90-day window for PPL - too short?

Hi guys,

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on obtaining a PPL inside of a 90-day window.

I'd like to know more about the mental and physical workload I'd be subject to as well as the feasibility of a CFI being able to build out and execute on what seams like such a truncated schedule for a single student.

I've earned a lengthy paid leave from work and am considering using it to expressly focus on transitioning from zero hours to PPL. I'm also grateful to be in a financial position that doesn't necessitate I take on debt. I can start as early as January 2019 and devote 110% of my time to this endeavor. My significant other supports the plan I've drawn out and we'll reevaluating once the PPL is complete. At that point, life allowing, we'll ready to dive into an academy or FBO with a great baseline and nothing really dictating it's in AZ. We're both quite fond of Montana, Colorado and Utah so fingers crossed...

Background: "once you stop learning, you start dying" is part of my ethos. I'm no stranger to hard work and I actually enjoy grinding it out day after day. I've turned just about every thing I was passionate about into a career from 8-years as a Welder-Fabricator to Master Diver rated in under 2-years working as a dive guide in Mexico. Heck I even started at my current employer as an intern while I finished my BAS, I joined because finance was never a strong suit of mine and saw it as a great learning opportunity. I was right. I'm a big "gut feeling" type of guy and hopefully I'm right about aviation!
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Well-Known Member
I did a few in 40 days back in my CFI days. Its definitely doable, the upside is you should fly a lot and won't experience much loss from day to day. The flip side is it will take a lot of studying on your part to keep up with it all.
It’s doable assuming you have your medical in hand and the weather to support it.
I take my first class medical at the end of this month. I’m fairly active, have no history of medical issues and take zero meds so hopefully it’s cake.

I know this winter is calling for a moderate El Niño which is great for snowboarding around here but not sure how that’ll affect flying.


Well-Known Member
It depended on the time of year. But during the winter I would do two events a day. Normally a flight in the morning then a ground in the early afternoon. Then I use the last 20-30 min of each ground to go over what we were going to do the next mornings flight, and give some reading homework. Eventually you run out of stuff to talk about and about that time the student was ready for their written. After that we would do two flights a day. It worked well if they soloed around the time they got their written done so they could do solo flight and training flights in the same day. Unless longer XCs were needed. Then again towards the end of the training we would do grounds again and hopefully move from the route memorization of material to more of a working knowledge in preparation for the checkride. This was all part 61, the 141 TCO was not quite as flexible
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Well-Known Member
I would study as much as you can before you start flying, too. Ideally have the written passed prior to starting. This can be done with reading and study of the written test guide and online courses. The 90 day thing is definitely doable as long as your in a place where weather doesn't hinder you.


Well-Known Member
I did my private in about 70 days.

Prior to solo I flew 4 days a week with my instructor and after solo I flew 4 days a week on my own and 3 with my instructor.

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Well-Known Member
Its doable, make sure that you get your student ticket before you take your time off. You will not be able to solo without it. Also try to knock out the written as soon as you can since the test is valid for two years.

I tried to do mine in 90 days but ended up way short due to CFI availability at the school. A lot of the instructors at that school also worked at a local charter company and then would not be able to instruct for a week or two. I ended up going through about 8 instructors getting my ppl.


Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
What the others said.

Flying is a perishable skill (this goes double for instrument flying - my opinion only) so recency/currency are important.

That being said - I would also encourage you - at least between certificates - to put in and schedule some fun flights. Go to a place you want to see. Take your s/o to dinner somewhere - even a lousy airport restaurant - or go see a concert somewhere that's too far to drive practically, but flying makes do-able.

I am of the firm belief that collecting some pleasurable flying experiences along the way is worth it. It costs a little more, and adds a little time, but getting out of the training bubble reminds you *why* you're doing it, and the changing/different conditions of a "real" XC flight with a purpose force you to apply some decisionmaking skills and think, "yeah, I know how to do this."

The sense of satisfaction the first few times you do this is immense and well worth it.
Very reasonable timeframe.. Get all of your book work, written exam, and medical done before you start and fly 3-4 days a week, study the other few, take a day off here and there. Get a good quality instructor. No problem.
This is great insight!

I'm now leaning towards getting the book work and written exam done ahead of taking the time off work. This means a lot of studying between now and the new year. I just added ACS and PHAK links to my home screen to read in my spare time.

I've searched for a few PPL programs and even managed to visit Flying Cacti out in Glendale. I like the owner Frank and their RV-12 is a beauty! From what I understand, most programs have a fixed cost up to the minimum 40-hr requirement and anything over that will be charged per hour.

My question now is how many actual hours of flying did it take for you to get the PPL? I know everybody is different but based on what the market offerings are showing, my gut is saying very few knock it out in 40.
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Well-Known Member
It’s doable. I think ATP advertises 0-CFI in like 6 months or less. Take breaks and stop and ask the instructor if there’s anything you don’t understand. Good luck!


SuperCritical™ Member
Get that medical knocked out and hit the ground running like others have said. Try to read up before you start so you have a little bit of context of what you are doing, but some things may only start to make sense after seeing it happen in the airplane/having the CFI explain it.
Also, depending on the flight school, avoid throwing large sums of cash at them upfront. Some places have a habit of folding and taking the students' deposits with them into the abyss
Excited for you; this place is a great resource with a lot of knowledge available to answer any questions.
edit: My PPL took about 45hr for what it's worth
From what I understand, most programs have a fixed cost up to the minimum 40-hr requirement and anything over that will be charged per hour.

My question now is how many actual hours of flying did it take for you to get the PPL? I know everybody is different but based on what the market offerings are showing, my gut is saying very few knock it out in 40.
It was just under 45 hours for me, but that was also in a very basic Cessna 152, almost 20 years ago. More complicated airplanes take longer, and there is more to learn now as well. Plan on 50 - 60 hours, but it is hard to predict why it might take more or less. I would pay by the hour for everything - nothing upfront, unless there is some nominal "club membership" that gets you a big enough discount.

The smaller flight schools will most likely offer better preparation for the real world of being a CFI later on. Mostly because the real world involves much less standardization than most "programs" incorporate. I would also ask for a tour of the maintenance hangar and talk to an A&P there for a bit. If it is busy with outside customers, that's also a good sign.


Well-Known Member
You're doing it the right way. This will keep your total hours toward the forty side rather than the 60-70 side. Unless you're way less bright than you make yourself out to be or your CFI/school takes you for a figurative ride (that happens) you won't take much over 40.

You're training in Arizona. You're passionate. You're making it your full time job. I would ask myself what I'm going to do with the last 30-45 days of the 90 day block.