The July “Since You Asked” poll: How many hours to solo?

For some, it’s a badge of honor. For most of us, it is what it is. We’re talking about the number of hours it took you to solo.

We asked that question of digital subscribers in the July issue of Flight Training magazine, and here’s what you said.

The majority of respondents–39 percent–said it took from 11 to 20 hours to solo.

More interesting–or troubling, depending on your viewpoint–37 percent said it took more than 20 hours to solo.

Just 10 percent had soloed in 10 or fewer hours, and 14 percent said they hadn’t soloed yet.

Our poll is admittedly very unscientific since we don’t draw from a very large sample. Still, it raises some interesting questions. Are we taking longer to solo? If so, why?  Is it the aircraft? Are instructors trying to make sure that students know more before they sign them off for solo? Are we just slower? (I offer that last one in jest, sort of.)

It’s expected that people who aren’t teenagers might take a little longer to solo. A student who has logged well into 20 or more hours, however, runs the risk of becoming frustrated, and we all know where that road leads.

Your thoughts?—Jill W. Tallman

“Since You Asked” polls appear monthly in the digital edition of Flight Training. If you’d like to switch your magazine from paper to digital at no additional charge, go here or call Member Services 800-USA-AOPA weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.

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  • David

    Well I have slightly over 20 hours in, and haven’t solo’ed
    I’m “older” ( 50+) and my training is being done in a 1940 Taylorcraft
    with conventional landing gear, and brakes only on the pilot’s side.

    While I am eager to solo, I’ve got some extra hoops to jump through
    that the average student. One nice thing is that I pay a LOT less for
    each lesson than average too.

  • Tom Little

    Flight training has become more expensive, cost per hour has doubled in the past 10 years. Are students flying less frequently? Training aircraft are now more advanced, students are being taught airmanship plus GPS & glass panel.
    Pipers & Cessnas were more basic, however you learned 3 basics:
    1) Aviate 2) Navigate 3) Communicate!

  • Ben

    My training was frustrating since I began when I was 14, having to wait 2 years to solo I was already at 60hrs when I first went up alone!

  • Rudolph

    It took me 36 hours to solo for various reasons. One, I started in rotorcraft, so it took me some time just to learn the dance known as hovering. Two, work and finances precluded taking lessons as frequently as I would have liked and caused me to spend a good portion of each lesson re-learning skills from prior lessons. It was not until I took out a loan for flight training that I was able to fly as often as necessary to progress towards solo and my private pilot rating. Unfortunately, but understandably, those loans are no longer being offered by Sallie Mae.