How Easy is it to Become a Private Pilot?

Bismarck - It's common for most North Dakotans to get their drivers license around age 16 or 17...
But did you know you can get your pilot's license at the same age?
Emily Medalen met up with a pilot to see just how much it takes to get you license. 

"My office is usually 6 to 7,000 feet in the air," said Ray Brooks, Lead Certified Flight Instructor.

That's one of the many reasons I decided to find out for myself just how hard it is to get your pilot's license.
I spent the afternoon with Ray Brooks at the Aero Center, and he let me give it a go.
Once you've checked your engine, buckled up, and cleared the runway...it's time for takeoff.
Brooks showed me that once you're in the air, controlling the aircraft really is just as simple as driving on the road.

"There's a lot more things going on on landing, a lot more things going on on takeoff, but once you're in the air just cruising, there's not much. It's just the same as a car. You're monitoring things, glancing and looking outside, seeing the world how it is," said Brooks.

(Medalen)
Our small, 4 seater airplane is called a Cessna 172 - and has been in operation since the 1950s.

(Ray Brooks, Lead Certified Instructor) "That's probably the most common throughout the world, common aircraft that training is usually done in. We have 2 172's. Beautiful airplanes, nice avionics, easy to fly."

The number of people getting their private licenses has been decreasing since the 1980s.
Right now in the US, only about 210 thousand people have them.
Brooks says everyone should consider it... even if it's just for fun.

"Nothing can touch me, it's just quiet, surreal, just peaceful,"said Brooks.

He says in each lesson, landing the plane is the biggest challenge.

"It's the hardest thing, but it's also the most fun. Once you land that plane... that's exhilirating," said Brooks.
You need 40 hours in the air to obtain your license. Once you've done that, you can take off any time.

If you want an introductory flight at the Aero Center, or to start lessons right away, you can give them a call at 223-4754.
They're open 24-7, and you only have to be 16 to sign up...the lessons cost around $200 an hour.


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