New ASA Instrument Pilot Oral Exam Guide Released!

The Eleventh Edition of the Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA) Commercial Pilot Oral Exam Guide was just released on May 30th, 2024. Originally written by Michael D. Hayes, after his retirement I had the pleasure to again continue his work with ASA to help update the book. When I and the team at ASA worked on updating this book, we also made sure we incorporated changes that we knew were coming in the new Instrument Pilot ACS that becomes effective tomorrow, so this book should serve every well even with those changes.

ASA’s Oral Exam Guide Series is an excellent study tool for students and instructors alike. Arranged in a question-and-answer format, this comprehensive guide lists the questions most likely to be asked by evaluators during the practical exam and provides succinct, ready responses. FAA references are provided throughout for further study.

Additional study material for Instrument Instructor (CFII) candidates and guidance for instrument proficiency checks (IPC) make this book valuable both for instructors and for pilots preparing for the Instrument checkride or an IPC.

Click here to see the ASA Press Release for the book release.

Check out the updated book at:

You can buy this at Amazon by clicking here.

or buy it directly from

ASA’s website by clicking here.

How Many Hours is Average for a _______ Pilot Certificate?

A few years ago I went back through a bunch of practical tests I had given and came up with some averages of how many hours people had when they completed practical tests. With a couple more years of tests completed, I figured was time to update the sample size and see where the data falls with more input.

The goal was to answer the question, how many hours does a pilot typically have when they complete a private or commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating? So, I compiled hours for each event from each practical test I have given through the end of 2023 and this is what I found.

Private pilots have an average of 76 hours when they complete their certificate.

While the FAA minimum is 40 hours (less potentially in an FAA-approved 141 program), few actually complete their certification at that low of hours. Most take a few more hours.

I then broke down the difference between those who completed their training in a 141 program versus in more traditional 61 pilot training.

78 Hours were the average for 141 private pilots; and
72 Hours were the average for 61 private pilots

When it came to instrument ratings, the numbers flipped.

Instrument pilots too an average of 141 hours to get to the completion of an instrument rating.

In this case, those who completed their instrument ratings in 141 programs did so on average with significantly fewer hours.

127 Hours were the average for 141 instrument ratings; and
253 Hours were the average for 61 instrument ratings

When it came to initial commercial pilot certifications, the 141 pilots again had feweer hours on average than those who complete their certifications under part 61 training.

320 Hours were the average for 141 initial commercial single-engine certificates; and
382 Hours were the average for 61 initial commercial single-engine certificates

A more specific example related to initial commercial pilot certificates issued for applicants who completed a multi-engine commercial certificate as their initial commercial certification. All but one of my sample size did this in a 141 training program.

Applicants for initial commercial mult-engine certificates did so at an average of 200 total hours of flight time.

This is an example of how 141 programs do shine and end up having the products of their training complete their initial commercial pilot certification at significantly lower hours than the total 250 hours that would be required for pilots who do not complete their training in a 141 program. This allows them to then proceed from this point frequently to an added commercial single-engine certification and on to a CFI certificate after that.

There are a few other points of data here that I collected that may be of some interest, relating to how much PIC time, how much total instrument time, how much simulator time, or even how much overall instruction was received for students on average and broken down between students in 141 versus 61 training programs. Feel free to dig through the data points here and see what you find interesting.

I can’t say that this data is an example of what happens everywhere, but with a general sample size and a variety of locations where I provide tests, I thought it was at least an interesting set of data to share.

You may be reading this and thinking about how you compare to these numbers. Whether you have more or less hours than these average. But in the end, does it really matter?

It isn’t about the hours, it is about when you were proficient and had the knowledge, skills, and risk management abilities to meet the requirements for the particular certificate or rating. Plus, if you are doing the training for a career path goal, they are all hours that count toward that eventual ATP certificate anyway. And that one requires a few more hours on top of these.

10 Things in My Hangar and Plane You Might Want in Yours That You can Get on Amazon

Over many years of flying, there are a few things that I have run into that I keep in my aircraft or hangar that aren’t as common as others, have unique applications, or are just the best version I have found so far to get a job done or be reliable. So, I thought I might share a few of some of these with you in case you might also find them useful.

[Small] Olive Drab Mini Army Style Flashlight

A smaller flashlight based on the larger traditional military style flashlight, it comes with multiple color lenses in the bottom that can be screwed in over the beam also. It is only just a little over 6 inches in length, has a full on switch, and has a button that you can use to “push button” on and off for temporary use.

I personally like the blue light lens on it because it doesn’t lose as much color in the cockpit, but it also isn’t as bright as the white.

Click here to find it on Amazon.

LED Upgrade Bulb for Olive Drab Mini Army Style Flashlight

I probably wouldn’t do the above flashlight without doing the LED bulb upgrade. They last longer, they don’t break a filament when you drop the flashlight, and they are a good brightness.

It is a quick swap out to change the bulbs and well worth the effort.

Yup, this can also be found by clicking here on Amazon.

TAC-FORCE Spring Assisted Opening EMT EMS ORANGE Rescue Folding Pocket Knife

It isn’t expensive, it takes a beating, it has a seatbelt cutter, and its a generally decent knife. Oh, it also has a glass breaker punch on it. it works for one-handed flip out and is a locking blade also.

