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Flight School in Northern Illinois – Private Pilot, Instrument Rating and More


AOPA Award Winner Also Recognized in the Top 10 Instructors in the Region 7 Years in a Row




Learn to Fly or Get Your Instrument Rating Here

Choose the Plane that You Prefer – Glass Cockpit or Older Round Dial Instruments with Just a Touch of Glass

Glass Cockpit Warrior (TAA) –  G3X Touch PFD/MFD with a G5 Backup – Garmin 530W GPS and a GNC 355 WAAS GPS/COM – Garmin 345 Transponder with ADSB IN and OUT – Aera 660 GPS with a Battery Backup – GFC 500 Autopilot

Everything You Could Possibly Want Displayed on Multiple Screens, Including Weather, Traffic, Charts, Approach Plates, Airport Diagrams and Much More


Our private pilot training outline includes links to FAA reference material & nearly 100 videos that explain things in simple terms to make things much easier to understand. Each lesson includes suggested study material so you know exactly what to study and where to find it, saving you hours of wasted time searching for terms you’ve never heard of.


Students love that the videos are way more detailed than other videos being sold. Our content will be kept up to date as regulations change.  CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL OF OUR COURSES

Presenting a Seminar at the Chicago Aviation Expo

Presenting a Seminar at the Chicago Aviation Expo

Guest moderator at an IMC Club Meeting

Private Pilot Training

Pinch Hitter Training for Your Non-Flying Partner

Instrument Pilot Training

Superior Flight Instruction

With thousands of hours of experience training pilots with a near perfect pass rate, I turned down an offer for a Chief flight instructor position to open my own flight school and give my students everything that I felt was lacking with flight schools today.

Pilot Flight Training Courses is dedicated to giving you the best and most detailed instruction around. We do not teach at a basic level just to get you by, we make sure you get the best, most personal service around and have a blast doing it! Things are very relaxed here so you can feel comfortable and at home which helps open you up for easier learning.

When it is past business hours, we don’t ignore you until the next business day like most schools. We are here for you if you need to talk or clarify anything relating to your training. We don’t ever want to make you feel that you are on your own.

Many young inexperienced instructors only work part time and are only interested in instructing so they can build hours for an airline job, just to leave you in the middle of your training. That will not happen here. Your success is our our only goal and we will be here for you 100%.  We have a well organized outline with online access so you will always know where you are with your training making it much easier for you to prepare and be ready for your lessons. Our outline is custom designed to make your training flow easily and get you finished in the least amount of hours.

We will be constantly adding incentives and new things to improve your experience here and make things easier for you. Don’t put off your dream any longer. Contact us if you want to learn to fly, get your instrument rating, find out about our 10 Day IFR program, or have any other flight training needs. You can call, send us a message or email us at

Stop Dreaming and Start Flying!

What You Need to Get a Pilot Certificate

A minimum of 40 hours of flying time is required per FAA regulations to get a pilot certificate, but the average time is closer to 65 hours. There are ways that this time can be drastically reduced, saving you several thousand dollars! On our end, we have designed a training outline with a natural flow to the learning steps needed to get your license. You will have access to this outline so you always know what we will be doing on each lesson and what you need to study for. Every area will be covered in detail in a way you can easily understand so be sure to bring a notebook and a pen so you can take notes.

Another thing we do to minimize your expenses is to be sure that the only instructors we have, are experienced instructors who are not here to just build flight time for an airline job. They will be chosen carefully and trained to meet the highest standards with an ability to transfer knowledge to you in the simplest way possible so that you understand. We only want the best for you.

Getting a pilot certificate these days can cost $15,000 or more. On your end, to keep cost as low as possible it would help if you could commit to at least 3 lessons per week to maintain proficiency. In between each lesson there will be study time. If you can commit to studying at least an hour or so a day while training 3 times per week, you could potentially save yourself a couple of thousand dollars by the time you are finished. Flying three days per week isn’t mandatory, but it’ll help you keep cost down by keeping your proficiency level up.

