Private Pilot License

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This wiki is put together in order to aid all of those out there who may be interested in the aviation field. More will come, but at the moment I am more concerned with putting the very basics out there to get people interested in aviation. Sections about aerodynamics, flight maneuvers, and other resources will follow. The idea is to eventually create a free resource for training that may reduce the great burden that falls on the shoulders of every emerging student pilot.

What, Why?

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The two greatest questions that may dissuade people from or entice people into flying are the questions "what?" and "why?".

A Private Pilot License (or, in the United States, a certificate) permits the holder to operate an aircraft under visual flight rules(VFR). In most countries, a private pilot possessing an instrument rating may also conduct flights under instrument flight rules. Passengers may be carried and flight in furtherance of a business is permitted; however, a private pilot may not be compensated in any way for services as a pilot and must pay at least the pro rated share of a flight's expenses. Neither passengers nor cargo may be carried for hire.

For more information see: w:Pilot certification in the United States#Private Pilot

Practical Test Standards for Private Pilots

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The official requirements, known as the Practical Test Standards (PTS), by the FAA to set common rules and expectations for examiners, instructors and examinees are listed below.

The remainder of this page focuses specifically on the Airplane Single Engine Land (ASEL) rating.

People become pilots for many reasons. You may do it to have a goal to work at. You may do it because you need a way to commute to work faster. You may do it because it is your life long dream, or a more recently developed dream after being around or flying in an aircraft. Whatever the reason, aviation will become a way of life for you if you do. You will not regret a single penny of the money you spend, or a single second of the time you labor. It is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world to know you are a pilot. I recommend it to anyone.

Getting Started

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It's not just as easy as jumping into the cockpit and fire-walling the throttle, there is some work for you to do first.

What You'll Need To Do

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According to the FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations) there are some things you'll need to do to become a pilot.

1. First you will need to be at least 17 years old at the time of certification.

2. Have a current FAA third-class medical certificate.

3. Log at least 40 hours of flight. At least 20 hours of flight with an instructor. At least 10 hours of solo flight.

4. You must be able to read, speak, and write in English. This is so that pilots can communicate between each other and with the air traffic controllers.

5. Pass two knowledge tests. a) The FAA Private Pilot Airmen Knowledge written test (on which you must score at least 70%). b) An oral exam administered by an FAA Designated Flight Examiner during a portion of your checkride. There is no pass/fail score given, simply a session where the examiner ensures that you have the proper knowledge to safely conduct flight as a private pilot. There is no requirement as to what questions must be asked or how long it should take, it is up to the discretion of the examiner. Some have been rumored to do straight Question/Answer oral exams, while others conduct their oral exam more like a discussion.

PLEASE NOTE: There is a new FAA approved Sport Pilot category which now permits a class of aircraft to be operated by individuals with a Sport Pilot license. This license has less stringent requirements, e.g. a valid U.S. driver's license can be used as evidence of medical eligibility (provided the individual does not have an official denial or revocation of medical eligibility on file with FAA). For more info, see or

What to Start With

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Before you even try to spend your money on flying, try to get an introductory lesson for a fairly inexpensive price (about $100, depending on the flight school), or a ride in an airplane from a flying friend or family member. You'll know from the beginning if this is something you want to pursue. After that, get all the information in written form you can. The ASA FAR/AIM book is an excellent resource to start studying all the regulations (found in the FAR section) as well as general procedural information found in the Airman's Information Manual (AIM) section. It is very helpful to go in to flight training with as much knowledge possible, and use that knowledge to supplement the practical training you will receive as a student.

Choosing a Flight School

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In the United States, there are two types of schools: the larger more corporate flight schools, known as a "Part 141" school (a reference to the section of Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) which dictates operation of said school), like Sporty's, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, etc, and the smaller "Part 61" flight schools, that typically are nothing much more than an instructor that calls his flight school his home business, but some large flight schools, such as Sporty's, operate under both sets of regulations.

The FAR Part that the flight school operates under has nothing to do with the quality of instructor you will find there. Either school will get you to where you wish to be. However, Part 141 schools are normally designed for "streamlined" training, that is, creating a lot of pilots in not a lot of time. These types of schools are typically more beneficial for those seeking to become professional pilots, due to slightly lower minimum requirements in terms of hours, and are usually structured as an "aviation immersion", where you walk, talk, eat and sleep aviation. A Part 141 school is overseen by the FAA very closely, ensuring that the pilots, instructors, aircraft, and owner/operators all meet the standards as outlined in 14CFR 141. Part 141 schools are generally much larger then a Part 61 operation, and are required to have an FAA approved curriculum. Part 141 flight schools typically require an up-front payment (or a loan, subject to credit approval) for the entire course before lessons begin.

Part 61 operations can be owned by one or two instructors, and are typically small. Typically, instruction is scheduled and paid for one lesson at a time, and one hour per lesson. Keep in mind, though there are schools that operate under part 61, it does NOT have to be an official "school" to teach you how to fly. Your neighbor the flight instructor could instruct you under part 61 regardless of a school affiliation. However, there are regulations that pertain to the aircraft used for flight instruction, which your instructor needs to be aware of if he is using a privately owned aircraft. Both are good, but again, you must keep your goals in mind.

A Part 61 school will be fine for renting and learning to fly a Supercub[[[w:The New Piper Aircraft]]], but it may not be the best choice on the road to becoming an ATP[[[w:Airline Transport Pilot License]]], as the overall costs will be higher.

However, whether you conduct your training under Part 61 or 141, you can reach the same level, and attain the same certificate without limitations. Talk to graduates from your local schools, and see who they'd recommend. Remember, pilots want safe pilots flying with them, and if they don't think a certain instructor trains competent pilots, heed their warnings, you want to be the very safest pilot in the air.

