Private Pilot License Curriculum
Understand what makes AeroGuard’s Private Pilot License Curriculum unique.
AeroGuard Flight Training Center is a career-focused flight school providing students with the skills and knowledge they need for a successful career as a Commercial Airline Pilot. As such, AeroGuard’s Pilot Pathway Program focuses on safety, high-quality training and long-term career success.
While AeroGuard does not offer PPL-only training, the Private Pilot stage is a critical building block for all professional pilots. This page will explain the AeroGuard Private Pilot License curriculum in greater detail and explain what makes AeroGuard unique.
Step 1: The Private Pilot License
In the Private Pilot License course, students gain the aeronautical knowledge, skill and experience necessary to safely operate an airplane as a Private Pilot with a Single-Engine Land class rating. It is the first step in your Pilot Pathway journey, and some would argue, the most important. Not only is this your first certification and rating, but this sets the groundwork for the rest of your training.
At AeroGuard, we use this stage to build a solid foundation of knowledge that will serve students for the entirety of their training, through to their Commercial and Instructor licenses.
Private Pilot License Structure
In the Private Pilot License course, our students are assigned to a highly trained and standardized flight instructor who will be with them every step of the way for their PPL training. While students will fly with multiple instructors later in the Program, helping them to gain training speed and learn different perspectives, in the PPL stage, we aim to keep a single flight instructor with each student to best understand their training progress and knowledge.
Beyond this, the AeroGuard PPL course is separated out into 3 main Flight Blocks, each with its own objective and completion standard. While we complete our Pilot Pathway training using Part 61 for speed and training flexibility, we utilize components of our Part 141 programs, such as stage checks, to ensure high quality of training for our students. Internal stage checks are placed at the end of each Flight Block for a total of 3 PPL stage checks, where students are placed with a specially trained Check Airman to validate their progress through the course with their primary flight instructor, and act as preparation for the all–important checkride at the end.
Throughout the Course, students will log approximately 75 total flight hours prior to their Private Pilot License checkride, broken out into 54 instructor given dual flight hours, 11 simulator hours and 10 solo hours – the minimum amount of solo time required by FAA regulations prior to the PPL checkride. While we recognize the importance of solo flight time, the AeroGuard PPL curriculum is built using only the minimum amount of solo time ensuring higher safety and quality of training for our students since most of their flight time will be with their instructor.
The PPL Course prepares you for the rest of your training and is crucial to your overall success as a pilot. Our goal isn’t just to set you up for a successful checkride, but for a successful career. For that reason, AeroGuard adds an additional 35.5 hours of flight time in this part of the course beyond FAA Part 61 minimums to ensure greater safety and landing skill from our student pilots. While this may extend the timeline to get your Private Pilot License, these hours are put toward your commercial pilot requirements, and therefore, it does not extend your overall training timeline and, with AeroGuard’s all-inclusive tuition model, doesn’t increase your cost. Rather, the curriculum structure makes you a better pilot and sets you up for better success to earn your future certifications and ratings.
The AeroGuard Private Pilot License curriculum is designed to be completed in approximately 97 days, with 45 days in Flight Block 1, 25 days in Flight Block 2 and 27 days before the FAA Checkride.
When students first join AeroGuard, regardless of any prior training elsewhere, their first week is dedicated to an introduction to ground school where students will learn about weather, aircraft performance, pre-flighting, risk assessment, decision making and more. As students move through the Private Pilot License curriculum, they will complete an average of 5 lessons, or ‘missions‘ a week. These missions may be a flight, training in the flight simulator or a brief with an instructor, but each mission will have a focus and a goal that must be completed before moving on to the next mission.
In parallel to these missions, students will gain access to their online training materials and syllabus to independently study to complete the required FAA Knowledge tests. This syllabus provides extended descriptions of each mission, the completion standards as well as assignments required to be completed prior to the next mission. AeroGuard students also have access to tools and online applications for self-paced learning, on-campus Part 141 ground school opportunities and focused workshops with our academic advisors. The knowledge provided throughout the Course is critical to success, so we recommend that students aim to attend ground school when they aren’t flying or briefing with their instructor.
While AeroGuard strives to keep every student on this 97-day timeline, students will move through the program as their skills progress, or depending on other variables such as weather or aircraft maintenance, but on average their experience will be as follows.
