flight instructor course is around 12,000€ in Germany.  Flying is not inexpensive.

how to become a flight instructor

DA20 and C152 for the practical training

5. What are the minimum requirements?

1. Minimum age of 18
2. Valid PPL(A) EASA Part FCL, CPL(A) or ATPL(A) license
3. Valid aviation medical of at least class 2
4. At least 200 flight lessons, including:

  • holding of ATPL(A) or
  • holding of PPL(A) at least 150 hours in command + CPL(A) theory course (e.g. Distance Learning + Classroom instruction) und theoretic CPL(A) test at the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt or another authority
  • at least 30 flight hours on an one-engine aircraft with a piston engine, at least 5 flight hours of which must have been passed within the last six months prior to pre-examination, which is performed by the flight training school
  • at least 10 flight hours of instrument flight training (IR or CVFR), maximum 5 hours of which may be passed on the ground using a simulator or FNPT II
  • at least 20 hours cross country flights being the pilot in command, including one flight, whose flight route is at least 540 km long and which includes at least two landings on airports that differ from the start airport

5. Evidence of CPL(A) knowledge according to EASA Part FCL.915.FI b) (2) i)
(this may be provided by a passed theoretical exam at CPL(A) or ATPL(A))

6. Pre-examination: has to be passed within six months and at the latest one week prior to the start of the training examined by a FI(A) who has been licensed according to EASA Part FCL.905.FI i), based on the proficiency check according to appendix 9.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Outfitted with accessories of Porsche Design by Brics

6. How is the training to become a flight instructor structured?

The training is decided in a theoretical and a practical part.

Theoretical training

125 lesson hours of classroom instruction of the subjects:

  • the learning discourse
  • the process of a lesson
  • basics of training
  • applied learning methods on theory and practise
  • evaluation and examination of flight students
  • development of training program
  • human performance with respect to flight training
  • dangers simulating breakdowns during flight training
  • night rating
  • administrative task during the training

Practical training

30 flight lessons on an one-engine aircraft, 25 hours of which have to be flown together with an apprenticeable FI instructor, including 5 exceptional flight conditions on an aerobatic aircraft. 5 flight lessons being part of a team with another applicant for FI(A). The applicant is flying the aircraft sitting on the right-hand side, the FI-I is simulating the student pilot.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Closed Tegel airport TXL

7. Which ratings can you add to the flight instructor license?

FI(A) IR Flight instructor aims to teach instrument flying rules (flying without visual references)

FI(A) ME Flight instructor aims to teach on multi-engine aeroplanes.

IRI (A) – Instrument Rating Instructor aims to qualify you as an instructor for training in instrument flight.

CRI SE SPA – class rating instructor single engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for single-engine airplane training.

CRI ME SPA – class rating instructor multi engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for multi-engine aeroplane training.

MCC Instructor – Multi-Crew Cooperation training is to improve the cockpit coordination between the crew members. The MCC training course is the bridge between the ATPL course and the future workplace within the cockpit environment.

Just to mention a few options on how you can upgrade your pilot license. The foundation sets the flight instructor rating.

how to become a flight instructor

8. When are you going to instructor your first flight student?

TBA announced on my social media channels. In particular on my Instagram channel @pilotpatrick. So make sure to follow me and have the notifications turned on.

9. Which aeroplanes do you fly during the training?

It was back to basics. Instead of flying big birds, it was those little birds we trained on. Flying is costly so the training primarily takes place on two-seater piston engine aircraft like the Diamond DA20 and the Cessna C152. This does not only keep the costs down but the environmental footprint as well. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the aircraft the higher the fuel consumption.

10. How does the examination look like?

Once the theoretical and practical training was done, I was ready for the examination. The examination consisted of three parts. In my case, it took approximately 5 hours to complete. 