Flight School For Dummies

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Follow Through

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Remember during your training this one thing: "I CAN DO IT." Regardless of how tough it may seem along the way, you will always regret it if you decide half-way through that you did not have what it takes. Your own drive is probably the greatest of your allies.

A question often asked of private pilots is, "What does it cost to get your license." It can be expensive, but remember: you're flying from the very beginning.

Flight school can cost a lot. The average flight training costs about $8,000 dollars, though I know people who have gotten it for less than $4000. Most flight schools charge by the hour-- both for the airplane, and the instructor. Airplane rental can range anywhere from $70 per hour (for a Piper J-3 Cub or similar aircraft) to $170 per hour (for a brand-new Cessna 172 with all the latest avionics). There are, of course, many aircraft whose rental prices fall in between these numbers. Beware of flight schools that quote "dry" prices. If a certain flight school is quoting prices that seem much lower than the cost at surrounding flight schools, they're probably not including the price of Avgas. Avgas in the United States costs twice as much as automotive gasoline, and the average training aircraft burns about 8-12 gallons per hour of it.

Most flight schools will try to steer you into training in a Cessna 172. However, most schools have a smaller and cheaper aircraft like a Cessna 152. They will most likely be glad to train you in it, but only if you ask. The smaller planes usually have payload restrictions as well, so if you are heavier or larger than average this may not be an option.

Rental prices are associated with a specific airplane, not a specific type of an airplane. One airfield can have two of the same type of aircraft with different prices, reflecting how new each aircraft is and how advanced their avionics are.

Flight schools will charge anywhere from $30 to $60 per hour for the instructor.

Aviation is furthermore plagued by price-gouging. You will most likely, before your first solo flight, have to purchase a headset. The very cheapest airplane headsets, which are every bit as flimsy as the $10 headphones sold at the local drug store, cost over $100. A good headset like the one your flight instructor is likely to let you borrow until you solo will run you about $200-350. There are also newer style noise canceling headsets that make things a little quieter. These, however, cost upwards of $500 and are probably not necessary for the new student pilot but it's something to consider.

The minimum requirements to obtain your Private Pilot Single Engine Land license is:

  • Be 17 years of age or older
  • Be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language
  • Valid 3rd Class Medical Certificate Required
  • Minimum 40 hours total flight time
  • Minimum 20 hours flight instruction
  • Pass a written examination
  • Pass a practical examination

In order to pass the written examination, some students take ground school courses taught by the local training center. Others study using one of the popular video courses offered by companies such as King or Sporty's. Either choice will cost roughly $250.

While the minimum requirements are lower, the current average student in the US will need between 60 and 80 hours of flight time to get the private pilot certificate. Again, the quality of the training and your own commitment are going to play a role in this. If you cannot afford to fly every day for a month, your price is going to increase due to the extra time it will take you to get back in the habit every week when you do fly. The best and cheapest way to get your certificate is to do it all at once. That way, you can feel your progress and have a more intuitive grasp of how the plane flies. This is crucial to the training of a successful pilot. There are organizations that offer scholarships to people wishing to become pilots. As well, there are companies that specialize in loans for those interested in learning to fly, so that you can have the money available to complete your training in a timely manner. Someone at your flight school may be able to help you with these different options.

The expense does not end with the acquisition of your license. You will eventually have to buy insurance, which most insurance companies require to be paid annually. If you do not fly regularly, you will lose some of your skills, so you must regularly rent an airplane to maintain proficiency.

If you're trying for your commercial license, you must eventually rent ever more expensive airplanes that have retractable gear ($150-$300 per hour) and twin engines ($200/hour minimum).

If you think owning an airplane will save you any money, think again. While an average training airplane may only cost as much as a new sports car to purchase, there are many other costs to consider. Expensive routine maintenance costs as well as unexpected maintenance, tie-down or hangar rent, aircraft insurance, annual inspections, and countless other costs associated with ownership quickly add up. The weekend warrior who flies occasionally will quickly realize his expenses quickly exceed what he paid when renting. More about ownership will be touched on later.

The framework of regulations

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You are going to move in an environment where safety is the main factor: the world of aeronautics. For this reason the rules and regulations are created so that they can be adapted to the world of aeronautics today to guarantee the safety of those who, at present, take part.

The great majority of countries that take part in aeronautical activities move in a framework of regulations always for the reasons of security. We are interested in the regulations that affect the Private Pilot and the 'insight flying. (VFR Visual Flight Rules.)

The organizations that are active at different levels, [World, European, National and Regional] produce the text and carry out the regulations and controls that apply to them. All that are active in aeronautics, and in particular the users, depend on such organizations. We are going to take and look at these frameworks of regulations that you will move in to get the title of Private Pilot and In sight flight VFR.

We are interested, right away, in the aspect of the regulations that affect us closely. You are going to need to know the rules of navigation. We are talking about the license and the privileges it offers, the rules of pilot training. In particular certain qualifications and the medical condition of the trainee pilot. We will look at what is an 'aircraft'. The term is generic and designates all apparatus that can take off and move in the air: airplanes, microlights, helicopters, hang gliders, balloons, and so on.

Basic Aerodynamics

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The four forces of flight.

Aerodynamics is the study of fluids in motion. You may not think of it, but air is in fact a fluid. To be a competent pilot you must have at least a basic knowledge of aerodynamics. An airplane in flight has four external forces acting on it at all times: lift opposes weight, and thrust opposes drag. If lift and weight are equal the aircraft will stay at a constant altitude. If thrust and drag are equal the aircraft will stay at the same speed.