Private Pilot License: Flight Block 1
Flight Block 1 is the first section of a students’ Private Pilot License flight training and begins immediately following the first week of ground school. The objective of this Flight Block is to introduce students to the basic flying procedures and fundamental skills they’ll need for their first solo flight at the beginning of Flight Block 2. Students will complete approximately 35 hours within this first block, including 9 hours of simulator time to improve their skills in an environment that can be paused and reset for maximum effect.
Introduction to Flight
After a week of ground school, students are eager to fly – and we are too! This second week of training focuses on getting students familiar with the aircraft, its operating characteristics and cabin controls. First, they’ll learn how to fly the plane visually and aurally with a strong focus on visual attitude control. Students will be taught to recognize “sight pictures” or attitudes of an airplane such as climb, straight flight, descending turn, climbing turn, roundout and more. By the end of this week, students will get an introduction to precision flying and control/performance method of flying. They’ll use pitch and power, undergo aerodynamics demonstrations and will begin practicing landings as time allows.
For this stage, and the entirety of the PPL course, our students use our Piper Archer planes equipped with 6-pack gauges. We find that by using these gauges students can build a strong foundation of aircraft skills. Later in the program, students will progress to our G-1000, or ‘glass’ cockpits, that use more advanced technology.
Building on the Basics
In their 3rd week of training, students begin to recognize and recover from stalls, practice slow flight and develop their awareness of spins. Students will also be introduced to steep turns and power-off glides as well as elements associated with ground reference maneuvers. Students will continue to practice the maneuvers they’ve learned as well as landings.
Safe Introduction to Emergency Procedures
Week 4 of training is concentrated on emergency procedures and abnormal scenarios for potential in-flight malfunctions such as engine failures. Students will spend much of their time in the simulators practicing things such as collision avoidance, emergency approach and landings as well as go–arounds. Students will then have a couple of flights where they put these emergency learning into actual flight practice.
Getting Ready for the Stage Check
On or about week 5 of training, students are focusing to review everything they’ve learned up to this point in preparation for their first stage check. They will continue to develop stabilized approaches, recognize when go-arounds are required and gain proficiency with landings. Following this review, students receive their Stage 1 Mock Oral in preparation for their first stage check and to ensure they are keeping pace with their ground studies.
Once the Oral is complete, students will complete a Stage Check 1 preparation mission in the simulator as well as a Stage 1 preparation flight with their instructor, prior to their actual stage check on or around Day 45. The stage check Check Airman will evaluate the student’s ability to safely manage a local solo flight while acting as Pilot in Command (PIC). Upon successful completion, students are ready to move on to Stage 2 and complete their first solo flight!
Private Pilot License: Flight Block 2
With Flight Block 1 complete, the key objective of Flight Block 2 is to build on this knowledge and experience for students to be ready to conduct their first cross-country flights. These flights require landing at an airport other than the point of departure, 50 nautical miles away or greater, and the pilot must use pilotage, dead reckoning and radio navigation.
The student will also be instructed in operations within the air traffic control environment under visual flight rule (VFR) conditions, as well as being introduced to night VFR operations, performance takeoff and landings as well as basic attitude instrument flying. Students will gain approximately 21 flight hours within this second block – the vast majority of which is dual instructor given time, with 1 hour of Solo experience gained from the momentous first solo flight.
First Solo Flight
A student’s first mission in Flight Block 2 is to apply their knowledge from all their previous lessons and practice landings without any instructor input in preparation for their first solo. On the next mission, scheduled on or around day 47 of the Private Pilot License curriculum, students will complete two one-hour flight blocks back to back. The first of which is a dual flight with your instructor where your instructor is ensuring you’re ready to conduct a safe solo flight within the traffic pattern. Once complete and signed off, you‘ll drop off your instructor and take your second hour flight. Welcome to your first hour of Pilot in Command time – your instructor doesn’t need to hold your shirt tail anymore! Be prepared to cut it up and see it hung proudly on the AeroGuard solo wall!
For the students’ safety in the air, AeroGuard deploys strict restrictions for solo flights regarding local weather and air traffic, as well as utilizing a Duty CFI to observe and monitor all solo flight operations. The Duty CFI is a highly qualified CFI on the ground, continually monitoring soloing students. They track the flights on a radar system and analyze situations relevant to weather, navigational aids, airport restrictions, airspace and environmental circumstances relevant to the student’s flight mission. In this role, Duty CFIs have direct communication with Air Traffic Control to get messages to their pilots and can modify or cancel flights as needed if any safety concerns arise.