  1. Check flight: An examiner checks your flying skills, knowledge about the aeroplane and the regulations. Overall he checks your capability to operate a single-piston aircraft from the right seat and your competency as an instructor. The examiner simulates engine failures, aborted take offs, navigation through landmarks, simulated emergency landing in a field, airwork like steep turns and stalls. Even though it was a check flight, I saw those flights also as training, and there is always something another experienced pilot can pass on to you.
  2. PPL theory: The examiner checks if you are familiar with the entire knowledge a private pilot should possess. He/She may ask you questions about aerodynamics, navigation, meteorology and so on.
  3. Theory class: The examiner checks if you are capable of holding a theory class in front of flight students. He/she basically wants to see that you have the ability to convey knowledge comprehensively.

how to become a flight instructor

Overall I am very happy that I followed my excitement of becoming a flight instructor and I can absolutely recommend getting this rating as well. I could upgrade my airmanship and my proficiency in flying small aeroplanes a lot. I hope you enjoyed my article on how to become a flight instructor. Please do not forget to like the blog post.

It would be fantastic when one of you will be my flight student in the future.

Happy and healthy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


how i became a pilot

How I became a pilot III

Welcome on board of my series of “How I became a pilot". In part three I will talk about the flight training with Pilot Training Network in Zadar and the theory phase back in Frankfurt. Find out which drink was offered to me after landing in Slovakia and which malfunctions I had during one of my first solo flights.

Fleet of Diamond aircraft DA20 and DA40 models in Zadar, Croatia Beautiful views over the Adrian sea during flight training

The structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt (How I became a pilot II)
  • 10 weeks of SE VFR (single engine, visual flight rules) flight training in Zadar
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)
Younger me as a student pilot with my instructor "Wolle" in Zadar

The entire training in Zadar lasted about 10 weeks. I already had my first solo flight after 11 flight hours with an instructor. On 24th of July 2008 I lifted off the ground in a DA20 all by myself for the very first time. It was really exciting. At first I was nervous, because I wanted to do everything safe and correct. The first flight went really well and after 30 mins I landed safely. It was awesome.

Returning from my first solo flight DA 20 VFR flight training in Zadar (LDZD)

During the first couple of missions we always stayed either in the traffic pattern of Zadar (airport) or in close proximity. In dedicated training areas we practised special flight maneuvers to improve our manual flying skills. First lesson in aviation: aviate, navigate, communicate! Flying has always priority before everything else.

During the aerial work over the Adrian sea we did stalls, steep turns and slow flight. An aircraft being in stall means that the wings do not produce lift anymore, because of the angle of attack being too big. If not corrected may lead to a crash.

Steep turn (45 degrees) in a DA20 aircraft! Like a roller coaster!

Cross country flights

After being familiar with the procedures, the aircraft, the flight patterns and the communication with air traffic control we started flying cross country. Those flights took place between two points (e.g. airports) using navigational techniques. Some missions were flown in a DA40, which is a single piston four seater. One fellow student pilot as observer in the back and the instructor and me in the front. Usually we flew to more distant airports, where we landed and switched seats. Like one day when we flew to a small airport in Slovenia. After landing we were guided by a small motorbike to our parking position to refuel for the next flight. ;-) Before departure the handling guy offered us his self brewed liquor. I guess he wanted to fuel more than the aircraft. This guy was just too funny.

DA40 flight mission - Crew change in Solvakia

The flight training was a lot of fun. Nevertheless the pressure to be a good student pilot was high and the program did not leave a lot of space for deficiencies. This required additionally studying when on ground. Everything was new to me and especially at the beginning I had to take care that I fly the airplane and not the airplane me.

Pilotsview - Croatian islands in the Adrian Sea

Technical problems

I remember one special event during a solo cross country flight. During the approach to Pula airport I encountered problems with the engine. It did not run smooth at all. That is why I decided to stay in close proximity to the airport to figure out the problem and in case the propeller stops to glide to the runway. (We actually learn this procedure and do it simulated)  Luckily I managed to fly back to the home base safely. I informed our maintenance about the malfunction. In the end the airplane was grounded for several days.

The weeks in Croatia past by really fast. Not only because of the flying, but also because of the activities our course did together. Up in the air we have already seen how beautiful the landscape was. Krka water falls and the surrounding nature reserve is a great example.

Excursion to Krka water falls - Must see

ATPL theory

Back in Germany the ATPL theory phase began. That meant studying intensively. We learned the entire knowledge to be prepared for the final exams at the LBA (german aviation authority). It would take over 8 months before being back in a cockpit flying.

