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  • How do I know if flight training is right for me?
    The best way to determine if you want to become a pilot is to discuss your goals with us and take a discovery/introductory flight. Flight training requires a time commitment, financial readiness, medical fitness and personal motivation to ensure successful completion of your private pilot training. These FAQs along with our staff and instructors will help to ensure you are setup for success. If you are new to the concept of learning to fly or have never flown in a general aviation aircraft, a discovery flight is your first step. It is a 30-40 minute introductory flight where you will actually fly an airplane under the guidance of one of our FAA certificated flight instructors. Before, during and after your flight you will have the opportunity to ask questions and get clarity on next steps to begin your flight training. If you would like to take a discovery flight, you can book from the website home page or email us at for assistance. Digging deeper, we ask potential students to think about their time available for ground school and flight training. It is a commitment of time, especially if one has existing school, family or career obligations. While we are flexible on scheduling, it's best to think about a recurring schedule that you can commit to for several months so that you are as free as possible from conflicts during your training. Another topic is being prepared financially. Thinking through how to pay for flight training and its costs are covered in other FAQs, but what we want new students to think about up front is the total cost. Having that planned for up front assures you a better experience. Nothing is worse for a student than to get halfway through training and have to delay training due to finances. Beyond the disappointment, higher total costs down the line will be incurred to regain proficiency and relearn tasks you had previously mastered. Finally, medical certification is another big topic. While most people can obtain an FAA medical certificate, there are disqualifying conditions or those that may require special issuance from the FAA medical division. Current and past medical issues are both possible situations to think through. We cover medical topics in another FAQ, but planning ahead for this is an important task that we will work with you on.
  • How do I book a discovery or intro flight?
    Click the button below to book your flight. Alternately you can email us at, or call our office at (816) 282-1500.
  • What are the FAA requirements to become a private pilot?
    The FAA has the following requirements to become a private pilot: Be at least 17 years of age (16 years of age to solo an airplane) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English Hold a U.S. student, sport, or recreational pilot certificate Hold at least a third-class medical certificate Receive a logbook endorsement from an instructor certifying you’re prepared for the knowledge test Receive flight training and a logbook endorsement from an instructor certifying you’re prepared for the practical test Meet the aeronautical experience requirements Pass a knowledge test Pass the practical test (aka checkride) Additional FAQs provide greater detail on each of these topics.
  • What will I learn and do to become a private pilot?
    Below are the private pilot aeronautical experience requirements. You will notice the FAA outlines minimums. Most students well exceed these minimums to become proficient in meeting the private pilot certification standards that your instructor will introduce you to as your training progresses. Under the FAA regulations, a "part 61" private pilot student must acquire: 40 hours total flight time (average is 55 hours) including: At least 20 hours instructional flight time, including: 3 hours cross-country flight training time 3 hours flight training with flight solely via reference to aircraft instruments 3 hours night flight training, including: 10 takeoffs and landings that involve flight in the airport traffic pattern 1 cross country training flight over 100 nautical miles (nm) in distance 3 hours flight training in preparation for the practical test within the last two calendar months prior to the test. At least 10 hours of solo flight time, including: 5 hours solo cross-country flight time, including: 1 solo cross-country flight over 150 nm in distance with at least one stop 50 nm from other airports 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower Flight Proficiencies: During your training you will acquire proficiency in the following areas of operation. Your instructor will spend time with you unpacking these in more detail throughout your training in an organized syllabus. Preflight preparation Preflight procedures Airport base operations Various takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds Performance maneuvers Ground reference maneuvers Navigation Slow flight and stalls Basic instrument maneuvers Emergency operations Night operations Postflight procedures
  • What is learned during ground school and how do I complete it?
