Private Pilot Summary


The Private Pilot's License (often abbreviated PPL) is the gold standard of the aviation industry, and has been in existence since before the FAA was formed and the CAA (Civil Aeronautics Administration) was still in existence.

The private pilot's license is the minimum certification required to begin training for more advanced ratings and licenses, such as the instrument rating, and commercial pilot certificate!

Private Pilot Requirements are dictated by Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 61, Subpart E. We'll summarize the important stuff below:

To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must:

  • Be at least 17 years old -- Note: anyone may take lessons from an instructor at any age! You must be 17 when you go to the FAA to apply for the license, but you can fly by yourself at 16!
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
  • Log at least 40 hours of flight time that includes at least 20 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training
  • Complete an aeronautical knowledge test (we have ground school training material to prepare you for it)
  • Complete an oral examination and practical test with an FAA examiner

There are a few other requirements, but your instructor will be your guide, and help you understand what it is you need to do. The above are the most important that you need to know!


Below are the costs of learning to fly for a PRIVATE PILOT certificate. Please be aware, experience and number of lessons per week WILL affect how much training you need.

Note to Sport Pilots: Your experience as a sport pilot counts! The figures below are for those who are starting from zero experience, but your sport pilot privileges, and time already logged, already apply towards a private pilot license!

Training: FAA Minimum Requirements

Please note that the FAA minimum requirements are an absolute minimum, and are an unrealistic goal in the industry. Some providers like to list them instead of REAL costs as a way to try and recruit students by making it look like they can get a pilot's license cheaply. As a consequence, their students will always find they are falling short, fly over-budget, and crush their dreams and their bank account. New Flyers Association does not condone such unscrupulous behavior, and we are only providing these minimums as a reference. Please see the "New Flyers Average Estimate" further down the page for realistic costs.

Aircraft rental 40 119 4,760
Flight Instruction 20 50 1,000
Private Pilot Training Kit - 149
Ground Instruction 3 35 105
Charts, Airport Facility Directory - 40 40
FAA Written Exam - 150 150
FAA Examiner's Fee - 400 400
Estimated Training Costs* 6,604

Training: Averages

Below you will find realistic expectations, while flying at minimum twice a week. Note that the more often you fly, the LESS time you will need to learn to fly, and therefore your costs will get closer and closer to the FAA minimums!

Aircraft rental 60 119 7,140
Flight Instruction 30 50 1,500
Private Pilot Training Kit - 149 149
Ground Instruction 5 35 175
Charts, Airport Facility Directory - 40 40
FAA Written Exam - 150 150
FAA Examiner's Fee - 400 400
Estimated Training Costs* 9,554

*These costs are for training and training material only. There will be other costs like club membership, as well as those outside of NFA's control, such as insurance (usually 200-300 a year), medical examinations (as of 2014, $100), any additional training you might need, and applicable taxes. These will add up to around 1k extra. There are ways to save though with NFA's Discount Programs!