What does it take?


Not sure where to start? We recommend one of our introductory flights. You can go flying for half an hour with one of our instructors to see if flying is really for you or not. Feel like a half hour isn't long enough? You can choose the hour one instead! An intro flight will give you the chance to meet an instructor and see what it is like to fly inside of a smaller plane. 

Private Pilot Certificate


  • Be English proficient

  • At least 16 years old to solo, 17 to get your pilot's certificate

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship, or TSA approval prior to the begining of your training

  • Pass the medical examination

  • Pass the written exam with at least a 70%

  • Minimum of 40 hours of training (20 dual instruction, 20 solo practice)


Keep in mind...

The national average for someone to get their certificate is 80 hours.


Instrument Rating


  • Private Pilot rating

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship, or TSA approval prior to the begining of your training

  • Pass the written exam with at least a 70%

  • 50 hours of Pilot in command cross country time

  • 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument time

  • 15 hours of flight instruction

  • 250 nautical miles cross country with simulated instrument conditions


Complex Airplane and High Performance Endorsements

Complex Aircraft Endorsement

A complex aircraft is one which has manually or automatically controllable pitch propeller, flaps, and retractable landing gear. To be legal to fly a "complex airplane" under 61.31, you need a sign off by a flight instructor.

  • Complex aircraft training takes an average of 5 – 10 flight hours depending on a candidate's flight experience.

  • This is a one-time logbook endorsement. 

High-Performance Aircraft Endorsement

High-performance aircraft training and certification takes an average of 5-10 flight hours depending on a candidate's flight experience and the type of aircraft used.

  • This one-time logbook endorsement can be earned through ground and flight training.

  • The FAA does not require a special checkride or knowledge test to earn the endorsement.

  • A flight instructor gives you the endorsement after you have received training and have been found proficient. 

Ground School

There are many different options when it comes to preparing to take the written test for your private pilot certificate, or instrument rating.

We recommend taking a class. We work closely with the instructors at the local junior college who teach a ground school twice a year. Feel free to check in with us for when the next one is.

Another option is home study. There are plenty of books, DVD's, and computer software out there to help you learn everything you need to know.

Or you could always do it one on one with your instructor.

The choice is of course yours, and it all depends on what works best with your personal learning style.

Click here for information regarding Petaluma Pilot Training Center's Private Pilot Ground School.

Information for non- United States Citizens