Are 40 hours of flight really enough to gain experience to fly a small private plane alone anywhere? The rules state so but from experience off you pilots, is it really enough or should be more hours be clocked with another experienced pilot next to you before venturing out?

Today I had my first flight on a 152 from Dar es Salaam International Airport, and the area is quite busy. There were bigger aircraft taking off and approaching and many other taxiing.

Putting an inexperienced pilot that has barely 40 hours in an environment like this could cause serious problems even though he has gone through courses and exams. As you know one thing is theory and another is practice.

I would appreciate some clarification.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is varies wildly from individual to individual, and would be pure opinion, so even if it's very well written question, I'll have to put in a close vote. People should have their personal limits, and not go places they're not able to handle. Same goes for everything in life, even if we're legally allowed to do something doesn't mean we should. You're legally allowed to go 300 mph on some German highways with a normal drivers license, doesn't mean you can handle it, perhaps resulting in the not-so-legal act of disrupting people around you. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Mar 19, 2014 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ OK. If it has to be closed no prob. Explanation is very clear. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2014 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ Also keep in mind, you have to pass a checkride, it's not enough to have the required number of hours. You may have several hundred hours, and still not be allowed to go anywhere without an instructor signing off on it. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Mar 19, 2014 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ I went through the Air Force's Initial Flight Screening, and we soloed after only 12 hours, and checked after 15-18. Now this did not give me a PPL, but most of us felt able to fly by ourselves out of a smaller airport. if we had had 40 hours, I feel sure we would have felt very confident. Now flying into a large congested area is very different, and like others have said just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. $\endgroup$
    – SSumner
    Mar 19, 2014 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ I think I solo'd in about 25 hours... then passed my checkride around 50 hours. I could've done it faster, for sure. I do think 40 hours is sufficient, subject to how the student approaches it. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Mar 19, 2014 at 14:15

1 Answer 1


With the caveat that this is based on experience mostly in the US:

Most people take 60-80 hours to get their private pilot license: http://www.aviationcareerguide.com/private_pilot_license.asp

The harder you work, and the more often you fly, the fewer hours you'll need. The average hours are inflated somewhat by the many pilots who run out of time or money partway through, have to stop, and must then relearn what they forgot when they start back up again. If you have the time, money, and dedication to fly two or three times a week, you'll get your license in fewer hours (not to mention fewer days!).

Don't worry too much about the safety of it though. Your instructor won't let you take the exam, and your examiner won't pass you, if you're not ready.

As far as flying out of a major airport, my opinion is that it doesn't much affect the time or amount of experience required. In the US, it's usually more expensive because costs are higher at large airports, but you may not have the option. For most pilots, the hardest part of flying into a large airport is getting lost on the taxiways - but it will not take long to learn your way around your home airport. If anything, it will make you a better pilot. Today much of flying is dealing with controllers and airspace rules, and if you learn at a major airport, you'll have plenty of practice with that.


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