How long does it take to learn to fly?

Learning to fly is not difficult, but it does require study and practice. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a minimum of 20 hours of training before granting a sport pilot license and 40 hours of training before granting a private pilot license. Students who study ahead for their lesson and  fly more frequently typically have better recall of previous lessons and spend less time in review.

What are the FARs?

FAR stands for Federal Aviation Regulations. Pilots must be familiar with these rules, just as drivers of cars must know the rules of the road.

How long does a lesson last?

Most lessons are based on a one-hour flight, but count on a minimum of two hours per session because of pre-flight and post-flight briefings. Students and instructors talk about what will be introduced or reviewed before each lesson, then cover how things went afterwards and what will be introduced in upcoming lessons.


What if I feel airsick?

Nausea is rare among pilots. Occasionally it may take a few lessons to get used to the sensation of flight. After a few hours in the air, normal flight often begins to feel as natural as driving a car. If airsickness persists, students often consult a physician for recommended motion sickness medications. These drugs are used to help individuals become accustomed to motion and should only be used when flying with an instructor.

How safe is it?

General aviation and "those little airplanes" (as some may call them) are as safe as any other mode of travel, if not safer. Pilots and passengers do not use parachutes because airplanes and helicopters do not fall from the sky when their engines stop. An aircraft without an engine - even if it's supposed to have one - is a glider, capable of descending safely to a landing. Every student's training covers how to fly safely and how to deal with the extremely rare actual emergencies.

Are there different types of licenses?

Yes. In aviation, pilots receive certificates and ratings rather than "licenses". Ratings (seaplane, glider, multi-engine, and instrument) may be added to various certificates as pilots choose their aviation paths. The certificates are as follows:

Sport - The best choice for those who wish to fly from their home airports, this certificate limits pilots to daytime flight only. In addition, sport pilots may not carry more than one passenger and only fly light-sport type aircraft.  There are limitations as to what types of airspace they can use but with additional instruction, some of these limitations may be removed.

Private - This certificate is the best option for pilots who wish to go to other airports around the country, fly for business, fly at night, or carry more than one passenger. Private pilots may share flight-related expenses with their passengers, but may not be compensated or paid for flying people to different destinations.

Instrument – This is a rating that either private or commercial pilots pursue if they want to be able to fly in weather conditions of poor visibility without reference to the horizon. If you want to maximize the potential of using an airplane as a source of transportation we recommend you pursue this additional rating

Commercial - Commercial pilots can legally fly for hire and are required to meet higher training standards than private or sport pilots.

Flight Instructor - Flight instructors are commercial pilots who have been trained and can demonstrate various teaching techniques, skills, and knowledge related to safely teaching people to fly.

Air Transport Pilot - ATPs, as they are called, typically qualify to fly the major airliners of the United States transit system. ATPs must qualify with a range of experience and training to be considered for this certificate.

What certificate is right for me?

It all depends on why you would like to fly. If you're interested in flying only at one small, rural field for the pure enjoyment of flight, then a sport pilot certificate may be a good fit. If you plan to go on to more advanced ratings, aircraft, and capabilities, then the private certificate is the best choice.

Can I carry passengers?

Students are not allowed to carry passengers on solo flights. A passenger may observe a flight lesson with an instructor if there is room in the airplane  as long as the instructor consents. Once a certificate has been earned, private pilots may carry as many passengers as their aircraft are legally equipped to carry. Sport Pilots may only carry one passenger.

Where can I fly?

Student pilots may only go to places allowed by their instructors. For instance, when student pilots begin practicing flights to other airports, their flight instructors will endorse or vouch for their students. In effect, students are flying on the credentials of their flight instructors. Sport Pilots may fly only within the boundaries of the United States and they cannot fly within controlled airspace unless they have received additional training specific to that airspace. Private pilots may fly essentially anywhere in the world.

What medical requirements do I need to meet?

Sport pilots and student sport pilots do not require any formal medical examination but they do require a current US issued drivers license and must adhere to any requirements of that license. Student Pilots that desire to fly as a private pilot eventually must pass a minimum of a third class medical examination.

Doctors we recommend:

Hart Industrial Clinic           Hickory, NC             (828) 326-7000
O. Rainer MacGuire            Lenoir, NC               (828) 758-9583

The medical exam is not rigorous. It begins with filling out an FAA application and medical history form. Eyesight must be correctable to 20/40. Applicants should not have nose or throat conditions that would be aggravated by flying, must have good balance, and be able to hear a voice at a normal, conversational tone at six feet away. Applicants cannot have mental and neurological problems such as psychosis, alcoholism, or epilepsy; any unexplained loss of consciousness; any serious medical condition such as heart attack, chronic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or other debilitating illnesses. If an applicant has had one of these conditions, it may only cause a delay because of the required investigation rather than signifying the end of the applicant's flying career.

When will I actually begin flying?

Students begin with a lot of help from their assigned flight instructors. From the very first lesson, students will be flying the aircraft. Students fly with decreasing levels of assistance as lessons progress, leading up to that important milestone: the first solo flight. When students reach this point, their flight instructor endorses them to practice takeoffs and landings at the local airport. There is no set time limit on the first solo flight. Instructors will not allow students to operate aircraft alone until they demonstrate proficiency in the required maneuvers. Upon completion of the required curriculum, students are recommended to the FAA for evaluation of their skills. Upon successful completion of this test, a certificate is issued.

What kinds of airplanes will I fly?

We offer training in two types of aircraft Cubcrafters - the Sport Cub and the Remos GX. See our Aircraft fleet section for more information on these two aircraft. If you already own your own aircraft, we can train you how to fly that as well.

How do I get from one airport to another?

Flying from one airport to another is called "cross-country flight." Several methods of navigation are used for cross-country flying, including radio navigation waves, following maps of terrain features, and computing wind effects. These skills are taught as part of pilot training and students practice them both with and without their flight instructors on board.

Do I need special insurance?

To receive dual instruction a student does not need special insurance. To fly solo as a student pilot or as a renter pilot, you must show proof of renters insurance for both physical damage and liability coverage. Table Rock Aviation does NOT maintain insurance that is coverage for the student pilot and renter pilot when flying solo without an instructor onboard. All renters and students must show proof of renters insurance prior to solo flight. Some places we recommend for purchasing renters insurance are listed below.

AOPA Insurance Agency          

Costello Insurance Agency          

Avemco Insurance Agency          

Once I get my pilot certificate, what can I do with it?

Many things. The sky is your freeway with very few limitations. You can take a person for a sightseeing ride, fly to another airport for lunch, fly to a fly-in, or learn to fly different aircraft. You can even become a flight instructor.

What is the check ride like?

The FAA check ride is a two-part process. During the oral portion, the examiner will quiz the applicant on what was learned in ground school. Following that portion, the applicant conducts a flight to demonstrate his or her safety and competence. Check ride examiners ensure that only safe applicants become pilots. Flight training in itself is more strenuous and difficult than the check ride with the examiner, Table Rock Aviation always trains its pilots to fly to a higher standard than those set forth in the FAA Practical Test Standards.