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Flight Instruction FAQ

How do I get started?

A very popular option is called a Discovery Flight. It makes a great gift and helps people figure out if aviation is something they want to pursue. It's basically a scenic flight, but we let you take the controls (at no additional cost). To get started, we'll have you fill out a rental agreement, provide a credit card for the airplane rental, and set you up with an instructor. You will pay our instructors separately. They will accept either cash or digital payments like Venmo or Zelle. The instructor's payment is due on the day of the flight lesson.

I loved my Discovery Flight, what's next?

We'll need to collect some information from you, namely a credit card, and either a valid U.S. Passport or a U.S. Birth Certificate along with a U.S. Government issued photo I.D. 

After that, you will be given access to the Google Calendar that we use to manage the airplanes' schedules and you and your instructor can agree on a day and time to book a plane and get started.

You will want to quickly get a logbook so that you can keep a record of the instruction you receive. We recommend The Pilot's Flight Log and Record from Sporty's.

Finally, before you solo (after about 15-20 hours), you will need to obtain a 3rd class medical from an authorized Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). We recommend that you do this as soon as you realize you are serious about flying. If you have a disqualifying medical condition, you will want to find that out before you get too far into your training. Dr. Michael Komin in Shafter is our first recommendation for an AME. We also like Dr. Ron Lichtenstein in Fresno. Simply contact either office and tell them you want to schedule a 3rd class FAA medical. If you need an AME someplace else, you can use this tool from the FAA to find one.

Your instructor will also help you apply for your Student Pilot Certificate. You will receive a card from the FAA a few weeks later.


When the time comes for you to solo, you will need to have your Student Pilot Certificate, your Medical Certificate, a Photo I.D., and your logbook with your 90-day solo endorsement on you anytime you are flying alone in the plane.

How long will it take me to obtain my Private Pilot's License (PPL)?

In terms of hours, it is technically possible in as little as 40. More realistically, the national average is about 75 hours. The number of months it will take all depends on your schedule and your budget. You can break things up in whatever way works best for you. You can take frequent, shorter flights, or less frequent longer flights. A lot will be up to how hard you study at home. If you stop and start, it will also take longer, as you will need to go back over things you have forgotten. We recommend that once you begin training in earnest, that you take a minimum of two lessons per week. Consistent practice will help you progress faster.

How much will it cost for me to obtain my Private Pilot's License?

The answer varies from person to person, but he is a rough outline. When you add it all up, you're looking at approximately $15,000. But the good thing is that you pay as you go and can fly as much or as little as your budget allows. Some people spread the costs over a few years, others do it all at once. Keep in mind that flying costs only ever go up. Fuel, insurance, parts, maintenance labor, all drive ever-increasing rental rates and inflation drives up prices for the other equipment you need to purchase. So the longer you wait, the more expensive things will be.

  1. Airplane Rental = 75 Hours * $150 an hour = $11,250

  2. Instructor = 60 Hours * $60 an hour = $3,600

  3. Simulator Time = 2.5 Hours * $40 an hour  = $100

  4. Checkride fee = $500

  5. Online ground school course (Gold Seal, Sporty's, or King) = $300

  6. Flight bag = $50 (a backpack is fine)

  7. Logbook = $15 (or you can use a digital logbook)

  8. Flashlight (should include a dim "moonlight" setting) = $40

  9. Airplane Flying Handbook and Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge = Free

  10. *Headset (Bose, David Clark) = $300 to $1,000 (Noise reduction not required, but recommended)

  11. *E6B Flight Computer (ASA Manual or Sporty's Electronic) = $40 to $80 (talk to your instructor about options)

  12. *Aviation Plotter = $15

  13. *View Limiting Device (for simulated instrument flight) = $20

  14. *Fuel Tester = $10

  15. **iPad = $600

  16. **Foreflight (App) Subscription = $120 to $240 per year

* These items are optional. We have them available for you to borrow.

** It is not required to have an iPad with a Forelight subscription. You can use paper charts if you so desire. But technology has made flying safer and easier and if you want to take advantage of that, it's best that you learn to fly using that technology earlier in your flying career. Especially if you struggle with technology at all.

Do you offer training other than private pilot training?

Yes, we also train Commercial Pilots, help people add instrument ratings to their license, and can even train you to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).

What tests are involved in getting my PPL?

1. Written - The written test is taken as a proctored (monitored) exam through a company called PSI, who works with the FAA to administer all of their exams. They have a testing facility in Visalia and the test can be scheduled here: PSI Exam. Make sure to choose the PAR exam for your PPL. The exam consists of 60 questions and you have two hours to complete it.

2. Practical - For this test, you will fly to Bakersfield or Fresno and meet with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). The test is broken into two phases. An oral exam, which lasts about two hours, and a flight exam, also lasting roughly two hours. If you pass, you will be issued a temporary certificate and will return home as a private pilot with all of the privileges is bestows upon you. Many pilots immediately celebrate by taking their loved ones up for their first joyride in what will hopefully be many fun family adventures.

Should I get all of my ground school and the written test out of the way before I start to fly?

There are different schools of thought on this. Some people find that this makes their flight testing more effective since they already have the book knowledge and have better questions for the instructor. But it can also be monotonous and could lead to burn out or procrastination. There can also be value in flying while studying, as the flying will make the material more tangible. Ultimately, it is up to each student to decide which approach works best for them. Just remember, your written test is only good for two years. So don't take it unless you're sure you are far enough along in your flight training that you won't run out of time, money, or motivation to finish before the written test expires.

What are the differences between Part 61 Schools and Part 141 schools? Which one is Visalia Flyers?

  1. Visalia Flyers is a Part 61 school.

  2. Part 61 is one-on-one training. Part 141 is conducted in a large classroom setting. 

  3. Part 61 works around the students schedule. Part 141 is like having a job, you follow their schedule.

  4. Part 61 lets you work at your own pace. Part 141 will kick you out if you fall behind (with no refund).

  5. Part 61 is about half as expensive as Part 141. Students at Part 141's often take out loans, just like going to college.

  6. Part 61 adjusts to your comfort level and learning style. Part 141 follows a very regimented syllabus and each lesson progresses accordingly. Part 61 can also use a syllabus, but it can depart from that syllabus to the extent needed to accommodate the student's specific needs. 

  7. Part 61 requires more hours than Part 141. If you are trying to become a professional pilot, you can get through your training and start teaching with fewer hours at a Part 141. The time difference is negligible at the private level but can become significant at the commercial level.

  8. Both schools have rules outlined for them in the Federal Aviation Regulations and both are completely fine options. In either case, make sure to check out reviews before you sign up, especially if you are committing to taking out a loan.

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