Cadet Pilot Training

Note: This page is for CAP cadets interested training for an initial private pilot license. Senior members can do initial training for gliders only within CAP, but can do add-on training for any qualification. If you already have an FAA qualification, see Becoming a CAP Pilot.


There are a couple different approaches to getting your license. The first step as a cadet would be to take at least one orientation flight. This is not instructional, but you will be able to fly the aircraft and get a feel for what it is like. See Cadet Flying on the national site for more background.

Once you know you want to work towards your license, the best option is to attend a glider or powered flight academy and then finish up locally with an instructor. The flight academy is typically a 7-9 day event that includes both ground and flight training. While it is not guaranteed, many cadets reach their first solo during either their first or second flight academy.

An alternative would be to work with a local instructor or flight school if there is one in your squadron or nearby.


The basic requirements for a private pilot license are detailed in the table below. Your instructor can provide you more information, but if you are eager to know now, you’ll find all the details in the FAA regulations part 61 subpart C (student pilot) and subpart E (private pilot).

Age to solo1614
Age for check ride1716
Student pilot certificateRequired before soloRequired before solo
MedicalThird classNot required
Knowledge test70% or higher70% or higher
Minimum flight time40 hours10 hours and 20 flights
Practical check ridePassPass

It is recommended that you obtain your medical and pass your knowledge test before starting flight training. Many instructors will require that you complete these steps before they will fly with you or before they will sign you off for solo. You should apply for your student pilot certificate as soon as you can as well.


Medical certificates are good for 5 years (until you turn 40) and you’ll need this before you solo a powered aircraft. They’ll test your vision (acuity and color), hearing, reflexes, and general health. In the Upper Valley it’s a fairly simple visit to the occupational medicine department at DHMC. It costs about $80 or so. Dr. Carolyn Murray typically does these at DHMC and is very nice.

Student Pilot Certificate

You apply for a student pilot certificate in IACRA following the instructions in the New User Guide and then the Student Pilot Guide. You’ll get an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) and nominate a local instructor as the recommending instructor. Once you’ve done that, you will meet with your instructor to go through the in person steps. You’ll need some sort of proof that you are a US citizen (passport, birth certificate, etc) and a photo ID (driver’s license, student ID, passport, etc). This is free and you don’t need it until you solo, but it doesn’t expire so it’s worth getting early.

Aeronautical Knowledge

Once you have done your first CAP powered orientation flight, you are eligible for the EAA Young Eagles program which provides free access to the Sporty’s Learn to Fly course ($299 value) and also pays for your knowledge test once you pass it ($175 value). You don’t need to use the Sporty’s course, but since it is free to you it’s certainly worth starting with. See the Young Eagles Flight Plan for all the benefits.

You will need an endorsement to take the knowledge test and you can get that after completing the Sporty’s course. The test is results are valid for 24 months, so plan to complete your flight training and take your check ride before it expires. See the FAA Airman Testing page for more background and to schedule the test.

After you have done your first CAP glider orientation flight, you are eligible for free membership in the Soaring Society of America. Your EAA membership also provides free access to a glider training bundle.

There are also free FAA handbooks available for download.

Flight Training


Assuming you do it in CAP, powered flight training (after the flight academy if you do that) would be done from your local airport in a Cessna 172. The one we have in Lebanon was new in 2019 and is a great aircraft. As of March 2024, the cost you would pay is around $125 per hour for the aircraft. CAP instructors are volunteers and do not charge a fee which would normally be $40-60 per hour in addition to the aircraft.

In the Lebanon area, the only non CAP option is the Upper Valley Flying Club.

There are lots of different approaches to fight training and your instructor may well have suggestions, but unless you have a preference, a good place to start is to follow the Sporty’s syllabus which fits nicely with their learn to fly course.


Glider flight training (after the flight academy if you do that) would be at your local glider port, typically in an L-23 Super Blanik or a Schweizer SGS 2-33. In the Upper Valley area, you would fly out of the Springfield airport. You could do this with CAP or with the New England Soaring Association. In either case, the instructors are volunteers and don’t charge a fee. The cost per flight in CAP as of summer 2023 is $10 for the glider plus $10 per thousand feet for the tow plane.

In the Upper Valley area, the gliding season runs from April through October. If you do your training in CAP, you will likely need to do it during the week since our resources are typically dedicated to orientation flights on the weekends.



At $125 per hour, the minimum you’d pay is about $5,000 plus about $800-1,000 for the check ride. That would be the bare minimum of 40 hours plus a couple hours for the check ride. However, as I mentioned earlier, it is usually more like 60+ hours which would be another $2-3,000 so you are realistically looking at a total cost of between $8-9,000 all up, possibly more.


It’s a little difficult to quantify the cost for glider training since it is largely driven by the tow cost. The longer your flights, the less you’ll pay, but you typically need at least 15 flights before solo and then enough for 2 more hours of solo flights. Unless you get good lift (and know how to work it), most flights to 3,000 feet last about 20 minutes. At a minimum you are probably looking at around $2,000 plus about $800-1,000 for the check ride. Realistically, the total cost is likely to be more like $4-5,000 all up, possibly more if you don’t get it done in one gliding season.


Fortunately, there are a number of scholarships available. Some scholarship resources (there may be others if you search for something like aviation scholarships):

Cadet Wings opens 1 July and would pick up post solo (which you usually get to with about 15-25 flight hours for powered or after 15-25 flights in a glider). The earlier you apply to this program the better your chances of getting it, so getting to solo by that time would be a good goal. They will pay for everything post solo including the check ride.