Anytime air flows over the wing of an airplane it produces lift. The curved shape of the wing causes high pressure areas in front of and below the wing, and low pressure areas above and behind the wing. This basically causes the air to "push" upwards on the bottom of the wing more than it pushes down on the top. The wing also produces lift by deflecting air downwards. Since every action has an equal and opposite reaction, the air being pushed down causes the wind to be pushed up.

A common misconception about how planes fly uses Bernoulli's principle. It says that top of the wing is curved, therefore the air takes the air longer to get over the top of the wing than to get under the bottom of the wing. Bernoulli's principle states that at a given volume, a fluid flowing faster has a lower pressure than a fluid flowing slower. So the faster flowing air on top of the wing creates a low pressure area, thus lifting the wing. This is untrue, as molecules of air don't know how long it "should" take them to transit the wing. The molecules on top don't know that they need to speed up to keep pace with a molecule on the bottom.

A high pressure center is created at the wing's leading edge causing a relative low pressure area above. Air molecules accelerate into this low pressure area, rather than causing it by their acceleration.

While differential pressure does play a role in lift, studies at NASA's Glenn Research Center have concluded that the primary reason for the lifting force is the downward bending of the air that is manipulated by the airfoil.


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The force that opposes lift, caused by the gravitational attraction between the earth and the aircraft.


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Thrust is a reaction force described by Newton's Second and Third Laws. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction the accelerated mass will cause a proportional but opposite force on that system. Airplanes create thrust by "throwing" air backwards. Propeller driven airplanes have curved blades just like on a fan, that blow air towards the back of the plane. Jet airplanes force the expanding gases from combustion out the back of the engine. In both cases the air being pushed backwards equally and oppositely pushes the plane forward.

Drag is the force that opposes thrust. There are two types of drag at work on an airplane in flight: parasite and induced drag.

Parasite drag is caused by anything on the airplane that interferes with smooth airflow around it. Wheels on non-retractable gear plane, wing struts, opening a window and sticking your hand out are all major examples of parasite drag. Even the skin of the plane causes parasite drag, due to friction slowing down the airflow extremely close to the skin of the craft. Parasite drag increases as airspeed increases.

The second type of drag is induced drag.Induced drag is a byproduct of lift.As the amount of lift needed to maintain level flight increases so does induced drag.Wing tip vorticies are an example of a cause of induced drag.As speed is increased induced drag is decreased but parasite drag is increased.Where parasite and induced drag lines meet on a chart is where the aircraft will fly most efficiently or the best lift/drag ratio.

Standard Day

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Wind can best be described as a mass of air traveling in a given direction.

For the purposes of pilots, wind plays a role: in navigation, in fuel consumption, and in safety.


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Standard temperature is 15 degrees C (59 degrees F). Standard pressure is 29.92 Hg.


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Clouds occur when water vapor in the air condenses. The water vapor will coننننننننننننننننننننننننy, the surface temperature has reached to dew point. Air temperature usually decreases with altitude. On a dry day temperature decreases faster for a given gain of altitude. When the humidity is high, on the other hand, temperature will decrease less for a given increase in altitude. The rate at which temperature normally decreases with altitude is called the adiabatic lapse rate. The normal (adiabatic) lapse rate is about 2 degrees Celsius per 1000ft (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit per 1000ft). Since temperature decreases with altitude, rising air will form a cloud when the air temperature is equal to its dew point.

There are many types of clouds that are useful for pilots to learn, because they can indicate weather conditions.

Systems and Aircraft Components

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In this segment I will cover the systems for a 1967 Cessna 150. I chose this aircraft because it is a fairly common training aircraft, and it has fairly simple systems. More complex aircraft require more study when it comes to systems.


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This system consists of a pitot-tube, and a static port. These components measure air pressure, and are necessary for the operation of the altimeter, airspeed indicator, and vertical speed indicator.

The pitot tube measures impact air pressure, it is mounted in some area where the airflow is not turbulent to reduce instrument error. Usually the pitot-tube is located under the pilot side wing, the left wing. As the aircraft moves faster through the air, the air pressure at the pitot-tube opening increases. If an airplane sits still on the ground and is pointed into the wind, the airspeed indicator will indicate the wind speed; this is good because an airplane's performance depends on airspeed, not groundspeed.

A static port is used to measure the atmospheric pressure around the aircraft. The static port is located in front of the left door on many general aviation aircraft. As the altitude of the airplane increases the pressure decreases at a relatively linear rate, meaning that the static port is useful for measuring altitude, and vertical speed.

Instrument errors

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Icing, or other obstructions can block either the static-port or pitot-tube. Specific instrument errors and how to recognize them are detailed in"From the Ground Up". The procedures used to deal with faulty components are spelled out in the aircraft's Pilot Information Handbook(POH). Airplanes are usually equipped with a backup static port inside the cabin of the aircraft.


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The powerplant is the source of thrust for an aircraft. On general aviation aircraft it is usually a four stroke reciprocating petroleum burning engine, similar to a car.

The fuel system consists of the storage tanks, pumps and lines used to deliver fuel, and some kind of instrument for mixing the fuel with air.

Before the fuel can enter the cylinder for combustion, it must be mixed with air in the correct proportion. Fuel is mixed with air in a carburetor, or is introduced into the system unmixed by fuel injectors.

Aviation gasoline is a low-lead product containing tetraethyl lead. This compound is supplied worldwide by a single company. The continued availability of low-lead avgas containing this compound is unlikely over the next couple of decades. For this reason, many light sport aircraft have engines designed to burn conventional automobile gasoline. The increasing use of ethanol in automobile gasoline may impact its use in any aircraft engines that are not designed or modified for its use. Turbine and jet engines use a kerosene-based fuel that is under no immediate danger of being discontinued.


