Scientists are astonished by this secret to geting a PPL


Photo by saeed karimi on Unsplash

ANOTHER clickbait title, but, hey, it worked (again), because you’re reading this post. A few prospective students have asked me recently how much time it takes to get a Private Pilot Licence, so I did some sums and I’ve come up with an answer: about five hundred hours. That’s the hours of your life you’ll need to devote to the whole process. So, my latest secret to getting a PPL is to make absolutely sure you have 500 hours to give, before you get started.

How does that figure break down? Let’s see.

According to my best estimates, you’ll need something like 50 lessons.  Allowing for travel time, and a three hour lesson, half of your five hundred hours are going to be used on the actual lessons themselves.

You will also need to devote a further five hours each week to study and preparation, including:

  • Reading materials to prepare for each lesson
  • Review of the previous lesson including watching the videos I provide and making your own notes
  • Study for the PSTAR and Radio exams
  • Groundschool (probably online these days)
  • Studying the weather for each lesson
  • Preparation of cross country flights
  • Revision for the PPAER written exam
  • Looking at airplane classifieds on and
  • Watching youtube videos of airplane accidents
  • Reading websites about flying

I’m actually mostly serious about browsing airplane ads and watching youtube: my best students take an interest in all things general aviation related, and the background knowledge they get from outside sources such as aviation websites is a huge help to them in making good progress.

What kind of calendar period can this work be spread out over? I aim to provide at least one lesson per student per week, weather permitting, so that’s five hours each week of lesson time, to begin with. You’ll also need to put the time in to review and study on your own alongside those lessons. It might take you eighteen months or two years to get a licence if you take breaks, but for each week that you’re learning you’ll need to put in about 10 hours of time all told.

Five hundred hours is about a quarter of a working year, or one extra-long ten hour day every week. Of course you don’t need one ten hour day all in one block, but you need the equivalent time. If you’re working a full time job that’s more than half of your free weekend time completely devoted to nothing but flying.

Looking at it another way, if your life is so busy with work, family and other commitments that you can’t guarantee the equivalent of whole day a week of quality time free of distractions- then you simply don’t have enough time to get a pilot licence, and my advice is not to try at this stage of your life. Wait until you do have that time and your progress will be faster and more satisfying. Unfortunately you won’t make much progress if you have time only for a weekly flying lesson, and no ground study.


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