Click here to go back


Prairie Air Service Inc. offers flight training for all FAA pilot certificates, from private pilot through flight instructor and airline transport pilot, in a professional environment. The training can be conducted full time or part time depending on your schedule.

To receive your private pilot certificate, you will have to take flight training, gain solo flight experience, and take a medical exam, a knowledge exam and a practical test. These are described in detail below:

The FAA minimum experience for a private pilot certificate is a total of 40 hours of flight time. This time has to include a minimum of 20 hours of dual instruction (flights with an instructor) and 10 hours of solo. For example, a student who is able to learn all of the tasks required for the private pilot flight test in 20 hours of dual instruction will require an additional 20 hours of solo time. However, over the years the FAA has added various training requirements, and most students will typically require about 30 hours of dual instruction to learn all of the required tasks, in which case only 10 hours of solo time are required.

Some of the things you will learn are general handling of the airplane (straight and level flight, climbs, descents, turns, airspeed changes, slow flight, steep turns and stalls), take offs and landings, visual and radio navigation, radio communications, night flying, cross country flying, and emergency procedures.

After about 15 hours of flight training you will probably be ready for your first solo flight. Before you can solo you will have to visit an aviation medical examiner and receive your FAA medical exam and student pilot certificate. The cost of the medical exam is between $50.00 and $75.00. If you are uncertain about a medical problem you may have, whether it might be disqualifying, you may want to discuss it with a flight instructor before you begin your actual flight training. If there are serious questions, they can then be discussed with an aviation medical examiner. The FAA also requires that your instructor administers a pre-solo written exam and reviews it with you.

In addition to your flight training you also have to take a knowledge exam. You will study mostly on your own, using books and video tapes. We do have a video  cassette ground school course available for rent, the rental charge is $ 25.00, which also includes use of our PC and software to take practice exams. You will also receive about 15 hours of ground instruction in conjunction with your flight training, and much of that instruction will also be helpful in preparing you for the knowledge exam. The best time to take the knowledge exam is when your flight training is about 75% completed. This way you will be able to use the practical experience you have gained during your flight training to help you with the knowledge exam. If you have difficulty with some of the material, your instructor can help you the next time you see him. You will take the knowledge exam on a computer, and it is graded immediately. The passing grade is 70%. The cost of the knowledge exam is $ 80.00.

It is not necessary to attend a formal ground school and pass the knowledge exam before you begin your flight training. I actually discourage this because some of the material covered during the theoretical training (such as aerodynamics and navigation) can be somewhat abstract and may be quite difficult to understand if you do not have the opportunity to learn it first in an airplane with your instructor. It is probably easiest if you take the knowledge exam when your flight training is about 75% completed. That way your practical experience will be helpful.

The exact requirements for the private pilot practical test, as well as the acceptable tolerances are described in an FAA publication called a practical test standard. Your instructor will train you to these standards. When you are able to perform all of the tasks to the required tolerances and meet all of the required training and solo time you are ready for your practical test. The practical test (also often called a checkride) will be administered by an FAA designated pilot examiner. The examiner is not an FAA employee, but a private individual with many years of instructing experience. The test will begin with an oral exam. Some of the items you will be asked about are the airplane you are taking the test in (its systems and performance), regulations, weather, navigation, cross country flight planning and related safety items. The oral exam will take about 1 - 2 hours. Then you will go on about a 1 hour flight during which you will be asked to demonstrate the various tasks required in the practical test standard. After you have completed the test, the examiner will issue your temporary airman certificate, and you will receive your permanent certificate in the mail from the FAA about 3 months later. The fee for the practical test is $200.00.

Cessna 150 Weight Limitations: We normally use Cessna 150s for private pilot training. The Cessna 150 is a comparatively small airplane of limited weight carrying capability. If you are heavier than about 190 lbs. (85 kg) you will have to take your flight training in the larger Cessna 172. The hourly cost of the Cessna 172 (including tax) is $ 71.60, which will increase the cost of your private pilot certificate by about $ 1000.00. If you are taller than about 6 feet you may find the Cessna 150 somewhat cramped and uncomfortable, and may also want to take your training in the Cessna 172.

If you live locally and plan to take your flight training on an evening and weekend basis you should know that it is important to fly about 3 lessons a week if you want to complete the training with minimum flight time. If you fly only once or twice per week, you will tend to forget quite a bit between lessons. Additional flying time will then be necessary to refresh and review material from previous flights, which will result in a higher cost by the time you complete your training.

Click here to go back