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The electricity used to generate the spark at the beginning of the power stroke comes from magnetos. The use of magnetos allows the ignition system to be completely independent on the rest of the electrical system, i.e. the battery and alternator.


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The lubrication system reduces friction, helps cool the engine, and helps clean the engine.

General aviation powerplants usually run at higher temperatures than automotive engines, so a higher viscosity oil is used. Usually aircraft checklists will require that oil pressure be within the green limit soon after the engine starts, this is because low pressure could indicate that oil is not circulating.


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Usually a general aviation powerplant is air cooled. The engine cylinders are horizontally opposed to allow for more air surrounding each cylinder. Each cylinder has many fins attached to it, to increase surface area. Sometimes baffles are used to direct airflow through the engine compartment.


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Flight Control Surfaces

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In many light aircraft, typically used for the purpose of training, the aircraft consists of various flight control surfaces. These include:ailerons, rudder, elevator and flaps. Ailerons are used for primary directional control and are usually located on the trailing edge of each wing tip.Using the control column or "stick" one aileron is deflected up while the other is deflected down causing one wing to rise while the other is lowered , resulting in the turn.

Rudder is mainly used to prevent the undesirable effect of drag that is created during a turn or to "coordinate the turn".It is used to assist in the turn under normal circumstances but can be used to turn ,or stop a turn , on its own(for example at times when the ailerons are mostly ineffective such as in a spin). The rudder is located on the vertical stabilizer at the tail of the aircraft.Rudder is normally manipulated by depressing the foot pedals located in the aircraft.

Elevator controls the vertical direction of an aircraft(climbing or descending).It is located on the horizontal stabilizer of the aircraft at the tail section and is also controlled by use of the control column or"stick".Back pressure on the control column deflects the elevator upwards changing the flightpath of the aircraft upwards.The opposite is true when forward pressure is applied to the control column.

Flaps are not considered a "true" control surface because they do not control the direction an aircraft is traveling(up ,down,left or right).However,they do control the rate or speed and angle at which an aircraft climbs or descends.Flaps change the cross sectional shape of the wing or camber by deflecting them downwards in increments(usually three or four),this usually permits the aircraft to fly at slower speeds and also increases forward visibility.Flaps are primarily used during approach and landing ,but can also be used to reduce takeoff roll.They are located on the inboard section of the wing on the trailing edge and are usually manipulated by an electrical switch or mechanical lever in the aircraft.

Flight controls produce many complex reactions when introduced to an airflow so it is recommended that a good understanding of Theory of Flight and Flight Aerodynamics be attained before trying to understand them fully.

In The Cockpit Basics

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The basic thing to remember in the cockpit is this: "THINK!" Being impulsive will get you nowhere-in fact, it will get you killed – know what and how to do what ever needs to be done. If you don't, ask someone. They will be certain to help.


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Aviation is very procedural. Every action you will undertake in the aircraft will have a checklist tied to it somewhere. Many of the checklists are simple, and can be memorized, but this is not always a good practice. Memories can be faulty, and in aviation a faulty memory can be a death sentence. Use your checklists.


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Here is an example of a checklist for a 1967 Cessna 150 (which is the aircraft we will use as an example most often in this tutorial) This checklist should not be used as a replacement for your instructor's checklist. It should only be used as an example.

The general idea behind any checklist is to establish a standardized, and methodical routine for some operation. Checklists provide peace of mind for pilots because they aren't wondering if they remembered to check something as they are flying.


(1)Remove Control Locks and Tiedown Ropes

This is the first portion. Here we approach the aircraft, and begin our systematic search for problems that will make the aircraft unsafe. We unrope the aircraft, and remove the control locks so that the aircraft is free and able to move.

(2)Master - - On

By turning on the master switch, we have given the aircraft instruments, gyroscopes, and other electrically driven systems life.

(3)Flaps - - Down

We lower the flaps so that we may later inspect their integrity.

(4)Fuel Gauge - - Check

The fuel gauges only work when the master is on

(5)Master - - Off

By turning the master off, we insure battery life. Without it, the engine will not be able to start.

(6)Ignition (MAGS) - - Off

This is to make sure that the magnetos, which control the engine sparkplugs are off. If they were on, and you move the prop, the engine might turn over and kill you

(7)Throttle - - Closed (Pulled Out)

This is to make sure that if even if the magnetos were not grounded, and the engine were to start, it will not be able to run because there would be little or no fuel running into the engine.

(8)Mixture - - Lean (Pulled Out)

Similar to above, this ensures that even if the throttle has some fuel running through it, the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders will be excessively lean, and the engine will be unable to continue running.

(9)Sample Fuel (Check for Water & Sediment) - - Left Wing

By draining fuel into a small clear container, we ensure that there is no water or debris in the fuel. Unclean fuel could lead to engine damage, or, in a bad case, to engine failure. Water in the engine would cause the engine to stop because water will not combust.

(10)Inspect Left Side of Fuselage for Damage

Here we are looking for wrinkles, or anything that might impede the integrity of the airflow. If the aircraft is not streamlined, it will not fly very well.

(11)Inspect Leading Edge of Horizontal & Vertical Stabilizer for Damage

Again, check for wrinkles, and any sort of damage. If our vertical stabilizer was broken, maintaining a level attitude would be hard.

(12)Inspect Skin on Tail Surfaces for Damage

Smooth airflow is the key. Rough airflow will get you killed.

(13)Check Stabilizers, Elevator, and Rudder for excessive travel

If they seem to go to far up or down, there is probably a problem. The push rods that control their movement may be damaged.

(14)Check that Hinge Bolts are fastened & Cotter Pins are in Place on Tail Surfaces

This is to make sure that the aircraft's tail is actually fastened in place, and not just hanging there.

