Frequently Asked Questions



I don't have any experience flying planes. Can I still join the club?

A main goal of the club is to provide the most economical means possible for people to get a private pilot certificate. No prior experience is necessary! Though many people refer to the document as a "private pilot license", technically in the US, it is called a "private pilot certificate".

I am already a private pilot. Can I still join the club?

Yes, you are welcome to join and enjoy the use of our planes. We hope you will share your enthusiasm and experience with other members!

I'm not a University student. Can I still join the club?

While we primarily consider ourselves to be a club for students at the University of Maine, anyone can join as an "associate member". Dues and privileges for such members are the same as for students.

What does it take to get a pilot's certificate?

To earn a private pilot certificate you must acquire both the knowledge and the skill to operate an aircraft safely. You'll demonstrate this ability by passing a written, oral, and flight test administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). To gain this experience you'll complete at least 40 hours of flight time, which must include several different types of instructed and solo flight.

For a more detailed explanation of what you can expect, visit our Learning to Fly page.

Is there any age limit?

There is no age limit to start your flight training or take ground school. However, you must be at least 16 before you can solo, and at least 17 to take the checkride for your private pilot certificate.

Does a pilot certificate ever expire?

No. The pilot certificate is valid for life, but to exercise it's privileges you must possess a current medical certificate, and you must have had a flight review within the previous two years. The review generally requires an hour of ground time plus an hour flight. If more than two years have elapsed since your last review, you still keep your certificate, but you cannot fly until you have had a review. If it has been a while since you have flown, several flights may be prudent before the instructor signs you off.

How long is my medical certificate valid?

Private pilots are required to have a third class medical certificate, which is obtained by visiting an FAA approved doctor. The exam is similar to a basic physical, with a few extra eye and hearing checks. The certificate is valid for 60 calendar months if you are under the age of 40, or 24 calendar months for those over the age of 40.

Is the University Flying Club a flight school?

As a club, we operate under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, as compared to a flight school which operates under Part 141. The club itself is not in the business of training students. We own two airplanes (located at Bangor International Airport), and have a list of independent instructors that can work with club members on an individual basis. Instructors are not assigned; members will make their own selection. We have also been offering a private pilot ground school each semester for the last several years. The ground school is not for academic credit.

Where can I find the list of instructors?

A list of our instructors can be found on the Contact Us page of our website.

Can I use an instructor that is not on the list?

Our insurance company wants to know about the instructors that are utilizing our planes. Any instructor who would like to become involved with the club should review our Join the Club page for instructions. Instructors may participate with the general membership, but may also choose only to instruct specific members.

Who can take the University Flying Club's ground school?

Anyone may take our ground school. You do not have to be a member of the club. More information about our ground school can be found here.

Do I have to take the ground school?

No, a ground school is not required, but it is highly recommended if you are pursuing your private pilot certificate. You can study on your own and then have an instructor sign you off to take the FAA knowledge test. However, there are advantages to participating in a ground school. It can motivate you to study on a regular basis, expose you to others so you can share in their enthusiasm, give you someone to ask questions to, allow you to learn from the personal experience of the instructor, and make sure you have covered all the material.

More information about our ground school can be found on our Learning to Fly page.

How long will it take to get my private pilot certificate?

That all depends on you and how often you fly. If you can fly several hours per week you may finish in as little as 3 months, while less time per week might take a year. FAA requirements are only minimums, and it may take you more time to master a topic. Typically, flying more often means that you spend less of each lesson in review, so your total hours will be reduced.

More detailed information can be found on our Learning to Fly page.

How does scheduling the airplanes work and is there a limit to how much time I can schedule?

Our scheduler is online, and you can schedule any time that is available and works for you. In order to allow everyone a chance to fly, the club limits members to scheduling a maximum of 8 hours total. However, this does not limit the total number of hours you can fly in a week.

For example, suppose you have scheduled 4 hours on Monday and 4 hours on Tuesday. After Monday's flight you can schedule an additional 4 hours. With this rule you can't dominate the schedule, but if no one else is flying you can fly as much as you want.

How much does it cost to learn to fly with the University Flying Club?

Our club membership and plane rental rates are some of the least expensive you will find anywhere. Members can typically obtain their private pilot certificate for about half the cost of traditional flight schools! These rates are compared and broken down in detail on our Learning to Fly page.

As a club member, should I buy renter's insurance?

You do not need to purchase renter's insurance if you are only flying club planes. Insurance policys are generally designed to protect the interests of the entity purchasing the policy. As a club member, our club policy protects you in the event of a claim. Our club carries the maximum liability and hull coverage limits available by our carrier. On the other hand, FBOs (Fixed Base Operators) that rent planes to the public certainly carry insurance on their planes, but that insurance is designed to protect the FBO, not the renter. Most FBOs require that renters carry their own renter's insurance. Note that a year's worth of club dues is quite a bit cheaper than a year of renter's insurance!

How can I join?

Please review our Join the Club page for the different types of membership available, and who to contact.

I've heard there is a non-flying member status. What is that?

We like to involve UMaine students and community members who are interested in aviation, even if they are not currently ready to fly. Non-flying members do not pay any dues or fees, and are encouraged to attend meetings and safety seminars. We try to give active, non-flying members an opportunity to go for a flight. Check out the Join the Club page to join as a non-flying member.

What activities does the club offer?

During the school year, the club has monthly meetings where members meet and discuss aviation. We always try to make these meetings fun and educational. The club also sponsors Wings seminars, and sometimes hosts aviation related tours and events.

How can I keep informed of club meetings, seminars, ground schools, etc?

The best way to stay informed is to subscribe to our email newsletter. Instructions can be found here.