Flight Training FAQ

Getting Started
Is there an age limit for obtaining a private pilot rating? (What about max age?)

A student pilot can begin their training at any age. The Federal Aviation Regulations require an individual to be at least 16 years of age to fly an aircraft solo and 17 years of age to obtain a private pilot certificate. There is not an age limitation on beginning flight lessons with a certified flight instructor. There is no maximum age for acquiring a private pilot certificate. Once someone gets this certificate, they may exercise the privileges of that certificate as long as they continue to get a medical certificate and a biannual flight review.

What written tests and flight tests are required to obtain my private pilot rating?

Student pilots have to pass a pre-solo written exam before solo, a private pilot written exam (FAA), and a practical exam (flight test).

What physical exams are required to get my private pilot rating (and where do I take them)?

To obtain a private pilot rating, you must obtain at least a 3rd class medical, and these are available from FAA medical examiners (contact Sawyer Aviation for a list of medical examiners).

What is a medical certificate?

Every pilot must obtain a medical certificate in order to exercise the privileges of their pilot’s license – there are three classes; 1st (most stringent, good for six months and typically required of airline & turbine aircraft pilots), 2nd (good for one year and required for use with a commercial rating or flying for hire), and 3rd (good for three years if you are under 40, two years if 40 or older). A medical certificate is required for a student pilot to solo. A pilot may later upgrade his or her medical certificate at any time simply by having a reexamination by a FAA medical examiner.

Are there any medical restrictions to prevent me from becoming a pilot?

Some medical conditions may require a waiver for a pilot to get a medical certificate, and these are best described by the FAA medical examiner. It is strongly recommended to disclose any preexisting conditions, surgeries, etc on the medical application as the records are checked initially by the medical examiner and later against other databases at the FAA. Failure to disclose may result in revocation of a previously issued medical certificate, halting training and potentially extensive delays. Keep it simple and list your correct medical history.

Am I required to have special insurance to be a pilot?

No, but some insurance companies do specialize in insurance for pilots. Renters Insurance is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Avemco Insurance Company, recommended by the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association (AOPA), offers custom coverage combinations or convenient coverage combinations – you choose. Obtain an application at the Sawyer Aviation front desk or click on the AVEMCO link.

What is the optimum progression through the ratings?

This depends on why the student is achieving the ratings, but the progression that occurs most often is: private rating, an addition of an instrument rating, then a multi-engine rating, commercial rating, certified flight instructor, instrument instructor and finally, ATP. The commercial rating is necessary for being able to be paid for pilot services, also leads to greater proficiency in the aircraft and potentially lower insurance rates if the pilot later chooses to purchase an aircraft. Flight Instructor ratings are not required to be eligible to obtain an ATP license. The ATP rating is required to fly larger aircraft (above 12,500lbs) and jet aircraft; and requires a number of items be met including a commercial rating and 1,500hrs of total flight time. The next progression is to a commercial rating, and the prior ratings apply to this one.

Selecting a Flight School
What is the difference between a Part 141 school and Part 61?

The “Parts” refer to different sections of the Federal Aviation Regulations, and the different Parts dictate different requirements for flight schools. Generally, Part 61 flight schools have less stringent requirements – no chief flight instructor required – and they have the flexibility to progress through their training syllabi as needed. Part 141 schools are legally required to have a chief flight instructor, have their syllabus or training course outline (TCO) approved by the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), and progress through that syllabus exactly as outlined – no flexibility. Sawyer Aviation uses a part 141 syllabus and training strategy while maintaining the flexibility of the Part 61 program – this makes flying at Sawyer the best of both worlds or “Parts!”

What is the difference between a Cessna Pilot Center (CPC) and a common flight school?

Cessna Pilot Centers must meet higher standards than the typical flight school in order to be eligible to operate under the Cessna logo. They must be clean, neat, and provide superior customer service and flight training. They must make available for flight training fully insured, new Cessna 172 aircraft that are currently under factory warranty. Most importantly, Cessna Pilot Centers are the only schools that utilize Cessna’s integrated computer-based instruction – a revolutionary method of teaching ground school that is easy, thorough and fun. Sawyer Aviation is a Cessna Pilot Center.

There are a few Cessna Pilot Centers throughout the country, why should I fly at Sawyer Aviation?

Sawyer Aviation is a Cessna Pilot Center and has been synonymous with flight training since 1961. Sawyer goes many steps further by offering: additional aircraft models to choose from (Cessna, Cirrus and Diamond); having exacting standards for Sawyer Instructors (uniformed, random drug screening; tiered-selection process); computerized aircraft maintenance tracking; a full-time Flight School Manager; a fully-enclosed state-of-the-art, flight training device (flight simulator) for training on almost all ratings except multi-engine; a new multi-engine PC-Advanced Training Device or PCATD (flight simulator); Sawyer Aviation works with Bank Of America to offer financing for training; Sawyer Aviation is an approved FAA written testing center; at Sawyer you can even earn college credit.