    Ground school serves two purposes: 1) To learn the information needed to pass your FAA knowledge exam, the results of which must be provided to your examiner when you sit for your practical test (aka Checkride). 2) To teach you core aviation concepts that are critical to flight. It is often cheaper and more effective to teach many topics while on the ground in an environment most conducive to learning. This helps make your in flight time more productive and efficient. We recommend our students take a hybrid approach to their ground school. First, we leverage Sporty's Learn to Fly Private Pilot course as an online ground school. This course can be purchased at Summit Flight Academy. Please just let your instructor or a staff member at SFA know you are ready to purchase it and we will provide you an access code. This enables your instructor to sync up with your training progress online and help you through any content that may be more challenging. Second, your instructor will provide one on one ground school on specific topics as they are needed. An example is cross-country flight planning. This topic is very hands on and you will work through real world examples with your instructor after acquiring the core concepts from your online training. Third, we offer small group study facilitated by an instructor on key topics. These can vary from checkride prep sessions to broader but more involved topics such as weather or flight planning. The advantage of small group study is increased affordability in training time. For some students, an in-person classroom based ground school may be more appropriate to their learning process. In those cases, we can recommend a couple of options for you. Your ground school training covers these topics: Federal Aviation Regulations relating to private pilot privileges, limitations, and flight operations Accident reporting requirements of the NTSB Using the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) and FAA Advisory Circulars (AC) Using aeronautical charts for VFR navigation (pilotage, dead reckoning, and navigation systems) Radio communication procedures Recognition of critical weather situations, windshear avoidance, and obtaining and interpreting aeronautical weather reports and forecasts Safe and efficient operation of aircraft (collision avoidance, and recognition and avoidance of wake turbulence) Density altitude effect on takeoff and climb performance Weight and balance calculations Principles of aerodynamics, powerplants, and aircraft systems Stalls and spins awareness, entry, and recovery techniques Aeronautical decision making and judgment Preflight action that includes: Obtaining information on runway lengths, takeoff and landing distances, weather reports and forecasts, and fuel requirements at airports of intended use Planning for alternatives
  • How long does it take to become a private pilot?
    We wish there was a simple answer to this question. However, variables are many. The biggest factor in your control as a flight student is consistency and frequency in getting up in the air. We encourage students to book at least 2-3 lessons a week. If fewer lessons are booked, sometimes progress will suffer and put you back into a mode of relearning previous content. In the end, that costs you additional time and money. The other variables that affect training times are the weather, student/aircraft/instructor scheduling, life conflicts, ground school progress, preparedness for lessons, and overall student aptitude for flying. For the sake of setting some level of expectation, if you were to complete three flight lessons a week, completing your training in four months is certainly possible. One of our owners started his private pilot training in late January and took his checkride in early May. On the short end, if a student starts flight training with their ground school complete, medical certificate in hand and completes 5 flight lessons a week in an accelerated format, its reasonable to earn your private pilot certificate in 6-8 weeks or a bit less. Many students, especially those with existing careers or school commitments, fall into a 5-6 month timeframe. None of the above timeframes is right or wrong. We can accommodate your pace of training. All we ask of you is to set yourself up for consistency in your flight training. Otherwise, you may find yourself frustrated with the regression that may occur during your training.
  • What does it cost to become a private pilot?
