With a heritage built on the pioneering spirit of our founders, we have continued to deliver the best in flying encounters across our flight academy, charter services and for our community of aviators.

Unique to the region, the people of Waikato Aviation have built a reputation for safety, reliability and service second to none. We are dedicated to making the world of aviation accessible to all. From the thrill-seeker's aerobatics to the book worm's flight instructing, there's something for everyone.



There are three types of aeroplane pilot licences.

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PPL is generally for pilots who wish to fly recreationally rather than professionally. It is also a compulsory step towards a career in flying. Whichever type of aeroplane licence you wish to end up with, you will first gain a PPL

Pilots with PPLs are allowed to get a rating in any type of aeroplane and can carry passengers. The only restriction is that they are not allowed to be employed as pilots.

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The Commercial
Pilot LicencE (CPL)

This licence allows a pilot to fly professionally. Generally, a CPL-holder is expected to fly to a higher standard than that required of a PPL, and there are tighter medical and health restrictions. As mentioned before, if your intentions are to fly professionally, you will still first gain a Private Pilot Licence.


The Airline Transport
Pilot Licence (ATPL)

An ATPL is the third type of pilot licence. A pilot who wishes to be a captain, or Pilot In Command, of an aeroplane that can only be operated by two pilots must have an ATPL.

A minimum of 1,500 flying hours is required before a CPL-holder can sit the ATPL flight test. Many professional pilots become employed with CPLs and study for the ATPL's six exams on a long-term basis to prepare for future airline flying. 



  • Commercial Pilot Licence

  • Multi-engine, Constant-Speed Propeller and retractable-gear ratings

  • Night rating

  • Instrument Rating, single- and multi-engine

  • Instructor Ratings

  • Airline Transport Pilot Licence Theory

  • Basic Gas Turbine Rating

  • Biennial Flight Reviews

  • Foreign licence conversion

  • Private aeroplane flight training and ratings 




Almost anyone can learn to fly, regardless of age, gender or educational background, but there are some age and health restrictions.

There are no prior qualifications needed to learn to fly. While high school subjects like Physics, Maths or Science can be helpful, they are certainly not pivotal. As long as you fulfill the legal requirements there is nothing to stop you from becoming a pilot through the Waikato Aero Club.

You must gain a Class Two Medical Certificate before you can fly solo. This will also allow you to get a PPL and is valid for five years at a time. For the CPL, a Class One Medical Certificate is required, which has slightly higher medical standards, and must be renewed annually.


If you have a medical condition, whether or not you are fit to fly will depend on its severity and the nature of your particular case. It is not uncommon to find pilots who wear glasses or have mild asthma. We have a list of aviation medical doctors who are qualified to assess you for a Medical Certificate and may be able to answer questions or queries about medical standards.

Without a Medical Certificate you can fly with an instructor as often as you like, but you will not be able to fly solo or get a licence until you are issued with one.

As for age, young people can begin learning at any time, but you must be over 16 to fly solo, and over 17 to hold a PPL. You must also be 18 before you can get a CPL. Like those who do not hold a medical certificate, if you are under 16 you can fly as much as you like with an instructor.

If English is your second language, you will need to have a good understanding of it and be able to speak fluently. This is because you will need to be able to speak clearly on the radio and quickly interpret instructions and messages from a control tower and pilots of other aircraft.

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In Flight

To complete a PPL you must have accumulated at least 50 hours of flight time. In most cases you will sit your final flight test with more than this. You will spend these hours learning various exercises and manoeuvres. Alongside routine procedures for your future flying, you will also be taught what to do in emergency situations like engine failure or rapidly deteriorating weather - exercises which are simulated only, of course!

Every new lesson begins with a briefing. Your instructor will explain in detail principles behind your flight and what you can expect to make sure that you understand what you are about to learn, and give you the chance to ask questions. 


Your first solo will usually come between your first 10 and 20 hours. When exactly it occurs will depend on when your instructor thinks you are ready. Any difficult weather or flight conditions can also delay your first solo.

Cross-country flying is the last section of the PPL training syllabus. When you begin this part of the PPL you will soon surprise yourself at the proximity and accessibility of places you may have once thought were out of reach or inconvenient. For instance, depending on wind conditions, New Plymouth can usually be reached from Hamilton in little over one hour, and Wellington in two and a half.

During your cross-country flying your instructor will usually help you fly to Great Barrier Island, roughly fifteen kilometres off the north coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, where the Waikato Aviation owns a lodge in which our members and their friends are welcome to stay in.

After a short period of revision and final training, you will sit a PPL flight test. After its successful completion you will be issued with a PPL.

CPL flight training comes after a period of increasing your total flying hours. When you begin, you will undergo advanced cross-country flight training, and learn a few extra flight manoeuvres. When you have reached a minimum of 200 hours you will become eligible to undergo a CPL flight test, which follows a similar format to the PPL version but is examined at a higher standard.




Alongside the flying comes the theory side of your licences.

There are six multi-choice exams for the PPL. Study materials and help are available from us. Most of our students complete their exams over time while continuing the flying side of their PPLs. You can either study by yourself at home, or join our night classes held twice a week. To view the price of our night classes, along with other things you will need to complete a PPL, click here.

The PPL exams are:

  • Flight Navigation
  • Meteorology (weather)
  • Flight Radio Telephony Rating
  • Air Law
  • Aircraft Technical Knowledge
  • Human Factors

CPL exams are the same, but each subject has a higher level of difficulty and a focus on commercial flying. Instead of studying Flight Radio Telephony again, this is omitted and replaced with Principals of Flight, which details the physics and principles behind aeroplanes and how they fly. This is where any Physics or Science qualifications can be particularly useful, but as mentioned earlier, they are not required.

If you decide to self-study and have trouble with any of the aviation subjects, our instructors are happy to help



The flight test

The last step before being issued a PPL, CPL or ATPL is a final flight test. This is conducted by a specially qualified instructor.

The examiner will first spend time with you on the ground going over some general knowledge and flight calculations which you will be well practiced at by this stage. The flight itself can take up to one and a half hours and will consist of an overview of all the exercises you have learnt.

Approaching your flight test, your instructor will ensure you are well prepared and know what to expect.



What is a rating?

A rating is an extra qualification on top of your licence. For instance, you can study for an Instrument Rating, which would allow you to fly with sole reference to the cockpit and fly in cloud.

For every different type of aircraft you fly you will also need a Type Rating. This is because every aircraft has its own handling characteristics and systems. A Type Rating can be quite a brief and straight-forward affair, depending on how much you already know about a new aeroplane. This usually involves a familiarisation of the aircraft's details, capabilities and emergency procedures on the ground, and then some flying with an instructor. There is no minimum number of hours to complete to get a Type Rating; it all depends on you and how easily you learn to fly the new aircraft.

Once you gain a Type Rating for a particular aircraft, you can fly any aircraft designated as that type