The legendary DC6 visiting Zadar Airport

Most of the questions of the final exams were in a multiple choice style. Over the years 1000 of possible of questions leaked to flight schools and to training programs like Peters software. Many students just learnt the questions and the answers to them without understanding them. I thought this is quite risky method for studying and plus I wanted to understand what I am doing in the future. My method proofed me more than right. This time the LBA changed a lot on their questions and added a lot to their question bank. In the end only five students (including me) of 20 students passed the exam at the first attempt. The exam consisted of 12 subjects which could be written on three consecutive days.  

First selfies out of the cockpit

Subjects

General Navigation, Meteorology, Radio Navigation, Principle of flight/aerodynamics (my favorite subject), Human Resources, Air Law, Power plant, Instrument/ Electronics, Flight Planning, Operational Procedures, Performance, Mass and Balance

My ATPL theory results

Since I passed the exam right away, I was allowed to proceed with the second flight training phase. Surprisingly it was not going to take place in Zadar. Read the next part of how I became a pilot.

Have you been to Croatia before?

Your Pilot Patrick

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how I became a pilot

How I became a pilot II

In my first part of the blogpost "How I became a pilot" I told you about my way to become a flight student at Intercockpit Pilot Training Network.

How I became a pilot

Another requirement to be accepted as flight student is the initial medical class one examination. This examination is standardized for all pilots and needs to be revalidated every year. For detailed requirements please have a look here) For this examination I went to a special Aviation Doctor at Stuttgart airport. Of course I was a little nervous at this stage, because the outcome will decide about my future career. Not only did I pass it very well, but I also met Fabian, who later became a friend and a fellow flight student.  

Training facility of Lufthansa Flight Training (LFT) in Frankfurt

First day of school

My first day of school at the facilities of Lufthansa flight training was in April 2008. I remember it was a really exciting day, because it meant a new stage of life. The Intercockpit course E308 consisted of 20 guys and one girl. After the introduction of the team we were handed out all the training material, that we would need for our studies. I think it were around ten big binders. At this stage quite intimidating. Additionally we received a black pilot bag. Back then, I was really proud to have it.

Intercockpit course E308 in 2008

Theory classes

For the next two months we attended several theory classes to reach the knowledge of a PPL Pilot (Private Pilot License) to be prepared for the first flight phase in Zadar, Croatia. Additionally we had to pass the AZF (flight radiotelephone operators certificate), which grants the permission to communicate with ATC (Air Traffic Control). Why did the flight training take place in a foreign country? Mainly, because of the weather and the lower operating costs. Especially for VFR (visual flight rules) flights, that require a certain cloud ceiling and visibility, the weather in Croatia was definitely better than in Germany over the year.

First theory part in Frankfurt (8 weeks)

The entire flight training was scheduled to last about 18 months, depending on one's personal performance. Since the planning was really tight there was only a couple of off days in between. As this was an integrated training you had to learn continuously to be ready for the exams. It sure was a tough time, but it was worth the effort in the end. Time management was super important. I found it helpful to set weekly goals concerning learning to have a good feeling and to monitor my progress.

First time in Zadar

In June it was time to head down to Zadar for the first practical flight phase. Accommodation and transport had to be organized by ourself. Most of the course stayed at the same location of a croatian women, who rented prevailing to flight students from Germany. I shared an apartment with my friend Fabian. The place was not special at all, but it was only a short walk away from the waterfront.

The historic old town of Zadar is really beautiful. It is located right at the Adria, where we enjoyed amazing sunsets. The landscape of Croatia is unique with many small islands (66 inhabited) stretching along the coastline of 1800 kilometer and the high Biokovo mountains in the back. It did not take long until we got to see the beautiful landscape from above. After a couple of days of introduction in a basic fixed simulator the first flight in a DA20 aircraft with a instructor was due.

PA44 flight school aircraft of Intercockpit in Zadar

I was super excited and also a little scared. Not of the flying itself, rather if I really like it and could imagine to do it for the rest of my life. All sorrows were gone, when I lifted off the ground for the first time by myself. I remember, that everything was going so fast. It felt like I was flying a fighter jet. Today I can grin about it, since I take off with the Citation XLS+ at a speed, which is 2,5 times faster.

Structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt
  • 10 weeks of flight training in Zadar, Croatia
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)

Read in my next part about the rest of the flight training in Zadar, a drink offer after landing in Slovakia and the ATPL theory part back in Germany. I am working on more photos of my flight training.

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