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Planes seem to fly through the sky so effortlessly from down here. But they surely can’t be that easy to fly. So how hard is it really to fly a plane?

This is certainly a bit subjective, but like all things in life, flying a plane is easy for those who have training and practice. Learning to fly a plane, on the other hand, is not easy. You’ll need to spend hundreds of hours taking classes, studying, and eventually getting in the air and flying.

Becoming a pilot is one of those dream jobs that kids all over the world have when they’re little. After all, being up there in the sky seems so freeing, the sky is literally the limit. But few people actually go through the training required to fly planes later in life. But is that because it’s too hard? In this article, we’ll talk about how hard flying a plane is, how long it takes to learn, and we’ll take a deeper look at what really makes it difficult to fly a plane.

With how much of an open-ended question this is, we branched outside of our own expertise and experience to get the opinions of other people in the industry, particularly pilots. Through research, interviews, and our own years of experience flying planes, we’re confident that everything you read here is as accurate of information as you will find anywhere on the web!

Table of contents


Is It Hard To Fly A Plane?

Like most other skills in life, flying a plane is neither inherently hard nor easy to do. It just takes time, patience, skill, and the ability to pay attention to your surroundings and understand how it works. When you were a kid, the thought of driving a car might have seemed difficult to you. Other cars moving all over you, people turning in and out of lanes. But nowadays, you drive a car every day and it seems like no problem, right?

The same can potentially be said for flying a plane. If you’re willing to put in the time to learn and understand how it works, flying a plane can end up becoming just as much second nature as driving a car. But don’t let that put your mind at ease and think that flying a plane is just a mindless activity.

Just like driving a car, you need to pay attention at all times and understand what different noises, feelings, and warnings mean. Because in either type of vehicle, a small mistake can potentially lead to big consequences.

How Long Does It Take To Learn How To Fly A Plane?

The amount of time it takes to learn how to fly a plane — and get your pilot’s license or certificate — will depend on which type of license you’re looking to get. For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that the majority of you are considering getting your private pilot’s license or you’re considering becoming a commercial pilot.

In either case, it will largely come down to the number of hours that you’ve flown. To get a private pilot’s license, you’ll need a minimum of 40 hours of flight (but most pilots have at least 60 before applying). For a commercial license, it will take a minimum of 250 hours of flight time before you’re qualified to get your certificate.

What Makes It Difficult To Fly A Plane?

Model of Plane

One of the biggest aspects of how hard it is to fly a plane is simply which plane you’re going to be flying. Although similar planes will be somewhat comparable (i.e. commercial planes, turboprops, etc.) even planes in the same class will act differently than one another. And as you’ll see later on in this article, there are certain planes which are well known for being easy to fly, and they are the ones that we suggest to anyone wanting to learn to fly.

The specific model of the plane that you’re wanting to fly will largely determine how hard it is to fly based on a few main things: engine power, shape & design, comfort, ergonomics, and visibility. These are all essential aspects of the flying process, and will all be slightly different between models of planes, making some much easier to fly than others.

Bad Weather

This one might be a bit of a no-brainer, but the weather is without a doubt one of the biggest contributing factors in determining how hard it is to fly a plane. On a clear sunny day, a plane might be very easy to fly even for a novice pilot. But if the weather suddenly turns bad and you’re having to deal with winds, rain, lightning, and more, even an experienced pilot could face substantial difficulties in the exact same plane.

That’s why it is so important for the weather to be checked consistently before — and even during — the flight. While many commercial airliners can fly in poor weather without much issue, due to how high they fly, how powerful they are, and their enormous size, smaller aircraft might not fair as well. Single-engine planes can really struggle in bad weather, as strong winds and powerful rains can really start to buffet them around and mess with their instruments.

For the easiest flying experience, always aim to fly on days with nearly optimal weather. It’s just one less thing that you’ll need to worry about.

Little Margin For Big Mistakes

The last major aspect of what makes it hard to fly a plane is that there is little margin for potentially big mistakes. While at some points during the flight, it might seem that there is quite a large margin for mistakes. For example, you won’t need to watch out for other planes like you need to look for cars on the highway or anything.

But mistakes made while flying a plane can be detrimental and potentially lead to rapid failure. Two of the most difficult parts of flying that need to be mastered are taking off and landing. Making even small mistakes during takeoff or landing can potentially lead to huge errors that could be devastating to you, the plane, or both.

Should I Learn How To Fly A Plane?

Ultimately, this decision will eventually come down to you and only you. But it’s worth taking a look at it from a couple of different perspectives to help you decide whether or not you should learn how to fly a plane.

The biggest aspect of this decision comes down to why you want to learn to fly a plane. Are you wanting to become a commercial pilot or do you just want to have a private pilot’s license and your own small aircraft that you can fly for fun and enjoyment? Of course, there could be other reasons (i.e. military pilot, pilot trainer, etc.) but these are the two main reasons.

If you’re wanting to learn how to fly so that you can become a commercial pilot, it could very well be worth doing. Being a pilot is a well-respected career that can be incredibly beneficial over the years. Becoming a private pilot and owning your own plane is typically much more expensive, but is also valued by the amount of joy that you get from it. So you might really love flying, and it’ll just come down to whether or not you want to spend all that money on it.

Learning to fly a plane can be a beneficial skill whether it’s for a career, for fun, or just to be able to know that you can fly a plane, even if you don’t do it regularly. But again, this will come down to you and your own situation. Just do what’s best for you!

What Are The Easiest Planes To Fly?

Now that you have an idea of how hard it is to fly a plane and you might be thinking about whether or not you should fly in the first place, let’s take a look at some of the easiest planes out there to fly. When you’re learning to fly, you’ll want to use a plane that’s great for learning — i.e. easy to fly, forgiving, and comfortable.

Here are five of the best planes out there (and how we rank them) if you’re looking to learn how to fly: