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Learning to fly at Superb Flight Training

This brochure answers your questions if you’re thinking about Superb Flight Training.

An overview of available flight training

SFT is licenced to offer a wide variety of flight training, including everything from the first hour to an
Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence.

There are four aeroplane licences in South Africa:

o The Student Pilot Licence (SPL) allows you to fly alone, but only under the supervision of an
instructor and without any passengers. The SPL is normally obtained after a dozen flying hours, and
is a requirement before flying solo.

o The Private Pilot Licence (PPL) allows you to fly unsupervised and with passengers, as long as
you don’t charge anyone for your services. A PPL can be obtained with around 50 hours of flying
experience, including 15 hours of solo.

o The Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) allows you to charge for your services. You’ll need 200
hours of flying experience and you’ll have to sit a hefty exam if you want a CPL.

o The Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) is the licence you’ll need if you want to be an airline
captain. It comes after more exams and 1500 hours of flying experience.

There are also Microlight Pilot Licences and a Recreational Pilot Licence is in the process of being
introduced. These licences are not discussed here. When you opt for this route into flying, do your
homework, as training standards vary tremendously. There is certainly good training available, but some
of the training can only be described as iffy.

Each aeroplane licence can be extended by ratings. A rating requires more training and testing, and
affords privileges above and beyond the privileges of the licence.

o The first rating is the Night Rating, which can be earned with around 15 hours of training after the
PPL, or 10 hours if your PPL training already included the newly-introduced instrument flying
syllabus. This rating allows the pilot to fly at night, but only in good visibility conditions. A Night
Rating is highly recommended, as soon as possible after obtaining a PPL. Apart from being allowed
to fly at night, you will find that the instrument training will open new horizons in your daytime
flying too. Most of the instrument training towards a Night Rating can be completed by day,
although some actual night flying is included in the syllabus.

o The Instrument Rating allows the holder to fly in poor visibility conditions, and can be added
either to a PPL or a CPL. It requires virtually the same exams as the CPL. A considerable amount of
experience is required before commencing the flight training, and the training itself spans a total of
40 hours or so, of which some can be completed on a simulator.

o A Multi-Engine Class Rating allows the holder to pilot multi-engined aeroplanes. It can be added
to an SPL, a PPL or a CPL, and requires considerable ground study plus around six hours of flying
for well-groomed pilots.

o An Instructor Rating can be added to a CPL or ATP, and requires around 30 hours of flight
training and another hefty exam. Instructors come in three grades: III, II and I, in increasing order of
brilliance. The Instructor Rating provides an excellent opportunity for the newly-licenced
commercial pilot to hone his or her flying skills.

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o Type ratings are required to be able to fly specific aircraft. Simple aeroplanes do not require type
ratings, but some type-specific conversion training is required in any case. Training could vary from
one hour, for well-prepared, experienced pilots learning to fly simple types, to several dozen hours
for inexperienced pilots being spoon-fed on sophisticated types.

o Tug pilot, agricultural pilot, test pilot and safety pilot ratings are added to a PPL or CPL, and are
intended for specialised applications.

Safety-conscious pilots also undergo regular voluntary recurrency training. This type of training does
not lead to the issue of a new licence or rating, but is conducted regularly to ensure that existing skills do
not wane. Recurrency training can consist of route flying, general flying exercises and precision training.
All pilots must undergo regular flight tests to keep their licences current.

Our training approach

Aircraft cost is the single biggest factor in the cost of training. We use new-technology training aircraft,
providing an excellent balance of low cost and good training characteristics.

While the Tecnam and Jabiru are small and simple aircraft, we start from Day One to instil the insight
and discipline to allow you to fly much more sophisticated aircraft. The checklists and procedures
include provision for almost any aircraft you are ever likely to fly. This sound basis will allow you to
step up to more sophisticated machines with ease. We have successfully completed training on a wide
variety of aircraft, including multi-engined turboprop aeroplanes and helicopters.

For advanced licences and ratings, we do the majority of training on the trainers and on our simulator,
with only the final few hours on the more expensive aircraft that will be used for the flight test. Our
experience has been very positive—the resulting training is in every way equal to the more expensive
alternatives offered by other schools.

Our track record

Our senior instructors are university graduates in their thirties and forties. Most of them hold Grade I or
Grade II Instructor and Multi-Engine Ratings, with an average of over 2000 hours of experience. Their
number includes two ATPL holders, two Test Pilots and three Air Force Reserve pilots. Most are rated to
fly jet aircraft, with one being an SAA Boeing 737 instructor.

In the first two years after its establishment at the end of 2003, the school itself completed around 1000
hours of training, including several commercial licences and instrument ratings. We now conduct around
200 hours of training each month.