    This is one of our most common questions, and also one of the most difficult to answer. Many variables and inputs impact your flight training costs. For the sake of creating a baseline, we'll reference the often cited national average of about 55 flight hours to earn a private pilot certificate. Your costs to earn your private pilot certificate are made up of several components, including: Aircraft rental Instructor services Ground school Knowledge exam fee Medical certification Pilot supplies Checkride fee (Flight test with a Designated Pilot Examiner) Aircraft rental: Our aircraft rent for $140-$160 per hour. We do offer block discounts if you purchase 10 or more hours at a time. $8100-$9300 is a fair estimate of cost for 55 hours, inclusive of block discounts and taxes for the various aircraft on our flight line. Instructor services: Our instructors provide their services for $50-$60 per hour. You will leverage an instructor's time for pre and post flight briefings, flight time, dedicated supplemental ground school training and for checkride preparation. The instruction time you need may vary, however, $2500-$3000 is a reasonable estimate for instructor services. Ground school: We use Sporty's Learn to Fly Private Pilot Course as the foundation of your ground school. This course cost is $279. Upon purchase in our flight school we will be able to provide you an access code to log onto the platform and connect with your instructor. Knowledge exam fee: The FAA contracts with a third party, PSI, to administer their knowledge tests. The charge is a flat fee of $175 for any FAA knowledge test. You pay online when the exam is scheduled. Medical certification fee: The FAA approves independent physicians who are known as Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) to conduct exams for FAA medical certification. Fees vary by provider but expect to pay $100-$300 depending on the level of medical certificate and your age. Older pilots applying for a first class certificate need an EKG which adds to the cost. Your instructor will work with you to determine the right medical certificate class to apply for. Please see our FAQ on this topic for more information. Pilot supplies: We have a FAQ dedicated to this topic, but it is possible to obtain your needed supplies for $600 - $750 if you are working on a budget and already own a tablet such as an iPad. We recommend starting simple and assessing your needs as you go vs. making expensive up front investments. If a student chooses to acquire a noise cancelling headset, needs a tablet, etc, costs could rise closer to $2000. Please talk with your instructor prior to making purchases. Checkride fee: Examiners, known as Designated Pilot Examiners (DPEs) set their own fees. They are private individuals who have been delegated examining authority by the FAA. Most charge in the neighborhood of $850 for a private pilot checkride. Using the hours provided above, $12,000-$15,000 is a fair "all in" cost for flight training. As noted above, your cost could be higher or lower depending on the total number of flight and instruction hours needed. Unfortunately, while reputable flight schools can give you averages or estimates, they are unable to predict how each individual student will progress towards their checkride. A note about comparing flight schools and their costs: If you are comparing costs from other flight schools, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Some schools will put together a training package/program for you. However, they vary in what they provide. Also, be aware that those packages are not guaranteed to cover all your training needs and you will be provided a cost for hours in excess of the program or package limits. While we encourage you to think about costs at schools carefully, as they are certainly not trivial, consider other factors that will come into play such as aircraft and instructor availability as those may have big impact on your total costs.
  • What supplies do I need as an aspiring pilot?
    We recommend not going overboard on pilot supplies. Get the essentials and as you progress you may wish to add on additional items: Items needed right away: A headset: You have a lot of choices in headsets. While your instructor may have a headset available to you, we recommend you explore one that works best for you. Passive (non-powered) headsets come in a wide variety of models and costs. You can purchase a headset through our pilot shop. Please let us know if you would like us to order one for you. Here are a few of our recommendations. All are available at Sporty's and other aviation retailers: A good budget headset is the S-20. It's the bare essentials and nothing more. The S-58S is an upgraded option with more comfortable ear seals, stereo capable, and a better flex boom microphone. Finally, David Clark makes the top of the line passive headsets. These have been made for decades and are virtually indestructible. A note on noise cancelling headsets: Lightspeed, Bose and David Clark all make high quality noise cancelling aviation headsets. offers free shipping on all of their models. Most instructors own one or more of these, and if you decide to invest in one, try one of ours out first. They are expensive but well worth the cost. They are very comfortable and less fatiguing than passive headsets that usually have higher clamping forces. However, you don't need a noise cancelling headset right away. You can put it in the "want" category instead of "need". You can start with a passive headset and upgrade it later. In fact, you can use your passive headset as a second headset for a future passenger once you earn your certificate. Ground School Course: You will want to purchase Sporty's Learn to Fly Course for the Private Pilot. We have access codes in our office available and, once redeemed, you can link up your account with your instructor to help guide you through the training. The cost is $279. Logbook: You will need a pilot logbook to log your hours in. While you may find that there are digital logbooks available for your tablet or iphone, you will want a physical book as many examiners want to see the physical copy of endorsements and required flights. Some students will maintain a paper and electronic logbook in parallel, but we will defer decision to you and your instructor. The logbook is $11.95 and available in our pilot shop. Kneeboard: You will want a stiff device to take down clearances, hold your pen, and hold your chart or checklist. A