I am 15 right now and I want to get the Certificate/License when i am 17. (17 is the age right?)

How much training do I need and is there any written tests etc?

What kind of IFR training will be included/needed?


2 Answers 2


In the US, you'll need to be 16 old for solo flights in training and 17 to get your Private Pilot's license in a piston-powered aircraft. (You can begin training at any age, but must be 16 to solo.) To get your license you'll have to have a minimum of 40 hours total time, including at least 20 with an instructor and 10 solo. You will also have to pass a written test, and get a Medical certificate.


If you're pursuing a Private Pilot license, per 14 CFR §61.83(a) or (b) you must be 16 years old to get a student pilot certificate (or 14 years old if you're going to train in a balloon or glider.) An SPC is required for solo flight, but not for dual instruction.

NOTE: 14 CFR mean Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14 - Aeronautics & Space. §61.## means "Part 61" which covers Certification of Pilots and Instructors.

To start training you will also have to pass a medical exam for a 3rd Class Medical Certificate, per 14 CFR §61.23(a)(3). If you're generally healthy, getting a 3rd Class Medical isn't terribly difficult.

Assuming you successfully complete the training, per 14 CFR §61.103(a) or (b) you can get your Private Pilot license for an airplane at 17 years old (or 16 years old for a balloon or glider.)

Per 14 CFR §61.109(a) to get your license you will need to have completed at least 40 hours of flight time, including at least 20 hours of time with an instructor and 10 hours of solo time.

However, many pilots take more than the required minimum 40 hours to get their license. My suggestion is to try to complete your training in as short a calendar time as is possible. By taking lessons frequently (more than once per week) you will minimize the amount of "repeat" lessons, which will help you get your license with fewer hours. If you're only taking a lesson every few weeks, you will end up repeating topics and spending more than the required 40 hour minimum.

Per 14 CFR §61.35, you will have to complete a ground school program (can be with an instructor, or a "home study" course) before you take the Knowledge test (aka: written exam.)

Per 14 CFR §61.109(a)(3), you will need at least 3 hours of "Instrument" flight training to get your Private Pilot license. That's really not intended to be enough for you to fly safely on instruments, but to give you a basic set of skills to get out of a low-visibility situation. If you keep up with your flying, getting in Instrument rating is a GREAT idea, once you have enough hours.

You can look up the specific wording of all of the rules at http://www.ecfr.gov/

Another good resource for student pilots is the Aircraft Owner's and Pilot's Association's Learn to Fly page http://www.aopa.org/Pilot-Resources/Learn-to-Fly.aspx.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Note that the requirement is 16 to solo an airplane - you may begin your flight training at any time, the student pilot certificate and medical (where applicable) are not required until you are ready to solo. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 19:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ok. I was gonna say that if you have to start training at 16, I've been training when I was 13 so I was beginning to think i was doing somehting Illegal. Both Answers help! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Also, is the ground training like for Taxiing and stuff like that? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 21:08
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @CameronTarbell "Ground school" is the classroom aspect of flight training, it covers a lot of things, including basic aerodynamics, operating rules & regulations (the FARs), flight planning, airport signs/markings, and - if your ground instructor is good - practical things like risk management. You will also cover most or all of these things in some way as part of the flight portion of your training, but that tends to be focused on building skills, where ground school is focused on building knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 22:04

One thing to note is everything in user264's answer is the minimum required and solely lies upon the individual to:

  1. Study - yes flying an airplane does require some academics, basic math, navigation, basic physics. The more of the basic reading you do up front will help very bit with keeping hours down on learning to fly
  2. Your personal willingness to be humbled - flight is an art - you will hear it at some point, every pilot judges their flight by the landing. The reason for this is it is the hardest part of flying. All the training you receive will be things to teach you about landing. Do well with those and they will help you to make good landings. It will be a challenge but well worth it
  3. Listen and ask lots of questions - your instructor is trying to lead an art class.
  4. On average it takes 50-70 hours to make a private pilot. Usually closer to 70
  • $\begingroup$ Younger folks seem to pick it up sooner - better reflexes, eyesight, things along those lines. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 15:22

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