Flight Training, Frequently Asked Questions
What is Accelerated Flight Training and how does it work?
Contrary to what some believe; accelerated flight training is not a watered-down, “drinking from the fire hose” kind of cram course. Rather, it is a highly organized, comprehensive flight training program where the Pilot-in-Training is taken out of his or her normal, day to day environment, and placed in an environment where the student is totally immersed in the subject matter for the duration of the training program so that the student can learn at his or her best pace.
For most people, this interprets to about two to two and a half hours of flight training per day. More than that could be counter-productive, while less than that is not fully engaging the pilot-in-training to the point where their leaning curve is maximized.
This is the most cost-and-time efficient way to learn to be a safe and knowledgeable pilot.
Our Training Method – At SunState Aviation we use an instructor-mentored, Online Learning Program (OLP). We ask that the entire OLP course be completed prior to the student’s arrival, then the student reviews those same ground lessons again, during the flight training program. This greatly enhances the learning process and helps to make the flight training time more productive.
With your instructor’s help, you will progress at your maximum learning pace and become a safe and proficient pilot.
What is the weather like in central Florida? What is the best time of the year to come?
There is a very good reason why we chose Florida as the place to locate our flight school. It’s the great weather! Of course, the weather is not perfect, but with more than 300 flyable days per year, your chances of having great flying weather any time of the year here is far better than just about anywhere else you can think of. Generally speaking, there are very few days here in central Florida where we cannot fly because of adverse weather. Most any time of the year is a great time to come and fly with us!
Here is a web page where you can see average weather data for Kissimmee, Florida:
When can I start?
When ever you are ready! At SunState Aviation, we work very hard to be flexible and adaptable to your specific needs. We have no set starting dates for our training courses and all of our training is done on a one to one basis. We do prefer advance notice of 30 to 60 days prior to your planned arrival date in order to make all of the necessary arrangements for you, but if that much lead time is not practical for you, just let us know. We will strive to work with whatever works for you.
Do I need a medical?
The FAA requires a pilot medical certificate from an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) prior to flying solo or earning a pilot certificate (with the exception of a Sport Pilot certificate).
Sport pilots and students seeking a sport pilot certificate do not need a medical, as long as the sport pilot or applicant has no known medical conditions that might be a safety hazard, and has not been denied a medical in the past, a U.S. driver’s license is all that is needed.
Student pilots working toward a recreational or private pilot license, recreational, private, commercial pilots and airline transport pilots need to have an aviation medical certificate.
What kind of medical certificate do I need?
As a student, recreational or private pilot, you’ll need at least a third-class medical. For students that plan on making a career out of flying, a first-class medical is often recommended to ensure your health is up to the standards required for commercial and airline transport pilot certificates.
Applying for Your Medical Certificate
The FAA’s MedXPress system allows anyone requiring an FAA Medical Certificate or Student Pilot Medical Certificate to electronically complete their medical application (FAA Form 8500-8).
MedXPress is located at https://medxpress.faa.gov/
First time users should click on REQUEST ACCOUNT and complete the online form. You will be asked to supply your name and email address; your email address will be used as your account name when logging into MedXPress.
Next you’ll be prompted to answer three simple security questions that will be used to verify your identity if you forget your password or need help with your account.
Once you receive email confirmation that your account has been created, you can return to the MedXPress login page and access the secure site using your email address and the temporary password supplied in the confirmation email. You will need to enter a permanent password.
Upon signing in to MedXPress, you will see the medical application form. Complete the form and when you have finished, enter your password where it indicates I’M DONE. SEND MY APPLICATION TO THE FAA. Click SUBMIT.
MedXPress will assign your application a confirmation number when it has been successfully submitted.
IMPORTANT: Once you submit your application you can no longer modify the application!
A confirmation number is provided for you upon successful submission of your medical application; this number is also emailed to you to confirm your application. Take your confirmation number with you when you when you arrive for your exam because your examiner will not be able to access your exam application without it.
After submitting the electronic application form, you have 60 days in which to take your physical examination. After 60 days, the application is deleted.
HELP: If you have technical questions at any point in the application process, you can call this toll-free number: 877-287-6731 (available 27/7), or you can email the support desk:
To locate an aviation medical examiner in your area, go to: http://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/
Things to Take With You to the AME’s Office for Your Medical Exam
1. Passport or legal picture ID
2. Prescription glasses, or
3. Contact lenses with case and fluid (so you can take them out)
4. List and dosage of any medications taken
5. List of any diseases or surgeries (usually easily known)
6. Copy of any previous FAA correspondence regarding your medical certificate (if any).
7. Arriving for your appointment on time is always a plus.
8. Summary sheet with confirmation number to your AME.
How long will it take?
