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How Private Pilot Licenses Work

        Science | Modern

Training for a Private Pilot License
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the most-produced model of any aircraft, so it's among those commonly used for student training.
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the most-produced model of any aircraft, so it's among those commonly used for student training.
ŠiStockphoto/Thinkstock

It's best to fly frequently while training to earn a private pilot license, and to study hard, because there is a lot to learn. Students need a thorough base of both practical and theoretical knowledge to be successful pilots.

Student pilots need to understand the four forces at work -- lift, weight, thrust and drag -- because each plays a critical role during flight. Regular flying simply involves keeping the four in check, but in order to climb, descend or turn, a pilot needs to know which forces to manipulate, and which aircraft control surfaces to adjust in order to accomplish necessary movements.

Then, both during ground school and in the air, student pilots must learn about all of the parts of the airplane and how those parts interact, as well as information regarding preflight, in-flight and post-flight checklists.

After that, there are regulations, rules and systems to learn, including:

  • Flight control systems
  • Radio protocols
  • Navigational principles
  • Weather forecasting
  • Safety regulations
  • Collision and turbulence avoidance techniques
  • Emergency procedures
  • Ground maneuvers
  • Flight maneuvers

Flight maneuvers alone encompass a lot more skills, including takeoffs, landings, slow flight, power-on stalls, power-off stalls, crossed-controlled stalls, elevator-trim stalls, secondary stalls, accelerated maneuver stalls -- and don't get us started on turns. Before a pilot is fully prepared, all of these lessons need to be mastered in a variety of conditions.

But when a flight instructor does think his or her student pilot is ready, it's time for testing. Find out more about that on the next page.


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