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Learning to Fly

Many people dream of flying their own plane, whether for recreation, business, or
transportation. Learning to fly is, in fact straightforward. To fly a plane in the United States, you must be at least 16, speak English, and pass a basic medical exam. From that point onward, becoming a qualified pilot can be both time consuming and expensive.

A qualified pilot must meet a variety of requirements established by the FAA in order to demonstrate their fitness and capability of flying. Requirements include a minimum of 40 hours of flying time, of which 20 hours needs to be with an instructor and 10 hours solo. Typical new pilots take 60-80 hours to master the required skills. Piloting also includes a wide array of detailed knowledge of airplane navigation and operation.

You can get your training from a certified flight instructor (CFI) or a flight school. The major differences are in the resources available (choice of instructors, planes, simulators, coursework, etc.). Flight schools come in two flavors, Part 61 and Part 141 (referring to the FAA regulations under which they operate). Part 141 schools are closely audited, but either type can train a qualified pilot, with Part 61 schools offering much more flexibility.

It's best to shop around to find the right match between your goals, schedule, pocketbook and personality. Ask about introductory lessons (some offer a free

introductory flight) and references. It's also a good idea to join a local flying club or airport association. You'll find the contacts and insights of other pilots extremely helpful not just with getting started but throughout your flying career.
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