Our Accelerated Flight Training courses are designed to take a typical pilot-in-training from the very beginning to completion in the cost-and-time-efficient way possible. For example: The 21 day Private Pilot Course and the 14 day Instrument Rating Course. This means that the courses are paced to where the average person, starting from the beginning, can complete the entire syllabus in that many days – including the written exam and check-ride.
These courses are not a watered-down “Readers Digest” version of a flight training course, these are comprehensive, integrated ground and flight training syllabi which will help to ensure you are properly trained at the conclusion of your training course.
NOTE: Although we cannot guarantee that you will complete your flight training course in the prescribed amount of time, we can and will commit to providing the environment and resources (airplanes, instructors, facilities, etc.) where you can finish on-time and on-budget. Some factors which may cause the completion of your flight training course to extend longer than the prescribed number of days are as follows:
- More than the fair-share of inclement weather.
- Not fluent with the English language.
- Not completing the online Distance Learning program prior to the start of the flight training course.
- Pilot performance – Some people just take a little longer to learn new skills than others. Everyone is different and everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. We work with individuals – not groups.
- Distracted attention – spending training time talking on the phone or answering emails. Stay on-task and you will get finished!
Currently our Accelerated courses include:
- 21 Day Private Pilot
- 14 Day Instrument Rating
- 7 Day Commercial Pilot (single engine)
- 5 Day multi engine add on rating
- 14 Day CFI initial Training Course
- 7 Day CFII add-on rating course
Any of these courses can be completed in less time than what is listed above, however the courses are based on the average time to completion.
How is the training supervised?
All of our flight instructors are experienced professionals who are very familiar with our own accelerated flight training syllabus and training procedures. All of the flight instructors are supervised by our Chief Flight Instructor.
How many students does each flight instructor have?
We try hard to keep the ratio at 1 or 2 accelerated pilot trainees per flight instructor at any given time, but we all know, it’s not a perfect world, so sometimes, there may be an overlap between the last student and the next. That will not present a problem for you however because the instructor has sufficient time for personal attention even if he/she is working with 1 or 2 other students.
Will I have one instructor or many?
You will be assigned to one flight instructor who will mentor you and manage your flight training course from A to Z. You will have some flights with other instructors (ie: progress checks and flights on your instructor’s day off) and our Course Tracking Application (CTA) database will ensure that anytime you are scheduled to fly with another flight instructor, there will be no guess-work involved in the transition. That instructor will know exactly where you are in the syllabus and what needs to be reviewed from previous lessons.
How is the training scheduled?
There are no set starting dates for our accelerated training courses since all of the training is conducted on a one to one basis. We schedule your starting date based on your availability and our availability. We have a limited number of slots we can fill, so the more lead time you can give us the better your chances of getting the starting date that works best for you. While you are here, your flight instructor will be in charge of scheduling your lessons while you are here and you can expect to fly two to three times a day with ground based studies between your flights. This makes for about an 8-10 hour day.
How much will it cost?
Many flight schools offer canned packages for a stated price. In our opinion this kind of marketing is misleading and in most cases, fail to give you an accurate quote, leaving out key cost items such as exam fees and fuel surcharges.
We know that each person is unique, and each person’s “learning curve” is therefore unique, so we don’t package our training courses into a “one size fits all.” At SunState Aviation, you will only pay for the products and services that you actually need and use – and – we will tell you up front what all you will be paying for.
I don't have 21 days to commit to training. Can this be broken up into shorter segments?
The short answer is: Yes, we realize that not everyone can take 3 straight weeks away from work, school, etc., so we can be flexible with scheduling your training. The down side to this would be the fact that you will loose a certain amount of proficiency and knowledge depending on the length of the lay off from training, so in the big picture, this approach could increase the number of flight hours and consequently increase the overall cost of your training.
Where will I stay?
We have contracted the services of some Kissimmee hotels which are located adjacent to our home base; Kissimmee Gateway Airport. At least one of these hotels is located within walking, jogging or bicycling distance from SunState Aviation. These hotels provide our pilots-in-training and hour builders with discounted rates when booked through us, and amenities include complimentary continental breakfast (or full American breakfast), refrigerators and microwave ovens as well as spacious rooms with either 1 king bed or 2 double beds.
Will I need to purchase Renters' Insurance?
