Step 5 How to build hours?

Having completed your PPL(A) training, there comes a time to gain some aviation experience – to build hours. If you go to an aviation college, it’s possible that the college will cover the cost of building your flight time for you. However, if you’re doing the training on your own, you’ll face the challenge of acquiring aviation experience necessary for beginning CPL flight training. In order to take up the training, you’ll need 150 hours of flight time on airplanes, while in order to take the CPL exam – 200 hours on airplanes, including at least 100 flying hours as pilot in command.

The objective of the time dedicated to building hours, which lasts until the beginning of CPL training, is to prepare you for subsequent training courses and for flying as a professional in the future. For that very reason, make sure you use it efficiently. Better yet, have a plan of what it is that you want to achieve. Make a list of routes and airports you want to visit, as well as exercises you want to perform with a progressive level of difficulty. Try to fly in gradually increased air traffic. Don’t use GPS for navigating. Navigate using a map and navigation tools – treat it as a form of training and an occasion to practice divisibility of attention in flight, which is vital for the training courses to come. Require much of yourself, much more than what you know at this moment. Lastly, analyse your errors after a flight, note them down, and take a look at the notes before the next flight. Try to fix your errors during subsequent flights.

There are several options for building flying hours – both paid and free. Paid flying is more accessible, as it depends solely on money you pay for flying. Free flying is much more difficult to get, because first of all, you’re limited by PPL(A) licence and, moreover, occasions for building free hours are relatively scarce, while the number of applying PPL(A) holders willing to fly for free is obviously high. Firstly, in order to be allowed to build hours free of charge you’ve got to make yourself known to the head of training or the airplane owner as a skilled and reliable pilot, as well as manifest high level of knowledge and proper attitude, accordingly. Otherwise, no one would want to risk and entrust you with an airplane and other people’s safety.

Options for building hours for PPL holders

  1. Aircraft rental – the simplest, yet the most expensive method for building hours. You rent an airplane from an aviation training centre, an aeroclub or a private owner and pay for each hour of flight. It’s worth to consider buying an hour package and negotiating with the owner of the airplane a bit lower fee for an hour of flight.
  2. Glider towing – it’s a particularly good option for building hours in the cases of airports with many glider operations. In such places, you can build up to several hours a day if the weather is good. Unfortunately, such airports aren’t common and towing within their premises is usually done by local pilots. Still, it’s worth to make contact and ask. Most probably, you’d have to pay for a glider tow pilot training yourself.
  1. The Fox Action – a great opportunity to build flight time while dropping fox rabies vaccines from An-2 planes. It’s an option available rather for PPL holders, although with a bit of luck, in some centres that provide this type of aviation service you can join the crew and build several tens of hours in about two weeks while the action is on. For that very reason, the number of volunteers is usually extremely high, while vacancies for PPL holders are scarce.
  2. Flying skydivers
  3. Ferry flights – build a free or a considerably less expensive flight time while doing ferry flights, e.g., for the purposes of inspection to be carried out on another airport or in any other situation where the owner needs the airplane to be delivered to another airport and cannot fly it himself.

Thus, as you can see, there are few options to build hours for free. Though there are also other possibilities, they’re even less likely than the above-mentioned ones. Much depends on local conditions, current needs, and luck but don’t look forward to building flight time free of charge. When planning costs for all the training courses and the hours to be built for your commercial pilot licence, it’s worth to make a realistic assumption that you’ll have to cover the entire cost of building hours required for beginning CPL training yourself.