Have you got a million questions about how to become a pilot? We have listed the most common questions (and answers) people ask.

I've never flown before. What is the best way to get started?

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Our Discovery Flight Package (Basic and VIP) is the best way to experience what flying is all about. This is what most schools refer to asan introductory flight, but we do ours completely differently. When you go to most schools and ask for an introductory flight, what you almost always get is a quick 20-30 minute flight in which the instructor does almost everything, and then eventually hands you the controls for a few minutes once you are up at altitude. They’ll allow you to do a couple short turns and then usually take over the flying to get you back to the airport. Although it’s exciting just to be off the ground and in awe that you had your hands on the controls for a short time, it does nothing to show you what flying is all about, and a far cry from a typical lesson you would have in training.

At PSA we take it to a whole other level. Our Discovery Flights begin with a 20-30 minute ground lesson in which you will learn all the basics of the airplane’s flight controls, instruments, and how to perform every aspect of the flight. This allows you to go into the next portion of the lesson ready to do EVERYTHING! You’ll do it all, from starting the engine, to taxiing the airplane out to the runway, from takeoff to the climb out, the turns, climbs, descents, and even the approach and landing… you’ll be at the controls the entire time with your instructor carefully guiding you through everything. It is a REAL hand’s-on experience!

You’ll walk away not only having flown the entire flight, but have an in depth understanding of how the airplane works, and what a typical lesson with us is like. We feel it is the only way you can ever really see what all the fun is about. In addition to the flight, you’ll also receive a free commemorative PSA T-shirt and a free subscription to Flight Training magazine!

Can I bring someone else along?

Other people may join you on your Discovery Flight (Basic or VIP) for only $75/person. They may either sit in the back, relax, and marvel at the sight of you flying as they’re treated to an amazing aerial tour, or you can share the ground lesson and split the flight time so that more than one person flies!

Where do we go during the flight / What will we see?

Most Discovery Flights takeoff from Torrance airport and fly out to our practice area south of Palos Verdes. You’ll fly along the cliff-lined coast of Palos Verdes, past the Donald Trump golf course, over Los Angeles Harbor, the Queen Mary, downtown Long Beach, and the Vincent Thomas bridge. Or you may choose to upgrade to our “VIP Discovery Flight” for an additional $100 and conduct your lesson as you fly over the following sites:

King Harbor

South Bay beaches

Palos Verdes Peninsula and coastline

Donald Trump golf course

Korean Bell

Point Fermin/ San Pedro

Los Angeles Harbor

Queen Mary

Long Beach Harbor & Downtown

Bird’s-eye view of LAX

Marina Del Rey

Santa Monica Pier

Pacific Palisades

Getty Center

Century City

UCLA

Playboy Mansion

Universal Studios

Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Reservoir

Hollywood Sign

Beverly Center

Griffith Observatory

Silverlake

Dodger Stadium

Downtown LA highrises

Staples Center

USC 

Can I take pictures?

You will have plenty of time to take pictures before and after the flight, as well as if you have someone riding along in the back. During the flight, your instructor can help take various pictures of you flying the airplane and email them to you at no additional cost!

I like a good deal. Got anything else?

As part of your Discovery Flight package, you’ll receive a free PSA T-shirt and a 6-month subscription to Flight Training magazine. Checkout our Specials section for additional PSA offers.

Do you have gift certificates?

We can email you a personalized PDF version of our gift certificate to give to someone for their special occasion, at no additional charge. You can print it out and present it to them before the flight for a truly unique gift. You can also add on a purchased flight log book for them to record their first flight that counts towards any additional training.

What is a private pilot license?

A private pilot license allows you to fly alone or with passengers, during the day or night, even in the rain. You’ll have access to all the airports in the country that are available to commercial flights, as well as hundreds of others that exist in most cities. The only thing you can not do is fly in clouds or very low visibility (less than 1 mile). For that, you’ll need your instrument rating.

How many hours do I need?

The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time to qualify for your private license. The national average is about 70 flight hours. But there are many factors that may determine the number of hours it takes to get your license.

The main factors are:

--How often you take lessons

--How much you study at home and are prepared for your lessons

--How well you comprehend the flight skills and study material

How long will it take?

The total time it takes to get your license can vary as well. For example, if you’re taking one lesson a week it will typically take about 75 flight hours and about 9-12 months. Going more often helps with retention of information and will help cut down on the total time. It’s like reading a book; if you read a chapter a week and try to pick up where you left off you may have to reread it again. Versus reading the same book everyday, remembering exactly where you left on. We even offer an accelerated course of training. If you can manage time to take at least 10 lessons spread out over a week you can usually obtain your license in as little as 6-8 weeks! You would also qualify for our accelerated training discount ($10 discount off the current airplane rates).

How much does it cost?

Costs vary depending on how many hours it takes to finish. Our accelerated course can allow you to spend as little as $10,000 if achieving your license in the minimum time required. But most people, on average, will spend between $15,000 – 20,000. Click here to see a breakdown of costs.

How do I pay for my training?

You pay as you go--no prepayment is required. Payment is due at the conclusion of each lesson. Pacific Skies Aviation accepts cash, check and credit cards.

Do you offer financing or loans?

We work with Pilot Finance, a leader in aviation student loans. We will help you get qualified for a loan that works with the program you need. They can approve up to 5 lessons per week depending on your application. Approval usually takes less than 24 hours.

What type of airplane will I fly?

We use newer Cessna 172S model high wing airplanes, with fuel injected 180HP engines. They have analog flight instruments and modern avionics including GPS color maps, dual axis autopilot, electric trim, electronic transponder, dual NAV/COMM radios.

