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I was lucky enough to win a private pilot licence scholarship with the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. The intention for my scholarship was that it was to be completed in a relatively short space of time, i.e. accelerated private pilot training!
I subsequently completed my EASA ATPL in 12 months on a part-time basis around my full-time engineering job, which was quick!
In comparison, integrated courses usually take around 18 months to complete. In this blog post, I wanted to share five items for you to consider when embarking on accelerated private pilot training.
Item #1: Get your medical ahead of your accelerated private pilot training.
Many people do not realise that it can take some time for your EASA Class 1 or Class 2 medical to be issued. The Aeromedical Examiners are extremely thorough, and the priority is to make sure you are fit to fly.
In a good number of initial class 1 medicals, further tests or documentation is required from your doctor to verify your fitness to fly.
My initial class 1 medical took four months from my initial appointment before it could be issued. Get your medical in good time! To fly recreationally, you need a Class 2 medical. If you have aspirations of flying professionally, then you need a class 1 medical.
Item #2: Airfield and flying school selection for your accelerated private pilot training
I appreciate you wish to quickly complete your private pilot training, but your training success relies on making good choices and taking your time when choosing a flying school.
One of the issues I had during my PPL training was that because it was a grass strip in the winter, the airfield ended up being closed because it was too wet or frozen – the delights of the UK winter season!
There is no such thing as a perfect airfield, but thorough research and visiting the organisation beforehand to see if these kinds of snags could exist will help you during your course.
Item #3: Choosing the time of year carefully for your accelerated private pilot training
Choosing the time of year carefully follows on closely to item #2. I have been on several accelerated flying courses (initially during my time in the air cadets, and then later as an adult). A lof the success of your accelerated private pilot training will depend on the weather.
Try and pick a time of year when the weather will be benign to allow you to complete your PPL with little interruption. I have suffered in the past during the winter on gliding courses where we have not been able to do my flying.
Equally, I have managed to make some excellent progress during the long summer days when the weather is good on other courses. Depending on your location, figure out what would work best!
Item #4: Get your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) ground school done early or ahead of time if you can
The EASA private pilot licence ground school consists of 9 exams shown below, along with the books I used to study. NOTE: SOME SUBJECTS HAVE COMMON BOOKS
The first exam you will need to pass is Air law before going solo. Ideally, you want to complete your ground school as early as possible in the process as this is often one of the items that slow people down.
You don’t want to waste perfectly good flying days stuck inside the classroom because you are behind on ground school.
Item #5: Check that your flying school has suitable aircraft and instructor availability
During my multi-engine piston accelerated commercial pilot training course, I was left disappointed when I lost a few flying days because the flying school only had one twin-engine aircraft.
Another student needed to use the aircraft for a flight test. Make sure you ask the question with regards aircraft availability when booking your accelerated PPL course. Not only is aircraft availability important, but so is instructor and examiner availability too.
You need to make sure that your designated instructors will be available for the duration. Instructors need to have days off too, so understand when these are and check there is adequate cover!
The final point to make is to mention the examiner cover. For your PPL skills test, you will need an examiner. Most flying schools have in house examiners, but it is essential to check on examiner availability, particularly if your training coincides with key holiday dates e.g. Easter, Christmas, etc.
**Top tip** find an experienced pilot who has been through the training to ‘mentor you’. I found speaking to as many experienced pilots as I could was very helpful towards my progress particularly keeping me motivated.
Item #6: Managing your expectations for your accelerated private pilot training
I have seen adverts for “14 day private pilot course”! Realistically this is unlikely to happen. With the best accelerated private pilot training (good weather etc), condensing it into four weeks may be possible but this is an intense amount of flying for someone new to aviation.
You may reach a certain point where you become completely saturated and overwhelmed. The learning value will be lost, and you will be wasting your money if you keep pushing on, so sometimes slowing down and taking some time off may be the best for you in terms of time and money.
Item #7: Make sure you get enough rest
You will be learning a lot of new skills and ‘unnatural behaviour’ at the start. Getting your private pilot licence at a ‘normal pace’ is challenging, so you have your work cut out on an accelerated program!
You must get adequate rest to allow your brain to digest and process all your learning. Having periodic breaks and rest days completely free from flying will help your progress in the long term.
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Item #8: Do as much couch/ hanger flying as you can
During your training, practising your procedures and checks at home on the couch or inside a parked aircraft on the ground can really speed up your learning! This is completely free and does not cost anything so make the most of it!
Item #9: Be wary of paying huge sums of money upfront to the flying school
Students have been stung in the past paying large sums of money upfront for pilot training only for the flying school to go bust soon after.
Agree on a suitable payment schedule with the flying school that allows you to pay as your training is progressing but also allows the flying school to remain cost-neutral, i.e. you are paying for your flying as you go.
A good example was during my Commercial Pilot Licence course. We agreed on a price upfront and I paid for my training in 3 instalments aligned to the number of hours flying completed on the course.
Accelerated private pilot training frequently asked questions?
How long to get your pilot’s license?
Although it may be possible to complete a private pilot licence sooner, most take 3-12 months depending on how much time they can dedicate to flying.
How quickly can you get a private pilot’s license?
You can get your private pilot licence in around 6 weeks assuming the weather is excellent and you manage to pick up all the concepts quickly. This is extremely fast though and the typical time to get your private pilot’s license if you are able to commit to full-time training is 2-3 months.
What is the fastest way to get a private pilot’s license?
The fastest way to get a private pilot’s license is to enrol with a flying school on a full-time PPL course.
With the weather having a big impact on how quickly or slowly you progress your PPL, it is important to pick a school located where the weather is likely to be good and stable for the majority of your training.
Be prepared to work hard and try and get your PPL ground school theory exams out of the way as soon as you can as you don’t want to waste good flying days stuck inside having to study!
Is it hard to get private pilot license?
Like learning any new skill, there will be times where it feels like your private pilot license training is really hard and you will question if you will ever be able to get to grips with the training!
Do not be discouraged. Getting a private pilot license is definitely achievable for most people. Don’t give up, be patient and keep turning up to your flying lessons!
If you have any questions on getting your PPL or if I have missed anything, please leave a comment in the section below. It would be great to hear from you!
Kudzi Chikohora is a B737 captain with over 3,000 hours of flying in Europe. He holds a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, is a chartered engineer, and is a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Kudzi completed his pilot training via the self-funded modular pilot training route and created kcthepilot.com to share pilot training and aviation content.