Things you’ll need to get started are proof of citizenship (birth certificate or passport), you must be 17 to get your license but can start training earlier. There will be some paperwork to fill out too. There are supplies you will need which are listed in the flight school tab at the top of this site. Once you are in our system, and have lessons scheduled you will get access to the training outline and links to download FAA training material for free. Many of our competitors charge for this material. Call or email to schedule a meeting to get set up as a customer and we will answer any questions you have and fill you in with all the little details about what you will be learning, tests, etc.

Student Pilot Supplies You Will Need When You Start Training
Some are required and some are optional, we will discuss during our first meeting

Requirements to Get an Instrument Rating

This is a fun rating to get! This rating will help you become a much better pilot, fine tuning your piloting skills and knowledge. You may have heard that this is a complicated rating but in our opinion, it is one of the easier ones. By this time you already know how to fly, navigate and communicate with controllers so it’s more about learning different procedures and reading different charts. Of course you will spend time learning to fly by reference to the instruments only, but that really isn’t that bad.

This is another rating that requires 40 hours minimum per the FAA but it can be finished in around 50 hours or less on average. In order to get your instrument rating you will need 50 hours of cross country time as pilot in command. You will do a long cross country flight with an instructor which will count toward that time. The best way to get started is to have the written test done before you start so that you already have a base knowledge of chart reading, regulations, etc. This will make it easier for you because you won’t be trying to figure things out while you are flying.

Flying often and studying a lot helps keep the cost down. You will have online access to our training outline which will help you keep on track with what we will be discussing and doing during each lesson. We do IFR training in our plane or yours and we also offer a 10 day IFR course for those that don’t have much time and want to get it done quickly. You can find out information about that on this page. If you have any questions or would like to get your instrument rating, give us a call or send us an email and we can set up a time to meet and get you set up and ready to go. Don’t forget, we need a birth certificate or passport to prove citizenship before training.

This Course is to Teach Your Non-Flying Partner The Basics

This is more about piece of mind than anything. Many pilots have a non-flying partner that they wish knew how to fly “just in case”. If something happened to you by some small chance, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your partner could navigate to an airport, communicate with the controllers and land the plane safely?

This is basically a 5 lesson course covering control of the plane, instrument familiarization, navigation and chart reading techniques, communication, landing and taxiing the airplane. The course is designed for approximately 5 1/2 hours in the airplane, and several hours of ground instruction and flight instruction. If the student wants or needs more flight or ground instruction to safely complete the course then more lessons can be scheduled. Price is charged per hour for the plane and instructor time for whatever time is needed.

What You Need to Know For a Flight Review

Typically you want to schedule a 3 hour time slot for your flight review. The FAA minimum requirement for a flight review is an hour of ground and an hour of flight covering basic rules, regulations and maneuvers. Some pilots are a little rusty and may need a little extra review so it’s better to have the extra time scheduled. It is not a “pass, fail” thing, it’s more about making sure you are safe. You are supposed to be able to perform to ACS standards, which in most cases is pretty easy to do for an experienced pilot. If you are unsafe or need more work, then instruction time will be logged and another date will be set to try again. Once you complete everything you will get an endorsement from the instructor.

You should bring a sectional and terminal chart, along with a FAR/AIM and Chart Supplement to your flight review so that you have the ability to look up information that you don’t know the answers to. Don’t forget to bring your license, medical and logbook too! Plan on studying before the flight review. A typical review will cover many things on the charts, such as airspace and radio communication and the weather and transponder requirements for each of them. Chart symbols, currency requirements, aircraft inspections, required documents and instruments and also emergency procedures.

The flying part will probably include steep turns, slow flight, stalls, emergency procedures and pattern work at a minimum. Your flight review is good for 24 calendar months, which means the last day of the 24th month. Give us a call to schedule your flight review, we can do it in our plane or yours.

