I've heard that to get a private pilot license in bay-area, CA, San francisco is a little bit harder than other place, because of difficult and busy airspace, ATC, air traffic and some reason.

Do you have any idea what is the average total flight time to get a PPL it in bay area? Thank you.

  • $\begingroup$ I mean total flight time. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Red Ananas
    Jun 26, 2018 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


The SF Bay Area is more complex than some other airspaces. This does not mean that it will require more time, you just need to prepare for it.

I live on the SF peninsula and while I do not have a broad survey, I trained at the same time as two friends so I have three datapoints. I got my license with 41hrs training, one friend was under 50hrs and the other somewhere in the 60s. I doubt this is above the national average. This was some years ago, but the sky was already full. I guess now it is more full.

I picked my own instructor and did not let him teach me anything that I could learn from a book or on my own. We had every session topic planned ahead of time and I made sure I was well prepared. Far more important than where you train is your own attitude and diligence in preparation.

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    $\begingroup$ @kaizen As a flight instructor, I feel the need to comment here... getting your certificate is a LOT of new information. I, too, studied like crazy and was ready in the low 40s. However, in the same way Pilothead cautions against teaching extra, I caution against learning the legal minimums to get by. Like with everything, some instructors are more thorough and a little extra of their time is worth its weight in gold! Pick an excellent, thorough instructor. Even if it takes a little longer with them, you’ll be way better off than rushing with someone who just wants to get you “through.” $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Jun 26, 2018 at 2:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Pugz I in no way cautioned against learning extra or recommended stopping at legal minimums. I simply said that there are multiple sources of information and I made best use of each source. I did not wait to be spoon fed by an instructor. By the time I took my PPL checkride I was well into training for my instrument endorsement. My friend with 60+ hours failed his first ride and had to do it again. Flight time does not equal proficiency. $\endgroup$
    – Pilothead
    Jun 26, 2018 at 6:29
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    $\begingroup$ I got my license in 1975 and the school I used had a syllabus so every instructor knew what we needed to do. Each lesson was checked pass or fail. I only remember having to re-do two lessons (lazy-8s and cross wind landings). The only ground school I needed was xcountry reviews. My primary instructor used the 10min to and from the practice area to expound on personal wisdom - well worth it (that's where I learned the stuff that later saved my life several times). $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Jun 26, 2018 at 7:21
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    $\begingroup$ As a CFI, I can teach you to take off, fly around and land (with reasonable crosswinds) in 5 hours. The rest of the time is spent on rules/regulations and judgement experience. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Brass
    Jun 27, 2018 at 6:18
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    $\begingroup$ I learned on a 1659' paved field, very narrow, 45', with tall trees on the southeast end and a fence to keep you out of the road on the northeast end. Had to be quite good at landing before you could solo. On the other hand, everyplace else seems excessively long now! Found a photo on flicker $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Jun 27, 2018 at 14:46

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