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FIRC ~ FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about becoming a Pilot

Below are some of the frequently asked questions we hear from people about learning to fly, FAA regulations, Sport Pilots, Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), Private Pilots, Commercial Pilots, Flight Instruction and General Aviation.

How do I become a Pilot?

Becoming a pilot is easier than most people think. Yes, it takes a lot of study, practice, and a determination to succeed. For those who are committed to reaching their goal, it is attainable. Call your local flight schol, or three schools, and make an appointment for a Discovery Flight today. Start with a good ground school with other student pilots and learn the fundamentals of aviation and the regulations that go along with being a pilot. For the price of a modest used car or fishing boat, in as few as 20 ~ 30 flight lessons, you could have your pilots license.

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What does it cost to learn how to fly?

Due to differences in the learning speed and study habits of individual student pilots there is no hard and fast figure. At a minimum the regulations require 15 hours of dual flight training and 5 hours of solo flight, before being eligible to take your Sport Pilot practical exam (check-ride and oral exam). Thus, assuming a rate of $99 per aircraft rental hour (wet, this includes gas) the airplane will run you at least $ 1,980. The instructor will be at least $ 750 at $ 50 per flight hour, and/or ground instruction hour. This does not include the ground or classroom instruction time needed to prepare you to take your FAA Knowledge Test. This can vary from 0~30 hours depending upon the student. Your check-ride and FAA exams will cost an additional $ 600 or so. Your textbooks in a "student pilot kit" another $ 200 or more. Thus, at a minimum the cost of obtaining your initial Sport Pilot license will run at least $ 3,500 or more. Most people take longer than the minimum 20 hours, and 40~60 hours is common, which raises the total cost to about $ 4,000~8,000. Flight training is usually purchased by the hour, and not in a lump sum, so this expense can be spread out over time (much like a car payment). Learning to fly is gaining an education, and personal freedom, once completed it can never be taken away from you and will provide a lifetime of personal satisfaction. ** Rates subject to change without notice and not a guarantee of results. **

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Should I attend a pilot ground school before I start flight training?

We think so. By having a good foundation of knowledge about aviation you will be able to pick up what your flight instructor is trying to teach you quicker. In the long run, this will reduce your flight instruction time and reduce the cost of earning your pilot's license. It is easier to learn a new aeronautical concept sitting still on the ground, than while flying through the air. Flight training begins on the ground, not in the air.℠

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Can I share the cost of flight training with other student pilots?

Yes and no. Yes, you may share ground school and instructor time. This is a great way to reduce the cost of your initial pilot training. If your instructor approves, you may take another student with you in the backseat and rotate during the lesson. This is a great way to see how other people learn, and it will enhance your learning experience. This method works especially well in advanced training like an Instrument Rating or if training to become a flight instructor. No, you may not share airplane rental (solo flight time) with other student pilots until after you get your initial pilot license. Once licensed, Sport or Private Pilots may share the rental expense of an aircraft as they build flight time toward advanced ratings. Renting an LSA at $ 99 per hour is much cheaper than renting a standard trainer (i.e. a Cessna 172 or a Piper Warrior) at sometimes $ 150 or more while doing "time building"!

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How does the Sport Pilot license compare to the Private Pilot license?

The cost of obtaining a Sport Pilot license can be less than half that of the Private Pilot license (PPL). Regulations require a minimum of 20 hours training for the Sport Pilot and 40 hours of experience for the Private Pilot. Most people, in either category, will usually take double the minimum required to get their license. Thus a Sport Pilot license will cost between $ 4,000~8,000 and a Private Pilot license will cost between $ 8,000 ~ 16,000 dollars or more. *Based upon January 2009 rates at LSA North, Inc. and subject to change.

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Will my Sport Pilot instruction apply toward future pilot ratings?

Yes! All of your time spent in Sport Pilot training will count toward future ratings and time building in a Single Engine Land SEL aircraft if your instructor was certified under Subpart H of FAR § 61.193. If your instructor was certified under Subpart K of FAR § 61.413 - then no, your instructional hours will not count toward the instruction requirements of a higher license. Your total flight hours will still count in your logbook, and the experience you have will still be inside you. But if you plan on getting a Private pilot's license in the future, you should plan accordingly when you hire a CFI.

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Can I get financing toward my pilot license?

Yes. Many flight schools have partnerships with local banks and can help you with financing your flight training or with the purchase of an aircraft. There are many creative ways to finance an education, please consult with your accountant, banker, and other advisors before deciding upon a method.

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What should I bring to my first flight lesson?