This Requires More Than Just Getting Current

In order to stay IFR current you need to have done 6 approaches and a hold along with intercepting and tracking in the last 6 months. Once you pass that time, you are no longer current and will have another 6 months to regain your currency by doing  6 approaches and a hold along with intercepting and tracking while under the hood with a safety pilot. If that second 6 months passes without getting current, then you can no longer get current by doing approaches with a safety pilot. You would need an IPC.

Many people think that an IPC is just having to do 6 approaches and a hold with a CFII but it’s much more than that. You are not required to do 6 approaches but you are required to do many other things, including partial panel. An IPC is more like a checkride and everything must be to ACS standards. If that means you have to practice and schedule another day to demonstrate it, then that is what has to be done. The ACS lists everything that you have to do for an IPC. It’s best to never let your currency expire but it may be good to review and get yourself held to a higher standard too. Let us know if you’d like to schedule an IPC. Plan to schedule a 3 hour slot but if you’re rusty, you may need to come back again to finish.

Transitioning to a New Aircraft

Many people eventually fly another aircraft or buy an aircraft that they are not familiar with or need training in to be able to fly. You may have bought a complex or high performance plane but don’t have the endorsements to be able to fly it yet. Maybe you are not familiar with the equipment in the plane because it has a glass panel or autopilot. Maybe the insurance company wants you to have time in it. Whatever the reason, we can help you transition into your new plane.

We have experience in many different types of planes and GPS or glass panel systems and can help you get comfortable with your equipment in no time. If you’re looking for a high performance or complex endorsement in your plane, we can help you with that too. Send us an email with the type of plane and equipment you have and we will get you going.

For those of you that are interested in our 10 Day IFR course, see the 10 day IFR course details here! The course is designed to do training in the customers airplane but we can do it in our plane for an additional charge for the plane rental. This is an intense course that requires a lot of concentration and dedication to complete but can really help those that are too busy to train using the traditional method. Make sure to read all the details and prerequisites to be sure you qualify.


8397 Pyott Rd. Lake in the Hills, IL.




Call or Email to Get Started: 847-960-3285 /


AOPA Award Winner Also Recognized in the Top 10 Instructors in the Region 7 Years in a Row



Joe is a breath of fresh air!

I’ve trained at 2 other schools while getting my VFR and it was a nightmare. From instructors only worried about logging hours so they can get their 1,500 hour requirement to apply to the airline, to planes that are literally falling apart, to no centralized programs, it took way longer than needed. Other instructors even stretched out the training on purpose to get as many hours out of each student as possible, not caring that it cost the student more money!

I switched to Joe at Pilot Flight Training Courses on recommendation from a couple of people, and I was, and continue to be, immensely impressed.

Joe has a tailored program to help you become a safe and proficient pilot. Everything has a purpose, makes sense, and helps get you to the next level. He isn’t going to the airlines, and has no intention of leaving you behind. He is there for you the entire way through.

The planes available are in tip-top shape. One is even full glass cockpit with autopilot! This allows you to learn on the latest technology and become comfortable with the latest and greatest in tools available to you.

You’d think all of this would cost way more, but it doesn’t. Joe is fair and charges a fair price.

All in all, I’ve fallen in love with flying again! The lessons are enjoyable, knowledge-packed, and teach you to be a better pilot every day. Be smart, go with Joe!.“

Austin Werner

My name is Gail LaPook and I am a designated pilot examiner in the Chicago area. I have tested many of Joe Standley’s students over the years. I know that when I get one of his people that I am going to see an applicant that has been well taught and well prepared for his encounter with me. He is a really good, detail oriented instructor and gives his students the benefits of his years of experience. He has always called me to get a de-brief of his student’s performance and asks me if there are things he is not covering completely. Usually, my de-brief is a very positive one as I feel Joe takes his job as a flight instructor seriously unlike other instructors that teach at the surface level and short change their students. I have no reservations about praising Joe as a good choice for a flight instructor .

Gail LaPook
Designated Pilot Examiner

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Joe Standley as a professional pilot/flight instructor for more than 20 years.  During my years as an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector and a Designated Pilot Examiner, I have enjoyed evaluating many of Joe’s students for their pilot certificates and ratings. I consistently found Joe’s applicants to be well trained to a correlative level and able to operate safely and knowledgeably within the National Airspace System.

