How long does it take to solo? Two CFI options/opinions’. What do you think?

Published by: Paul Hamilton on 11th May 2018 | View all blogs by Paul Hamilton

We want to get more pilots into the sport. A big question most potential pilots ask.


How long and how much will it take me to learn how to solo and second get my pilots license?


Two FAA certified Flight Instructors answered this solo question with two different answers.

CFI 1 ---- I can solo you in less than 5 hours.

CFI 2 ---- It usually takes 10 to 20 hours depending on how fast you learn.

Which CFI would you go to or recommend to a friend or family member?



  • Jim Garrett
    by Jim Garrett 12 days ago
    CFI 2. is my choice. He/she will ensure that there is ability and safety to go along with the first solo.
  • Thomas Nielsen
    by Thomas Nielsen 12 days ago
    CFI 2 - Hands down. I came into the sport with 600 hours fixed and all the bells and whistles, CPL, MEIR, Land and Sea. I thought it would be easy, there is just one bar....right :-) It is just not possible to be proficient let alone safe in 5 hours.
  • Doug Boyle
    by Doug Boyle 12 days ago
    Anything other than CFI2 is a disservice to the pilot/student, and ignores the integrity we collectively desire in the image of our Sport. Personally, I won't talk to anyone about buying a Trike until they are fully immersed into Training. In a few instances they show up with a Trike and want to learn to fly. We train in mine first to reduce the tendency to just "go for it"! It is some of the hardest psychology to communicate to a "cowboy" without being subject to a "self-serving" brand. For this reason, if we are not on the same page, I prefer not to participate.
  • Larry  Mednick
    by Larry Mednick 11 days ago
    There are plenty of sports that you can just do for fun and dont need to be good at it. Flying isnt one.

    I just had the privilege to train a 43-year-old in 5.7 hours to solo. That was very atypical, and we had a lot of fun training and obviously went very quick with the lessons as he was able to. He now has over 75 hours in just under two months And will be taking his check ride hopefully next week.

    Most students are in tears of disappointment at 10 hours... those landings are tricky...

    flying trikes is not easy. But so worth learning. 10-20 hours is what I tell people. 18 to solo seems to be a good average for those under 65.

    There is also flying and REALLY FLYING. Flying a trike in dead still air using power to land OR doing power off landings mid-day (as part of the training and not the solo) are 2 different things. Kind of like saying you can ride a horse if you only walk him and hold on to the saddle horn real tight. Im not sure Id call that knowing how to ride a horse.

    So my point is what level is the student being soloed at. Not sure there is a right answer, but in either case 5 hours is usually no where close to enough training to even attempt a power off mid day landing. Recently I trained with a WSC CFI and asked him to do just that front seat even. He thought I was asking him to do something no other instructor would ever ask a student to do. I advised he not teach WSC moving forward without really starting over so to speak.
  • Abid Farooqui
    by Abid Farooqui 11 days ago
    How long did it take you to learn to drive a car?
    And you were 16 then and you sure aren't now.
  • Tom Currier
    by Tom Currier 9 days ago
    CFI #2, then another after that. I did my initial training to sport pilot and soloed after about 15 hours. As Larry can attest to my land landings sucked; I was spoiled doing power on landings with extended runways over no thermal activity getting my WSCS. I then training with both Larry and Wes who dialed in my power off landings and training me on spiral training. The take away is no matter how comfortable you are with a trainer, get another perspective somewhere along the way. You will *always* learn something new.
  • Frank Dempsey
    by Frank Dempsey 9 days ago
    I've soloed a young hang glider person in 5 hours once several years ago. I soloed another guy in 50 hours. He was 72 years old. On the average, it's 15-20 hours. I soloed in 2.5 hours back in Y2K but I was hang gliding with a Hang IV rating in world class air (rough stuff) three times a week and I was also in my low 40's. The older the person, generally the more hours they will need to get to solo. I vote for CFI-2.
  • Paul Hamilton
    by Paul Hamilton 7 mins ago
    To follow up on this "Frequently asked question", yes I know those who throw them the keys after a few lessons and hope for the best. In the long run it usually does not end well. I personally train the student almost to the checkride competency with flying to other airports for solo. That way when they solo, they are "turned loose" with total competency for cross winds, spiral recovery, crowded airspace at airports, emergency procedures, etc. If someone has all this knowledge and skill it minimizes the risk for hazards that come up. Power off and power on low approach landings are consistant so all the solo flying is practicing the right thing. Cross country is the only activity that is left after solo typically unless the student wants to do it before. So I guess it takes a while to solo with me but there is very little training before the checkride but a couple of hours nailing down the PTS tolerances.

    Thanks all for your comments it shows we are all thinking similar training before solo.
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