kneeboard that straps around your leg is the recommended way to do this. We sell a basic version of a kneeboard in our pilot shop for $16.95. There are more expensive and featured ones out there. If you see something you like better, go for it. Keep in mind that you will likely transition to a tablet based "electronic flight bag" down the line as you progress in your training, so you may not want to initially invest large sums in a fancy kneeboard. Flight Bag: You will want something to put all your supplies in that is easily transportable. A spare backpack can serve you well. However, if you want something tailored to aviation, we have two bags in our pilot store that are designed to fit all of your aviation essentials. One is the "iPad bag" and the other is the "Crosswind bag". They run $79.95 and $59.95, respectively, and are available in our pilot shop so you can see which one works best for you. Items needed later on: View Limiting Device: Part of your initial training, and a task on your private pilot checkride/practical exam will involve flying the aircraft by reference to instruments and recovering the aircraft to straight and level flight using only the flight instruments. To simulate this, a view limiting device is worn like a pair of glasses or a visor. We have flight school owned devices, but you may wish to have your own and we carry two different models in our pilot store that run $12.95 or $17.95. Flight Computer: For your knowledge test (and potentially on your practical test), you will want to use a Flight Computer to do aviation specific calculations. There are manual calculators that are basically circular slide rules (aka E6-B) or electronic devices. We recommend the CX-3 electronic calculator because they offer a free online version of the calculator that you can use for practice at home. If you wish to buy your own physical CX-3, we carry them in our pilot shop. They run $109.95. We also have one available for checkout that can be used for your knowledge exam. If lost we will charge your account for it, but we make it available because we know not everyone will take enough knowledge tests to justify buying their own calculator. Online CX-3 emulator: ASA :: CX-3 ( Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide: This text is invaluable to provide you with an idea of the type of questions you will see on your oral portion of your practical exam for your private pilot certificate. We carry these in our store for $14.95 or you can buy Kindle/eBook versions as well. The hard copy is great for marking up the questions you ace or highlighting the troublesome ones. This can be purchased as you get closer to your checkride. Charts and Plotter: Typically after you solo you will begin working on cross country flights. This necessitates the need to use FAA charts called sectionals and TACs (Terminal area charts). Your instructor will tell you when to order these as they expire on a regular interval. Sporty's is the easiest place to get them from. You will also need a plotter to determine course headings on your sectional. We sell a "rotating" plotter in our pilot shop for $16.95. There are also cheaper non-rotating plotters that are a tad more work to use, but a few dollars cheaper and available on Sporty's website. FAA Documents: The FAA produces several documents and books that are the basis for your practical and knowledge exam. We ask that you download the Airplane Flying Handbook, Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual), and Aviation Weather Handbooks. These and many more documents are available on the FAA website for free here: Aviation Handbooks & Manuals | Federal Aviation Administration ( You can also buy paper copies, if you prefer, from a number of aviation supply companies. The Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) are also online and will be referenced in many training materials. Parts 61, 67, 68, and 91 are most relevant to your private pilot training. Those regulations can be searched here: eCFR :: Title 14 of the CFR -- Aeronautics and Space (FAR). Several companies also compile a book called the FAR/AIM that includes the relevant FARs and the AIM (mentioned above). FARs can change at any time, so realize they are only current the day they are compiled. The Private Pilot Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) is something that you will spend time understanding as you approach your practical exam (checkride). It's available in soft copy free from the FAA here: We also sell a paper copy in our pilot shop if you want to have a physical, bound version. Tablet/Electronic Flight Bag: Tablet apps that contain all the FAA charts, flight supplements and more have become the defacto standard in aviation at all levels. However, we will not recommend you use a tablet and Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) app during the first part of your training. There is just too much to pay attention to outside the airplane to add any additional distractions for you early on while you try to master control of the aircraft. However, as you approach cross country flight training, your instructor may have you learn how to fly using paper charts and electronic charts. That said, you will need to be prepared to show your examiner you can use a paper chart and flight plan to navigate with. Do not expect to rely 100% on electronic charts. When your instructor is ready for you to learn an EFB, he or she will work with you to pick an app and device to run it. All the major apps offer a free trial so you will have the opportunity to try out a few of them as you and your instructor see fit. If you normally use the Android ecosystem, be aware that many of the most common apps only run on iOS. A few run on both. As for devices, the ipad Mini is a great size for many small planes. At the other end, the largest iPad Pro 13 may be tough to fit where you want it to go. Tablets with cell modules also have a GPS chip in them. However, for best performance it is recommended to use a GPS/ADS-B receiver in your airplane. Our aircraft have a built-in or portableGPS/ADS-B unit available for use. Thus, you do not need to buy a cellular model of iPad. Many pilots do for the redundancy, but it adds to the cost of an iPad by about $130. Various tablet mounts are available and you can explore what works best for you (leg mounts, yoke mounts, window suction mounts, etc.). We do not recommend starting a subscription right away as the cost starts accruing after the free trial is up.
