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Learning To Fly - The First Step

Beginning late 2004, the Transportation Security Administration initiated rules for citizenship validation and alien registration prior to the beginning of flight training.  These rules apply to everyone that begins flight training in TFC aircraft for Private or Instrument ratings.  For a guide to these TSA requirements, please see: https://www.aopa.org/tsa_rule


Ground School Options

The Flight Training industry is moving toward self-paced home study courses instead of the traditional classroom environment. There are many such products available. Pilot shops and Sportys online Pilot shop offers many choices. They even have produced their own online course. We have used ASA Home Study course in the past for the club Private Pilot ground School. We no longer offer a ground school for the Private Pilot rating because we were not able to get enough students make it cost effective.

King was the pioneer of home study courses. Jeppesen is generally considered the Cadillac of the courses. Everyone seems to have their personal preference. The courses are available; in print, on DVDs, and online. Ask you pilot friends or flight instructor their preference. For those who learn best in the traditional classroom environment, Collin County College offers ground school classes in the Continuing Education department. Check with them for the latest class offerings.


The FAA minimums required for receiving a PRIVATE pilot's license are:

  • 40 hours total time
  • 20 hours dual
  • Primary Training
  • 3 hours dual cross country (XC)
  • 3 hours of night flight
  • 1 night XC flight of at least 100 NM
  • 3 hours of Instrument
  • 10 hours solo
  • 5 hours solo XC
  • 10 hours dual and/or solo


These are wall clock hours and not tachometer hours.

The above requirements are not mutually exclusive. For example, a 2 hr cross country flight at night with your instructor would count in four different categories (total time, dual, dual XC, & night). With careful planning it would be possible to qualify for the FAA check ride with exactly 40 hours of flight. In practice we find it takes closer to 60 hours total.

A flight is considered cross country when the straight line distance between the take-off airport and the destination airport is greater than or equal to 50 nautical miles.

The night flight requirements are somewhat optional. That is, if you do not meet these requirements at the time of your checkride, you will be restricted to daytime flights only.


There are two different meters in the aircraft to measure "hours", however each measures time in a different way. Time measured by these two meters is referred to as either "Tach Time", or "Hobbs time".

Time measured by the Hobbs meter is the actual elapsed wall clock time that the aircraft engine has been operating. Time measured using this system is no different than looking at your watch when you start the engine and again when you shut it off, and taking the difference.

Time measured by the tachometer (ie. Tach Time) is based on a meter which is similar to the odometer in your car. But instead of measuring rotations of the wheels (miles) it measures rotations (RPM) of the propeller. It has been calibrated so that during cruise flight when one hour has elapsed on the meter, one hour of wall clock time will also have passed (ie. at cruise RPM tach time will equal Hobbs time). However, when power is reduced for descent or taxiing tach time runs slowly. In a primary trainer aircraft you usually use only .8 tach hours for each Hobbs hour you fly (.9 for the a/c in our x-country fleet).


The Flying Club has traditionally charged by the tach hour in the interest of promoting good power selection techniques. When you fly a plane at a commercial flight school, it costs the same if you run the engine at maximum throttle or if you reduce to recommended cruise RPM and lean the mixture for maximum efficiency and minimum engine wear. When you fly a club plane you reduce the clock rate when you reduce power, and within reasonable limits that helps both the member and the club.

Restated, the advantage to our members is that during shorter training flights (which most of your flying time is while learning to fly) you can save as much as 20% per hour when using the Tach Hour system. The advantage for the club is that members are motivated to fly the airplanes at best efficiency during longer flights at cruise speed.

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