Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

"Learning to Fly" Questions

"NFA Membership" Questions

How do I become an NFA member?

You must go through orientation. You need to schedule an appointment with us (see Contact Us) so we can walk you through the process.

The one-time membership initiation fee is $100. Club dues are 15 dollars per month, billed in advance (these rates may change at any time).

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How does renting an airplane work?

Once an NFA member, you will have access to our online scheduling system. You can schedule and rent any of the aircraft which you are eligible to fly.

Rental rates are charged by the hour, using the aircraft's Hobbs meter (i.e., you only pay for the time the engine is running).

All hourly rates are "wet," meaning that the cost of fuel is included. Any fuel purchases made elsewhere will be reimbursed up to the current price of fuel at OSU.

Instructor fees, landing fees, tie-down fees, or any other additional usage or handling fees incurred at remote airports are the responsibility of the renting pilot.

Use of aircraft for multiple day / overnight trips is permitted, but may be subject to a "required minimum hours" policy.

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What are your insurance requirements?

Our fleet policy includes a waiver of subrogation. However, there are a couple of important points that we feel everyone NEEDS to know:

  • Subrogation is a legal procedure where insurance companies can sue the individual who is at fault for causing damage, including the pilot, which could be you!
  • A waiver of subrogation protects you from being persued by the insurance company. However, it does NOT prevent your passengers, the aircraft owners, or anyone else whom you've harmed from going after you!
  • You must still pay for the deductable if you are at fault.

As such, NFA members (other than aircraft owners) are required to obtain renter’s insurance to cover at least 5,000 dollars of in-motion hull damage. You must also have at mimimum standard injury and property damage insurance.

Members may purchase aircraft renter’s insurance from whomever they wish. We checked several brokers and the coverage and premiums were nearly identical. AVEMCO offers one of the quickest, easiest sign-up procedures. Call AVEMCO at 1-800-638-8440 or 1-888-241-7891 and request non-owner aircraft coverage or visit their web site (www.avemco.com) for more information. If you sign up, use NFA04 as your referral code!

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Which aircraft can I fly?

As a member, you are permitted to fly (solo) any of the fleet aircraft which are appropriate to your experience, certification and type rating(s), contingent on a checkout by an NFA Certified Flight Instructor.

A minimum of a one hour checkout with an NFA CFI is required for permission to fly each "general model" of NFA aircraft (for example, a successful checkout in one of the Skyhawks permits you to fly all the Skyhawks).

Student pilots must be accompanied by an instructor in all aircraft until they have obtained the required solo endorsements in their logbook.

Pilots who have not met the minimum certification and experience requirements must be accompanied by an NFA approved CFI.

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How much does it cost (to learn to fly)?

There is not a set cost for "start to finish" certification. The FAA outlines standards that you have to meet before they will issue you a license, and is similar to getting a Driver's License. The overall cost of getting your license will depend on a number of factors:

  • How often you are available to take lessons. The more frequently you can meet and practice with an instructor, the less likely it is that you will have to "relearn" the various procedures and lessons between flights which wastes time. In flying, as with anything else, time equals money.
  • Your attitude. Conscientious hardworking students with good study habits both in and out of the cockpit spend less time (and as a result less money) reaching their certification goals.
  • What type of airplane you choose to complete the majority of your training in. You can train in almost any of our many aircraft, all of which have different hourly rates depending on age, equipment options, performance, etc.

That said, the best way to make the process as inexpensive as possible is to commit to your learning, and fly as often as you can. As a rule of thumb, which WILL vary for each person, an average person will spend the following while training:

  • Sport pilots spend an average of $3,500 to $5,000.
  • Private pilots spend an average of $6,000 to $10,000


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      How long does it take?

      Again, how often you fly and how dedicated you can be to the task has a great deal to do with how quickly you can get your certificate. On average nationally, the process runs about 5 months. You must complete a minimum of 20 hours for Sport Pilot (national average of 40 hours training), and 40 hours of flight experience for Private (national average of 60-70 hours), and study to pass the written and oral exams (typically 30 - 40 hours of study material).

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      What does the whole process involve?

      After taking your introductory flight, you will likely sit down with one of our flight instructors to talk about your flying goals. You will set up a schedule for lessons, and they will provide you with your study materials. Lessons may be comprised of any combination of ground school (simulation, classroom work,) and air work. Most lessons generally last only about two hours, and are fairly evenly divided between air work and ground school. At each lesson, your instructor will go over with you any material you have been directed to study, and discuss what you will be doing in the air that day. In the air, your instructor will demonstrate the required procedures and techniques, and you will begin to learn how to taxi, talk on the radio, performs takeoffs, execute various types of landings, and a myriad of other required procedures.