We also have a more affordable 2 seat Cessna 152 available. It may fly slower than the 172 with it’s 110 horsepower engine but it still gets everything you need in training done. Our local practice area is only a few miles away from the Torrance airport so it may only take a little longer to get there, but for about $50 less per hour, it can help save a significant amount in training cost.

Click on "What aircraft is best for me?" for more information.

Are there any age requirements?

You can be any age to start flying lessons. But you need to be at least 16 years to fly solo, and 17 to get your private pilot license. We have kids as young as 10 years old come in to fly in the pilot seat. And we often have high school students come in during their summer vacation to take lessons, most who obtain their license before they are even allowed to drive a car!

Are there any medical limitations?

Every student must obtain an aviation type medical certificate from an authorized FAA physician. Very similar to a routine physical, they will test your vision, hearing, and blood pressure. You can have contacts or glasses, and be qualified to receive approval even under treatment of most prescription drugs. There is an old saying that goes, "If you can see lightning and hear thunder, you can obtain an FAA medical.”

What medical conditions does the FAA consider disqualifying?

The following conditions are listed in the regulations as disqualifying medical conditions; however, in many cases when the condition is adequately controlled, the FAA will issue medical certification contingent on periodic reports

Angina pectoris

Bipolar disease

Cardiac valve replacement

Coronary heart disease that has been treated or, if untreated, that has been symptomatic or clinically significant

Diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medications

Disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory explanation of cause

Epilepsy

Heart replacement

Myocardial infarction

Permanent cardiac pacemaker

Personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts

Psychosis

Substance abuse

Substance dependence

Transient loss of control of nervous system function(s) without satisfactory explanation of cause.

Other conditions not specifically listed in the regulations are also disqualifying. For further information refer to the Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners. Our local physicians, Dr. John Georgio AME Ph:310-546-3461 or Dr. Tim Norcross AME Ph: 310-541-8919 and can answer any specific questions you have over the phone, at no charge. They have a wealth of knowledge and can assist candidates who have medical limitations that require special filing.

Where can I go with my license?

There are currently over 14,000 airports in the United States. Of those, about 5000 have paved runways that allow access to most small airplanes. And just in California, there are over 900 public airports. With these statistics, it’s easy to see why having your license allows access to almost any major city, as well as smaller destinations in-between.

From Torrance airport, you can get places faster than you imagined: --Catalina Island: less than 20 minutes! --Big Bear: less than one hour! --San Diego: less than one hour! --Santa Barbara: less than one hour!

 

What kind of schedules are available?

We operate 7 days a week, and can schedule flights from 7am to 10pm. We are available to accommodate your schedule, whether it’s before or after work, weekends and holidays, and can even make arrangements to meet at an airport that may be closer to you for a short lesson during your lunch break!

Is it safe?

Most people know that flying is far safer than driving a car. Anyone who has driven the 405 freeway during the commute home from work can attest to this. We hear of airplane accidents only because they are so rare. Most airplane accidents are inevitably caused by pilot error. In fact, the number one cause in running out of fuel.

Mechanical failures that lead to major accidents are extremely rare. All airplanes owned and operated are required to have a thorough annual inspection. In addition, airplanes that are used for flight training have to have the exact same inspection done every 100 hours. For busy operators, that could mean having over half a dozen safety inspections per year. At PSA, we take it even further… every 50 hours we perform an additional voluntary inspection to ensure our airplanes are operating at their best. In fact, during our hotter summer months, we may even have a minor safety inspection performed at 25 hour intervals. We do this to maintain an extremely high level of safety, not only for our airplanes, but for all those that spend every day in them.

What books or equipment do I need?

There are dozens, if not hundreds of books and gadgets available for pilots. We have put together a basic list that we recommend all ourstudents start with, and a couple specific books that we use in our curriculum.

Pacific Skies Aviation Syllabus, Guides and Oral Exam Guide

Jeppesen Private (or Instrument) Pilot Manual

Aviation charts (LA Sectional; LA Terminal; San Diego Terminal)

Chart Supplement book

Kneeboard

Logbook

Plotter

E6B

FAR/AIM (book of regulations)

Operating handbook for aircraft you will be flying

We will provide you with most other equipment you may need until you wish to purchase your own. These include free rental of headsets, checklists, and view limiting devices for IFR training.

Is there a lot of studying?

We recommend allotting about one to two hours of home study for each lesson. But everyone learns differently and may work at their own pace. We work with you to form a proper study plan, and are always available for extra one-on-one instruction.

I'm not good at math. Will I be able to do this?

Try this:

2 x 2 = 4

4 ÷ 2 = 2

If you got through that without sweating too much, you’ll do just fine. Really.

Do I have to attend classroom courses?

All of our instruction is give on a one-on-one basis. It will allow you to move at your own pace, ask direct questions, and have full attention given to your learning style.

There are however classes available in a group environment for things like “written test prep” at any time during your training. They are not required, but some students prefer that learning environment as apposed to home study or video courses. We will help you determine what would work best for you to prepare for your only independent exam you need to take.

How many tests do I have to take?

There are three exams that you will be required to take to get your license.

--Pre-Solo: a short take-home multiple choice test given by your instructor

--FAA Written: a 60 question computer based multiple choice exam

--Practical: your final exam administered by an FAA designated examiner that has an oral and flight portion

Between your home study and personalized instruction, you will be very well prepared to pass all three exams. Our instructors make sure you are ready to go in for a successful outcome.

Can I use my own airplane?

Yes. Our instructors are well trained in numerous types of aircraft to give instruction. Whether it is complex, high performance, or technologically advanced, we will create a custom syllabus that meets your personal situation. We require proof of maintenance and insurance before any training may begin.