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2505 Cunningham Avenue San Jose, California, 95148 (408)729-5100

Learn to Fly: FAQ's



How do I become a Private Pilot?

Training programs are individually tailored to meet the needs of the particular student, so training programs will vary to some degree. Generally speaking, a student will take flight lessons on a regular basis in order to gain flight experience. Once the student can perform to the practical test standards required to obtain the certificate  they can be signed off by their instructor to take the official FAA Checkride with a Designated Pilot Examiner.Typically, the student will start by taking an Introductory Flight Lesson and then will arrange a continuing training plan afterwards.

How does billing work?

Trade Winds Aviation uses a "Pay-as-you-Go" payment structure. Most students will keep a credit card on file with us that is charged for individual lessons/flights. The other option students have is to keep a positive credit on their account and have it used automatically for each lesson. In a lesson, students are charged for the hourly usage of the aircraft as well as the hourly rate of their instructor.

What is the total cost to become a Private Pilot?

As previously stated training programs vary from student to student for a variety of reasons, especially the student's individual skill level and ability to learn the material. The FAA minimum for becoming a pilot is 40 hours, the national average is 60-70 hours, and some people will require even more training than that. Because the number of hours and instruction time vary widely from person to person, it is not possible to give a precise estimation of the total training cost without first creating a realistic training plan. It is important to remember that the certificate is earned based on demonstration of skill, not total amount of flight experience

When can I take flight lessons?

Our office is open every day of the week for the majority of the day (current office hours) in order to be as flexible as possible in trying to accommodate a student's availability. Lessons can begin as early as 7AM and sometimes as late as 6PM depending on weather conditions. We will do our best to help match a student with an instructor who has similar availability.

Can renting pilots use aircraft overnight?

Absolutely! The pilot will have to keep in mind though the daily minimum usage for overnight rentals which is 2 hours for weeknights and 3 hours for weekend-nights.

Who can use the aircraft and instructors?

We use a membership-based system much like a lot of other flying schools and clubs. Each student and pilot is a member of our club and pay nominal monthly dues. In return for maintaining membership, the member gains access to our fleet of well-maintained aircraft as well as our team of dedicated and highly experienced instructors. In addition, each member has individual access to the online scheduling platform we use which allows everybody to view the schedule and make/change their own reservations from anywhere with internet access. Monthly dues also help keep our front desk staffed during all hours of operation with knowledgeable and friendly Customer Service Representatives who are ready to help a student or pilot with anything they need. 

What can I do to get started on training towards a Private Pilot certificate?

Give our front desk a call at (408) 729-5100 and one of our Customer Service Representatives will be glad to assist you in scheduling a one hour Introductory Flight Lesson