FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are the requirements to obtain a private pilot certificate/license?

Training under FAR Part 61 (61.105 and 61.109) requires the following at minimum:

·         A minimum age of 17 (16 to solo, but you can start training at any age!)

·         The ability to read, write, speak, and understand English.

·         Obtain a third class medical certificate and student pilot certificate.

·         A total of 40 logged hours.

o    Including ​20 hours flight training.

o    Including 10 hours of solo training.

o    Including 3 hours of night training.

o    Various requirements for cross-country flight with and without an instructor.

·         Completion of a written test

o    With an instructor's endorsement that you have received sufficient ground school training.​

·         Completion of an oral exam and practical test (the "checkride").​

o    With an instructor's endorsement that he/she feels you are ready to safely exercise the privileges of your new license.​

 

It should be noted, however, that these minimum requirements are only the minimums, and the average student will require much more time. 

What is the average cost to obtain a private pilot license/certificate?

No doubt about it, flight training can be expensive! By using either your own aircraft, or joining the Shelton Flight Club and using theirs, you can save quite a bit of money over other schools. 

Most flight schools charge upwards of $130 per hour for equivalent aircraft, plus between $50 and $75 per hour for the instructor. The C177 Cessna Cardinal aircraft that are in use by the Shelton Flight Club typically run about $70 per hour, and I charge $45 per hour for instruction to club members. For non-members wishing to use their own aircraft, the cost is $55 per hour (10% discount for FATPNW premium members!).

You may see other flight schools quote times using the FAA minimums - it is unrealistic for most students to complete their license with only the minimum hours. The following is a breakdown of average student completion.

  • Sporty's Ground School ($200)

  • 40 hours dual ($4,600)

  • 20 hours additional ground instruction ($700)

  • 15 hours solo ($1,050)

  • FAA Written ($150)

  • Checkride ($500)

For a total of $7,100. Note that this is only average, you may pick up quicker or slower, but you won't find a less expensive experience anywhere in western Washington!

WHY SHOULD I TRAIN WITH YOU INSTEAD OF A LARGER FLIGHT SCHOOL?

That's a good question. In addition to the cost benefits above, I provide a level of service you may not be able to get elsewhere. A lot of flight schools will employ flight instructors that are only doing this to build hours to get to the airlines. I, on the other hand, have a passion for both aviation and education. I have taught complex and highly technical topics to people for years, and have been described as a natural instructor. I will work with you to make sure that not only is your training fun and exciting, but that you truly understand everything that you need to be safe.

I know my content inside and out. While most instructors and flight schools use curriculum that is either mass-produced or supplied by their agency, I actually use a syllabus that I wrote myself, with specific educational goals that actively involve you in scenarios that you may find yourself in. Additionally, prior to signing you off for a checkride, I make sure that you have had, at a minimum, both of the following experiences to keep you safe:

Experience in actual instrument conditions.

VFR into IMC (flying based on outside references which deteriorates to the point where you can't see the horizon) is a top killer of pilots. I make sure that you have been in that situation before should it happen to you so you can react accordingly. This is above and beyond the basic FAA requirements.​​, and includes several outs for the local area.

Experience utilizing electronic flight bags like Garmin Pilot and ForeFlight.

Distractions occur routinely during flight. By making sure that you know how to use the app of your choice in flight, in addition to paper maps and charts, I help to make sure that you have the skills to maintain the appropriate level of situational awareness at all times.

Ultimately, I care deeply about your safety and your success, and I want to make sure that every pilot I sign off on is as safe as possible.

CAN FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS COME ALONG FOR A LESSON?

Absolutely! Provided that the student is comfortable with family riding along and aircraft weight and balance allows, that is a great way to introduce friends and family to general aviation and to share your passion!

DO I HAVE TO JOIN A FLIGHT CLUB IF I'M A PRIVATE PILOT STUDENT?

No, you do not have to join a flight club... If you have your own aircraft. Due to limitations with the Federal Aviation Regulations, I cannot provide you with an aircraft to train in except as noted for specific endorsements and program like the FlyVenture. Plus, club members receive a significant discount on their instruction!

I HAVE MY OWN AIRCRAFT. CAN I TRAIN IN THAT?

Definitely! Provided you can demonstrate that the aircraft is airworthy, I can provide instruction at any level (aside from instrument at this time) in your aircraft, either at your home base or out of the Auburn, Shelton or Pierce County airports.

I don't want to go all the way to the Shelton airport. Can you come to me?

Absolutely! I can meet you for training at any airport, however if it is not Auburn, Pierce County, or Shelton I do charge for travel time. Travel time is billed at $50 per hobbs hour, plus 0.2 for preflight and securing. Contact me for pricing and further information. I currently have students based out of different airports, and by scheduling consecutive lessons, you can split my travel costs between the two of you!

WHAT FORMS OF PAYMENT DO YOU ACCEPT, AND HOW ARE HOURS BILLED?

I accept cash, check, PayPal, and credit card. I will send you an invoice after your lesson with all costs. Please note that any payment via PayPal or credit card will be charged a 4% processing fee. This is imposed by the company I use to process cards, not me!

Hours are billed from the time instruction starts on the ground (excluding catching up at the beginning of the lesson) to the time the post-flight debrief is completed. Once we move on to lesson topics from chatting at the beginning (I know I'm a blast to talk to, but I wouldn't necessarily pay for my small talk, neither should you), I will start a timer on my phone, and keep track of both ground and flight time. Note that it is rare for the ground time for any lesson to be less than 0.3-0.5 hours.

WHAT IS YOUR CANCELLATION POLICY?

I encourage good aeronautical decision making, which includes  appropriate cancellation for things like illness, fatigue, and weather. There will be no charge for lessons cancelled for any of these reasons, however please contact me as soon as possible to cancel. No call/no shows, and cancellation less than 24 hours in advance for reasons other than those will be charged full rate for the time booked, plus any travel charges if I have already left.