  • What is involved obtaining a FAA medical certificate?
    Before you solo fly an aircraft, you need a current FAA medical certificate. The AOPA has a good resource on this topic here: Airman Medical Certification - AOPA. There are three grades of medical certification, Third, Second and First. What you need depends on your goals. If your flying will not be for hire, you need a third class certificate. If you have goals to fly commercially, you will need a second or first class certificate. We recommend getting the certificate at the level you plan to ultimately fly at so you know that you can obtain it. Please talk with us about your flying goals and we will recommend the class of medical certificate to apply for. We advise you to obtain your medical as soon as possible. If for any reason you cannot obtain a medical, need special issuance or encounter any delays, we do not want you to waste training dollars on flight lessons only to be delayed because you cannot yet solo and complete the rest of the requirements. Such a delay and break-up in your training will result in more hours and higher cost to complete your training. We recommend reviewing the requirements for a medical certificate PRIOR to applying for a medical and certainly before an exam appointment to obtain your medical certificate. If you have any doubts about past or current health issues that may be an issue, please ask us in confidence so we may either help you directly or refer you to an appropriate resource. A listing of FAA Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) is available from the FAA here: Designee Locator Search ( We will be happy to give you our insight into local AMEs upon request. AMEs are independent contractors and their fees may vary based on the type of medical certificate you apply for and whether or not you need an EKG. This exam is not covered by insurance. After you obtain your first medical certificate, if you do not plan to fly for hire/compensation, will solely fly in the United States, and do not plan to fly certain advanced aircraft types, you may be eligible for using the BasicMed process as an alternative to traditional medical certification. More information can be found at
  • What is the difference between "Part 61" and "Part 141" flight schools, and which are you?
    We are a Part 61 flight school. "Part 61" refers to Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulation under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (aka FARs). This part of the FARs outlines the requirements for obtaining various pilot certifications. What this means to you is that we train using the regulations found in part 61. A flight school or instructor teaching under part 61 has the flexibility to design a training program that makes sense for each student. We are free to move around the order of lessons and adjust our syllabus to the individuality of each student and instructor. A Part 141 school is a FAA certificated and regulated flight school that is required to use an approved training program and syllabus. If you read 14 CFR Part 141 it will outline the requirements to obtain and maintain a FAA certificated flight school. Many large and/or career track flight schools operate under the part 141 regulations because of the opportunity to earn ratings in reduced hours in some circumstances. However, for an aspiring career pilot the reduced hour requirements may or may not provide much benefit given the minimum hour requirements for many flying careers. Both training structures end with a student earning the same pilot certificates, but the path to get there has some variations. We have instructors on staff that have been trained under both parts 61 and 141 and bring with them those experiences in training their students. In the future we may work towards a part 141 certification for students that wish to train under that framework, but today all our training is done under part 61.
  • I'm ready to go, what's next?
