Learn to Fly

Learn to Fly

Private Pilot Certificate

We would like to welcome you to Pinnacle Aviation Academy. I clearly recall all of the fun and excitement of earning my private pilot certificate. There was hard work with hours of study and flight lessons, but one of the most exciting times of my life was my first solo flight. After a series of takeoffs and landings in the airport traffic pattern, I taxied in to my tiedown spot with the widest grin imaginable. I returned to the flight school and my instructor cut the back of my shirt off and applied artwork and words of wisdom to the shirt-tail. This has become a custom since the beginning of manned flight. A few months later, I completed the curriculum and passed my private pilot checkride.

You are likely contemplating a similar challenge. You will have many of the same questions that I had prior to starting my lessons. Our staff at Pinnacle Aviation Academy or I will be pleased to answer all of your questions. The following information may also be helpful.

Even though there are only about 650,000 licensed pilots in the United States (which is less than 1% of the population) flying does not require superhuman talents and degrees in math and science. Normal people just like you and I learn to fly everyday. Learning to fly does take some study but it is very worthwhile when you join that very small, but distinguished group known as aviators.

How Do You Get Started?

How do you get started? Well it’s easy! The first step is to come out to the airport and interview (yes interview) flight schools. You will want to find a school with friendly, knowledgeable people and quality aircraft. We hope you will choose Pinnacle Aviation Academy!

The private pilot curriculum is made up of two types of learning, study of all aspects of aviation and learning to fly an aircraft. Pilots learn faster by simultaneously studying the materials and flying aircraft. ( Sort of the lecture / lab concept.) Many people choose to train in a Cessna 152 or a 172. The Cessna 152 is a two-seat trainer and is designed for people training for their private pilot certificates. Some people choose to fly the larger Cessna 172. Normally you will want to fly 2 to 3 times per week. Some people fly less some more. The more frequently you fly, the faster you learn (least number of total hours) because we all tend to forget details over time. If you fly less frequently, it will generally take a greater number of hours to complete the Private Pilot curriculum because your instructor will likely need to provide more review time in each lesson prior to introducing new material. We will have more on this later.

The study portion of the curriculum may be completed by several methods. There are "weekend" ground schools for accelerated learning (and sometimes accelerated forgetting). We do not recommend the "weekend" accelerated method because the objective of these courses is to pass the written test, not develop a long lasting knowledge required in aviation. Another method, which we highly recommend, is the use of computerized self-study at your own pace.

Cessna proudly announces the all new scenario-based flight training course, developed exclusively for Cessna Pilot Centers. This web-based course provides everything you need to obtain your Sport or Private Pilot Certificate. It's been designed to provide you with the knowledge, skills and confidence to embrace your future in aviation. Cessna courses are the only way to go! They are an interactive training program which not only provides the Ground School training, but also previews each flight lesson. The flight lesson previews allow you to see what you will be learning in the air – before you go fly.

Cessna Private Pilot Courses Include:
  • Enrollment Key -- Online course, FREE lifetime updates
  • Premium Cessna Pilot Center Flight Bag
  • Cessna Pilot Logbook
  • E6B Flight Computer and Plotter
  • Garmin Pilot VFR Premium -- 1-year subscription (a $129.98 value!)
  • Online Access to:
    • Extensive digital library -- FAA Handbooks, FAR/AIM, Cessna Pilot Information Manuals (PIMs) and much more
    • Comprehensive flight training syllabus
    • Graduation Certificate
Benefits of the Cessna Training Program
  • SAVES YOU TIME! You don’t have to travel back and forth to a ground school class 2-3 times per week.
  • CONVENIENCE - You can study when and where you choose! Home, Office or at the flight school.
  • REVIEW – you can review the lessons just before your check ride to “freshen up” – also in 2 years when you need a Flight Review, just log into the course and review!
Value of the Cessna Training Program:
  • The course includes over 30 hours worth of Instructional video lessons – If a Flight Instructor covered all the material in the course it would amount to over $1,600.00 of ground lessons billed!
  • The Computer Based Instruction lessons are taught by professionals. They include full motion graphics that could never be reproduced in the class room ground training environment.
  • With the Cessna training program minimal additional ground is needed thus lowering the total cost of flight training!
  • The course never expires, so you'll have access to all of the in-depth knowledge sessions and flight previews and can review important topics well after you have completed your training.

As you complete your study of the materials, there are sample tests in the course to prepare you for the required FAA written test. We find the score you get on the practice tests is very close to the score you will get on the FAA test. When you are ready to take the test, your instructor will arrange a time and date with our computer-testing center located Pinnacle Aviation Academy. Upon completion of the test, it will be graded instantly and you will receive your certificate before you leave the testing center. Completion of the FAA written test is not required for solo flight, but it is required prior to your final check ride.

