How Hard Is Private Pilot Training? (6 Easy Points)

Private Pilot cost 11K an I'd do it again!
11K on the PPL and I would do it again.

How Hard Is Private Pilot Training? Many times in my aviation career I have had people say that they wished they had learned to fly. My usual comment was benign. I simply said, “It’s not too late to learn.” I often wonder if it was fear that stopped them from learning.  Let’s explore the training and see just How Hard Is Private Pilot Training?

How Hard Is Private Pilot Training?

Learning to fly an airplane is very easy. It is easy to manipulate controls learning why is harder.  The rules of airplanes are harder yet. The Private Pilot training is the hardest of all certificates because you need to learn a massive amount of information, plus learn the airplane and the weather we fly in.

1. The Language Of Aviation.

Everything we learn we must learn the language of said subject.  If you want to be a lawyer you need to learn the language of the law and the same thing goes with Aviation.

The language of aviation is numbers. Once you take the time to listen to what directions were given it becomes far less painful. That’s easy these days because there are live ATC programs on the internet and you can get a portable aviation radio at a reasonable cost.

How hard is radio work? Likely the largest hurdle that many pilots must overcome. It is an understandable fear since ATC (Air Traffic Control)  instructions can be very intimidating. Plus a lot of people have a fear of simply talking on the radio and fear of understanding what is being said.

Take the time to become familiar. It will make the learning curve less steep. Learn the language.

2. The Basics Of Private Pilot Training.

Everything you need for the Theory of Flight for study material is accessible online so it should help you in your study.

You need the flight kit with all the stuff like the E6B and maps and plotter for learning navigation.  Make your instructor happy and buy whatever product they are selling. They are all the same.

This is the beginning of knowing the basics of flight training. There are many things to learn above and beyond just flying an airplane.

The basics of this certificate require that the maneuvers to be flown precisely and the reasons why these maneuvers are taught must be understood. This is easy stuff to do if it’s taken a step at a time and the study time completed. The work must be put in.

Many times I had pilots that were in ground school for a commercial pilot job who could not explain the purpose of maneuvers necessary for passing a FAR Part 135 checkride,

That is not a way to try to get a flying job.

3. Study.

It would be best if you threw yourself into studying.

It is best if you study material before you ever start flying to help you understand the first lessons.

Don’t overthink or overdo your study. Take each lesson as it comes, study beforehand, and seriously review after.

Ask questions before the next lesson. This will facilitate your learning and you will know at least some of what to expect. It will become easier.

You will find all the answers in your studies that are asked in practical and written exams. Make it easy on yourself.

4. Flight Simulators Make Private Pilot Training Easier.

Flight simulators have made the world of Aviation a little bit easier. In this day and age, you can fly just about anything that is existing in our world from the ease of your living room.

They can teach you a lot of things about flying and there’s a good reason at all training is done in flight simulators when it comes to the big jet airliners in the big companies. It is a heck of a lot cheaper to run a simulator but still not cheap.

But what a day we live in where we can practice and learn in the comfort of our own homes as we progressed with our journey into becoming a pilot or enhancing our skills.

Granted not all flight simulator time is allowed to be logged time towards your certificates or rating but under the right circumstances, this time can be used for credit towards you or flying time.

If you happen to be at a flight school that has the use of a flight simulator I’m sure that the instructors will use that for training purposes.  I personally think that they’re great for getting a student ready for the real thing.

My only thought about flight simulators that could be construed as negative would be that you cannot really feel a simulator like you can on an airplane, but they’re great for teaching.  But once again, the things you learn there are only as good as the instructor that’s teaching them.

5. Fear Will Make Private Pilot Training Hard!

Everything new that we learn in life has a certain Fear Factor to it.  We know we must overcome any fear in order to accomplish our goal.

Many people profess that they have a fear of flying. Not just about learning to fly an airplane so if you’re plagued with both of them you’ve got a little bit of a problem. But not one that’s insurmountable.

The only way to overcome a fear is to confront it.

Healthy fear is a different story but I Define healthy fear as possibly being just a fear of the unknown. But with flying when you have an instructor with you who obviously knows what they’re doing or they wouldn’t be there you do have a little bit of a foot in the door so to speak.

If you let fear overcome you will never reach the goal of becoming an airline pilot. So it’s really kind of important that you learn to trust rapidly. Trust your Instructor, your airplane, and most importantly yourself.

I will never tell you that I have not been afraid in an airplane but I was prepared for that and thankfully I never panicked. Because Panic will kill you.

Fear the unknown but never let fear become the leader.  Just be prepared.

You can read an interesting article about overcoming a fear of learning to fly here.

6. Testing.

Tests have always given me a very stressful time. I have learned that FAA tests are really the easiest to prepare for because you have access to all of the questions and answers used on the tests.

The FAA test preps cover every question for every test the FAA uses so the trick with these tests is simple. All questions are multiple answers.

Highlight the correct answer. Never read the incorrect response. Review the correct answers often. The FAA is notorious for slightly rephrasing answers.


Having the feeling of being overwhelmed is a place to avoid and that alone is the first step in reducing how hard Private pilot training is. Or any time in flight that is! That is accomplished by study and work.

Nothing in life is easy but if it is your desire it becomes much easier.

What you choose to learn here about how hard private pilot training is may just be the very thing that saves your life years later.

This isn’t about private training but it pertains to what sticks with a pilot.

I had a call from a Senior Captain from Southwest Airlines who once flew with me as a First Officer at a Regional freight company.  He had just completed a trip to Burbank CA. that ended in two missed approaches into Burbank and had to divert to San Diego. His comments to me were that he still used what he had learned while flying with the Regional.

We use everything in our arsenal of flight experience whenever the chips are down.

That is what kept me alive and I have a lot more stories of my own to share in future articles. Some that easily could have ended in disaster.

We are forever learning and always will be students of aviation. 

Remember, you can do this.

Please leave comments, criticism, or any thoughts or stories you have to make this a site for all to learn from and participate in.

Related: What Can You Do With A Private Pilot License? (5 Fun Topics)

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