Flight Schools specialize in teaching basic flight instruction. They teach you everything you need to know to pass your checkride (final test with a Designated Examiner) and then fly safely among the rest of the pilots in the world.
It will all start in your ground school learning the fundamentals of aeronautics. What makes an airplane fly and how do you control it? What are the specific scientific principles that behind lift, drag, thrust and gravity? How does the weather change an airplanes ability to fly and how can you predict what’s most likely going to happen with the weather. You’ll even cover the various types of airspace and airports around the country. Ground school is where you’ll learn the fundamentals of flying.
Some people will finish ground school first and then move on to actual flight time, while others will do both at the same time. Which is best for you? I like the idea of learning something in a book and then immediately putting that into practice in a real world situation. Regardless of which method you choose, you’ll need to learn all of these fundamentals in order to pass your written exam before you can fly solo.
There a joke among pilots that it takes about 3 hours to learn how to fly and about 37 hours to learn how to land. There’s probably more truth to this than we’d care to admit. There’s so much to know about landing an airplane, most of the time you’re in the air will be spend learning all of these. Even when you’re flying at 5000 feet doing a “power off stall”, you’ll be learning a valuable skill needed to land safely. You’ll spend time doing “turns about a point” which teach you how wind direction and speed affect your ability to land. You’ll even spend time learning how to land without an engine (actually it will be idling, but it won’t provide you with any thrust).
Believe it or not, one of the biggest hurrdles most student pilots have revolve around the radio. What do you say to Ground Conrol before moving onto a taxi-way? What about the control tower or departure and approach? You’ll learn what specific words the air traffic controllers MUST say before you can flight into the airspace surrounding the nations busiest airports. Then there are those airports that don’t have a control tower. They use a common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) to let the other pilots in the air and still on the ground know exactly where you are and what you’re going to do next.
Passing Your Checkride
The checkride is what every student pilot is working towards. It’s about 5 or more hours spent convcing a “designated examiner” that you know everything you need to know to fly safely. The first half of your checkride will consist of an oral examination. The designated examiner (DE) will pepper you with questions about aeronautics, reading maps, how the fuel system in your airplane works, what to say on the radio, how to deal with specific weather situations and what to do in the case of an emergency.
Once you’ve passed that section, you’re sky bound to put these principles into practice. Navigating to a specific airport, proving you know how to recover from a stall, simulating any number of emergencies and showing him or her that you can do a soft or short field landing. What about taking off when you you’ve only got 2000′ of runway in front of you? It’s all done in the practical portion of your checkride. Pass this and you’ll join a very elite fraternity of airmen. The truth is, it’s not as bad as you think.
Once you’ve crossed this hurdle and you’re holding that coveted piece of plastic in your hand, you’ll then suddenly realize, you’ve only just begun to learn how to fly. This is when the skies open up for you and you can move on to more advanced flight training. But, we won’t worry about that yet.