Lessons – What To Expect

What to expect at your lessons, and getting that certificate at Lakeshore Helicopter:

First you should know that there is no time frame to complete your certificate, however you do have to complete your rating within 2 years of taking the written test. A good schedule (for the most efficient learning vs. cost) is two to three lessons per week. This puts enough time between lessons so you can absorb the material and skills learned, while still being close enough so as to not lose skills that have been acquired. Don’t worry if your circumstances won’t allow for this kind of schedule. It just means you might have a few extra hours in the course. The training will be broken down to three basic phases: First, Learning to handle the aircraft, Second, learning the Airspace System and Third, Solo practice and preparation for the test.

Your first lesson is when you get your books and supplies ($200-$300).and will learn of the school’s policies and procedures. Ever since 9/11, the TSA has required proof of US citizenship. Be prepared to bring a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers before the first lesson. If you are not a US Citizen you can still take lessons, but you must apply to the TSA for permission. Contact the school for details.

Your typical lesson will be 2-2½ hrs long. This involves a preflight of the aircraft (app. ½ hour), then about ½ hour of pre and post flight discussion, with 1-1½ hours of flight. Your first few lessons will have considerable ground instruction with shorter flight time. You should schedule extra time for those lessons or alternate between ground and flight lessons.

As your training progress, you will eventually be flying the aircraft solo. Prior to solo flight, you must obtain a Student Certificate and Medical. They are actually the same piece of paper. Your flight school will be able to give you a list of physicians (cost app. $100) who can issue you the medical. Hopefully, by this point in your training, you will have been studying your Home Course and are ready to take the Airman’s Knowledge Test. Your instructor will review your home study and then recommend you for the written test. The test is given by computer at a testing facility with a cost around $150. Again your flight school will give you a list of testing facilities.

After you solo, the training shifts to the second phase of Advanced Procedures, Cross Country, and Night Training. There will be extensive ground instruction during this phase. Once that is completed, you will then go on your solo cross country flights.

Then it is crunch time “Preparing for the Test”. You will do solo practice along with dual instruction. There will be ground instruction at the same time in preparation for the Oral portion of the Test. It gets very intense during this phase. You must remember that you have learned over 1500 new tasks, and you are trying to pull them all together. Once you and your instructor feel you are prepared, your instructor will recommend you for the Practical Test. You can take the test with either the FAA (free) or with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) which could cost anywhere from $250-$500. Most people go with the DPE because the FAA can take a considerable amount of time to get you on their schedule.

Some advice while you are training:

  • Flight training can get frustrating at times.
  • Keep at it and realize that you will not learn how to fly in a day.
  • If you make it past 10 hours of flight time, the chances of you completing your rating will be greater.
  • Study your material and visualize flying whenever you can.
    Your flight instructor is there to keep you safe, competent, and alive. Trust him and allow this person to show you how it can be done.
  • Hang out at the airport, meet other pilots and students, listen to the stories (Hangar Flying), and you will be surprised at what you will learn.
  • If you don’t feel like you are learning at the rate you wish, ask your instructor for a different approach to teaching you the concept. If you can’t resolve the issue, ask to fly with another instructor to see if the problem is you or your instructor or the combination.