On average, how many landings does a student pilot need before their first solo? I know it depends on individual students, but roughly what is the number? Or you can just tell me your experience.

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    $\begingroup$ My log book says I was at 50 landings, with 23.1 ASEL hours for starting first solo. I got my PPL at 259 landings 80.6 ASEL hours and 26.6 PIC hours (log at time of issuance, so end of the test). $\endgroup$
    – bartonjs
    Jan 21 '17 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ Please know that the number or landings or hours required to solo means almost nothing about you skill as a pilot. I've see the 45hr wonder kids (who were very proud of that number, btw) ball up airplanes in very stupid ways and the 100hr PPLs go on to have really great expierences with GA. $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    Jan 22 '17 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure what the average is. I had 93 landings logged and 22.7 ASEL hours on the day of my first solo, but I had a few hiccups that delayed my medical cert and my CFI moved away at about 17 hours so had to find a new one to sign me off. Finished PPL by 156 landings and 45.6 ASEL though! $\endgroup$ Jan 23 '17 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ IIRC it was 33 landings, technically slightly less is you count that the instructor did the first couple. But that was in a glider (sailplane). As a general rule, younger pilots will go solo faster - I remember reading that it was along the line of 20 + 2 per year of age over 18. Also launch method makes a difference - aerotow students tend to go solo in fewer launches/landings that winch students because they tend to have more handling time per launch. This might be interesting: scottishglidingcentre.co.uk/cost_to_solo.htm $\endgroup$
    – webdevduck
    Jan 23 '17 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth given that in 1969 when I soloed attitudes were different I think, but at solo I had 8.5 hours of dual and 35 dual landings.I have this long-term, back-burner project to get my hours to my web page at terryliittschwager.com/logbook.php $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Jul 18 '19 at 0:29

My logbook shows 29 landings, with 11 hrs logged in an Aircraft Single Engine Land aircraft (ASEL) when my instructor stepped out and sent me off on my first solo flight.

I think those figures were typical for students at my flight school. It is probably also fairly typical for students at most §141 flight schools, such as mine.

Now, there can be a significant difference between the experience of training under §61 and training at a §141 flight school. The schedule at §141 schools tends to be more fast-paced than what many students might experience doing §61 flight training. Since students must systematically complete the curriculum at §141 schools, a certain minimum level of experience will be in place before a student solos. However, this curriculum also lends itself to a student being ready to solo after a fairly defined period of time. A student training under §61 might take longer to be ready to solo due to a number of factors, including a possibly more relaxed training pace. On the other hand, §61 training can also give an instructor the freedom to solo a student after less time than might be typical.

I don't have any hard data outside of my own experience and what I have observed, but I would guess that a typical §141 student will solo after about 20-40 landings and 10-15 hours. I would guess that a typical §61 student will solo after about 20-60 landings and 10-25 hours.

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    $\begingroup$ Just for reference, I trained at a part 61 school and my numbers are similar, I soloed at 10 hours with about 25 landings. Granted I also got my license at 45 hours (where national average is closer to 70). But my training was spread out over a year (so it wasn't one of those 45 hours in 3 weeks things). $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 22 '17 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Yeah, thats just it. I think §61 gives more room to allow even earlier solos in some cases. You hear about folks that soloed after 5 hours or so. I doubt that would ever happen under §141. $\endgroup$
    – J Walters
    Jan 22 '17 at 2:18
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    $\begingroup$ I generally sent my 61 students up between 10-15hrs. Why would a 61 a school take longer than a 141? $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    Jan 22 '17 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ Quick question, how do you type the § symbol? $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Jan 22 '17 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @kevin: You type ALT, maintain it, and type 21 on the numerical keypad. Else you use charmap. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jan 22 '17 at 19:54

I was trained in the US Navy. My basic flight training was conducted at NAS Corpus Christi in the T-28 Trojan and consisted of 30 actual flights. This was average for a student Naval Aviator. Total actual flight time was 48.9 combined and 40.6 as first pilot. There were a total of 7.3 hours of instrument time, with 1.9 night time hours. Before my solo I had 148 landings.

The average flight time was 1.6 hours with 1.4 as first pilot. Average landings per flight were 5.

T-28 Trojan

The T-28 Trojan was similar in looks to the A1 Skyraider. The Skyraider had a Wright R-3350-26WA radial engine with 2,700 HP. The Trojan had a Wright R-1820-86 Cyclone radial engine developing 1,425 HP. You could torque roll the Trojan!

It was an airplane that, in a sense, was wasted on a new student like me. It was a lot to handle for a new aviator, and at the time I was flying, it was old and often a pilot was faced with emergencies. I remember being airborne listening to an emergency of a solo pilot with smoke in the cockpit. It had a lot of power with its 9 cylinder radial engine.

At full throttle on engine checks at the end of the runway you had to press hard on the brakes, and could find yourself coming off the power as you skidded down the runway. When you released the brakes you had a lot of rudder in compensating for the prop wash hitting the vertical stabilizer. It was customary on your first takeoff not to put in nearly enough rudder. Whoa, that led to some interesting events.

When I finished my indoctrination at Pensacola I was given the choice to fly the new T-34 Turboprop or go to Corpus Christi and fly the T-28. When I saw the engine on that beast I knew exactly which aircraft I wanted to fly. Wish I had enough money to own one.


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