FAQs

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How long does it take to learn to fly an airplane?

The amount of time it takes to earn a certificate depends on how often you fly, how often you study, and the frequency of your lessons. The more time you put into your goal of earning a pilot’s license, the faster you will obtain it. When you reinforce your training with regular independent study, you will progress quickly. Federal Aviation Regulations require a minimum of 40 hours of training to earn a private pilot certificate. However keep in mind that very few people complete their training in 40 hours time; most people take 60-75 hours. If you study throughout the week and maintain a regular schedule of lessons, you could possibly earn your certificate in 45-50 hours.

When will I actually begin flying?

You’ll begin flying on your first lesson. Learning is a hands-on process right from the start.

How long does a lesson last?

Most lessons are based on a one hour flight, but plan on two hours per lesson to allow time for pre-flight and post-flight briefings.

What can I do as a Private Pilot?

As a private pilot you can fly just about anywhere you please. You can take your family on weekend trips, go sightseeing or just go fly for the fun of it. It’s a wonderful experience that you will enjoy sharing with others.

How old do you have to be to take flying lessons?

In the U.S. there is no minimum age to start taking flight lessons, but I would encourage you to wait until you are at least 14. At age 16, you can legally solo a powered airplane and you can earn your private pilot’s license at age 17.

I’m a non- U.S. citizen, what are the TSA (Transportation Safety Agency) requirements?

For foreign nationals interested in earning a pilot certificate or rating: Any person who is not a United States citizen must undergo mandatory TSA fingerprinting and background check.

The TSA will notify me once you have successfully undergone the background check and have been approved for flight training. I cannot train you before we have received this authorization.

Go to this TSA website to login, and click on “new student account”. Fill in all of your contact information here. On the application you will have to request a flight school, here on the drop-down list you will be able to select me, William Bonnette, as your flight-school provider.

I’m a U.S. citizen, what are the TSA (Transportation Safety Agency) requirements?

A U.S. citizen does not have to register with the TSA, however, you do need to prove your U.S. citizenship status prior to undertaking flight training. You must present either a valid U.S. passport or an original U.S. birth certificate with a government‑issued photo ID (drivers license, valid passport, etc). Bring these with you to your first flight lesson.

Do I need a medical exam?

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires all pilots (with the exception of the sport pilot license), to pass a medical exam. You’ll need to get a medical certificate from an FAA medical examiner prior to your first solo. The medical exam is not rigorous. It begins by filling out an FAA medical application form online at FAA MedXPress   followed by a physical exam. If you think you may have a medical condition that may delay the issuance of your medical certificate, then it would be a good idea to schedule this exam before you start training.  Here is a link for FAA medical standards.

Here is a list of local FAA medical examiners:

WAYNE A GAVRYCK, MD
8 Burnham Street
Turners Falls, MA 01376
Phone: 413-774-5554

JOHN M SKRZYPCZAK, MD
Athol Memorial Hospital
2033 Main Street
Athol, MA 01331
Phone: 978-259-3511

JOSEPH P KEENAN, MD
Barnes Airport Terminal
Airport Road Suite 111
Westfield,MA 01085
Phone : 413-568-2304

LANCE D REYNOLDS, MD
BASHIR BASHIRUDDIN, MD
75 Springfield RD STE 1
Westfield, MA 01085
Phone: 413-562-5173

Search for more FAA medical examiners:

Will I need to have my own insurance policy to fly the aircraft I will be training in?

The rental aircraft we will be flying during dual instruction will have liability insurance  and hull coverage through aircraft owner and instructor policies. However once you begin soloing, you will be required to buy a renter’s insurance policy to cover possible damages to any aircraft you rent or borrow and personal liability to protect yourself. Currently the Aircraft Owners Pilots Association (AOPA) has a liability/hull coverage policy for $319 a year.

Aircraft renters insurance:

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AOPA Insurance Services

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Avemco Aviation Insurance Company

Is financing available for training?

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AOPA Finance, provides loans for flight training.

 

Pilot Finance Inc, provides loans for flight training.