This is honestly my everyday carry knife that I beat up and don’t care if lose one because it is only $13.80.

I know you are surprised, but you can here to find it on Amazon.

Standard Multi-Bit 15-Piece Ratcheting Screwdriver

A basic ratcheting driver set, I keep one of these in my plane for loose screws whenever I find them. The bits fit nicely and hold in securely and there are even a few basic sockets in there also.

I have found use for this pretty basic tool many times, and it even gets through TSA on an airline, so it goes with me when I travel to pick up planes also.

Did you think that you could also click here to find it on Amazon?

Gerber Gear Multi-Plier 600 Needle Nose Pliers Set Bladeless Multi-Tool – 14-in-1 EDC Gear Multi-Tool

Most multi-tools don’t make it through TSA either, but this one [can] if you do it correctly. It will likely take a little explanation and a more detailed look than the baggage scanner, but you can remove the blade on this particular multi-tool.

There are general tools like the pliers, file, scissors, and others, but the thing I remove from this is the blade that is a “RemGrit saw” so it doesn’t actually end up having a blade when I travel. I have used this tool to strip wires, multiple tools with the pliers, and the screwdriver tools too many times to count. It’s another staple in my kit.

Hey, this one is also available by clicking this like to go to Amazon.

Coast HX4 80 Lumen Dual Color (White & Red) Magnetic LED Clip Light with Beam Rotation

Another light I leave in my plane usually is this one. With a rotating head and the ability to make it a red light, it is versatile. But it also has a clip on it.

I have clipped it in place when doing a preflight, when working on something, on a hat bill, on a cowling when filling oil, on the panel when wanting to see an instrument with a burnt out bulb, and more. I have also clipped them to a headset band as a forward looking light.

I can’t tell you how long the batteries last, because, I honestly haven’t had to change them in the one of these I have been using for 2 years yet. So, generally, they seem to last.

Good thing, Amazon also has this one. Click here to get it.

Listo 1620 Grease Pencils

A trick a fellow pilot gave me years ago, you can write on a windscreen of an aircraft with a grease pencil and wipe it back off. The upper left corner of my windscreen gets this treatment sometimes with quick notes, frequencies, and clearance information. I keep a couple of these in my flight bag and use them more than I originally thought I would.

Be sure to have a good non-windshield-scractching cloth with you to wipe this off though. They aren’t very big, and they come in packs of 12 how I guy them, so you can afford to lose them once in a while.

Not to be harder to find, these are also available via the services of Amazon.

Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Mechanical Pencil

Another writing tool, but one that is tougher and doesn’t leak ink at all, is a traditional pencil. I like the mechanical one that Rite in the Rain makes that has a durable resing and metal barrel. It is tough. I have dropped it, thrown it to friends, stepped on it, and dragged it around in backpacks and flight bags all over. As long as you have replacement lead for it, it keeps working. It isn’t standard lead you buy with most more engineering-based pencils, it is thicker, so make sure you have the right stuff, but this one is a flight bag staple for me.

I like the yellow because it is easy to find, but I do think they com in other colors also. The thick lead on this makes it an easy to use in the cockpit writing tool that make thick like and doesn’t break the lead easily. A good notebook for clearances and this pencil go a long way.

Amazon also has this, you can click here to get one (or more).

Flexible Draining Tool Funnel Foldable Oil Drain Flexible Funnel

Not every oil drain, or filter, is in the easiest place to get at without making a mess. A mechanic friend of mine turned me on to these foldable, flexible, oil [or other fluid] funnels. Moldable plastic allows you to make a funnel that can help direct fluids to where it is easier to connect, or even into another funnel or hose that will collect the liquid.

In my Stinson, I can fold one of these under the oil drain or the filter and transit the oil to a more manageable collection spot out of the way of many of the other hoses, equipment, and mounts that are otherwise in the way of me not making a mess when I change the oil. I use them on my boat also.

Get yourself a flexible funnel on Amazon by clicking here.

Prist Acrylic and Plastic Windscreen Cleaner

At some point, you will need to clear the windscreen of your aircraft. I honestly also use this stuff to clean bugs off the leading edges of both metal and fabric aircraft. Good no-scratch cloths and this stuff go a long way to seeing outside better and getting the bugs off the leading edges.

Grab a couple cans, and start keeping your plane a little cleaner.

Again, Amazon can help you find this by clicking here.

If you made it to the end of this list and decided to buy everything, you might be wondering how much it might set you back.

At the writing of this, all of this loot would cost you a total of $202.23. Not bad for this many tools. The Gerber tool is the biggest cost at a little over $65, so for under $200.00, you can have a bunch of useful stuff to add to your flight bag or hanger tool chest.

Before the winds, Charlie returns from annual.

Catching a late afternoon opportunity to get some clear skies and lower winds, before they are going to ramp up for a few days again, Charlie came home from her annual inspection.

A new beacon on the tail, she had little else to address this year thankfully (for her and me!)

A quick half-hour flight back, it was a little bumpy and both of us were happy to be back on the ground and Charlie back in her hangar.

Now it’s spring flying season, and I plan to travel to as many places as possible that make sense with Charlie over the next few months. If you happen to have a checkride coming up, don’t be surprised if I arrive with Charlie.