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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

How do I know that I can learn to fly? How much does it cost?
What are the requirements? Is flying safe?
How difficult is it? What happens if the engine quits?
Where is the best place to learn to fly? What about insurance?
What is the first step? What happens after I get my pilot's license?
How long will it take? FAA flying regulations
What will my first flight be like? Why does an airplane fly?
What kind of tests will I take? E-mail us for more information
How do I know that I can learn to fly
Somewhere there is someone just like you who recently became a pilot. Although the average student pilot is 32 years old, anyone 16 years old or older can learn to fly an airplane (14 if you fly gliders). People from every occupation and every geographic location in the nation are pilots.

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What are the requirements?
There are three basic requirements for learning to fly powered airplanes in the United States. First, you have to be at least 16 years old. Second, you have to be in good health. And third, you have to be able to read, speak and understand English. You can apply for a student pilot certificate if you are at least 16 years old. When you're 17, you can apply for a private pilot certificate. There is no maximum age limit because it's health and not age that determines a person's ability to fly well. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires everyone who wants to become a pilot or continue to be a pilot to pass a routine medical exam every two years. This requirement ensures that pilots do not have medical problems that could interfere with their ability to fly safely. Allowances are made for many physical limitations. For example, glasses and contact lenses are perfectly acceptable. The physical exam can be obtained anytime from one of many FAA-designated physicians. If you're planning to learn to fly, it's advisable to complete the physical exam early in your flight training to assure that you qualify.

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How difficult is it?
As with any other skill you master, flying is learned step by step. It's a fascinating experience. But it's not particularly difficult. It can be learned by practically anyone who is willing to invest some time and effort.

Pilot training has two aspects: ground training and flight training. Ground training takes place on the ground. It covers flight rules and regulations, airplane systems, flight planning, navigation, radio procedures, and weather. During flight training, you learn to fly by actually controlling the airplane yourself. Under the supervision of a certificated flight instructor, you learn how to take off, land and fly cross-country (from you home airport to another airport and then back again).

Millions of people have learned to fly. By the time you're ready for your private pilot certificate, you'll be secure in the knowledge that you're a safe and competent pilot. 

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Where is the best place to learn to fly?
There are several types of flight training schools across the country. Choosing the right one for you depends on your specific needs and reasons for learning to fly. Most flight training programs use a mixture of audiovisuals, textbooks, and workbooks designed for ground training. You may receive your ground training instruction from your certificated flight instructor (CFI) individually or as part of a ground training class. CFIs have been specially trained and examined by the federal government to ensure that all of your training is the safest and most effective possible. 

The flight training itself is conducted with your personal CFI. You'll probably learn to fly in an airplane that was developed for student pilots. Such planes are designed to provide the best possible flight training environment.

Many people learn to fly through a local Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) or through a local flying school that offers flight training. FBOs are general aviation air terminals [they work like gas stations for small aircraft].

Each year more vocational and technical schools, colleges, and universities are offering aviation programs that include flight training. If you're seeking a career in aviation, you may want to consider learning to fly at one of these schools. 

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What is the first step?
Deciding to learn to fly is obviously the first step and often the most difficult one. Before you make the big decision to take flying lessons, you may want to experience flying in a small plane. Once you've viewed your community from the perspective of a general aviation aircraft and felt the sensation of flight, you'll know whether piloting is for you. To arrange for a flight in a small plane, contact the FBO at your local airport. FBOs service local and transient aircraft. They often provide flight training, sell and rent aircraft, and provide charter services and aircraft maintenance. Many of them offer introductory flights or sightseeing flights at reasonable rates.

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How long will it take?
Most people receive their private pilot certificate after about 55 hours of flight time, including time spent with an instructor aboard (dual time) and time spent flying alone (solo time). Training will include some night flying, some instrument flying (flying solely by reference to the airplane's instruments), and some cross-country flying. The minimum time required by federal regulation is 35 or 40 hours of flight time, depending on the type of school you attend.

You can fly in the early morning, during the day or on weekends. Scheduling your flying is up to you and your instructor. How long it takes to accumulate flight time is largely up to you and your instructor. Usually two to three hours flying time per week is a good learning rate, with more hours during weeks when cross-country flights are made. Statistics indicate that the average student pilot completes the requirements for a private pilot certificate in four to six months. Depending on the schedule and number of hours spent flying, some people will complete it sooner and others will take longer.

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What will my first flight be like?
Your instructor will introduce you to the general aviation airplane you'll learn to fly. You'll be briefed on the instruments, controls, and equipment in the plane and on what to watch for when you're flying. After this preflight briefing, the two of you will take off. When aloft, and under the close supervision of your instructor, you'll take control of the airplane. It will be unlike anything you've experienced before. Soon you'll feel the exhilaration - impatient for the next flight.

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What kind of tests will I take?
No test is required for a student pilot certificate. But before a private license is issued, you must pass two tests. One is a written FAA examination. You'll also have to work out the details of a hypothetical flight for this exam. But don't worry; you'll have done it all before in planning the cross-country flights you made as part of your training program.

Following this exam is a practical examination of your flying ability. Here you take a designated FAA examiner for a checkride to demonstrate your ability to maneuver the ariplane safely and confidently. You'll have practiced the maneuvers many times before, and your flight instructor will have prepared you thoroughly. 

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How much does it cost?
Flight training costs vary. Fuel prices, maintenance and insurance costs are but a few of the variables. You can expect to pay between $3,000 and $5,000 for a good private-pilot flight training program. Many schools offer finance packages that allow low monthly payments spread over several years.