(15)Inspect Right Side of Fuselage for Damage

Yet again we are looking for wrinkles, or anything that might impede the integrity of the airflow. Again, if the aircraft is not streamlined, it will not fly very well.

(16)Drain Fuel (Check for Water & Sediment) - - Right Wing

Same purpose as the above check.

(17)Check Flaps for excessive travel, bolts are fastened, and Control Rod is attached and is not bent

If the flaps are not properly attached, asymmetrical flap position, and or the flaps going up through the wing could result. Those are not too favorable outcomes.

(18)Check Ailerons for excessive travel, hinges are attached and not Cracked, Cotter Pins are attached to hinge ends

The ailerons control roll, if they are broken, it will be more difficult to control the aircraft. Make sure they will function.

(19)Remove all Ice Formation from Aileron

This is incredibly important. Ice changes the surface of the aileron, and may make it less effective. It may also limit the movement of the aileron.

(20)Check that Lead Weights are attached to Aileron

These weight the aileron in order to ensure a return to their original, "neutral" position.

(21)Shake Right Wing Up and Down - - Check for tightness and unusual Sounds

(22)Check Wing Struts - - Check for tightness and unusual sounds

(23)Inspect Right Wing for Damage - - Check for Wrinkles

(24)Inspect Main Landing Gear for Damage

(25)Inspect Main Landing Gear Tire for proper inflation, cuts, condition of tread, or foreign objects (screws or nails in tire)

(26)Inspect Brake Pads for wear

(27)Inspect Brake Line for leaks

(28)Check that Wheel is fastened to Landing Gear (Cotter Pin is in Place)

(29)Check Oil Level (4 ½ Quarts Minimum to 6 Quarts Maximum)

(30)Check Oil Breather for blockage

(31)Drain Fuel from Fuel Strainer

(32)Check Inside the Cowling (Nose of Aircraft) for loose Wiring, Oil Leaks, Fuel Leaks, All Engine Accessories are installed and installed correctly

(33)Check that Cowling is fastened correctly - - All Screws are attached

(34)Check Propeller & Spinner - - Check for Damage and Security

(35)Check Engine Baffle - - Check for Damage and Security

(36)Check Engine Baffle Seals - - Check for Damage and Security

(37)Check Engine Exhaust Pipes - - Check for Damage and Security

(38)Check Carburetor Air Filter - - Clean

(39)Inspect Nose Gear for Damage and Proper Inflation (2 inch spread on Nose Strut)

(40)Inspect Nose Gear Shimmy Dampener for Damage

(41)Check that all Bolts and Nuts are attached to nose fork assembly

(42)Inspect Nose Gear Tire for proper inflation, cuts, condition of Tread, or foreign objects (screws or nails in tire)

(43)Check that Wheel is fastened to Nose Gear - - Bolt and Nut Attached

(44)Check Condition of Steering Rod Boots

(45)Check Static Port for Damage and Obstructions

(46)Check Radio Cooling Vent for Damage and Obstructions

(47)Check Pitot Tube for Damage and Obstructions

(48)Check Fuel Overflow Tube for Damage and Obstructions

(49)Check Stall Warning Port for Damage and Obstructions

(50)Check Wing Struts - - Check for tightness and unusual sounds

(51)Inspect Left Wing for Damage – Check for Wrinkles

(52)Shake Left Wing Up and Down - - Check for tightness and unusual sounds

(53)Check Ailerons for excessive travel, hinges are attached and not cracked, Cotter Pins are attached to hinge ends, Control Rod attached

(54)Remove All Ice Formation from Aileron

(55)Check that Lead Weights are attached to Aileron

(56)Check Flaps for excessive travel, bolts are fastened, and Control Rod is attached and is not bent

(57)Inspect Main Landing Gear for Damage

(58)Inspect Main Landing Gear Tire for Proper inflation, cuts, condition of tread, or foreign objects (screws or nails in tire)

(59)Inspect Brake Pads for wear

(60)Inspect Brake Line for leaks

(61)Check that Wheel is fastened to Landing Gear (Cotter Pin is in place)

(62)Check Left Fuel Tank

(63)Check Right Fuel Tank

(64)Check Top of Wings for Damage

(65)Remove all Ice Formation From the Top and Bottom of All Surfaces

(66)Check Navigation Lights, Landing Lights, Strobe Lights, Pulse Light System, and the Beacon for Damage and Proper Illumination

(67)Check Antennas for Damage

(68)Remove all Debris under Propeller (rocks etc.)

(69)Fold up Step Ladder and put it in the bed of the truck

As complicated as this may seem, it is barely anything. The checklists that needed to be completed to launch the Apollo Spacecraft would take days to complete. This only takes 45 minutes or so. Once you become more accustomed to your aircraft you will establish a natural flow in the preflight inspection you will be able to complete the preflight without a checklist and it should take no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.


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Here is an example of a post-flight checklist for the same aircraft[[[w:Cessna 150]]] as above.

After Landing:

(1)Wing Flaps - - Up

(2)Carburetor Heat - - Cold

(3)Transponder - - Off

Securing Airplane:

(1)Brake - - Set


(3)Comm Radio - - Tune to 121.5 (Make sure ELT is not activated)

(4)Radios - - (COMM, VOR, ADF, GPS, DME & INTERCOM) - - Off

(5)Radio Master - - Off

(6)Strobe & Landing Lights - - Off

(7)Pulse Lights - - Off

(8)Mixture - - Idle Cut-Off (Pull Full Out)

(9)Ignition (Mags) - - Off

(10)Master Switch - - Off

(11)Nav. & Beacon Lights - - Off

(12)Control Lock - - Install

Take Off

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The basic point behind take off is simple. Get the airplane in the air without crashing into anything! There are a couple of standard ways to do this:


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The standard way to take off is fairly simple. Advance the throttle to full, and start off down the runway. Once your speed has sufficiently built (this should be your Vr speed) you pull back gently on the yoke or stick, and raise the nose gear off of the runway. The airplane should, at this point, fly itself off the runway and into the air. Let the airspeed build to the Vx (best angle of climb) until you have cleared any obstacles then accelerate to Vy (best rate of climb).

