Private Pilot Courses and Classes

Essential Information

Private pilot courses prepare students to pass Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensing exams and earn a Private Pilot Certificate. Many community colleges and universities offer private pilot courses as non-credit courses or as part of a certificate program. The courses encompass ground, flight and classroom work and should be FAA-approved. As far as prerequisites, a minimum age of 16, for example, and FAA medical certificate may be required before the course begins. Private pilot training is the first step in a professional pilot program.

Here are some common concepts explored in private pilot courses:

  • Air traffic control
  • Traffic pattern operations
  • Aircraft systems
  • Flight altitudes
  • Takeoffs and landings

List of Courses

Ground School Course

Before students can begin flying, they need to study flying basics on the ground. Ground school courses explain the scientific principles of flight, aircraft systems and radio operation. Students read aeronautical manuals and learn to complete flight plans and logbooks. They also learn the federal, state and local laws and regulations that apply to private pilot flight.

Flight Instruments Course

This course familiarizes students with the many instruments found on a plane's flight panel. Through ground and flight practice, students learn how to operate a plane by instrument flight rules (IFR), which involves navigating a plane using only the flight instruments. Class training covers the use of IFR charts and instrument-based approaches. These skills are key for flight in conditions where visibility is limited, such as during night flights or when flying through clouds.

Meteorology for Aviation Course

Many elements of weather and climate can influence flight, including rain, temperature, air pressure and moisture. This class explains the effects of these elements and the weather systems that generate them. Students learn to create flight plans based on weather forecasts and make safety-conscious decisions about weather changes during flight.

Flight Training Course

Pilots in training take a number of flights, both with instructors and solo, to gain hands-on experience and demonstrate an understanding of concepts learned in ground school. Students meet with the instructor before flight to review procedures and maneuvers to be practiced in the air and then meet after the flight to evaluate performance. Students make short-term and cross-country flights. At the end of this course, students should have enough flight time to qualify for the FAA private pilot exam.

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