    Congratulations and welcome to Summit Flight Academy!! We are excited to help you on your journey to become a pilot. Below are some of the immediate tasks you can complete to get started. Make an instructor and aircraft decision: We encourage you to consider both our Piper and Pipistrel aircraft. Your instructor can work with you to decide on the best aircraft. Private pilot training can be completed in both types. We work carefully to pair you up with a great instructor. However, if you would like to meet any of our other instructors before committing to the one you first met or did a discovery flight with, just ask. We want to ensure a great fit. We are all human and have different needs and experiences. There is no one perfect instructor, just one that is right for you. Gather documents: You will need your state or federal ID and a certified copy of your birth certificate OR a non-expired US passport to clear TSA requirements for us to teach a flight student. If you are not a US national, please contact us immediately as specific special requirements apply for us to admit you as a student to our school. Summit Flight Academy Onboarding: Here is a link to our online onboarding packet that will get us all the info we need to get you started with us. SFA New Student Onboarding Packet. Please have all documents outlined in the online form ready to go so you can upload them to your computer or snap a photo of them on your mobile device. Brand new student pilots will not have a medical or student pilot certificate to attach to your onboarding form. That is okay. You will be able to complete the application without attaching those items as a new student. Flight Circle Account: We use Flight Circle as our scheduling and billing system. You will receive an email to setup your flight circle account after your onboarding packet is received. Flight Circle does not have native App Store apps available, however both Android and iOS offer "web apps" that you can leverage to create the look and feel of an app for Flight Circle. More information is available after your first login or at any time by clicking "Documentation" at the bottom of the site. One of the important tasks to complete in Flight Circle is to place a credit card on file. The system requires a valid card on file to book lessons. You do not have to pay with a card, but if you do not have a positive cash balance on file, we will simply bill your card for lessons at the conclusion of each one. Financial Planning: Please review our FAQs on this topic and start thinking about how you plan to manage the financial aspects of flight training. You can pay after each lesson, purchase block time discounts or explore financing. Insurance: Please review our insurance FAQ and the information on this topic in the above New Pilot Onboarding Packet and make a decision on whether to proceed with the deductible waiver option or to purchase a non-owned aviation insurance policy. We highly recommend holding your own "Non-owned" aviation insurance policy. Medical certification: You will need a medical certification prior to the first time you solo an aircraft (about half way through your training). Please review our Medical Certification FAQ and begin collaborating with your instructor on this topic before you start your first lesson. Student Pilot Certificate: Another item you will need prior to solo is a student pilot certificate. Your instructor will help you complete this process. In order to do so, you need an account in IACRA, the FAA tool for applying for airmen certifications. You can complete your registration for an IACRA account and be ready for that as soon as you get started training. There is no charge from the FAA for a Student Pilot Certificate. IACRA - Federal Aviation Administration ( Ground School/Knowledge Exam: One pre-req to taking your practical exam (checkride) to obtain your pilot certificate is to complete a FAA knowledge exam. Sporty's Learn to Fly Private Pilot ground school is our choice for ground school. This is a much more economical option that paying your flight instructor 1:1 for all ground training. When you are ready to purchase this, let us know. We have access codes in our office and after purchase with one of those codes your instructor will be able to follow along on your training and assist you. This course is $279. We are able to bill you for this, and all other pilot supplies available at our school, through Flight Circle. The cost to take the exam is $175 and is paid online to a FAA contracted vendor when you book the test. Your instructor or ground school provider will create the "endorsement" needed to take the exam once you are ready. We recommend completing this as soon as possible so you can concentrate more fully on flight training and have a background knowledge set for your flight lessons to work with. Your knowledge test results are good for two years. Pilot Supplies: Please review our FAQ on pilot supplies. Come by the office once you and your instructor are aligned on what to purchase and we will help you get what you need. Many items are in stock, others we can order for you.
  • At what age can I start the flying process?
    The FAA requires a private pilot airplane student to be 16 years of age to solo an aircraft and 17 years of age to sit for the private pilot practical text (checkride). Given these parameters, for a young aspiring pilot we recommend the following timeline: Age 16: Start ground school and complete the written exam. (We recommend Sporty's ground school and can get you an access code in real time over the phone. Just give us a call.) Age 16.5: Start flight lessons Age 17+: Take checkride The above timetable puts a student pilot on a course to complete their flight training in about six months. Stretching out the flight training portion further causes a student to not maximize their progress. Flight training is like any other skill, it requires repetition and regular practice to master. We recommend a private pilot student get in the air at least twice a week for this reason. Ideally booking three lessons and planning for two is optimal as weather, health issues, aircraft maintenance, and "life" are bound to happen over a timeline like this.
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