Short Field

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Cross Wind

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To Clear a Fifty Foot Obstacle

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Soft Field

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Sometimes you want to get the airplane airborne at the lowest possible airspeed, using the shortest possible takeoff roll. For example, gooey mud on the runway will cause tremendous amounts of friction on the wheels. The sooner you become airborne, the sooner you are free of that friction and the better you will be able to accelerate. Additional reasons for using soft-field procedure will be given below. The procedure is as follows:

  • Extend the flaps as recommended by the manufacturer; in the absence of a specific recommendation, extend the flaps so that they just match a fully down-deflected aileron. The idea is to get the most coefficient of lift without undue drag.
  • At the beginning of the takeoff roll, pull the yoke fully backward. Early in the takeoff roll, the nose will rise. Allow it to rise to the pitch attitude that corresponds to the stalling angle of attack, or slightly less. This is typically about 15 degrees nose up.
  • To maintain this pitch attitude as the aircraft accelerates, you will have to gradually let the yoke move forward. You will become airborne at a very low airspeed --- roughly the stalling speed. If you were to maintain the liftoff attitude, a typical airplane will accelerate poorly while climbing poorly, but that’s not what we want. (A lower-powered airplane might get into a situation where it can neither accelerate nor climb.) Instead, gradually lower the nose, so that you fly parallel to the ground, remaining one foot above the ground. As the aircraft accelerates in ground effect, the required angle of attack will decrease, so you will see the pitch attitude get lower and lower.

There are two ways of completing the maneuver. If the field is unobstructed, remain in ground effect until the pitch attitude (and angle of attack) have decreased to their normal takeoff values. Then climb while accelerating to VY just as in the normal takeoff . If, however, there are obstacles, it is better to remain in ground effect until the speed approaches VX, then raise the nose and climb out while maintaining VX as in the obstructed-field takeoff.

You may be surprised at how well soft-field procedure works. Just after liftoff, the airspeed is extremely low. In ordinary conditions of flight, your airplane might well have a negative rate of climb at that airspeed --- yet in this case it not only maintains altitude, but accelerates. The special ingredient in this case is ground effect: a wing produces very little induced drag while it is in ground effect (that is, roughly, within one wingspan or less off the ground).

Just after liftoff using this procedure,

  • there is no rolling friction because the wheels are not touching the ground;
  • there is very little induced drag because you are in ground effect; and
  • there is very little parasite drag because you are moving slowly; and
  • no power is being used for climb because you are moving horizontally.

The engine is producing full power, so if none of it goes into drag and none of it goes into climb, the airplane will accelerate like crazy.

There are many situations where this procedure is useful.

  • If the runway is covered with mud, tall grass, sand, or snow, there can be troublesome amounts of friction against the wheels. Soft-field procedure allows you to transfer the airplane’s weight from the wheels to the wings as early as possible, decreasing friction and improving acceleration.
  • If the runway is rough and bumpy, the problem is not so much friction, but rather damage from hitting a bump at high speed. The sooner you lift off, the less harm to the airplane. Remember, the force involved in hitting a bump goes like the square of the groundspeed.

Suppose the runway is perfectly smooth and firm, but very short --- and suppose it is surrounded by open fields with lots of bumps but no serious obstacles. You can become airborne over the runway, and then accelerate in ground effect over the fields.

Suppose you are attempting an ordinary takeoff from an ordinary field, but due to a gust (or perhaps even a lapse in pilot technique) you become airborne at a too-low airspeed. The best strategy is to accelerate in ground effect; you don’t want to re-contact the runway (especially if there is a crosswind) and you don’t want to try climbing at the too-low airspeed. In all cases you must be careful to remain in ground effect until you have accelerated to a proper climb speed. If you try to climb at the liftoff speed you will have a big problem: in many cases, you will be unable to climb out of ground effect. That is, as soon as you climb to a height where ground effect is no longer significant, the induced drag will become so large that you will be unable to climb or accelerate.

Import Considerations

  • Brief the Passengers

If you have passengers aboard who haven’t seen a soft-field takeoff before, give them the courtesy of an explanation. Otherwise, they may find the procedure extremely disturbing. Just tell them you will lift off at a low airspeed and they fly horizontally for a few moments while you accelerate to the optimal climb speed. Tell them that (a) this is standard procedure for getting best performance, and (b) it minimizes jolts to the passengers.

  • Maneuver by Reference to the Edge Line

Whereas in a normal takeoff you can guide the airplane by looking out the front, in a soft-field takeoff the nose will block your view during most of the maneuver. Therefore you must use the edge of the runway as your reference. Practice this skill during taxi. You will need this skill for landings and for soft-field takeoffs, but those aren’t the best times to be learning it.



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Short Field

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Soft Field

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Cross Wind

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Go – Arounds (Balked)

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A go-around can be needed for any number of reasons, but most involve either an unsafe runway to land on or a poor approach to where the pilot is not in a position to make a safe landing.

Once the pilot decides to go-around or Air Traffic Control (ATC) has instructed the pilot to go-around, the pilot will apply full power and stop the descent to the runway. After the pilot has done this, (s)he will raise the landing gear (if applicable) and raise the flaps (upon reaching a safe airspeed). In a normal situation, the pilot will begin a climb to the traffic pattern altitude and make a normal pattern for another attempt to land.

