If you’re thinking of getting your pilot license, you’re probably wondering just how hard it is to fly a plane.

Is it as difficult as it seems or is anyone who is willing to put the time and effort in able to fly a plane and get their license?

4 Factors That Influence How Hard It Is to Fly a Plane

There are a few factors – some of which are outside your control – that can make learning to fly more challenging for some people than others, or under different conditions.


If you only intend to fly on 75 degrees days where you’re surrounded by nothing but blue skies, it’s safe to say that flying becomes a great deal easier.

You won’t have to contend with the elements that can result in turbulence, high crosswinds, and low-visibility that all make flying a plane more challenging.

Type of Plane

As you begin to learn to fly you’ll very likely start off with a Cessna 172 or perhaps even the Cessna 180, Piper Cherokee, Piper Warrior, or similar plane.

This is because these planes deliver greater stability, are more forgiving, and are generally easier and smoother to handle.

If you want to progress and work as a commercial pilot license or airline pilot transport license, there will come a point where you will move to aircraft that aren’t quite as forgiving.


Where you live can play a major role in how hard it is to learn to fly a plane.

If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, you are fortunate enough to experience ideal flying conditions almost all year round. In fact, many people travel to Phoenix just to learn how to fly.

Great weather also means that you won’t have to deal with frequent lesson cancellations that can demotivate even the most motivated of students.

Learning to fly in less congested airspace areas can also make learning to fly a great deal easier, too.

While all these things can make it easier to fly a plane, there is also a downside. You won’t be well-prepared to fly in more challenging conditions. This can be fine depending on your goals and whether you want to progress beyond a private pilot license or not.

Quality of Instruction

Learning to fly is no different than learning any other skill in the sense that the quality of instruction can make all the difference.

A highly experienced, patient flight instructor can not only work wonders in keeping you motivated when things start to get difficult, but also help in making sure that knowledge sticks more easily, and relevant skills are obtained more easily.

What Is the Hardest Part of Flying a Plane?

There’s no doubt that flying a plane involves many factors, including a great deal of concentration and the ability to multitask well, but most pilots will tell you that landings are the hardest part of flying.

When landing, there is little to no margin for error. This is difficult enough in its own right from a skills point of view, but knowing that you have to get it right every single time can be stressful.

Anyone Can Learn to Fly a Plane

While flying a plane is by no means a walk in the park, we believe that practically anyone has the capability to do so, as long as they are motivated and persistent.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the journey will be simple or straightforward, though.

Flying a Plane is Much Harder than Driving a Car

It’s not uncommon to come across well-intentioned pilots who say that flying a plane is no harder than driving a car. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

One of the main reasons why flying a plane is harder than driving a car is down to just how much multitasking is required.

A pilot has to be aware of the weather, navigation, ATC procedures, radar, airspace congestion, and also be able to communicate clearly when using an aviation headset or handheld aviation radio, to name just a few.

Tracking these things individually may not be too hard, but being aware of all of them at the same time poses a much greater challenge.

There is also a much greater need for concentration during take-off, climb, descent, and landing compared to anything that car drivers experience every day.

When flying a plane, your mind practically always has to be active and you always need to be switched on.

The more limited margin for error is another factor.

While it’s true that driving a car is more dangerous than flying a plane, car accidents don’t necessarily have catastrophic consequences if you make a mistake.

An error made when flying a plane is more likely to be deadly or at least cause serious injury.

Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.

Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.

Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.