You may register for a demo version of the Cessna Sport/ Private course by clicking on the following link and inputting your email address: www.cessnaflighttraining.com Please note that if you purchase the course at Pinnacle Aviation Academy, the price is only $389 + tax (prices subject to change without notice).

The Flight Portion of Your Training is Divided into Three Phases:

  • The first phase is the presolo portion, which teaches you all you need to know to safely solo the aircraft. Prior to your solo flight you will be given a short quiz at our flight school by your instructor. You will also need to take a physical exam to receive your medical and your student pilot’s certificate prior to enrolling. We will provide you with a list of medical doctors who are authorized to provide the exam on behalf of the FAA. We care about you and your training at Pinnacle Aviation Academy and you will have management instructors involved in your training throughout the curriculum. After solo, you will spend some flight time practicing in the local area and some dual instruction to learn specialty types of takeoffs and landings along with night flying.

  • The second phase will train you to navigate and fly to airports that are more than 50 nautical miles from Palomar Airport. You will first practice “cross country” flight with your instructor. Just prior to your solo cross-country flights, you will have your second class time and flight with the Chief or Check Instructors. Afterwards, you will fly solo to airports designated by your instructor. These airports will give you experience flying over longer routes and increased traffic density to prepare you for real world flying after you receive your Private Pilot Certificate.

  • The third phase of your training will specifically prepare you for your Private Pilot End of Course Check with our Chief Instructor. Just prior to your End of Course Check, you will have your third class time and flight with our Chief or Check Instructors. During this time we will provide you with a practice End of Course Check prior to meeting with a different instructor for the final flight.

Now for the fun part! You may now take passengers flying and rent aircraft to visit friends, relatives and travel to other fun places. Many pilots choose to check out in different types and larger aircraft for this part of their flying career. In ever increasing numbers, after some experience, many pilots choose to return to Pinnacle Aviation Academy to add advance certificates and ratings such as learning instrument flying.

The Flight Times and Costs for the Private Pilot Certificate

First, the FAA has two minimum time requirements depending if you choose the standard method of training which is described in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 61 or you attend a FAA approved school which is described in FAR Part 141. Pinnacle Aviation Academy is a FAA approved school (FAR Part 141), however we also offer training under FAR Part 61 for special circumstances (Usually for students with prior flight experience). Either Part 61 or Part 141, flight training at Pinnacle assures the safest, most complete and professional approach towards achieving your aviation goals.

The FAA requires a minimum total flight time of 35 hours for FAR Part 141 and a minimum total flight time of 40 hours for FAR Part 61. Having reviewed the minimum FAA requirements, it is important for you to know that most people take substantially longer than the minimum requirements to become proficient in our higher density Southern California air traffic and airspace system. If you fly in Southern California, you are qualified to fly anywhere in the United States. This is not always true for people who learn to fly with the minimum hours in a sparsely populated area.

We find the average Southern California pilot will require around 55 hours to become proficient. For budgetary purposes we have two examples of flight training costs. We hope you find this information informative and choose to train with us at Pinnacle Aviation Academy. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly staff.

FAA Minimum Private Pilot Time

35 hours - Cessna 152 @ $115/hr. $4,025
15 hours - Flight Instruction time @ $75/hr. 1125
05 hours - Ground Instruction time @ $75/hr. 375
10 hours - Stage Check time @ $90/hr. .    900
Total Training Cost ** $6,425

Average Private Pilot Time

55 hours - Cessna 152 @ $115/hr. $6,325
30 hours - Flight Instruction time @ $75/hr. 2250
20 hours - Ground Instruction time @ $75hr/. 1500
10 hours - Stage Check time @ $90hr/. .    900
Total Training Cost ** * $10,975

The above totals do not include the study materials and pilot supplies ($350.00 to $400.00) FAA written test fee (approx. $150.00), the FAA medical examination fee (approx. $80.00) and the End of Course Check ($ 700 ) . Remember, the cost of instruction and flight time is pay as you learn basis. The above costs are typically spread over a four to six month period. Our average part-time student completes the Private Pilot Training in 6 months and 55 hours. Our average full-time student completes the Private Pilot Training in 6 weeks and 45 hours.

To begin work toward earning your Private Pilot Certificate contact us today at
and schedule one of our introductory flight lessons.

* The actual training cost depends on the rate of learning of each student.

** In each of the above examples, the cost of study materials, charts and examiner's fee are in addition to the flight training expense.


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