Steep Turns

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Steep turns are a basic maneuver that all pilots know how to accomplish. The bank angle for private pilots is 45 degrees to the left and right. Airspeed, altitude and the 45 degree bank angle must be maintained for this maneuver to be completed properly. The student should choose a point that allows them to know when a 360 degree turn has occurred. This is a visual maneuver and should be done looking only outside the aircraft at all times. For commercial pilot standards, a 50 degree bank must be maintained. For specifics on tolerances, refer to the FAA PTS Private Pilot or Commercial PDF or handbook.

Slow Flight

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A common curve of lift for general aviation aircraft.

The purpose of slow flight is to demonstrate positive aircraft control at slow airspeeds. Most light single engined aircraft such as Piper's or Cessna's can slow to 45-50 knots for the slow flight maneuver. Different flap settings can be used, as well as power settings. Turns will be demonstrated that should use no more than 5 degrees of bank. If more than 5 degrees is used, aircraft control can be lost and a stall can occur.


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Power Off Stalls

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Practicing power off stalls teaches the student to recognize and avoid stall situations that might be encountered during engine failure. If a stall should occur, the student learns how to recover quickly.

A stall is a condition in aerodynamics and aviation where the angle between the wing's chord line and the relative wind, defined as the angle of attack, exceeds the critical angle of attack. This angle is typically 17 to 20 degrees for many subsonic airfoils. The critical angle of attack is the angle of attack on the lift coefficient versus angle-of-attack curve at which the maximum lift coefficient occurs, and it defines the boundary between the wing's linear and nonlinear regimes. Flow separation begins to occur at this point, decreasing lift, increasing drag, and changing the wing's pitching moment. A fixed-wing aircraft during a stall may experience buffeting, a change in pitching moment (nose up or nose down depending on tailplane configuration), and changes in most stability derivatives. Most aircraft are designed to have a gradual stall with characteristics that will warn the pilot and give the pilot time to react. For example an aircraft that does not buffet before the stall may have a stick shaker installed to simulate the feel of a buffet by vibrating the stick fore and aft. The critical angle of attack can at 1 g only be attained at low airspeed. Attempts to increase the angle of attack at higher airspeeds merely cause the aircraft to climb. Consequently at 1 g, stalling occurs only when the aircraft is flying slowly.

Because of the reduced airflow at low airspeeds aileron control of roll becomes less effective, whereas the tendency for the ailerons to generate adverse yaw increases. Any yaw will increase the lift from the advancing wing and will cause the aircraft roll. Pitch and roll damping decrease due to lower dynamic pressures above and below the wings and turbulence in the airflow. Increasing the angle of attack between an airfoil and the airflow causes the lift and drag produced to increase. This can continue until a point is reached where maximum lift is generated and this is known as the stall or stall angle. Any further increase in angle does not produce a corresponding increase in lift but will in fact lead to a sudden reduction in lift, a change in pitching moment or a wing drop. This is due to boundary layer separation occurring on the upper surface of the airfoil, and therefore the critical angle of attack is dependent not only on the geometry of the configuration, but on the Reynolds number and surface roughness.

Depending on the aircraft's design, a stall can expose extremely adverse properties of balance and control. The ease with which a particular craft will recover from a stall depends on the dynamics of the aircraft itself and the skill of the pilot. If the stall persists a high rate of descent will occur and a spin may also develop.

Typically, a practice stall is performed at high altitudes (more than 3,000 feet AGL) so the student will feel comfortable and have plenty of time to recover. A power off stall is most likely to occur during landing approach, so it is a vital skill to master. It is also very easy for most students to learn.

ref:en:Stall (flight)

Power On Stalls

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Practicing power-on stalls teaches the student to recognize and avoid stall situations that might be encountered during a climb at low altitude; especially during take off.

Since this is a power on stall, recovery is quick and easy because you have the assistance of the engine. Do not consider this maneuver simple or uncomplicated as many different factors are affecting the aircraft at this time, especially if you are at a low altitude. The recovery process is as follows:

1. As the aircraft becomes stalled and loss of the flight control surfaces occurs, or the nose drops, add full power, and use the right rudder to compensate for the torque from the engine. Remember to ALWAYS keep the turn and slip indicator "ball" in the center to stay coordinated.

2. As power is applied simultaniously lower the nose of the aircraft to the horizon or just slightly below to break the stall

3. Let your airspeed build to Vx and maintain altitude or establish a positive rate of climb

4. Once satisfied with the recovery, level off and complete your checklists.

A power-on stall is most likely to be encountered during take-off. Due to the low altitude, it is vital that you recover quickly.

Typically, stall practice is performed at altitudes at 3,000 feet AGL or more so the student will feel comfortable and have plenty of time to recover. A power on stall is most likely to occur during takeoff, so it is a vital skill to master. This maneuver will take time to master and practice of stalls to stay sharp is important. Remember to check your FAA PTS Private Pilot maneuvers for the minimum altitude, heading and airspeed tolerances.


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Airplanes, especially older ones, are prone to spin whenever they are stalled while in uncoordinated flight. A spin is an aggravated stall in which the airplane rotates about a vertical axis while descending towards the ground, usually very rapidly.

In a slip or skid, one wing receives more airflow than the other, and therefore, if the critical angle of attack is reached, it will happen on one wing before the other.

The first wing to stall will drop, its angle of attack will increase (worsening the stall), and its drag will increase. At the same time, the angle of attack on the other wing decreases, along with drag. As a result, the airplane will bank and yaw towards the first wing to stall. If this is corrected immediately by pressing the rudder in the opposite direction of the bank, a normal stall will occur, and a spin is averted. On the other hand, if incorrect action (ie, use of the ailerons) is taken, the aileron increases the angle of attack on the stalled wing even further, and worsens the stall on that wing even more. Incorrect action, or lack of action, then leads to entry into a spin.

