Why learn to fly?

Personal aviation can be your very own time machine, giving you a new and unique perspective and taking you places in much less time—and with far fewer headaches—than other modes of transportation.

For some pilots, it’s more about the fun than the practicality. Do you always look skyward at the whoosh of a jet or the mesmerizing drone of a small airplane overhead? The sound of an aircraft in flight is the sound of freedom — the freedom to go where you want, when you want. Flying is one of the most fun and challenging activities you’ll ever experience, and that’s what makes it so rewarding. Now you too can join the ranks in the sky by learning to fly with Trade Winds Aviation and American Flight Schools.

Our facilities are the headquarters for flight school instruction.

No matter if your goal is to fly just for fun, to make visiting friends or family a faster and easier experience, to get away from business trips on crowded airlines, or even to begin a career as a professional pilot, if you’re one of the many individuals that have always dreamt of learning to fly, Trade Winds Aviation pilot training school has all the tools you need to get airborne. Located at Reid-Hillview (KRHV) and San Martin (E16) airports, Trade Winds Aviation provides an ideal environment conducive to learning to fly. We experience moderate weather conditions and air traffic, affording any new pilot-in-training the confidence and real-world experience needed to become a proficient pilot. We are a Cessna Pilot Center providing both Part 141 and 61 flight instruction using Cessna’s approved curriculum.

Beginning your path to becoming a pilot is simple.

If you’ve never been up in a small aircraft before, we recommend that you first take a Discovery Flight where we’ll introduce you to the aircraft and the skies above California and let you actually feel what it’s like to fly an airplane. Read about all of our Discovery Flight packages here.

Private Pilot vs. Sport Pilot?

Private pilots are eligible to fly any single engine, fixed gear airplane with less than 200 HP and are limited to the number of passengers only by the number of seats in any given qualifying aircraft. Private pilots are allowed to fly in visual conditions, day or night. You can expand on the basic privileges with nothing more than an instructor’s log book endorsement. These endorsements can be for flying high performance aircraft (more than 200 hp), complex aircraft (controllable prop, retractable landing gear and flaps), or a tail-wheel aircraft and normally take a just a few hours of instruction. Sport pilots are eligible to fly only Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), may carry up to one passenger, and are limited to daytime flying. Many sport pilots transition to private pilot once they’ve built some time and experience. This transition opens up more aircraft for you to fly and what’s better is that all your experience as a sport pilot counts towards your total experience, making the transition a very achievable goal. Once you have your pilot certificate, you will have the privileges of carrying passengers; flying to any location; piloting a single engine land based airplane; have the option to obtain an instrument rating and fly in less than visual weather; and the option to continue training into more advanced aircraft and abilities.

Certificate Requirements

To begin you’ll need:

  • Course Training Materials
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or TSA approval


Prior to your first solo flight, you’ll need:

  • FAA issued Student pilot certificate
  • FAA issued third class Medical Certificate or BasicMed


Before a PRIVATE PILOT final checkride, you will need to:

  • Have a minimum of 40 hours flight instruction
  • Have a minimum of 10 hours solo flying (this is included in the 40 hour total)
  • Pass the FAA Private Pilot written exam
  • Learn basic flight maneuvers, take offs and landings, cross country flying, pilotage, dead reckoning, VOR and GPS navigation, and basic instrument flying
  • Learn aeronautical decision-making, safety of flight considerations, basic aviation weather information, basic aerodynamics, and airport operations

What does flight training involve?

Flight training consists of two major components: ground school and hands-on flight training in an aircraft. The two should commence around the same time. While ground school can be accomplished on an individual basis, most people prefer to attend a classroom course. Not only will this ensure that all the material is covered but it will also provide the structure and organization to get through the required material in an organized and timely manner. The Trade Winds Aviation ground school consists of 36 hours of ground instruction and covers the following topics:

  • Aircraft systems
  • Aerodynamics
  • Airport environments
  • Proper communications and phraseology
  • Meteorology
  • Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs)
  • Aircraft performance
  • Charts and navigation
  • Human factors


Ground school can be like drinking from a fire hose. It’s a lot of information covered in a short amount of time, so it is very important to study! In order to pass the FAA knowledge test, candidates must pass with 70% or greater. Taking flying lessons in conjunction with the ground-school material is highly encouraged. This demonstrates the practical application of the concepts covered during ground-school, while making the whole experience more fun and enjoyable. Flight training milestones include:

  • First solo (This is the first time a student will fly an aircraft without an instructor present. Many pilots will say that their first solo is the highlight of their entire flying career.)
  • Solo Cross Country
  • FAA check ride


You want to learn how to fly because you think it will be fun, that’s why we go to the extra effort to make sure you’re engaged and enjoying your flight training experience. Learning to fly is an ambition that captures many people. At Trade Winds Aviation and American Flight Schools we understand the passion for flight and the burning desire to feel the wind beneath your wings. There is no better place to get your wings than at our pilot flight school. Now all that’s left is to join the club and begin flying!