      At some point, with the exception of the Sport Pilot license, you will be required to get a medical exam from an Aviation Medical Examiner. This exam (usually for a Third Class Medical,) simply confirms that you are of generally good physical and mental health, and do not suffer from anything that would put you (or others) at undo risk while you are in the cockpit.

      After a time of "dual instruction" (usually about 15-20 hours, on average), your instructor will sign you off to fly "solo." After completion of this thrilling benchmark, you will continue learning and practicing, but many of your flights may be without your instructor. As you grow more confident in your skills, you will be faced with new and more exciting challenges, like solo cross country flights, and night flights.

      Eventually, your instructor will feel you have demonstrated a requisite knowledge of the necessary study material, and you will take your written exam. This 60 question test demonstrates your general knowledge of both your study materials, as well as the law and your legal responsibilities and restrictions as a pilot, etc. Upon passing your written test, there is really just one last hurdle before you are a fully licensed private pilot.

      After some final practice air work, and studying, your instructor will be confident that you have learned the required information, and can accurately demonstrate the required flight maneuvers, and he or she will sign you off for your Practical and Oral Examination. The practical and oral test is a two part test with either an examiner from the FAA, or a DE (designated examiner.) The oral portion is nothing more than a conversation where the examiner informally quizzes you on points of relevant aviation law, the national airspace system, your knowledge of weather, etc. You will be asked to plan a hypothetical flight, and the examiner will review the thoroughness and accuracy of your flight planning. Finally, you will take to the air, where the examiner will ask to see your skill in executing the various techniques and procedures you have learned. Upon successful demonstration of these procedures, you will land, and your examiner will hand you the piece of paper that starts the rest of your aviation journey: your (temporary) Private Pilot Certificate. (The permanent copy comes from the FAA a few weeks later.)

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      Are there any age / health requirements?

      You can start at any age, although you must be 16 to solo and 17 to get a pilot certificate. And there is no maximum age. As long as you pass a physical exam and hold a current medical certificate, you can continue to fly. Some pilots still love to fly into their 80s and 90s.

      The medical requirements are not terribly restrictive, and are intended to demonstrate that you are of generally good physical and mental health, and do not suffer from any condition that would put you (or others) at undo risk while you are in the cockpit. There are actually three types of medical certificates: First Class, Second Class and Third Class. Third Class is the least restrictive and is all that is required to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate. The other medicals are primarily required for those exercising privileges of advanced certificates, like Commercial and Airline Transport pilots.

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      What can I do when I get my license?

      Your freedom as a pilot begins with the requirements and privileges of whichever certificate you hold. Lets go through the various certificates, and what they mean (please note that regulations are constantly changing, and this is only a short summary of the important points):

      With a "Sport Pilot Certificate" you may:
      • Pilot an aircraft with no more than 2 seats, and not more powerful than 100 HP.
      • Fly only with one passenger at a time.
      • Fly with only a drivers license! Note, if you have been denied a medical certificate, you cannot fly
      • NOT fly in Class B, C or D airspace without additional flight instruction. OSU is class D, underlying class C, so you will get this training.
      • Fly anywhere in the U.S.
      Notable Restrictions of the sport pilot license:
      • NOT fly in conditions resulting in less than 3 mile visibility.
      • NOT fly above cloud ceilings.
      • NOT fly "for hire."
      • NOT Fly at night, unless under supervision of a CFI
      With a "Private Pilot Certificate", many limitations of the sport pilot license are lifted. You may:
      • Pilot almost any single engine general aviation aircraft (although some may require a special "type" rating.)
      • Fly with several passengers (up to 9 at the time of this writing)
      • Fly at night.
      • Fly in Class B, C or D airspace without additional flight instruction, as this is part of the training course. (Essentially this means airports with operating control towers.)
      • Fly outside U.S. airspace.
      • Add additional ratings to your license, such as the instrument rating.
      • NOT fly without an FAA Medical Certificate. You may still fly light sport aircraft as a private pilot without a medical certificate.
      • NOT fly "for hire."
      With an "Instrument Pilot Rating" you may:
      • >Pilot any IFR equipped aircraft in poor visual conditions.
      • Fly in conditions resulting in ZERO miles visibility. (Although there are still minimum visibility requirements for taking off and landing.)
      With an "Commercial Pilot Certificate" you may:
      • Fly with all allowances that the private pilot gives, plus
      • Fly "for hire" with additional ratings.
      • Fly as a Certificated Flight Instructor! (must have instrument rating)

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