Updated: Nov 8, 2020
Minimum Flying Hours for flight lessons
The Aviation Authorities of each country stipulate a certain minimum number of hours that a student must fly before they may qualify to become a private pilot. eg. In America it is 40 hours, in South Africa, it is 45 hours. Confirm with your local flight school.
It doesn't really matter though, because realistically, with the structure of the current syllabus and the enormous focus on safety, it is a rare event for anyone to get their license in under 50 hours. Usually it takes even more than this! The average person takes between 55 to 75 hours to earn their PPL, especially training part-time.
People say a PPL license is a license to learn. I am inclined to agree.
Along with your fresh, shiny new Private Pilot License, you get an empty bucket of experience, and a full bucket of luck. The trick is to fill up the former before the latter runs out!
Your flight lessons are divided into 18 exercises. As with learning anything new, it takes a little time. For every lesson there are three parts:
Part 1: Theory - The lecture and flight briefing from your flight instructor.
(You can prepare for each lesson in advance by reading my e-books "Lana Aire's Flight Training Made Simple"Ex 1;Ex 2, the rest to follow shortly) or prepare by reading the Air Pilot's Manual (Air Pilots Manual 01) (Vol 1), which is a book I own to this day, and it is excellent! It covers all the basic exercises. You will also need his fourth book,The Air Pilot's Manual: The Aeroplane-Technical (Air Pilot's Manual Series) to prepare fully for the lessons. This is also a super book to own, but not vital. It is not set up in a lesson by lesson structure, the way your flight instructor will brief you.
Part 2: Practical - The flight.
Part 3: Mental recap - discussing the flight and areas for improvement.
You will then be asked to prepare for your next lesson.
Ex 1 - Aircraft Familiarisation
Ex 2 - Preparation for & action after flight
Ex 3 - Air Experience
Ex 4 - Effects of Controls
Ex 5 - Taxiing
Ex 6 - Straight & Level Flight
Ex 7 - Climbing
Ex 8 - Descending
Ex 9 - Medium Turns
Ex 10 - Stalling & slow flight
Ex 11 - Incipient spin / spin avoidance
Ex 12 - Take-off
Ex 13 - Approach & landing
Ex 14 - First SOLO !
Ex 15 - Steep turns
Ex 16 - Forced Landings
Ex 17 - Precautionary landings & low level flight
Ex 18 - Navigation
Lesson Plan A rough plan, (everyone progresses at their own pace), is that you will cover exercises 1-11 and 16 in your first 10 hours.
You will then spend a lot of time on exercises 12, 13 and 12/13E until you become proficient and are released into exercise 14...YOUR FIRST SOLO FLIGHT... WOW! What a day!
After this you will do what is called "consolidation", where you keep at exercises 12 and 13 flying dual, (with your Flight Instructor), to assess your consistency, then solo, (by yourself), until you have built up 3 solo hours.
From there, depending on your radio work, and your ability to get back to the airfield, both of which should be adequate by this time, you will be taken back into the General Flying Area, be taught something new, eg exercise 15, and then be sent there all by yourself to practice. Rinse. Repeat, with exercise 17.
Then it is time to do exercise 18, Navigation; dual, then solo, (you need 5 solo hours navigating around the countryside), then it is mock test and PPL test time!
First Flight Lesson
Be prepared, your first flight lesson is particularly long. So are your Nav exercises, but you will be into the swing of things by then.
Effective Structure for Flight Training
It is best to fly once a day for an hour, (give or take a few minutes), as often as possible, with a weekend break, as this allows time for your lessons to sink in. Pushing too hard, and trying to fast forward the process by flying more frequently than this tends to have the opposite effect. It slows your progress down, and increases the number of hours to getting your license.
Your Best Interest
Although your Flight Instructor aims to have your license complete at the 45 hour mark, this is not always possible due to various factors, such as the distance to the General Flying Area, how busy the airspace is, the weather, how frequently you fly, and, of course, your personal effort and progress. Plan for 45 hours, bank on 55 hours, and trust your Flight Instructor's judgement.
So when will you be ready to test for your PPL? When your Flight Instructor recommends you for your PPL test.
Success Happens when Opportunity meets Preparation So Be Prepared
To make life easier for you and your hard working, dedicated Flight Instructor, prepare for your lessons by clicking on the aircraft picture below. This will take you to the actual briefings your Flight Instructor will give you before every flight lesson. It is my intention with these lessons that you will be so well prepared after having gone through this that you can get to the best part, the air briefing and actual flying, without a hitch. You will already understand the necessary background information, leaving you in an excellent state of preparation for your practical flight lesson.