When you enter a spin, the airplane will point at the ground and rotate about its longitudinal axis, and in most aircraft you will lose altitude 'very quickly'. The spin rate, and descent rate will increase until the spin is fully developed, after which the spin rate and descent rate will stabilize. Airspeed will remain at or below stall speed.

If you enter a spin accidentally in the traffic pattern (where spins are most commonly entered into accidentally), you will likely not have time to recover. It is therefore essential to remain in coordinated flight while in the traffic pattern. In particular, don't use the rudder pedals to speed up the turn to final, as there are many dead pilots who made that their last mistake. It is better to overshoot the turn to final than to put yourself and your passengers at risk for a low-altitude spin.

Spinning on purpose

Practicing spins teaches the student to recognize and avoid spin situations that might be encountered during takeoff, landing, or normal flight.

Typically, spin practice is performed at high altitudes, so the student will feel comfortable and have plenty of time to recover. A spin is most likely to occur during the early part of the takeoff or during the turn from base to final, so recognizing a spin situation and avoiding it is a vital skill to master.

Spins are usually practiced as power-on stalls with full rudder deflection in the desired direction of rotation.

CAUTION: Many aircraft are only tested for recovery from one-turn spins, which are not fully developed. Allowing a prolonged spin may result in an unrecoverable condition for these aircraft.

To recover from an established spin, the pilot sets the throttle to idle, Ailerons are placed in the straight and level position (You NEVER NEVER NEVER turn the ailerons!), and presses the opposite rudder all the way to the floor (to counter the rotation). Then, the pilot briskly applies forward pressure to the stick (to break the stall). The acronym P.A.R.E. assists with the memorization of this procedure:

  • Power idle
  • Ailerons neutral
  • Rudder in opposite direction of spin
  • Elevator forward.

Once the spin is broken (This happens quickly), the pilot pulls back on the stick and increases power until the aircraft resumes level flight.

Spins are easy to recover from if you can remember the procedure, but many students find them to be quite a scary experience at first. As you build confidence though, the nervousness will fade.

Getting More Complex

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Ground Reference Maneuvers

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Ground reference maneuvers are designed to demostrate more precise control of the aircraft and especially to deal with wind correction. These maneuvers are typically performed at a lower altitude than much of the rest of your training, 600 to 1000 feet AGL (above ground level). Refer to the FAA PTS Private Pilot manuevers for specifics requirements and tolerances on each maneuver.

Rectangular Course
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The airplane is flown an equal distance from the four sides of a rectangle. Altitude and airspeed should remain constant throughout the maneuver. When flying the maneuver, the pilot must adjust for wind, crabbing into the wind as appropriate to fly the desired ground track. Points should be chosen that allow the student pilot to visualize a rectangle in their mind. These points can be anything from trees, ponds, turns in roads, large rocks etc. Remember to NOT choose any object or structure that is occupied by persons on the ground. Remember the FAA requires you to stay at least 500 feet away from any object on the ground in a "non-congested area." (More on this topic later). As with all maneuvers, make sure your pre-maneuvers checklist is completed, clearing turns accomplished, and wind direction determined. All maneuvers should be started on downwind, or as close to downwind as possible, depending on the area you are doing your flight training in.

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This maneuver is typically done while flying over a road, turning back and forth across the road like a slalom skier. The goal is to cross the road at a right angle, then fly a clean half circle to turn around and fly back across the road. The half circles should all be the same distance from the road. Make sure you choose markers to judge your distance to keep it the same on both sides of the road. Large canals or rivers that are straight for long sections also work well. If you live in a agricultural area, or have one that is only a short distance away, these are the best places to perform this maneuver. The technicality of this maneuver is in the turns. The bank of the aircraft will vary based on the wind strength and direction. For example, you enter on downwind, crossing the chosen road 90 degrees to it at 800 feet. You turn left (which is recommended as the student can see out of the aircraft easier on a left turn due to the fact he is sitting in the left seat), and as you start to bank, it will slowly increase until you reach 90 degrees off the initial heading you started the maneuver downwind at. At this point, the wind will be "pushing" you away from the road. To solve this, the bank angle will have to be increased through the turn to keep the aircraft a certain distance from the road you chose. As you come back around, if done properly, you should be wings level, at the same altitude and airspeed over the road heading 180 degrees opposite the heading you started the maneuver at. Now a turn is started the opposite direction to the right. Notice that because you are into the wind and not downwind, your "ground speed" will be slower. Less bank will be needed as you want to get some distance from the road to match what you did on your previous turn. As you pass through 90 degrees, the rate that you take out your bank will vary; depending on wind strength. As you turn back to 180 degrees to your original heading, you should be wings level, 800 feet, and same airspeed that you started the maneuver at.

Turns Around A Point
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Turns around a point is just turning a circle centered around a point on the ground such as an intersection of two roads. Altitude and distance from the point should remain constant. As with the other maneuvers, wind complicates the maneuver. The bank of the aircraft will vary based on where the aircraft is in relation to the wind. More bank is required when turning into the wind and less when flying away. This is so the distance around the point chosen will be maintained, otherwise a oval pattern will occur.

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Dead Reckoning
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Lost Procedures
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I take no responsibility for any of the data posted on this Wiki. This information may be a helpful training aide, but it cannot take the place of actual instructional with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Thanks, and happy landings.

Some of this information was contributed by a FAA CFI. This information is for a basic understanding only and in no way should be used as training purposes unless your own CFI approves of this information. Remember flight training is a very serious task and should be taken as such by any readers here.