Private Pilot's License Requirements

By Kim Kenney
Private Pilot's License Requirements

Obtaining a private pilot's license requires many hours of preparation. Once you've earned one, however, you will be a member of an exclusive group. Legal requirements for maintaining a private pilot's license are covered under the Federal Aviation Administration's FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations). Even after earning your pilot's license, it is important to practice flight skills by flying regularly.


There are specific licenses for different types of aircraft, including airplanes, helicopters, balloons and airships. No license is needed for ultralights.


Anyone can take flight lessons. All you need to do is find an instructor and sign up. You do not need any special paperwork just to take lessons. To receive your pilot's license, however, you will have to be at least 17 years old.

Solo Flights

There is no set number of lessons or hours required before you can fly solo. Your instructor will determine when you have sufficiently mastered the necessary skills needed to fly safely by yourself. You will be required to get a medical certificate and a student pilot certificate first.


Before becoming a private pilot, you must log in at least 40 hours of flight time, including 20 hours with an instructor and 10 hours of solo flight. Most people usually require additional time before they are ready to pass the flight test. The national average is 65 hours. You must also pass a written test.

Staying Current

You must have a physical performed by an FAA-certified physician every 3 years. The FAA also requires private pilots to go up with an instructor every 2 years to demonstrate certain flight skills and practice emergency procedures.


A private pilot's license is awarded for life. However, if you receive a driving while impaired citation, your pilot's license may be revoked as well.

About the Author

I have been a professional historian, museum curator, and author for more than a decade. I have served as the Museums Editor at BellaOnline since 2004. I am qualified to serve as an expert in a variety of historical topics. My expertise includes the Victorian Age and McKinley's presidency, the Roaring Twenties, the 1950s, the flu, museum studies, material culture, architecture, and more. I have a BA in history and an MA in history museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Please see my bio on my employer's website for more: