Becoming a Pilot

Becoming a qualified Private Pilot is a very rewarding experience and life skill. Training towards a PPL must be completed at an Irish Aviation Authority registered training facility, such as the Leinster Aero Club. For a list of training organisations, see here.

Before obtaining your licence, you’ll need to pass a Medical Examination, conducted by an IAA-approved Medical Examiner, so it’s advisable to complete this before going to the expense of undertaking flying lessons.

The training towards a PPL includes theoretical ground instruction, flight training, solo flight and, like a driving test, you’ll complete the training with a flight test. There are a number of important phases during the course, the most important being the first time you undertake “solo” flight, where you are the sole occupant of the aircraft.

Most student pilots go solo after 10-16 hours, depending on how regularly they fly and how quickly they learn. Every situation and student is different! The weather in Ireland is also a big factor affecting how how often you’ll be able to fly.

Also, regular lessons, say once a week, are important, since each lesson builds on the last. Long time lapses between lessons can affect progress. It’s also recommended not to cram the course in too quickly, as much of the content needs time and practice to properly sink in!

For a Private Pilot Licence you will need to complete at least the following hours flying:

  • a total of 45 hours of flying time which includes
  • at least 10 hours of supervised solo flight time
  • at least five hours of solo cross-country flight time
  • at least one cross-country flight of at least 270km during which full stop landings at two aerodromes different from the aerodrome of departure need to be made

The ground school associated with taking the five written IAA exams for the PPL takes approximately 120 hours and covers subjects such as Aircraft Technical, Flight Performance and Planning, Navigation, Human Performance and Limitations, and Aviation Law. The exams are in multiple choice format and not academically difficult but, like everything worthwhile, need some study and commitment! Textbooks, computer-based training courses, classroom instruction and instructor briefings all combine to help prepare you for these exams.

Regarding age, you may take instructional flight at any age but you must be at least 16 to solo an aeroplane. The minimum age to obtain the Private Pilot Licence is 17.