What do I need to start learning?

Surprisingly all you need to do to start flying is just to show up for your lessons. There will be requirements along the way, of course, including a medical exam, a written exam, and purchase of some books and gears.  Your CFI will guide you through the process.  Caveat – Non-US citizens will need to complete a background check with the TSA before their second lesson.


How long does it take?

It varies wildly from person to person. Natural talent is a factor, but mostly it depends on your commitment to a set schedule, how much you can devote to studying at home, etc.  Most students who have a regular job but can stick to a  consistent regimen can complete the training in 3-6 months.  Keep in mind the winter weather can hamper your training progress a bit, but not much.


What is the ideal training schedule?

2-3 flying sessions per week, every week.


What is the normal flight training process?

You will schedule the aircraft time and my time in a computer system. You should schedule 2-3 lessons each week with me.  At the beginning of each lesson, I will briefly introduce the maneuvers we will perform.  Then we go up to the blue sky and learn the maneuvers.  After landing, I will give you a debrief – insight and tips so that you .  Each session is roughly 2 hours in total, with about 1.5 hours of flying time.  Occasionally a lesson can be longer, such as when we fly to a distant airport (50 – 80 nautical miles away) and back.  Such lessons are called “cross-country.”


What kind of aircraft will we fly?

Cessna 172.


What if I need to take an extended break during my training?

I allow occasional breaks due to personal / business travel or sick leave.  However, if you need to take any breaks longer than 2 weeks, I may take on new students who will then have priority of my schedules.  My availability to you will not be guaranteed when you’re ready to resume training.


Will we have ground lessons?

I ask my students to rely primarily on commercially prepared ground school packages, such as the King Schools DVD course.  I will be available to answer any questions you have as you learn from these ground schools.  I believe this is the most efficient way of learning.  But if you insist on learning from me in live ground sessions, I would be happy to oblige.


How much will it cost?

Again this varies wildly from person to person. For private pilots,the FAA’s requirement is a minimum of 40 hours of flying time.  On average, students who learn from me “start to finish” finish under 50 hours of flying time.  Instructor time, on average, is about 1.3 times your flying time. An honest, average budget looks like this:

Non-U.S citizens should factor in another $150 for TSA application and fingerprinting.

A rule of thumb is to budget $15,000 before you start.


What kind of airplanes will I be able to fly with my private pilot license?

Your pilot license will be rated for “Airplane Single Engine Land”.  That means land-based fixed-wing single-engine aircrafts (no helicopters, gliders, hot air balloons, seaplanes, etc).  Additionally, there are some additional endorsement or ratings that you may need for certain scenarios, such as if you need to fly into clouds or fly larger aircrafts (about 8 seats or larger).


What are some of the best things to do with my private pilot license?

Take your friends to lunch that would take 3-4 hours of driving time.  Napa, Sacramento, Tahoe, Santa Barbara region, or even LA, are some of my favorite lunch spots.  It will take you to many small towns that you never heard of.

Take your friends on a “bay tour” and survey the entire bay area in about 1 hour.

Go to out-of-town business meetings without the drive or the airport wait.  If you own a small business, this expands your business reach (as it does mine).


Great. How do I start?

Give me a call to check my availability. I only teach a limited number of students at a time.  A non-refundable deposit may be required to secure a future start date.

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