Where’s the best place in the country for flight training?

Sawyer Aviation is located in the dry, sunny, southwest. No tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes or coastal fog will ground you for days and weeks while you are focusing on flying. Arizona is the #1 place in the world for flight training; more pilot licenses are issued in Arizona than anywhere else in the world.

TSA Compliance and Training for those who live outside the U.S., what is required for me to train in the United States?

Anyone who is not a U.S. Citizen must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security – Transporation Safety Administration (TSA) or provide original proof of U.S. citizenship to Sawyer Aviation BEFORE commencing ANY training. To begin application process notify Sawyer Aviation (via phone or training@sawyeraviation.com) of your intent to begin training, complete all Sawyer Aviation paperwork, go to: https://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov/ and follow the application instructions. TSA approval may take 30-60 days. Once approved by the TSA and in the U.S., the training requirements for a citizen of another country are the same as for a U.S. citizen.

Discovery Flights
What is a Discovery Flight?

A Discovery Flight is a flight of approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours intended to familiarize a student with the airplane, the airport, and with the flying environment. During most Discovery Flights, the student sits in the left seat, and the instructor allows the student to fly for a majority of the flight. Sawyer Aviation offers three levels of Discovery Flights which range in duration and cost. All flight time counts towards the 40 hours required by the FAA to earn a Private Pilot License.

How much does a Discovery Flight cost?

Discovery Flights start at $89 and go up to $399. Discovery Flights can be purchased online. Sawyer Aviation offers the following Discovery Flights: Cadet $89, Captain $199 and Explorer $399. All Discovery Flights include a free logbook.

How do I arrange a Discovery Flight as a gift?

Visit Sawyer Aviation online at www.sawyeraviation.com to view and purchase Discovery Flights and then call to schedule your flight! Print your personalized Discovery Flight gift certificate from home!

Is there an expiration date on the Discovery Flight certificates?

Yes. Discovery Flight Coupons are valid for one year from the date of purchase, are non-refundable but may be applied towards another type of discovery flight if the recipient later chooses to upgrade or use for store credit.

Flight Training
How many hours do I have to fly before I fly solo?

There is no specific requirement for hours before solo; this is based on the judgment of one’s instructor. Typically student pilots will have accrued 15hrs to 22hrs of total flight time when they take their first solo flight.

Can I learn to fly in my own plane?

Yes. Many do elect to purchase their own aircraft prior to obtaining or even beginning their training. Some will buy an aircraft they can train in; others will purchase an aircraft that better suit their current travel needs and fly it with an instructor onboard. If a customer of Sawyer Aviation purchases a new Cessna Aircraft with two-year warranty – they will receive $3,000 towards their flight training – payable after they obtain their license.

Do I have to be a pilot to purchase a plane?
No. Anyone may purchase an aircraft.
How do I learn to fly an aircraft that has a glass cockpit?

The same way you fly any other aircraft. It’s easy! Glass cockpit aircraft present information in an easier to read and more intuitive manner than legacy aircraft (round-dial or “steam-gauge” aircraft). Almost every manufacturer of aircraft with glass cockpits can provide references for training, or the avionics provider may provide training. The most popular and widely used “glass cockpit” system is called the Garmin G1000. Sawyer offers a G1000 equipped aircraft. The G1000 system is supported by the “Cleared to Fly G1000” course available at Sawyer. Ask a Sawyer Aviation Instructor about additional benefits of flying the G1000.

Private Pilot Rating
What is the average length of time needed to obtain a private pilot rating?

In as little as 21 days from zero-time to private pilot with the written portion complete. Training would be everyday for 2-3 hrs/lessons. On average, it takes about 4-6 months, flying 2-3 times per week. You must complete a minimum of 40 hours of flight instruction (the national average is 75) and study to pass the written and oral exams (typically 40 hours of study material). Sawyer Aviation averages 60-70 hrs through use of the Cessna Pilot Program materials. Cost of training actually decreases the faster one goes because there is less time spent refreshing and more time progressing.

What is the average cost of obtaining a private pilot rating?

The cost varies by location, frequency and the type of aircraft used for training, but the average cost is between $10,000 and $13,000.

Can I finance my training at Sawyer Aviation?

Financing is available through Pilot Finance, Inc. 1-800-667-0201

How do I stay current?

At a minimum you need a current medical certificate and a Biennial Flight Review (BFR) every 24 months. That’s it!
To carry passengers you simply have done three take offs and landings in the category and class of aircraft single-engine, like a Cessna 172, or multi-engine land airplane you intend to fly within the last 90 days. If you haven’t, you can do your three take offs and landings the same day, or night and then your passenger(s) can jump in the airplane with you and off you go! It’s just that easy!

*Block rates also available. Save 10% off your bill each time you fly!

See Sawyer Aviation Representative for details on how to start saving today by setting up a Sawyer pre-pay account!

For more information contact Sawyer Aviation at (480) 922-5221 (option 3).