Getting Started

It's Time For You To Fly.

You are interested in becoming a pilot, but don't know where to start. With so many opportunities in aviation, finding a clear-cut path to start flying while keeping your time and budget in mind can be tough. At Rainier Flight Service, our philosophy revolves around providing the safest, most effective and affordable flight training possible. We've paved a path to reach your dreams.

Follow the steps below to get started!


 

When you sign up for flight lessons with Rainier Flight Service, your Discovery Flight is Free! If you feel that becoming a pilot is not for you, pay only for the Discovery Flight and no obligations. But if you sign up for flight lessons we will credit $199 back to your account when you solo or fly 15 hours, whichever comes first.

Standard Discovery Flight - $199
Never been in a small airplane before? Our experienced flight instructors will walk you through the basics of flight in a late model Cessna 162 or 172 and encourage you to fly the airplane as much as you are comfortable. The flight lasts 30-40 minutes and we are happy to accommodate any special requests to the best of our ability. In addition, we are happy to answer any questions you have about flight training, airplanes or aviation in general. 

Deluxe Discovery Flight - $299
In addition to the Standard Discovery Flight, you will fly to another local airport and see how aviation can save you time and money. This 60-90 minute flight includes two takeoffs and two landings at another airport in Puget Sound. You will see how General Aviation (GA) makes travel convenient and time effective, as well as fun!

Premium Discovery Flight - Hourly Rate
Looking for VIP transport? The Premium Discovery Flight puts you in the Porsche of General Aviation (GA) - The Cirrus SR20. With the speed, safety and comfort of Cirrus aircraft the only question is: Who will love it more - you or your spouse? Share with us your aviation goals so we can tailor this experience to your specific needs.

Are you a U.S. Citizen?
The FAA requires new flight training students to complete a few administrative tasks to ensure the safety of General Aviation (GA) and to make sure you have a smooth and successful flight training experience. The amount of administrative work depends on whether or not you are a United States Citizen.

Yes. I am a U.S. Citizen.
The only document you legally need to provide in order to start flight training is proof of citizenship. Simply provide an unexpired passport or government-issued ID / birth certificate to Staff for TSA compliance.

No. I am not a U.S. Citizen.
The TSA allows only one flight training event (a discovery flight) before a student must complete the screening requirements. After completing your Discovery Flight with us, you must obtain approval from the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) through the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP). The application cost is $130 and the process can take 4-6 weeks before the student is eligible to initiate training. You will want to complete this application as soon as you know that Rainier Flight Service is the right school for you. Each application is only valid for one school. 

RFS Alien Flight Training Application Guide

FAA Medical Certificate and BasicMed
For many pilots, possessing at least a third-class medical or BasicMed is required to obtain pilot ratings and endorsements, including your Private Pilot Certificate, and Instrument Rating. You will need your medical certificate in-hand before you can solo an aircraft. You will not need an FAA medical certificate if you are pursuing your Sport Pilot License. Obtaining a medical certificate must be received from an FAA-authorized Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).

Prior to your medical exam, you will be required to complete the FAA MedXPress Application for your examiner. This makes application information available to your AME for review prior to your medical examination. During your MedXPress application, you will be asked to select a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Class Medical Certificate. We've provided you with a breakdown of the different medical certificates to help you choose the correct medical certificate for your individual and specific aviation goals.

1st Class Medical Certificate
A first-class medical certificate is required in order to exercise Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) privileges. Essentially, anyone who wants to work for the airlines will need to pursue their first-class medical certificate. Although a first-class medical certificate is not required for your initial ratings (Private, Instrument, and Commercial), we recommend that you apply for it now to ensure that the airlines are within reach based on your medical evaluation.

2nd Class Medical Certificate
A second-class medical certificate is necessary for all other commercial privileges other than an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP). For those looking to fly cargo or work as a corporate pilot, a second-class medical certificate is perfect for these types of aviation jobs. 

3rd Class Medical Certificate
For any other reason to fly other than listed above, a third-class medical will be sufficient for your aviation flying needs. The third-class medical certificate is perfect for those who are simply looking to fly for fun. Some who also have an interest in becoming a flight instructor can exercise third-class medical privileges. 

BasicMed
For those unable to obtain at least a third-class medical certificate may be able to earn their BasicMed medical clearance if they comply with the BasicMed requirements.