SunState Aviation now requires all aircraft renters to have non-owned aircraft insurance coverage with a minimum of $5,000 Aircraft Damage Liability. If you do not already have this coverage the cost for this coverage is about $215 for Single-Engine and $350 for Multi-engine for a year according to Avemco’s website (or you may choose your preferred insurance provider). Here is the link where you can go online and purchase this coverage:
Do you guarantee that I will get my certificate/rating?
Let’s be totally honest here. No one, regardless of what they may advertise, can guarantee you a rating or a certificate. What we do promise is that we will provide a training experience that is second to none, with new and meticulously maintained training aircraft, mature and experienced flight instructors, state-of-the-art training facilities and some of the best weather on the planet. Truly, a winning combination!
What will my training be like?
Your days will start early (don’t worry, we have plenty of complimentary coffee for everyone). Your first flight of the day will usually be at either 8:00 or 10:00. The length of each flight will differ, depending on which lesson you are currently on, but usually will average an hour or so of actual air time. You will have approximately 2 hours between each flight to work on your “ground lessons” as well as a short break time. On a daily basis, you will average 2 to 3 flight lessons a day with more ground work in between. It is truly an intensive course of study, kind of like an “aviation boot camp” yet in the long run, it is the most cost and time efficient way to complete your training.
What if I fail the course?
Although our training courses have been very successful, there is still that possibility that you will not reach your ultimate goal by the end of your time with us. There really is no such thing as completely failing the course in flight training. You may not achieve your ultimate goal in the timeframe that you had planned, but the time and training still counts. You can return and finish at a later date, or go back home and finish with a local flight instructor if you prefer. In flight training, there are many variables that could prevent you from completely finishing your course in the allotted time, such as adverse weather (no, we cannot control that…but we’re working on it), illness, your own learning capacity (everyone is different), and the list goes on, however, we are committed to providing the very best training environment possible and being flexible enough to do whatever it takes to help you achieve your goal.
Here are a few tips that will help you maximize your training experience:
Minimize distractions. Central Florida is one of the hottest vacation destinations on the planet, but we suggest if you want to visit the attractions that you schedule some extra time for yourself either before or after your training course. Trying to “do the parks” and train at the same time will almost certainly minimize the learning curve.
If possible, bring a laptop computer so you can do some additional studying in your hotel room.
Make sure you get plenty of rest between lessons and communicate with your instructor if you feel like you are getting tired. Many times we will be able to give you some additional time for R&R.
Talk to us. Again, communication is an important ingredient in your recipe for success. If you don’t understand something, if you don’t think your instructor is the best fit for you, or whatever. Just let us know and we will make whatever adjustments needed to maximize your experience.
I want to come and get my Private Pilot License. Do I need to get a medical examination before I come for my training?
This is not an absolute prerequisite but is highly recommended just to make sure there are no medical issues that would prevent you from becoming a certificated pilot. To find an FAA medical examiner near you, just go to http://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/ , to see a list of FAA medical examiners close to you.
What if I want to convert my FAA Private Pilot License to a European JAR-FCL PPL?
In order to convert your new FAA Private Pilot License to the JAA equivalent, there is some additional training and testing involved as well as a requirement to obtain a JAA class II medical certificate and at least 100 hours of total flight time logged. For a more detailed overview of the requirements, please navigate to this web page: http://www.aprop.de/index.php?lang=en&main=validation
Do you train pilots for a career with the airlines?
Our mission is to provide the highest quality pilot training possible no matter what your personal goals may be. We can train for all FAA ratings up to and including the Airline Transport License. Having said that; we are NOT the typical “airline academy” where you would expect to see classrooms full of cadets with white shirts and epaulets. What you can expect is a high quality personalized “one-on-one” approach to pilot training in a casual “family-like” atmosphere. Of course, training like this costs a little more, but at the end of the day, you will have the confidence to know that you have been trained to be a safe and proficient aviator.
I started my training with another flight school. Can I finish my training at SunState Aviation? Will I receive credit for my previous training?
Many of the students who come here for one of our accelerated flight training courses have received previous training somewhere else, so we are quite used to finish-up training. Here are the minimum requirements to finish your training with SunState Aviation:
- Completion of the appropriate online Distance Learning Program is required of any trainee who has not passed the appropriate Knowledge Test.
- SunState Aviation will evaluate your flight proficiency and knowledge in all required areas of operation and aeronautical knowledge and determine the appropriate starting point in the syllabus to continue your training.
I am not a US citizen. Is there some kind of security clearance that I would need to be able to take a flight training course?
