The private pilot certificate is the foundation for all aviation adventures, be it either your pursuit of obtaining certificate to fly for pleasure or your first steps in striving to become a professional pilot. The achievement of securing a private pilot certificate means you will be permitted to fly yourself and passengers for pleasure; you may not be compensated for your services as a pilot, however, you MAY share flight expenses with passengers. Flying with a private pilot certificate means that you are permitted to fly under standard visual flight rules (VFR), where there are specific requirements pertaining to a minimum visibility and separation from clouds.
In order to successfully obtain a private pilot certificate one must be at a minimum seventeen (17) years old, and fly a minimum of thirty-five (35) hours in an approved Part 141 school (Part 61 schools require a minimum of forty (40) hours). Realistically most students average roughly sixty-five (65) hours of flight training prior to going on their checkride; it is also required that students pass the FAA Private Pilot written exam which consists of sixty (60) multiple choice questions. You must pass a Class III medical exam with an FAA-approved doctor every five years if you are under 40 years old; otherwise, every two years.
Commercial Pilot Certificate
In order to be compensated as a pilot, the next step is procuring a commercial pilot certificate; however, many pilots simply attain this certificate with the desire of continuing training and improving their skills and knowledge associated with aviation. Pilots who are looking to pursue a career in aviation must obtain a commercial pilots certificate in their journey to being a professional pilot.
The prerequisites for a commercial pilot certificate are an instrument rating, a minimum age of eighteen (18), the possession of a valid Class II medical certificate, a minimum of one hundred ninety (190) hours of flying in an FAA Part 141 flight school (Part 61 schools require two hundred fifty (250) hours), in addition to passing a written exam and check ride.
Airline Transport Pilot Certificate
The Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate is the highest class certificate available and allows individuals that possess it the opportunity to perform pilot-in-command responsibilities for commercial airlines, in addition to other transport operations. In order to procure this certificate a pilot must have a minimum of one thousand five hundred (1500) hours of flying, along with the completion of a written exam and check ride.
Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) Certificate
The privilege of being able to instruct and teach others how to fly is accomplished by procuring a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate, with this certificate you are able to instruct private and commercial students. Additionally, you may get instructor ratings that all you to reach instrument (CFI-I) and multi-engine (MEI) flight.