Our Summer operating hours are:

Monday to Sunday - 9am - 7.30pm

Opening hours will be reviewed and may be subject to change. Any changes will be notified to the Members in advance.

Outside these times please email: flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com
Home > Blog > How To Get Your Pilots Licence

How to get your pilot's licence

Posted 24 Apr 2023

How to get your pilot's licence

Getting a pilot licence can be a rewarding experience and if you want to experience the thrills of aviation then we have just the guide for you.

Getting a pilot licence can be a rewarding experience and if you want to experience the thrills of aviation then we have just the guide for you. Obtaining a licence is a straightforward process since you start with the type of licence that you want to pursue, and then go into the prerequisites and requirements for that licence.

In this guide, we will highlight all the important steps that a pilot needs to take in order to obtain their licence. By the end of this guide, you will not only know which type of licence is best for you, but you will also get in-depth knowledge on how to get started on the application process.

Types of Pilot Licences

There are primarily three types of licences in aviation. These are the most common and popular choices among new candidates:

Private Pilot Licence (PPL)

The PPL is for people who want to enjoy the thrills of aviation without seeking to make a career out of it. This type of licence allows candidates to train on smaller and less complex aircraft like microlights or lightweight aircraft.

A PPL licence offers a quick way for candidates to get into the cockpit as it has relaxed training and medical requirements compared to other pilot licences that have stricter requirements. A PPL requires a Class 2 medical certificate that takes into account the pilot's health history and information about current illnesses (if any).

Unlike other licences, which don’t allow pilots with certain health conditions to fly aircraft, PPL offers relatively relaxed medical tests that are conducted by a Certified Medical Examiner (CME).

While you won’t be able to fly complex aircraft, the PPL will suit the needs of most people who are looking to fly aircraft as a hobby or for recreation. PPL holders are only allowed to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and can operate aircraft during daylight conditions.

However, a great thing about a PPL is that you can build on it with different qualifications that allow you to fly aircraft in multiple conditions. For example, a PPL holder can work on their Night Rating and obtain a qualification for operating aircraft at night or under low-visibility conditions.

A benefit of going for a PPL is that most pilots can easily transfer their training to another type of licence. This is in fact a great way to enter into the world of aviation; instead of going all in, you can try out with a PPL and then decide whether you want to invest in a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

The PPL is also relatively cheaper since it doesn’t require rigorous and intensive training. Most people who go for a PPL are likely to succeed in obtaining a licence so long as they fulfil the minimum requirements for the programme set by the CAA.

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

A Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) is designed for people who want to make a career in aviation. This licence is specifically for people who want to fly larger and more complex aircraft like passenger planes.

With a Commercial Pilot Licence, pilots can not only fly but also earn from their passion. This licence is a fantastic way to enjoy the full perks of aviation, but it also requires strict training! As per the Civil Aviation Authority, all CPL holders are expected to perform at their 100%, both mentally and physically.

A CPL licence has stricter medical requirements too. They are issued a Class 1 medical certificate that includes an in-depth medical history and a thorough check-up of the pilot’s current health. CPL pilots may also be subject to more frequent screenings because their health and safety directly affect the performance of the aircraft and the safety of the passengers!

A CPL candidate is also tested in various ways. They are expected to learn and master both theoretical and practical topics in aviation. Some theoretical topics include meteorology, navigation, and aircraft and human limitations.

Practical tests include rigorous flight training where pilots are taught to navigate through various flying scenarios. Flight training can also include simulation training where CPL candidates are taught in large simulated cockpits that are designed to mimic real flight scenarios.

A CPL licence is also considerably more expensive than a PPL. Not only does the CPL flight training programme require more training hours, but it also has various recurring fees attached to it that can bring up the total cost of the licence.

However, the good news is that most successful CPL pilots go on to work for major airlines that pay extremely well. They are also entitled to a range of perks and have flexible working hours as well. On top of that, being an airline captain is an incredible honour and can elevate one’s social status in society as well.

Beyond the CPL, candidates can also pursue an even higher pilot's licence called the Airline Transport Pilot's Licence (ATPL). This licence enables pilots to fly large and very complex aircraft for major airlines.

The ATPL requires extreme training but it is a highly lucrative licence that allows pilots to not just earn a handsome salary, but also take their passion for aviation to the next level.

Meeting the Requirements for a Pilot Licence

Each pilot licence has various requirements. Here are the top requirements for PPL and CPL licences:

Private Pilot Licence Requirements

In order to obtain a PPL, the CAA has outlined a list of guidelines and requirements that must be fulfilled before a pilot applies for a PPL.