Compared to the costs of training in other business skills, becoming a licensed private pilot is a good value. Prorated over a lifetime, it's probably one of the best bargains you'll ever find. The cost of becoming a pilot is a solid investment in your future.

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Is flying safe?
General aviation airplanes are built to rigid federal specifications, and they are constantly checked and rechecked to make sure they are mechanically and structurally safe. People who fly are safety conscious. As the pilot-in-command of an airplane, you're also in command of most variables that affect flying safety. Safety is the most important word in the general aviation vocabulary.

Your flight instructor will emphasize training you to operate the airplane safely. Flying as pilot-in-command of the airplane puts you in charge. A well-built and well-maintained airplane in the hands of a competent, prudent, and well-trained pilot makes flying safer than many other forms of transportation. 

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What happens if the engine quits?
An aircraft engine is a piece of finely built machinery that is designed to keep running. If the improbable should happen, however, you won't fall out of the sky. Your airplane descends slowly in a glide. You'll simply do what your instructor will have had you practice during your lessons: select the nearest safe landing site and land there without power. 

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What about insurance?
Life insurance - The insurance companies have come to learn how extremely safe flying really is. Most new policies don't even mention general aviation flying. If you have an older policy, restrictive clauses for private flying can often be removed at little or no cost.

Liability insurance - Some flying training schools include this insurance in your rental fee. If not, many people purchase special low-cost pilot insurance that covers private flying. At any rate, you should check with your own insurance agent to find out where you stand and whether there are any additional requirements. 

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What happens after I get my pilot's license?
You'll never be quite the same person you were before. You'll have access to a whole new world of personal freedom. You'll think of travel in terms of hours, not miles. You'll know what it means to make your own schedules, go your own way... far above the crowds, the congestion, the hassle, and the annoyances of ordinary transportation.

You'll find a new sense of personal fulfillment in your ever growing flying skills. You'll push the old boundaries of your life forward and you'll have the opportunity to plan, seek, and find new experiences that will enrich your life in countless ways. You'll gain greater self-reliance and confidence. 

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As a pilot, you'll be governed by the regulations set by the FAA. The more responsibility you take on as a pilot, the more stringent the FAA requirements become. For instance, pilots who want to fly as commercial pilots for hire must pass stricter requirements than pilots who fly only for personal pleasure or business. Some of the basic FAA regulations for the different levels of piloting are shown below. 
  • Student pilot regulations 
    You must be 16 years old and pass a Class III medical exam given by an FAA-designated physician to obtain a student pilot certificate. The medical certificate doubles as a student pilot's certificate. You may fly only with an instructor or, with your instructor's written approval, solo (by yourself). 

  • Private pilot regulations 
    To obtain a private pilot certificate, you must be 17 years old and have a minimum of 35 or 40 flight hours, depending on the type of school you attend. You must also pass the FAA private pilot's written examination (a 60-question, multiple-choice test) and a checkride with an FAA examiner. As a private pilot, you can fly solo or with passengers. Special weather requirements pertaining to visibility and cloud conditions must be met, and you must continue to pass your Class III medical exam every two years. You may not be paid for your services as a pilot.

  • Instrument rating regulations 
    An instrument rating allows you to fly when visibility is poor and clouds are low in the sky. To obtain this rating, you must have a total of 125 hours of pilot experience and 40 hours of instrument instruction. Then you must pass a written examination and an FAA checkride. 

  • Commercial pilot regulations 
    Commercial pilots can "fly for hire". To exercise the full rights of a commercial pilot, you must have an instrument rating, be at least 18 years old, hold a Class II medical certificate, and have a minimum of 250 hours of flying time. You must also pass a 60-question written FAA examination and a FAA checkride. 

  • Certificated flight instructor regulations 
    To become a certificated flight instructor, you must be 18 years old and hold a commercial or airline transport certificate with an instrument rating. Then you must pass a written examination and a FAA checkride. As a certificated flight instructor, you may instruct private or commercial students. You may also obtain additional instructor ratings to teach instrument instructor or multi-engine instructor. 

  • Airline transport pilot regulations 
    You must have a commercial certificate, have passed a Class I medical exam within the last six months, have 1,500 flight hours, and pass a FAA written examination and checkride. This certificate allows you to perform pilot-in-command duties for commercial airlines and other transport operations. 

  • Multi-engine rating regulations 
    To earn a multi-engine rating, you must take instructions from an appropriately certificated instructor. There is no hourly requirement or a written examination, but there is an FAA checkride, after which you'll be licensed to fly airplanes with two or more engines. You may hold either a private or commercial certificate.

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Why does an airplane fly?
Although nothing is mind-boggling or mysterious about flying, there is much to learn - just as there is in learning to drive a car. As you learn to fly step by step, you'll find your training enjoyable and challenging. Although airplanes have been a part of our society for more than 85 years, most people have only a vague idea of the basic principles of flight. Flight may seem complicated, but in fact it's based on some simple laws of nature.
  • The principle of lift 
    When you examine a cross-section of an airplane's wing, or airfoil, you'll notice that the top part is curved and the bottom part is relatively flat. This special shape creates lift, which makes the airplane fly. As the wing moves forward, the air flowing over the top travels faster than the air flowing beneath, resulting in a lower pressure area above the wing. The relative pressure differential provides the upward force called lift. Lift is basic to flying.

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We Are Located at the Oakland Airport
8135 Earhart Rd. Oakland, CA 94621