Your first flight lesson will be one to remember for the rest of your life. Start with an open mind, a good night's sleep, a solid meal, and perhaps having done some reading beforehand of what to expect. A bottle of water, chewing gum, and a camera would be good items to bring with you. Your instructor will provide you with a headset initially, but you will want to purchase your own gear eventually. We are a dealer for LightSPEED headsets and can assist you with this purchase. Sharing headsets and microphones is not the most sanitary part of learning to fly. FAA Regulations require that your instructor verify your US Citizenship prior to starting initial flight training. Please bring a photo copy of your passport or birth certificate. A photo copy of your state drivers license is also needed if you will be flying without a Third Class medical under the Sport Pilot regulations allowing you to substitute a drivers license for a medical. Lastly, payment is expected at the end of all flights. Most flight instructors will accept cash, checks, or food and gas gift cards for payment. Dwolla or Paypal are options as well. Due to the cost of accepting Visa or Mastercard, most would prefer not to use charge a credit card.

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Is it better to own or rent an airplane for my flight training?

It depends. If you are going to be soon working toward an advanced rating that requires many hours of burning holes in the sky and flying in circles, yes. You may save money by owning your own airplane. One of the best parts of the LSA program is that it has brought fun, safety, and affordability of airplanes back to the general public at a level not seen since the aviation heydays of the 1950's! There are also income tax advantages to owning an airplane! By leasing it back to a local flight school, you can also make money with your airplane. Check with your accountant about the possible income tax advantages creating your own aviation company.

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How long does it take to get a pilot license?

Generally, most people only fly once or twice per week during training. With bad weather, illness, or work related cancellations don't be surprised to see 50% of scheduled lessons cancelled. We could put together an Accelerated Flight Training class and be done in as little as a week. It will usually take at least one month if you train daily. For most people it is several months, or even a year on a leisure training pace. Ideally, you should fly at least two or three times per week to maximize your learning and not have to relearn as much between lessons. How quickly you progress is up to you. Plan on 20 ~ 30 individual days or 30 one ~ two hour lessons to be completed over your time frame, more or less.

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How old do I have to be to learn to fly or get a pilots license?

There is no minimum age to start flight instruction. However, to fly the airplane solo you must be at least 16 years old, and age 17 to take to your practical exam for your pilot license. There is no maximum age to start learning to fly. As long as you have a valid State Drivers License, and no medical impairments that would prevent you from exercising the privileges of that license, you may fly as a Sport Pilot without a FAA Medical Certificate. Learning to fly is a great family activity for parents and children to share.

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What can I do with a Private Pilot license?

Most people never advance beyond getting their initial private pilot license. They had a dream of learning to fly, and once attained did not know where to go next. A private pilot can fly teenagers on aviation discovery flights (not for hire). EAA Young Eagles and CAP Civil Air Patrol are the two most well known. A private pilot can fly sick people on Angel Flights. A private pilot who owns his own airplane, or rents one, can fly himself somewhere on vacation, to work or a business meeting (but not take passengers for hire). A private pilot never stops learning and improving his flight skills, he can continue to work toward higher ratings and certificates. He can share the joy of aviation with others.

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Where can I get more information on the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) governing learning to fly?

The best place to get your questions answered is from the FAA directly. Do not be afraid to call the FAA or your local Flight Standards District Office directly with any questions. They are here to help you learn to fly safely. It is better to know the regulators and regulations before you make a mistake and meet them afterwards.

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Where can I get more information about the Sport Pilot program?

There are a number of message boards on the Internet that are a good source of information. CT Flyer - the Flight Design CT owners board. Sport Pilot Talk for general aviation pilots of all aircraft types. The EAA and SportPilot.org is also a good source for information on being a Sport Pilot and the LSA program. Many flight schools and instructors are not familiar with the Sport Pilot program, or they do not own and operate an LSA. Before you start training elsewhere, be sure to call the Sport Pilot experts at LSA North inc and Stick-n-Flight Training LLC!

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When can I start my flight training?

Please call or email us today, and we will work with you to get you flying and on the way toward your first pilot license quickly! The flight instructors at Stick-n-Rudder Flight Training, LLC are not currently conducting flight instruction with primary students, or in non-owned rental aircraft. We will work with people who own their own aircraft if the aircraft meets our standards for operational safety. We have referral relationships with many flight schools around Minnesota and across the United States. We can refer you to a local instructor, school, and rental aircraft near you to get you flying today!

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How do I become a flight instructor?