14 CFR 61.23 (d) Duration of Medical Certificate

If you hold And on the date of examination for your most recent medical certificate you were And are conducting an operation requiring Then your medical certificate expires, for that operation, at the end of the last day of the
(1) A first-class medical certificate (i) Under age 40 an airline transport pilot certificate for pilot-in-command privileges, or for second-in-command privileges in a flag or supplemental operation in part 121 requiring three or more pilots 12th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate. 
  (ii) Age 40 or older an airline transport pilot certificate for pilot-in-command privileges, for second-in-command privileges in a flag or supplemental operation in part 121 requiring three or more pilots, or for a pilot flightcrew member in part 121 operations who has reached his or her 60th birthday. 6th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate.
  (iii) Any age a commercial pilot certificate or an air traffic control tower operator certificate 12th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate.
  (iv) Under age 40 a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate, a flight instructor certificate (when acting as pilot in command or a required pilot flight crewmember in operations other than glider or balloon), a student pilot certificate, or a sport pilot certificate (when not using a U.S. driver's license as medical qualification) 60th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate. 
  (v) Age 40 or older a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate, a flight instructor certificate (when acting as pilot in command or a required pilot flight crewmember in operations other than glider or balloon), a student pilot certificate, or a sport pilot certificate (when not using a U.S. driver's license as medical qualification) 24th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate.
(2) A second-class medical certificate (i) Any age an airline transport pilot certificate for second-in-command privileges (other than the operations specified in paragraph (d)(1) of section 14 CFR 61.23 - Medical certificates: Requirement and duration) a commercial pilot certificate, or an air traffic control tower operator certificate 12th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate.
  (ii) Under age 40 a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate, a flight instructor certificate (when acting as pilot in command or required pilot flight crewmember in operations other than glider or balloon), a student pilot certificate, or a sport pilot certificate (when not using a U.S. driver's license as medical qualification) 60th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate. 
  (iii) Age 40 or older a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate, a flight instructor certificate (when acting as pilot in command or a required pilot flight crewmember in operations other than glider or balloon), a student pilot certificate, or a sport pilot certificate (when not using a U.S. driver's license as medical qualification) 24th month after th emonth of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate.
(3) A third-class medical certificate (i) Under age 40 a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate, a flight instructor certificate (when acting as pilot in command or a required pilot flight crewmember in operations other than glider or balloon), a student pilot certificate, or a sport pilot certificate (when not using a U.S. driver's license as medical qualification) 60th month after the month od the date of examination shown on the medical certificate.
  (ii) Age 40 or older a recreational pilot certificate, a private pilot certificate, a flight instructor certificate (when acting as pilot in command or a required pilot flight crewmember in operations other than glider or balloon), a student pilot certificate, or a sport pilot certificate (when not using a U.S. driver's license as medical qualification) 24th month after the month of the date of examination shown on the medical certificate.

 

There is no shortage of equipment and supplies you can purchase for flying.  But what you really need is actually quite minimal.  Here is a list of our recommended items:

iPad (w/ Cellular Capability) and Foreflight - The days of paper charts and slide rules are over.  Most flight planning is now completed using an iPad and Foreflight application.  We recommend an iPad with cellular to utilize the built-in GPS for flight tracking - though no cellular subscription is required.  Foreflight is the industry-leading flight planning application integrated into our curriculum.

Headset - Good quality, affordable headsets can be purchased in the $300-$400 range.  We recommend the David Clark H10-13.4 as a great starter headset that will last a long time.  But you can treat yourself to a premium headset like the Bose A20 or Lightspeed Zulu once you pass your checkride if you are looking for an excuse!

Aircraft Checklist - A checklist specific to your training aircraft is a critical item and will receive a lot of use.  You will also use at home chair-flying or practicing procedures with a home simulator.  Checklists are available for purchase at front desk.

Flight Bag - Nothing fancy required here.  A sturdy backpack to keep your gear organized is perfectly fine.  If you prefer a bag specifically designed for aviation, we have a couple options to protect your headset and organize your supplies.

Ground School

Just like obtaining a Driver's License, pilots must pass a written exam (called the knowledge test) in order to receive a pilot certificate. There are several methods for obtaining this knowledge and you must select the best method for your particular learning style.  The ground school can be completed prior to or concurrent with flight training.  However, it is important you keep ahead of your flying with knowledge as the flight lessons focus on practical application of the things you learned.  Upon meeting the ground school requirements you will receive the endorsement required from your instructor or online provider to schedule the FAA Written Exam.

Online Ground Course
There are several online courses such as the Jeppesen Private Pilot Online Training and Sporty's Learn to Fly Course that break down over 30 hours of content into short 30-min topics.  You can complete these modules individually or binge over several weekends.  If you enjoy media-rich content consumed at your pace, then this may be a good solution for you.

Handbooks and Manuals
Everything you need to know is available in Handbooks and Manuals published by the FAA and industry vendors.  Our in-class ground school offered uses the Jeppesen Private Pilot Manual. You can order the text online or pick up a copy in-person from our pilot shop. FAA Handbooks are also available for free download online.

Formal Ground School
At Rainier Flight, we offer (5) five in-class RFS Private Pilot Ground School courses throughout the year for students to attend. The course is six weeks long taught by experienced flight instructors.  If you enjoy groups discussions and hands-on projects, this is a good option. Often times students will supplement an online course with FAA Handbooks.  Or if you find a particular topic challenging, audit that session in our formal ground school to help you progress, free of charge.

FAA Knowledge Test
After meeting the knowledge requirements you must pass a knowledge test.  This multiple choice exam is completed on a computer as a knowledge test facility such as Rainier Flight.  

Investing in a supplemental aircraft insurance policy is likely one of the smartest decisions you'll make in your flight training journey. No one wants to get involved in an accident, but we are operating in a training environment and incidents do happen from time to time. Having a supplemental policy in place will provide you with the peace of mind needed to focus on your training.  Cost-effective renter policies are available through a variety of sources.  Our Staff will provide you detailed information to help determine what level of insurance best meets your needs.

The first few lessons will be a whirlwind of information.  We intentionally introduce concepts and procedures in the simulator to provide you an opportunity to learn without the overwhelming sensory inputs of flight.  Prepare for lessons by reading through the syllabus in advance, completing study assignments and prepare questions to review with your instructor.  Every lesson will consist of a preflight briefing to review your preparation.  New topics are then introduced in a simulator where the instructor can pause, discuss and review maneuvers and procedures until you are getting the hang of it.  The maneuvers and procedures are then reviewed in the airplane to solidify your understanding and skill.  Every lesson concludes with a post-flight review to discuss positive/weak areas and plan for next lesson.

It is common for a single lesson to require two or more appointments to be completed.  This is normal for proficiency-based training.  Lessons progress at the rate you are able to absorb new information and demonstrate proficiency to the completion standards outlines in every lesson.