Becoming a Private Pilot

Where do I start?


Contrary to what you might think, you aren’t required to have any knowledge about piloting an aircraft prior to starting our program. Crosswinds Aviation can take you through the entire flight training process of becoming a pilot. It might surprise you just how quickly you can be up in the air.

Private Pilot Rating

Most people start by obtaining their Private Pilot rating. While there are other ratings you can start with, the Private Pilot rating is the most useful. As long as you have three miles of visibility, it will allow you to fly day or night with no distance limitations. Private Pilot is the first rating you receive if you’re becoming a pilot as a career.

Private Pilot FAA Requirements:

  • 40 in-flight hours minimum- this is the minimum required by FAA; the average in the U.S. is 60-70 hours. At Crosswinds, we average about 55 hours of in-flight training.
  • 8 hours cross-country flight time- cross-country means landing at an airport more than 50 nautical miles away.
  • 3 hours instrument or simulated instrument flight time
  • 3 hours night flight time
  • Minimum age is 17 to obtain your license, however, you can begin training and solo at age 16
  • You must pass at least a class III medical examination by an Aviation Medical Examiner prior to solo flight

Step One: Discovery Flight

Take a Discovery Flight with Crosswinds! Whether you’ve never flown before or have had some first-hand experience, your Discovery Flight is an actual flight lesson and will count towards your license if you choose to continue. A Discovery Flight is the perfect opportunity to learn about Crosswinds, meet our instructors, and experience the difference that is Crosswinds flight training. Check out our Discovery Flight video below:

Discovery Flight costs:

  • 2 seat Diamond DA20 – $185 for 1 hour
  • 4 seat Cessna 172 – $220 for 1 hour
  • 4 seat Diamond DA40 – $220 for 1 hour

*If you are fairly confident that you would like to obtain your Private Pilot rating, we recommend a 1 hour discovery flight as it will be more like a full flight lesson.

Step Two: Obtain Flight Training Supplies

Once you’ve taken a Discovery Flight and have made the decision to pursue your Private Pilot’s license, there are some supplies you will need to get started. We have all of these items in stock at Crosswinds Aviation so we can get you started right away.

  • Your Private Pilot training syllabus ($30.00) –  We will enroll you in our Electric Private Pilot Syllabus. This syllabus will guide you through the entire process. Each lesson includes a required pre-study section which will tell you exactly what you need to study in preparation for each flight training lesson. Once you have completed all ground and flight lessons in the syllabus, you will have logged about 55 hours of flight time and have met all the FAA requirements for the Private Pilot rating.
  • Logbook ($11.95) – This is your official FAA logbook where you will record all your logged flight time.
  • Sporty’s Learn to Fly Private Pilot course ($199.99) – This is a self-study course that will give you all the required knowledge and background necessary in order to become a safe pilot. You can choose to purchase this from Crosswinds Aviation in Online, iPad, or DVD format.  We recommend the Online format for most of our clients.  The iPad version is great if you want to download the video lessons to your iPad for offline viewing and the DVD version is good if you don’t have a fast enough internet connection to support online video streaming.
  • FAR/AIM Book ($13.95) – This is a book containing the Federal Aviation Regulations and Aeronautical Information Manual. You will use this book to understand the regulations for a Private Pilot in detail and will be required as a reference throughout your training.
  • Airplane Flying Handbook/Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge Combo ($25.95) – The FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook (previously called Flight Training Handbook) has been required reading for all pilots for more than 30 years! This book introduces the basic pilot skills and knowledge essential for piloting airplanes. It benefits student pilots just beginning their aviation endeavors, as well as those pilots wishing to improve their flying proficiency and aeronautical knowledge, pilots preparing for additional certificates or ratings, and flight instructors engaged in the instruction of both students and licensed pilots.
  • Pilot Operating Handbook ($30.00) – Spiral bound Diamond DA20 or Cessna 172 POH ($60.00).
  • Laminated Checklist ($10.00)-  Crosswinds personalized DA-20 or Cessna 172 plane Checklist.

Step Three: Start Scheduling Flights

We use an Online Scheduling System at Crosswinds Aviation. Once you have obtained all your required materials, you will login to the scheduling system and schedule your flight lessons at your convenience. At Crosswinds, we train with you in mind; how often you fly will determine how quickly you get your license. If you can commit to training every day for 3-weeks straight, you can achieve your license in as little as 3-weeks. Most of our clients schedule their flight lessons about 2 times per week with study time in-between flights. Students who follow this schedule generally complete their flight in about 4-6 months.

If you’re ready to start scheduling flights with us, sign up on our online scheduling system.

Once you go through the sign up process, we will approve your scheduling system ID and you can start scheduling your flights.  You will want to schedule a 2-hour block of time in the aircraft of your choice with your instructor for each lesson. To learn more about our instructors, CLICK HERE.

Of course we are always available by phone to schedule your flights as well.  If you are not at a computer, or prefer to schedule by phone, you can always call us at 517-552-1101 to schedule your flights.

Step Four: Solo!

After training with us and obtaining approximately 15-25 hours, you will likely be ready to solo the aircraft by yourself without your instructor. This is Lesson 32 of the 59 lessons in your flight training syllabus. Prior to flying solo, you will need to make sure that you have obtained your FAA Medical and Student Certificate by a Certified FAA medical examiner. The minimum age for solo flight is 16.

Step Five: Cross-Country Flying & Check-Ride Preparation

After your solo flight, you will continue following the remaining lessons in your flight training syllabus with your instructor for cross-country flying and meeting the remaining requirements. Once you have completed all of the course syllabus lessons you will do some final ground and flight lessons to prepare you for your written exam and check-ride.

There are some additional supplies at this part of the training that you will need for cross-country flight planning and test preparation:

  • ASA Composite E6B Computer ($12.95) – This is a slide-rule type computer to calculate crosswind landing components, wind and heading calculations, time en-route, and fuel calculations.
  • Plotter ($16.95) – This is for measuring distance and heading on your Aeronautical Chart for your planned flight route.
  • GLEIM Private Pilot FAA Knowledge Test book ($19.95) – The primary purpose of the Gleim Private Pilot FAA Knowledge Test book is to provide you with the easiest, fastest, and least-expensive means of passing the FAA knowledge test.
  • Private Pilot Practical Test Standards ($5.95) – This details the type and levels of skill and knowledge that must be demonstrated before an examiner can issue a certificate or rating to an applicant, and describes background study and reference materials.
  • Private Oral Exam Guide ($12.95) – The Private Oral Exam Guide is designed for student pilots training for the Private Pilot Certificate. All the subjects a Private Pilot candidate will be tested on during checkrides and review flights are covered.

Step Six: Take Written, Oral and Practical Exams

After completing all the ground lessons in your syllabus and having completed a final review of the material, your instructor will sign-off that you are ready for the written exam. The written exam will be given at a designated FAA testing center.

Once you have completed all flight lesson in the syllabus, successfully demonstrated all the required skills to your instructor, and passed the written exam, your instructor will sign-off that you are ready for the Private Pilot check-ride with an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE).  Your instructor will help you schedule your check-ride for a time that is convenient for you.


You are now a licensed Private Pilot. It’s up to you where you go from here… the sky’s the limit!