An instrument rating permits you to fly without visual references to the ground, horizon, and other landmarks. You will be able to fly through clouds, rain, fog, etc., all of which restrict visibility. This skill is particularly useful when you fly long distances, which can be difficult without encountering weather systems requiring instrument pilot skills. Similarly, time critical flights may be possible only under instrument flight rules (IFR) due to adverse weather conditions.

Achieving an instrument rating is not only a fun pursuit, but a worthwhile accomplishment. You will gain the increased skill and confidence that comes from the precise flying required for this rating. For those pursuing a career in aviation, the Instrument Rating and the knowledge you will receive during training is essential.

Steps to Success

An instrument rating is added to your private or commercial pilot certificate upon satisfactory completion of your training program, a pilot knowledge test, and a practical test. Your private or commercial pilot certificate will look the same, except it will have the words “Instrument Airplane” typed on the certificate under the ratings section.

Step 1: Prepare for and pass the FAA Knowledge Test

The Gleim Online Ground School guarantees you will pass the written exam.

Purchase the Gleim Instrument Pilot Kit. This kit includes everything you need to study and reference in order to prepare for the FAA Knowledge Test, also known as the written exam. This computerized test has 60 multiple choice questions.

Online Ground School: Instrument Pilot

Learn the material quickly with the Gleim Online Ground School. This course guarantees you will pass the written exam. It is included with our Deluxe Instrument Pilot Kit.

Deluxe Instrument Pilot Kit with Online Ground School

The Gleim Deluxe Instrument Pilot Kit is an all-in-one program designed to expedite training for the Instrument Pilot certificate. 

Step 2: Choose a flight school

Talk to several instructors. Tell them you are pursuing an instrument rating. A CFII is a Certificated Flight Instructor-Instrument. This means they are qualified to teach the required training for your instrument rating. Evaluate each as a prospective instructor. Visit several flight schools, if more than one is available, to talk to flight instructors about flight lessons. Visit our CFI Directory to locate a CFII near you. Alternatively, look for aircraft schools, airplane instruction, aircraft sales, or airports, online or in the Yellow Pages.

It is important to choose a flight instructor with whom you will feel comfortable. This may be difficult to determine after only a short meeting or introductory flight; however, you will certainly learn more when you are ready to learn and comfortable with the learning environment. Speak with several instructors. While there are no perfect answers, the following questions should be asked. The objective of these questions is to gain insight into the flight instructor's personality.

Learn more about FAA-approved Part 141 Online Ground School

Questions to ask a flight school or Flight Instructor

How much actual IFR experience do they or their instructors have?

Do they use the Gleim training material?

What are the projected costs for their training program?

What is the rental cost for their training aircraft?

What are the solo and dual instruction rates?

Do they have a flight simulator? If so, what is the rate and is it approved to log time? How much emphasis do they place on simulator instruction?

Ask for the names and phone numbers of several persons who recently attained the instrument rating under their direction.

Is the flight instructor willing to do some training in actual IFR conditions?

Does the flight instructor's schedule and aircraft availability fit your schedule?

Where will they recommend that you take your knowledge test? What is its estimated cost?

Where will they recommend that you take your practical test? What is its estimated cost?

Once you begin your pilot training, you will need IFR charts, including low en-route and instrument approach charts, a chart supplement, and a copy of your Aircraft Flight Manuel (AFM) or Pilot Operating Handbook (POH). Make sure that the CFI is familiar with Gleim pilot training materials (the books with the red covers) and is enthusiastic about using them. If you encounter hesitation, call (800) 874-5346.

Step 3: Make a plan

Once you have made a preliminary choice of a flight instructor, you need to sit down with your flight instructor and map out a plan.  

1. When and how often you will fly.

2. When you will take the FAA pilot knowledge test.

3. When you should plan to take your FAA practical test.

4. When and how payments will be made for your instruction.

5. Take and pass your knowledge and practical tests!

Now go fly!

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