As a non-US citizen applying for training for an initial pilot rating (Private Pilot, Instrument Rating or Multi Engine Rating), you will need to register for a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) AFSP (Alien Flight Student Program) category III security clearance (for candidates who request training for aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less). In order to facilitate registration for this security clearance the TSA has put up an AFSP web site at http://www.flightschoolcandidates.gov where you can go and fill in all the required information to get your category III clearance.
After submitting your Flight Training Application to SunState Aviation, you will receive from us a student ID number which you will need to have during the TSA registration process. To start the registration process, once you receive this Student ID number, just log onto the AFSP Candidate website (www.flightschoolcandidates.gov) to submit your background information and flight training request(s). Candidates must create an AFSP account and submit a training request and the required documentation. The Candidate will then receive an email with detailed instructions on how to complete the application process. Each step must be completed before a Candidate advances to the next step. Once these items are completed, the AFSP performs a security threat assessment to determine whether the Candidate poses a threat to aviation or national security.
Students needing a category 3 clearance must create their own AFSP account, through which they submit a training request. Each Candidate may only create one account and may not share the account with other Candidates. Providers and employers cannot submit a training request for Candidates in categories 1-3. Failure to follow these account procedures will result in delay of the training request.
You will need to know the following information to fill in the blanks.
Student ID: (provided by SunState Aviation)
Course ID: PAR (Private Pilot), IRA (Instrument Rating), or MEL (Multi Engine Rating)
Course Name: Private Pilot Airplane, Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot or Multi Engine Rating
Course Description: Accelerated training for the FAA Private Pilot license, Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot license or Multi Engine Rating.
Aircraft type: SEL (Single Engine Land) or MEL (Multi Engine Land)
The rest of the form is pretty self explanatory. Be sure to request plenty of time in case of unexpected delays.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: STUDENTS COMING FOR MULTIPLE RATINGS WILL NEED TO SUBMIT MULTIPLE CATEGORY III REQUESTS. The TSA will require a separate request for what they consider “initial” ratings, namely; Private Pilot License, Instrument Rating and Multi Engine Rating is all considered to be initial ratings by the TSA.
The TSA will charge a fee of $130 PER REQUEST for this service. You will also be required to submit your fingerprints at an AFSP approved fingerprint collection location prior to starting your training.
What do I need to do prior to arriving for my flight training course?
Prior to your arrival here, we will be sending the Log-in information to you for your online Distance Learning program. We recommend you complete ALL the lessons in the main ground school application (about 25 hours of learning) and also recommend spending some time studying in the Knowledge Test Question/Answer section of the online program. This is a fantastic program and making good use of this tool will help to ensure smooth sailing during your flight training program.
What kind of documents should I bring with me?
The list of items that you will need to bring with you will vary depending on some factors:
- Documentation of your permanent physical address (not a PO Box). This can be a utility bill, a driver’s license or any official document addressed to you.
- All non-resident, non-US citizens need to bring a passport and a second government issued ID with your picture on it.
- All resident-aliens need to bring your passport and your resident-alien card.
- All US citizens need to bring proof of US citizenship which can be an un-expired passport, original birth certificate accompanied by a valid, government issued picture ID or immigration papers.
- If you have already taken your Knowledge Exam, you will need to bring your official Score Report.
- Pilots who are training for an advanced rating or re-currency training must bring your pilot log-book.
- Pilots and Student-Pilots who have already received their Airmen Medical Certificates will want to make sure you bring it with you.
What are the payment procedures?
The method of payment works something like this: There is a $1,000 deposit due with the submission of your Flight Training Application, plus the cost of your Online Learning program(s) ($359 each) and a small application fee of $45. We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express for this payment.
The $1000 deposit will be held as a guarantee for your training slot.
Upon arrival here, you will want to establish a flying account by placing an additional deposit of at least $2,000 on your account. Whenever you receive instruction or purchase anything from the pilot shop, that expense will be debited from your account, just like a checking account. You should check your account on a daily basis and be prepared to top it off whenever your account balance is low in order to avoid an interruption in your training.
The $1000 initial deposit will be refunded 30 days after your training is completed and a final statement of your account will be provided for your records.
Vision: To be recognized as the world’s leading provider of pilot training, services and products.
Mission: SunState Aviation is committed to providing it’s customers with the highest quality in pilot training and aviation related products and services in an environment where employees are proud to work and generate superior financial returns.
Values: We value: Honesty, integrity, accountability, excellence, respect, teamwork, recognition and fun.