Yes, but I actually want to fly helicopters…

You can start directly with helicopter training, without having to start with aeroplanes. However, if you
want to fly helicopters professionally, you can realise savings of around 25% by first learning to fly
aeroplanes. We have instructors that are qualified on both helicopters and aeroplanes and can make sure
that you obtain the helicopter pilot’s perspective even during your initial aeroplane training. We can also
arrange helicopter training through our association with schools at Grand Central and Wonderboom

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What does it cost?
Training costs vary, depending on the aircraft type and the pilot’s own abilities and experience. The
biggest single determining factor, though, is the prospective student’s own willingness to work

The PPL is the most popular goal for a new pilot. Legally, it requires 45 hours of flight training
according to the new syllabus introduced in South Africa in 2008, but in practice most part-time students
fly around 55 hours before obtaining the PPL. Costs are conservatively estimated as follows:

o Flight training is the most expensive item by far. To be on the safe side, budget 55 hours of flight
time at R 850 per hour, or around R 44 000, if you are doing it on SFT’s aircraft (with the 5% bulk

o Students are asked to join Kitty Hawk Flying Club. The Club House offers meals and a pleasant
atmosphere, and members can use all their facilities for free. No landing or other fees are charged for
the use of the airport and its facilities (though this may change in future). The annual membership
fee is around R 500.

o Around R 700 for a medical certificate from an approved aviation medical examiner. Names of
suitable examiners can be found on the CAA Web site ( and will be provided with
the study material.

o Around R 1800 annually (or R 150 per month) for insurance excess cover. This policy pays the
excess payment of R 20 000, should you ever be involved in an insurance claim. Suitable cover is
available from Dennis Jankelow and Associates (011 463 5500 or You can
generally use this R 20 000 policy on any aircraft you rent, even from other flying schools, or ones
you buy.

o Around R 2000 for books, maps, tools etc. SFT will provide you with a briefcase containing all the
necessary equipment and the study material. African Sky Pilot Shop at Wonderboom (012 543 1764)
and Wings ’n Things at Lanseria (011 701 3209) sell many interesting goodies for pilots.

o Around R 1200 for licence and examination fees, including the radio licence. The school has two
radio licence examiners on staff. Theoretical examinations now have to be written under the direct
supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority.

o Students are strongly encouraged to join the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association (AOPA-
SA), which represents your interests with the authorities. The annual membership fee of around
R 300 includes a subscription to World Airnews magazine. This organisation is entirely manned by
volunteers and needs your support. You are eligible for full membership when you have flown solo.

o If you do not intend to study the material that you have to prepare for each lesson, you can expect to
be charged for prodding by your instructor. Most of our instructors do not charge for briefing time
associated with reviewing your own studies, but if you have not done your homework, you must
expect to have to reimburse your instructor for the additional time spent.

You will be reasonably safe if you budget R 51 000 for the entire exercise, although you could save a
few bucks here and there by begging, borrowing or stealing. You may also be able to do a few hours on
the simulator, which costs less than half of the aircraft’s rates.

You may also want to budget for a good headset (from R 1200 or so). The school has a headset for your
use during training, but you will probably prefer to have your own in due course. You should also

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consider a multi-purpose tool, some additional information booklets and maps, a torch and a few sick
bags for your flight bag.

Pilots with prior experience, such as microlight pilots, should be ready for anything from a handful to
several dozen hours of instruction, depending on the soundness of their previously-learned flying skills.
The syllabus and testing schedule are not judged primarily according to duration, but rather by skill
level. In any case, such pilots may only be credited with a maximum of 10 hours of experience acquired
on three-axis microlights, and must still fly at least 35 hours under training towards a PPL.

For the Night Rating, a more sophisticated type of aircraft must be used for some of the training. The
school has a suitably-equipped aircraft for the instrument training and an approved simulator. Budget
four hours at R 870 per hour in a trainer, two hours at R 300 per hour in the simulator and six hours at
about R 1100 per hour on the night training aircraft plus around R 500 for books and tools, for a total
budget of about R 11 000. If you have completed your PPL under the old syllabus, or if your instrument
flying skills are rusty, you may need a bit more time.

Most of the training and hour-building towards the Commercial Pilot Licence can be done on our
trainers and in the simulator. Only the final stages of training need be conducted on an aircraft with
retractable wheels and a variable-pitch propeller. Our training makes allowance for the more
sophisticated aircraft from day one.

All training at SFT is pre-paid, and you can pay for each flight separately. If you pre-pay
R 5000 or more at a time, by direct electronic transfer, we’ll give you a 5% additional credit to
your account (i.e. you’ll get R 5250 worth of flying). This discount could save you over R 1000
on the costs of your PPL.

