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First Step

Try it ...

1. Find out if you actually like flying

So how do you begin your training?

With a decision.

You call up a flying school, book an introductory flight, (usually referred to as an "intro flight" or a "trial lesson"), and show up. That's all.

You will have a chance to occupy the pilot seat and fly the aeroplane - the Instructor will be right next to you - and you will know after this flight (and sometimes even before this lesson), if learning to fly is the right choice for you.

The great thing about flying is that it is black and white, you either love it or you don't. No grey areas here.

YES! You love flying

You have now decided YES! You want to learn to fly. Whether you want to fly as a career, for your own pleasure, or for business, the first step is the same. You need to earn a Private Pilot License, or PPL.

Many years ago, you could get a PPL in three weeks, provided, of course, that you could pay up front, you progressed normally, and the weather played along.


Things have changed. 

  • Flight training has become tougher.

  • Safety has become more stringent, standards are higher, exams are online instead of in-house, (controlled by the SACAA - South African Civil Aviation Authority).

If you do your PPL flight training full time, with complete dedication, and weather playing along, you could earn your wings in three to four months.

You do not have to train full time to become a pilot.

All flight training is one on one, and although most people tend to progress faster on a full time course, (and usually closer to the minimum required hours), you can train weekends only or irregularly. Just expect the license to take you longer and cost you more.


Minimum training hours by law:

45 hours x Aircraft rate per hour + Instructor Rate per hour + Related expenses (Exams; Training Materials, Briefings, Tools of the Trade, Medical Costs, Exam Fees, Licensing Fees) = Estimated PPL training cost.

eg. (45 x 1600 ZAR [amount varies] ) + [45 x 400 ZAR (amount varies)] + 30,000 ZAR = 120,000 ZAR

This is a rough figure, but you can expect to pay from 120,000 ZAR for your PPL.

Click here for a Currency Converter website. 

This flight training costing is based on the minimum flying requirement, - 45 hours - in a 2 seat trainer. It includes "related expenses" such as the Pilot Kit, medical expenses, ground lectures, license fees, exam fees, etc. If you need additional flight training to get to the required standard, (people often take between 50 to 65 hours), it will cost more.

You can request a quote from any SACAA approved flight training school, and they will gladly send it. The prices are dependent on the aircraft the flight school uses for training, and are likely to increase when the price of fuel increases. Schools will only quote you for 45 hours, but it is wise to budget for up to 55 hours.

All the money for your training flights is not expected up front, although you can pay a lump sum and negotiate a discount at some schools. Otherwise you can pay as you go. It is quite common to pay 5000 - 10,000 ZAR installments and top up as you finish using the money. Schools will not allow you to continue flight training on credit.

It might sound daunting to some, but I paid for my PPL as a full time student from my part time internet cafe management job, tips working as a barmaid at night, and a little help from my mom and dad. It took me a year. (I paid 292 ZAR per hour flying in a Cessna 152 in 1996/7).

Cost effective flying license option

Of course, if you are happy to be restricted to ultralight aircraft that can carry two adults (depending on their weight, and in some ultralight aircraft you could carry a child as a third passenger - for an adult you would have to sacrifice fuel), then you can get your flight training for less money and in less time doing a recreational pilot license.

There are several sub-categories of licenses under the recreational pilot license. This is governed in South Africa through the Recreation Aviation Administration of South Africa - RAASA, (who now fall under the SACAA). Police and Nature Conservation use ultralights to great advantage. Ultralights are significantly cheaper to purchase, maintain and operate.

If you ever decide to upgrade to a PPL, a portion (30) of your hours will count towards this higher license, but only if you complete your 3 axis RAASA license. If you start here then switch to PPL training, none of your ultralight  hours count towards the PPL.


The training standards are vastly different.  Interestingly enough, trying to do your PPL  on the cheap by starting with an ultralight then switching once complete to a PPL, when all is considered, ends up costing very, very close to the PPL cost.



The main difference between a PPL and a CPL is that the holder of a CPL is allowed to be paid to fly as a career. This is true worldwide. The holder of a PPL may not accept payment for flying, but may accept help towards the fuel/hire rate of the aircraft from friends and family.  You may fly for an Airline if you have a CPL, but you will need an ATPL to become Captain one day.


Getting a Private Pilot License (PPL)

If you would like to be able to fly more than one or two adult passengers around, then you will need to go the PPL route. From here you can add:

  • whatever aircraft you would like to fly;

  • a night rating, which allows you to land after dark, fly at night, or take off before dawn;

  • an instrument rating, which allows you to fly in or through cloud


If you are going to add both a night and instrument rating to your PPL, you might as well do a Commercial Pilots License or CPL.

On this site you will be getting access to the real life ground briefings your instructor would give you before every training flight lesson. We will explore everything that you need to know to become a pilot. I will take you through all the relevant requirements including:


Requirements to train as a pilot

Here are the school subjects you need to have mastered to become a pilot: none.


It is useful, however, to have a good understanding of maths and, of course, to be teachable. Don't expect to be spoon fed when it comes to flying lessons. You are expected to do your homework and be prepared. A solid grounding at school is essential.  Your instructor is not paid for the time he or she spends with you on the ground.

It always strikes me as an irony that in South Africa you may procreate and die for your country at 16; become a pilot at 17; are allowed to drink, drive, marry and get your own library card without a guardian's signature at 18; and may hire a car from any car rental agency from age 25. It is a long road to adulthood.


Sponsorship for flight training

South African Airways used to have a  Cadet Pilot Training Scheme on the go where they funded flight training for some privileged individuals.  Many countries' National Carrier has some sort of training scheme. Check yours.


Otherwise no one (with the possible exception of your parents), is going to sponsor your flight training. You are on your own here.

Occasionally people who work for a company for whom it would be convenient to have a pilot around, get their license sponsored. This is the exception more than the rule. It is also an exception that you may, as a PPL, fly for your company as long as you are an employee, and don't get paid anything to fly for the company.

Not South African?

No problem. You can still train to fly in South Africa.


In the past, many "foreigners" came to South Africa to train for their PPLs because, even including the accommodation and flight over, it was either cheaper or on a par to training in their home country, and could, (and still can), be completed in much less time because of South Africa having a very high percentage of good flying weather.

With the online exams, the time required to be in South Africa for training has more than doubled. There are now online Ground School Training Resources that can help you prepare before you get here, which will cut down your training time in South Africa. This will significantly reduce the time you need to be in South Africa for the actual flying. It is the studying and exams that takes all the extra time. The actual flying can still be completed in three to four weeks. 

When you get back home it is relatively easy to get a foreign license conversion to fly in your home country.

Airline Pilot (ATPL - Airline Transport Pilot License)

The path to becoming an Airline pilot, in short, is: PPL - CPL - ATPL. There are no short cuts.


Follow your Passion

More about your PPL License:


PPL Renewal

Maintaining your Competency

Expired PPL

What to do to renew your license

PPL Flight Test

Getting it right BEFORE the flight

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