Here are some of the requirements:

  • The minimum age for a PPL is 17 years old. A pilot can enrol in flight training before the age of 17 but they will not be eligible for the licence until they reach the minimum required age. This means that parents that want their children to start their careers in aviation can begin training at an early age under supervision so that when the time comes to apply for the licence, the candidate can easily pass through all the requirements.
  • As discussed above, to obtain a pilot licence, the candidate must fulfil the minimum medical requirements for the type of licence that they are applying for. For PPL, candidates will be issued a Class 2 medical certificate that covers basic health requirements.
  • The candidates will also have to fulfil all the training requirements for their specific licence. For example, a PPL requires 100 hours of ground school instruction which covers all the important theoretical topics. Candidates are also expected to complete their flight training which consists of a minimum of 45 hours of training which includes 10 hours of solo flight time and 5 hours of solo cross-country flight time.

Commercial Pilot Licence Requirements

Here are the basic requirements for a commercial pilot licence:

  • The minimum age requirement for applying for a CPL is 18 years. However, just like in the case of PPL, candidates can enrol early and begin their flight training from an early age. This will not only give them a head start but also allow them to quickly obtain their licence once they reach the minimum age requirement.

  • All CPL holders must obtain a Class 1 medical certificate. This certificate is awarded via a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) and covers every health-related aspect of the candidate. Candidates are required to fulfil the minimum health requirements for both mental and physical tests.

  • CPL has stricter training requirements. This is why all candidates must fulfil a minimum of 200 hours of ground training that covers advanced topics related to navigation, meteorology, technical knowledge, and principles of flight (to name a few). They must also complete flight training that consists of a minimum of 150 hours which includes 70 hours of Pilot-in-Command (PIC) and at least 20 hours of cross-country flight time.

  • CPL holders are also required to complete additional certifications which include Night Rating. A Night Rating enables pilots to fly after sunset or in low-visibility conditions. Pilots are taught how to take off, navigate, and land at night or in severe weather conditions. They are also trained to fly only via instruments which is an extremely important skill to develop as a commercial pilot.

  • CPL holders also have to work toward a Multi-Engine Rating. This training requires a minimum of 6 hours of flight time in a multi-engine aircraft. The 6 hours are inclusive of 3 hours of dual instruction flight.

Pilot Licence Application Process

As per the CAA, all eligible candidates must apply for a pilot licence by submitting an application form that is duly filled out by the candidate. The form contains all the information about the candidate and their training.

This is an important step because failure to fill the form correctly can result in rejection which means that you will have to reapply and resubmit your application fee. Always carefully read the fine print and instructions on the form and fill in only the required information.

The application and fee will be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority which will individually assess the candidate’s profile. The CAA will thoroughly verify your qualifications and certifications before awarding you with a pilot licence.

After obtaining your licence, you will also be expected to maintain its validity by keeping up with your training and medical requirements, especially in the case of a Commercial Pilot Licence. In the case of policy or regulatory changes, pilots may also be asked to amend their training according to the latest changes to keep their licence valid.

Choosing a Flight School

Once you know which type of licence you want to pursue, it's time to look for flight schools!

Flight training schools play a crucial role in a pilot's training. They not only provide the facilities and faculty to help you obtain your licence but can also help you in pilot medicals and applying for licence applications. This is why we highly recommend that you pick a flight school that best fits your needs. For example, if you choose to go with a PPL, then there are plenty of flight schools that offer affordable flight programmes for private pilots.

However, it is important to note that you should never only look at cost when picking a flight school. Most flight schools may offer discounted rates but they will likely lack the expertise and the equipment that can unlock your full potential.

When searching for a flight school, always look at the campus, instructors, facilities, and fleet of aircraft. If the flight school doesn’t have an adequate fleet of aircraft, then you can be severely limited on what you can train on.

This is especially important in the case of CPL candidates. If you want to learn how to be the best commercial pilot, then you need to train with the best. The quality of instructors is an extremely important determinant when it comes to your training.

Instructors with decades of experience in various flight situations can pass on their knowledge to young candidates that can learn from common mistakes during flights. Instructors also play a huge role in developing an interest in aviation as well.

Keep in mind that aviation may seem glamorous from the outside but it requires quite a lot of training and discipline. This is why instructors are expected to keep up the morale of the candidates so that they push through their training with passion and curiosity.

Flight schools like Sherburn Aero Club (SAC) are a great example of an all-in-one flight school that offers not just flight training, but all the appropriate facilities, equipment, and a fleet of various aircraft for both CPL and PPL candidates.

Sherburn Aero Club can also help candidates navigate through the application process. SAC also regularly guides candidates on any required changes so that the candidates remain up-to-date. Not only this, but Sherburn Aero Club also has a dedicated medical officer on board that can help you get your pilot medicals without going anywhere else!

Sherburn offers flexible training costs and also offers discounts to candidates, and since it is located at a prime location, it's easier to access than other flight schools in the North of England.


Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation with a PPL or CPL or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licences, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

Sherburn offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran. The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation in the long run.

In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on how to get your pilot’s licence.


Photo by Kristopher Allison on Unsplash 



Latest Posts

Contact us

GDPR - By clicking submit, you agree that Sherburn Aero Club will hold the details you have provided in the form above to enable your enquiry to be addressed in a timely manner. Your details will not be passed on to any other organisations and will not be used for marketing purposes. If you wish these details to be deleted from our system at any time, please contact us.