Introducing Instrument and Cross-Country Flying
Following the first solo flight, students will begin their introduction to controlling their aircraft solely by instrument in preparation for cross-country flying. This introduction to instruments allows for increased situational awareness and decision making in the event of inadvertent flight into IFR conditions. Students will also gain an introduction to short-field and soft-field takeoffs and landings, preparing for airports they may soon be flying to.
Around their 8th week of training, students are learning the necessary information and processes required to plan and execute a cross-country flight out of the local training area. They will become familiar with integrating the skills of pilotage, dead reckoning and the use of navigational systems. During this phase of the Private Pilot License curriculum, students will conduct two different cross-country flights with their instructor during the day.
Introducing Night Operations
About halfway through Flight Block 2, students will be introduced to the academic fundamentals of night operations. Students will learn to plan and conduct Night VFR cross-country flights and will conduct two different night flights with their instructor. During these flights, they will gain proficiency in night operations with a focus on airport operations as well as takeoffs and landings. Students will complete a minimum of 1 cross-country night flight, 3 total hours of night flight and a total of 10 night takeoffs and landings to a full stop – fulfilling this PPL checkride criteria.
After these missions, students will begin additional preparations for their second stage check completing a Stage 2 Mock Oral that reviews information on performance and limitations, NOTAMs, cross-country flight planning, chart supplement and more. Students will then perform their Stage 2 mock flight in preparation for their stage check and lastly the Stage 2 stage check itself. This stage check will evaluate the student’s ability to safely and legally act as Pilot in Command during a day solo cross-country flight, and upon successful completion, students will begin Flight Block 3 where they’ll conduct solo cross-country flights to earn the remaining 9 hours of solo flight needed to take the Private Pilot checkride.
Private Pilot License: Flight Block 3
By this time, students should have a strong foundation of training to be able to complete flight missions all on their own and students are about a month away from completing their Private Pilot License checkride with an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. The objective of this Flight Block is to gain solo experience while executing solo local and cross-country flights to meet the remainder of their FAA PPL minimum requirements, and students will gain a further 20 flight hours with 9 of that being solo PIC time within this Flight Block.
Gaining Solo Experience
Initially, Flight Block 3 will start with a review flight practicing maneuvers in preparation for the local solo flight students will take into the nearby practice area, which they will then perform on their own a day or two later. The next mission is another daytime dual cross-country flight with their instructor – the last cross-country flight with their instructor. Now, it’s time to go off alone! Students will then conduct two different daytime solo cross-country flights of 3.5 hours each.
Preparing for the Checkride
This is it. The time has almost come to take the checkride and earn your Private Pilot License. Following the student’s last solo cross-country, they will complete two more flights focusing on honing their skills and proficiency for the Private Pilot Practical Test. Students will take their Stage 3 mock oral focusing on pilot qualifications, airworthiness requirements, human factors, night operations and more. From there, students will complete their Stage 3 mock flight in preparation for their stage check. Lastly, students will conduct their last PPL stage check with a Check Airman. The Airman will evaluate the student to determine they possess the required skill and level of proficiency to meet FAA standards of the Private Pilot Certificate for Airplane Single Engine Land. Upon successful completion, their checkride is scheduled with the FAA!
Ensuring Your Own Success
AeroGuard’s Private Pilot License curriculum is built for student success, with the goal that by the time students reach their PPL checkride, they have already had 3 Stage checks, including 3 additional mock checkrides, plus a wide range of flying and experience.
However, it’s challenging, and students will be required to study diligently ensuring all assignments are completed on time in the ground school – not just in flight. AeroGuard puts a strong focus on theory and ground school education that is intended to support our students through this accelerated program.
At AeroGuard, we provide students with many resources to be used for student proficiency and success. Students have access to unlimited flight simulator time, the option to backseat flights and attend ground schools from our on-going Part 141 classes. Students can also attend academic advisor workshops regularly held on specific areas of the courses where others have struggled. It’s essential to use these resources wisely in order to succeed in not only the Private Pilot License course, but throughout the program in its entirety.
If you’d like to learn more about the Pilot Pathway Program, fill out the form below to get connected with an Enrollment Advisor.