Considering Pilot Training?

Learn why we fly in the first place

Why Become a Pilot?

At Summit Flight Academy, we understand the allure of taking to the skies and are committed to helping you embark on this rewarding journey.

The world of flight offers a multitude of opportunities, from commercial airline pilots to corporate aviators or even an instructor. With a pilot's license, you'll have the freedom to explore diverse roles, travel to new destinations, and embark on exciting adventures.

As a pilot, you'll command aircraft and navigate through the skies with precision and skill. Every flight is an adventure, filled with breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment that few experiences can match. Beyond the thrill of flight, if you’re considering this as a career path, pilot training cultivates invaluable qualities such as decision-making, problem-solving, and teamwork, all contributing to your personal growth.

Taking off

How to Become a Pilot

Embark on the exciting journey to becoming a pilot with Summit Flight Academy by following these structured steps.

Sign Up
Enroll in Summit's Private Pilot Program to receive comprehensive knowledge and hands-on experience guided by our seasoned instructors.
Train
Immerse yourself in hands-on flight training and Summit's tailored ground school education, gaining expertise in navigation, weather, radio communications, and regulations.
Pass the Exams
Successfully complete the FAA written exam, a practical flight test with a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), and receive your Private Pilot Certificate. This achievement marks the beginning of further advancements in your aviation evolution.

By beginning training with us, you’ll soon be up in the air on your own, and closer to succeeding in your aviation goals than ever before.

Front view of a piper aircraft parked on a runway.

Build confidence in your craft

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Pilot?

Are you fascinated by flying and aviation? "Have you dreamed of being a pilot? Do you wonder what it takes to fly a plane?"

Begin your path to becoming a pilot with our brief quiz. Our quiz is designed to look at your aviation-related knowledge and aptitude, alongside your unique personality traits and interests, to provide insights into whether a future in aviation aligns with your aspirations.

Explore our flight training options

Start Today

If you've thought about becoming a pilot, now is the perfect time to get started. Summit Flight Academy is your place to start training and get your pilot certificate and ratings.

Take a Discovery Flight
The best way to see if flying is right for you is to take a discovery flight. This brief introductory flight, led by one of our seasoned instructors, offers a first hand glimpse into the world of piloting. During this experience, you'll take the controls of the plane, acquaint yourself with maneuvers, and view the Kansas City from a new perspective.
Start Flight Training
The first step in your aviation journey is obtaining your private pilot certificate. This allows you to be pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft and take passengers with you. Our team of experienced instructors will work with you to craft a training regimen that perfectly suits your goals, schedule, and preferred learning style. Get your private pilot certificate at Summit Flight Academy.
Advanced Flight Training
Expand your aviation knowledge and skills through a diverse range of advanced courses and certifications. From instrument training to multi-engine training, commercial training, and beyond, Summit offers a selection of advanced training options.
Start Your Pilot Career
Begin your pilot career with Summit Flight Academy. We offer training to get your commercial pilot certificate - the level required to fly aircraft commercially and make money flying. This certificate can be extended into becoming a CFI or CFII with us too!

Let's Get Started?

Submit your enrollment interest today

General

Frequently asked questions

1

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 the successful completion of your private pilot training. These FAQs along with our staff and instructors will help to ensure you are set up 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 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 the 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 [email protected] 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 upfront 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 for this is an important task that we will work with you on.

2

How do I book a discovery or intro flight?

Click here to book your flight. Alternately you can email us at [email protected], or call our office at (816) 296-9892.

3

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)
4

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 will 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 before 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
5

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 efficiently.

We recommend our students take a hybrid approach to their ground school:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
6

How long does it take to become a private pilot?

We wish there was a simple answer to this question. However, the 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.

7

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: Our aircraft rent for $140-$160 per hour. We do offer block discounts if you purchase 10 or more hours at a time. $8,100-$9,300 is a fair estimate of the 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, $2,500-$3,000 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 upfront investments. If a student chooses to acquire a noise-canceling headset, needs a tablet, etc, costs could rise closer to $2,000. Please talk with your instructor before 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.

Note on 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 a big impact on your total costs.

8

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 an 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.

9

I'm ready to go, what's next?

Congratulations and welcome to Summit Flight Academy! Here's what you need to get started:

Summit Flight Academy Enrollment Interest Form:

  • Register your enrollment interest here via the Apply Today button. Please have all necessary documents ready to upload.
Instructor and Aircraft Selection:
  • Unless pursuing a Multi Engine rating, you will be flying one of the Pipers from our fleet.
  • We aim to pair you with the right instructor. If you wish to meet other instructors before finalizing your choice, feel free to ask. We prioritize a good fit to meet your unique needs and experiences.
Gathering Documents:
  • You'll need a state or federal ID and either a certified copy of your birth certificate or a non-expired US passport to meet TSA requirements.
  • If you are not a US national, please contact us immediately for specific requirements to enroll at our school.
Flight Circle Account:
  • You'll receive an email to set up your Flight Circle account for scheduling and billing after we process your onboarding packet.
  • Place a credit card on file in Flight Circle to book lessons. You can choose to pay per lesson, buy block time at a discount, or explore financing options.
Insurance:
  • Review our insurance page. Decide between proceeding with a deductible waiver or purchasing a non-owned aviation insurance policy. We highly recommend holding your own 'Non-owned' aviation insurance policy.
Medical Certification:
  • You'll need a medical certification before your first solo flight. Discuss this with your instructor early in your training.
Student Pilot Certificate:
  • Before soloing, you'll need a student pilot certificate. Register for an IACRA account to apply for this certificate with your instructor's help. There is no fee for the certificate.
Ground School and Knowledge Exam:
  • Enroll in Sporty's Learn to Fly Private Pilot course for ground school. It’s cost-effective and allows your instructor to follow along with your progress.
  • The knowledge exam fee is $175, payable online when you schedule the test. Your results are valid for two years.
Pilot Supplies:
  • Review our FAQ on pilot supplies and discuss your needs with your instructor. Visit our office to purchase or order the necessary supplies.

By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to becoming a pilot. We're excited to guide you through this thrilling journey!

10

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 test (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.