Some common questions

How long will it take me? You can take as long as you wish to complete your training. You could even
fly one hour every six months if you prefer. However, it is best to fly at least twice a week, so that
lessons learned do not have to be constantly re-learned. It makes sense to save up until you have enough
for approximately ten hours, so that you can maintain a reasonable level of continuity in your training.

With reasonably concentrated part-time effort, it is possible to complete a PPL in about three months.
Most students seem to take around six months.

Is the Tecnam or Jabiru a good training aircraft? The answer is “Yes!”. Both teach excellent stick-
and-rudder skills, with all the essential handling characteristics of a larger aircraft. Most training aircraft
use technology from World War 2. The relatively new airframe and engine technologies used in our
trainers combine to reduce operating costs by almost 40%, while maintaining a very similar level of
performance to traditional metal training aircraft.

I’m a big guy. Will I fit into the trainer? Our biggest customer to date was 2,00 m and 125 kg. Enough

Is Kitty Hawk a good place at which to learn to fly? Kitty Hawk provides an excellent learning
environment. It is quiet enough that virtually no training time is wasted while waiting for other traffic. It
is also very close to controlled airports, providing the opportunity for exposure to busy traffic. Students
are required to spend some time in a busy control tower at a big airport to absorb the necessary radio-
speak without the pressure of a noisy cockpit.

Shouldn’t I rather get an MPL (Microlight Pilot Licence)? Probably not. MPL training standards vary
widely. At SFT, most of our students first fly solo after at least 18 hours of dual training. Only at this

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time do we feel that you can control the aircraft well enough to fly safely on your own. Many microlight
schools provide only 15 hours of dual training before setting you free to fly unsupervised anywhere in
the world. The difference shows in the safety record! In addition, if you plan to add any further ratings or
to pursue a professional career in aviation, or if you want to fly anything bigger than a two-seater
aircraft, you will require an aeroplane licence such as a PPL. In general, it’s cheaper and easier to do a
PPL than to first do an MPL and then convert to a PPL. In addition, it is harder to un-learn bad habits
than to learn good habits in the first place. Under the new regulations, an MPL can only lead to a
discount of 10 hours on your training in any case.

Why do you quote for 55 hours of flying? Many flying schools try to mislead you by quoting for 45
hours of flight training. While 45 hours is the legal minimum experience required since the start of 2008,
in practice very few pilots qualify at this level. Part-time students typically take between 50 and 60
hours. If you want to compare quotations, be sure to adjust those figures to a more realistic level first.
The quote in this brochure is based on 55 hours.

Can you recommend some reading matter? While you are getting your ducks in a row, you can make a
good start by buying a good book about flight training and doing some reading. You can buy our
professional-quality book, What to do in an Aircraft Cockpit, from us or various vendors, including
Exclusive Books. It is also available in Afrikaans. Another good choice from the same sources is the Air
Pilot’s Manual, Volume 1, originally by Trevor Thom. The Private Pilot’s Handbook by Dave
Worthington provides a good introduction at a budget price and is available from bookstores.

A good monthly magazine will also help you to find your feet in the wonderful world of aviation.
AOPA-SA currently has a special offer that includes a World Airnews subscription. While this magazine
emphasises professional flying, there are at least two local aviation magazines that emphasise sport
aviation: African Pilot and SA Flyer. All three magazines are high-class glossy publications.

I have an MPL (Microlight Pilot Licence) and would like to take some more advanced training. How
do I go about it? The Civil Aviation Authority gives only 10 hours of credit for your past experience,
and only if you have been flying three-axis aircraft. The rest of the training, a minimum of 35 hours,
must be done under the school’s supervision. You will probably need to obtain a PPL kit and spend some
time on your own to attain the required standard. We find that most MPL holders know the basics of
aircraft handling, but require some help in the areas of procedures, theory and navigation.

Getting started
Contact us today for an introductory flight with one of our instructors. During this flight, you will get the
opportunity to fly the aircraft yourself and see whether you love flying.

Once you decide to tackle training towards a PPL in earnest, we recommend you first obtain a medical
certificate. Anyone in reasonable health can fly, but you may have a problem that you are not aware of.
An aviation medical examiner can point out anything that may influence your subsequent flying. If you
have any aspirations to a professional career or an instrument or night rating, obtain a Class 1 medical
certificate from the start. You don’t need it for a PPL, but that way you can be reasonably certain that
you can fulfil your ambitions later.

More information
Our Web site contains more information, including details of the training that we have already
completed. If you don’t find what you are looking for, please contact us by phone or by email and we
will be delighted to help.

Contact us
012 811 2233 072 201 7222

Learning to fly at SFT

V1.11 © 2003-2008 Superb Flight Training CC