Private Pilot

Often, your first experience of flying will be through some form of recreational flying, be that gliding, light sports aircraft, light aircraft or any of the many other forms of flight. Your experience here could be the spark that propels you to a career in aviation.


Alternatively, after looking at the various options and requirements for a career as a pilot, perhaps you’ve decided that it isn’t for you. There are many other aviation careers you may be interested in instead, for example in Air Traffic Control, engineering, as cabin crew, airport and aircraft handling or airline operations. You can though, still fly as a private pilot.


If you still want to experience the freedom and excitement of flying an aircraft as a recreational or private pilot, there are a number of ways you can achieve this. Details of the different paths available to achieving your dream of flying are set out below. Getting to the point where you can fly solo and take a friend or family member with you to enjoy the thrill of flight can take as few as 20 to 30 hours of instruction and cost between $2,500 and $10,000. Getting a pilot licence is based on your competency, not just the hours you have flown.


If this appeals to you then your next step should be to visit your local flying school or flying club at a nearby airfield to arrange a “Trial Instructional Flight” (TIF). Once you have your licence you can hire club or flying school aircraft on an hourly basis. Use the links below to find your local flying school at your nearest airfield for further details.



Gliding can be a great way to get started in Aviation, whether your goal is to have a career as a pilot or whether you just want to experience the joy of flight and have fun doing so. If you are just starting out as a young member many clubs offer discounted membership to young people and students and there are some sponsorships available through the Australian Junior Gliding Club and other organisations.


To get started, most clubs offer Trial Instructional Flights at a cost of $150 - $250.00. Once you’ve got the bug and decided to learn to fly a typical cost for a student or young person to go solo is around $2500.


To get more information visit the Gliding Australia website.


Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus)

If powered flight in light, sports type aircraft is your thing then a pilot certificate from RAAus, which enables you to fly a variety of aircraft, including conventional, Weight Shift Trikes, or Powered Parachutes, could be the way to go. RAAus aircraft currently have a maximum of 2 seats with a maximum take off weight (MTOW) of no more than 600KG.


You can fly solo from as young as 15 and achieving your Recreational Pilot Certificate will typically take 20-30 hours of training at a cost from around $5,000


To get more information visit the RAAus website.


Flying Clubs and Schools

If your goal to fly something bigger than a glider or light sport aircraft then you will have to follow the more traditional route of a flying club or flying school to obtain a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) or a Private Pilot Licence (PPL).


To obtain your RPL or PPL you must undertake training through a flying school which is authorised to do so by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). You can get your RPL from age 16 after undertaking the relevant training, passing a theory exam and a flight test with an authorised examiner.


To gain your PPL you must be at least 17 years of age and will require further training, through an authorised flying school, in cross country flying and navigation, a further theory exam and flight test. You can choose to undertake an intensive, integrated course of study and training at certain authorised flight schools to obtain your PPL without first obtaining a RPL.


Recreational Pilot Licence - RPL(A)


Allows you to fly, without receiving any remuneration, in single engine aircraft and carry passengers.



Act as Pilot in Command or Co Pilot of a single engine aircraft if:

  • the aircraft has a Maximum Take Off Weight < 1500kg
  • the flight is conducted by day under the Visual Flight Rules (VFR)
  • the flight is engaged in a private operation

You can carry one passenger, or more with a Class 1 or Class 2 medical certificate



You must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age. (Training can start earlier)
  • Pass an aeronautical knowledge exam
  • Complete the required flight training
  • Pass a flight test



Total Flight TimeDual Flight Time≥ 25 hours≥ 20 hoursSolo Time as Pilot≥ 5 hours


Private Pilot Licence - PPL(A)


Allows you to fly, without remuneration, in single or multi-engine aircraft, and carry passengers.



Act as Pilot in Command or Co Pilot of an aircraft engaged in private operations or to receive flight training.



You must:

  • Be at least 17 years of age. (Training can start earlier)
  • Pass an aeronautical knowledge exam
  • Complete the required flight training
  • Meet the aeronautical experience requirements
  • Pass a flight test


Aeronautical Experience

Total Flight TimeFlight Time as pilot≥ 35 hours≥ 30 hoursFlight Time as pilot of an aeroplane≥ 20 hoursSolo Flight Time in an aeroplane≥ 10 hoursSolo cross country flight time≥ 5 hoursDual Instrument Flight Time≥ 2 hoursDual Instrument Flight Time in an aeroplane≥ 1 hours



A minimum number of take offs and landings required every 90 days before carrying passengers

A Flight Review with an instructor is required every two years

Class/Type Rating - to fly other aircraft types, e.g. multi engine

Night VFR Rating - to act as PIC at night under VFR

Private Instrument Rating - to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)

Aerobatic Rating - to fly aerobatics


To get further information visit the CASA website or inquire at you nearest flying club or school.


© The Honourable Company of Air Pilots, Australia Incorporated