Becoming a certificated flight instructor is more than just knowing how to fly. It is about developing your airmanship skills, your aeronautical decision making abilities, judgment, and most importantly your ability to teach others how to become a safe aviator. Work your way up the ladder and through the pilot ratings Sport, Private, Instrument, and Commercial and then, if you have a desire to teach others, attend a good ground school and start learning the fundamentals of instruction and how to teach others. (This is a lifelong process; it is not a onetime class.) There are several knowledge exams to pass along the way; the Fundamentals of Instruction, Flight Instructor Airplane, Advanced Ground Instructor, Instrument Ground Instructor and Instrument Flight Instructor. Once you have passed the ground exams, you must then complete an oral exam and practical flight maneuvers test with an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner.

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How do I renew my flight instructor certificate?

All Certificated Flight Instructors are required by FAR § 61.197 to renew their teaching certificates every 24 months. There are several methods allowed under this regulation. We believe that the best option for a professional instructor is to do so in one of our classroom courses. We believe that you will learn more about how your students learn, what motivates them to succeed, and how you must adjust your own teaching style to meet their needs to make them successful. When you train in person with other experienced flight instructors, you cannot help but learn more than if you had sat alone in front of your computer in your shorts clicking a mouse for 16 hours to satisfy the time requirement. Don't just satisfy the letter of the law, aim for the spirit of the law and improve your teaching skills.

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When is the next Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC)?

We have Flight Instructor Refresher Courses starting often. Call us and we can discuss bringing a custom course to a location near you.

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How do I get an Instrument Rating?

An instrument rating is about learning to fly with precision, and developeing good aeronautical decision making skills about the aircraft, the pilot, and the environment. Start with a good ground school, pass the knowledge exam, and then after you are proficient in the skills area, pass a practical exam.

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How can I learn to fly a glass cockpit?

There is a lot of new technology available to pilots; I Pads, GPSr, Tablet Computers, X-M Radio, and more. Don't try to learn this in the air, start on the ground with a knowledgeable instructor. It is more than buttonology, it is changing your way of thinking about how you fly.

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Where can I get Garmin G1000 aircraft transition training?

There are very few flight schools that have G1000 flight simulators. Spend a few hours learning on the ground, and you will save many more hours in the air. If you own your own aircraft equipped with a Garmin G1000 display, we can help you learn the tips and tricks to make it work for you.

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How do I become an astronaut?

Seriously?

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How do I get a job with the airlines or fly for a business?

Most commercial pilot jobs are obtained through networking. All commercial pilots, at a certain level, have each obtained the minimum FAA requirements and ratings over the years. Set yourself a goal, find a mentor who has been there, and work your way up through all the starter-pilot jobs. If you have met the requirements, and time (age) is on your side you can reach this goal. There are many aviation jobs outside of the airlines to consider (Law, Forestry, Medical, Instruction, etc.).

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How do I become a Commercial Pilot and fly for the airlines?

All pilots started right where you are today; dreaming about learning to fly. If you want to become a commercial pilot and fly for a living, then you need to take the first step and start training toward becoming a Sport or Private Pilot today. Continue your training and advance your aviation ratings and within a year, if you work hard, you may be a commercial pilot. Becoming a commercial pilot is not cheap, plan on spending $ 30,000 ~ $ 50,000 just getting to your initial commercial pilot certificate. From there you will need to additional time and high performance, complex, and turbine aircraft requirements. This will add many thousands more to the cost of your education. Don't forget to get a college degree along the way, preferably in a non-aviation field so that you have a fallback position if flying doesn’t last your whole career. Some people will go the military route, most will self-pay and go the private industry or collegiate training programs. Lastly, don’t neglect your health or driving record. Both need to be strong and clean.

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How do I become an Advanced Ground or Instrument Ground Instructor?

The AGI and IGI are seperate certificates, just like the CFI certificate. You still need to complete a seperate FAA Knowledge Exam on the topic for each. We strongly suggest that you take these exams at the same time as when you do your Commercial certificate and initial Instrument Rating knowledge exams. The material is very similiar and it will save you time and money in the future.

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How do I become a flight instructor (CFI)?

Work your way through the Sport, Private, Instrument, and Commercial pilot certificates and ratings. Then you should attend, and co-teach under the guidance of a CFI, a pilot ground school in addition to your book studies. Find a CFI and start practing the flight manuevers you were taught, only now fly from the right seat and while talking. This will prepare you for the FAA knowledge test, oral and practical exams.

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Which is better: a cheap online flight instructor course or an inexpensive weekend classroom FIRC?

Where will you learn more: Sitting alone in your dark basement office clicking a mouse, or sharing a room with your peers and having meaningful discussions about flight training with pilots of all levels?

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