A couple of people have asked if soloing was it as far as flight training is concerned.
The first solo is about one third of the way through the flight portion of the training. After the solo comes the Stage One Check. This is like a mid-term exam for the first nine lessons. One must demonstrate proficiency in the skills taught during those first nine flight lessons. Upon successful completion of the stage check, the regular lessons start again. There are three of these stage checks at roughly equal intervals throughout the course of instruction.
After all the lessons and the three stage checks are successfully completed, then one goes in front of the Federal Aviation Administration examiner for the check ride. This consists of about an hour’s worth of grilling about FAA rules and regulations, then proceeds to the plane for the practical exam. It’s just you and the FAA guy in the plane for the better part of two hours. For this privilege, the examined gets to pay something in the vicinity of $400. If one demonstrates proficiency in all of the material, the examiner will sign off on a slip of paper which becomes your temporary license. At that moment, you’re a licensed pilot.
All this should take another 30-40 hours in the air, depending on how quickly I catch on and how much cash I’m able to gather together.
Bottom line: While ground school is over and done with, I still have roughly two thirds of the in-aircraft training before it’s all over.
But when it comes to aviation, the learning doesn’t stop with the issuance of the license. Even if I don’t get any other ratings, I still am required to go through training every two years in order to stay current. But I’ll need far more training than that in order to stay safe in the cockpit.