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Becoming a pilot is much simpler than you might think. Each year thousands of people in the United States earn their pilot license. A private pilot license enables the bearer to fly to over 3,500 airports in the US. Flying can also lead to careers as an airline or charter pilot, but most pilots just fly for fun.

To obtain a private pilot license you must meet three requirements: 1. Be 17 years of age, 2. Speak English, 3. Pass a basic medical exam. Remember that most major airlines have pilots flying until they reach age 60. Flying students are of all ages many without perfect vision or pristine health.

The cost for a private pilot license in Chicago typically runs from $10,000 to $12,000. Donít be surprised if a school quotes a lower price in an effort to win your business. The cost largely depends upon how many hours it takes you to finish the training. Most students will not finish at the minimum 40 hours of in-flight training required. According to the FAA, since 1990 pilots have been taking about 68.2 hours to finish their license. Your actual training should also involve about the same number of hours of ground instruction as flight instruction. So the total cost will be the sum of the in-flight training, the ground training, any manuals required and finally any insurance required.

After finding some local pilot schools (see list below), take the time to visit each school. It is important that you feel comfortable with the school. Here are some questions to ask during your visit to the flight school:

  • Who will my instructor be?
  • What happens if my instructor is not available?
  • On average, how many hours does it take for your students to finish?
  • How will my progress be tracked?
  • Can I see the records of the last 5 students that finished their Private licenses?
  • How long is each lesson?
  • What type and how many aircraft do you use?
  • How are the aircraft maintained? Do you have your own mechanic?
  • Do I need to obtain insurance?
  • Why should I choose this school over another?

There are not necessarily right or wrong answers to the questions above. You just have to be comfortable with the answers the school provides.

Learning to fly can be quite an enjoyable process. Just think of all the places you can go with your license!

Some Chicago Area Flight Schools

American Flyers DuPage West Chicago, IL 800-323-0808
Aviation Professionals Incorporated Midway Chicago, IL 773-284-5678
A & M Aviation Clow Bolingbrook, IL 630-759-1555
Blue Sky Aero Morris Morris, IL 815-941-0063
Cardinal Aircraft Campbell Grayslake, IL 847-223-2200
Eagle Aircraft Porter County Valparaiso, IN 219-464-0132
Lewis Univ. Aviation Lewis Romeoville, IL 815-836-5434
Lumanair Aviation Aurora Sugar Grove, IL 630-466-4866
Palwaukee Flyers Executive Wheeling, IL 800-494-5535
Skill Aviation Waukegan Waukegan, IL 847-599-9955
Stick and Rudder Waukegan Waukegan, IL 847-249-5190
Windy City Flyers Executive Wheeling, IL 847-808-1188

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