Private Pilot License

First things first! All pilots have to start at the beginning.

The first step for anyone wanting to become a career pilot is to obtain a Private Pilot’s License (PPL). This type of license will allow you to fly the type of aircraft listed on your license, with passengers on board. But as pilot you not receive any remuneration or reward for the flight. Although a PPL is insufficient to start a career with, it is a vital step to be able to enroll for a Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL). For an aircraft owner or aviation enthusiast wishing to fly for the fun of it, this will be the only license you need. In this article we will focus on Fixed-wing (airplane) requirements only. To fly helicopters you need a Helicopter PPL. The requirements differ slightly.

Educational Requirements

There are no educational requirements to start your flight training. The following will be an advantage during your theoretical training: Good understanding and pronunciation of English, Math, Science and Geography.

Medical Requirements

A Class I (required for a CPL) or Class II Medical Examination must be passed upon which you must apply for a Student Pilot’s License (SPL). Do not be misled by the old air force standards of medical evaluation. The standards are not as high in General Aviation. For example, people with bad eyesight are allowed to fly with glasses and there are no height requirements. You can consult a certified Aviation Medical Examiner for an examination to check if you are fit to be a pilot.

The PPL Syllabus

The PPL course consists of a well worked out syllabus consisting of 8 theoretical knowledge subjects and 45-50 hours of practical flight lessons (some with an instructor, some solo). You have to attend Ground School classes on all of the subjects and write and pass the exams before applying for a PPL.

The 8 Ground School theoretical knowledge subjects are:

You will need to pass an English Proficiency Examination as well.

These examinations must be written, and passed, within a period of 18 months the last of which must be passed not more than 36 months before the flight skills test.

Hours Required

The table below explains the hours and flight time that you have to log before applying for a PPL:

Dual Instruction Hours
25 Hours
Solo Hours
15 Hours
Preparation & Skill Test
5 Hours
Total Flying Hours
45 Minimum Required Hours

Flight Simulator Hours is not compulsory and can be flown as Solo or Dual Instruction Hours.

Most flight schools don’t have set dates or hours that you need to attend. You can start whenever you like and continue at your own pace. Soon after your first flight lesson and Medical Examination has been passed you will be issued a Student Pilot’s Licence (SPL) that will allow you to fly solo (without anyone on board) for the duration of your training.


Aviation is an expensive industry. Aircraft are expensive to operate and maintain and the increase in fuel prices make it even worse. A PPL can cost you anything from R 80 000 – R140 000. Unfortunately, banks don’t offer student loans for Private Pilot’s Licences and sponsorships are almost non-existent.

The good news is that banks do offer loans for Commercial Pilot Licences so it is possible to save money for a PPL and loan money from the bank to continue your training to commercial level. Bear in mind that entry level pilot salaries are between R5 000.00 and R10 000.00 p/m so make sure you can pay off a loan after qualifying as a pilot before taking the loan.

It is not impossible to obtain the funding needed for a pilot licence. There are ways  and means, so if it is your dream to fly then you will find a way to fund your licence! It is very important to remember that it is illegal for a PPL pilot to take money from anyone as remuneration or reward for a flight. This includes money to pay for the fuel used for the flight.

PPL Checklist

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