Joe relied upon his experience with the corporate and 135 on-demand charter arenas to educate his students thoroughly and well beyond the minimums required by the appropriate Practical Test Standards.  It was without doubt a pleasure to issue a pilot certificate or additional rating to his trainees.  Because of his commitment to excellence and high training standards, Joe’s applicants were well prepared and enjoyed an above average pass rate.

I feel that choosing Joe Standley as your flight instructor would be a prudent decision.”

Dave Shadle
Retired Designated Pilot Examiner

Joe helped me get my instrument rating! Best flight instructor I have ever worked with. Joe provided a great structured curriculum and was always available to answer any questions I had. Joe provides a more personal experience that you just don’t find at other schools. All around great experience and highly recommend.

Charles Olsen

Even though there are flight schools closer to where I live, it was definitely worth going extra distance to train with Joe. Joe is a very dedicated teacher, tough where he needs to be, never letting you settle for less than perfect. He wants you to progress in your training and pass your check ride on the first try. Training is very structured. Joe has developed his own comprehensive training curriculum, complete with his own video training, all available to his students at no extra cost. Videos are excellent, easy to understand explanations of the material for the entire course. Joe is also very flexible and accommodating as far as scheduling of lessons. Joe has a passion for flying, loves to teach, and has a heart to care about getting you through the finish line. Thanks Joe!”

Dorota Tatkowski

“Anyone who is trying to go from zero to a commercial pilot’s license learns a few things very quickly: training is expensive, time-consuming, and extremely dependent on weather, and instructor availability. I came to Joe as a private pilot who was both frustrated with these facts of flight training and daunted by the idea of getting my instrument rating. His 10 Day Accelerated IFR Program peaked my interest because it cut out the need to compete with other students—he worked exclusively with me for the duration of the program for 8+ hours a day to ensure that the ambitious goal of 40 hours of flight, ground school, and preparation for the check ride were all achieved within the 10 day time frame. Honestly, when I signed up, I had no idea what I was in for, but I was not disappointed.

Before even starting the program, I knew Joe meant business. He provided extensive materials to prepare for the course so that we could maximize our time together. Throughout the experience, his expectations were high. He pushed me to perfection both in the air and on the ground so that I was confident going into my check ride. Flying instrument is incredibly disorienting, but Joe was patient and calm in situations when I was the exact opposite. He is incredibly effective in guiding students through common pitfalls and hazards while in flight. There were many, many times that I doubted in my own abilities, but not once did I doubt my decision in choosing Joe.

Regarding the length of the program, I will not lie. The days were long, but 10 days is almost an insane amount of time to accomplish everything we accomplished. Learning so much material and doing thousands of things at once in the air, I felt a bit like a zombie for parts of the course. That being said, I saw great benefit in being totally immersed in this new skill instead of going the normal route: scheduling 40 hours, hour by hour, and having to take time to re-acclimate myself to flying instrument each time. Having Joe available to me for those 10 days and walking away with an instrument rating was an absolutely incredible feeling. It was made possible by his discipline and high standards, his skills as an instructor, and the energy and detail he put into preparation material.

Joe’s 10 Day Accelerated IFR Program gets my highest recommendation.


Thanks again for all your help!”

Michael Telwak

“I came to Joe with the goal of getting my Private Pilot License in three months. I knew that if I wanted to complete my training at this pace, then I would need an instructor just as dedicated as I planned to be. Joe exceeded my expectations. He made himself extremely available to fly, and was quick to respond over the phone if I had any questions.

Joe has a great balance of making flight training fun, while also staying professional. He challenged me and got the best out of me during every lesson. If it wasn’t for Joe, meeting my goal might not have been possible.

Cole Barkocy

I came to Joe looking to get my instrument rating. He not only got me there but progressed my flying more than I thought was possible during an instrument rating course. I felt enormously prepared and confident going into my checkride and I passed with ease. The FAA examiner said it was one of the best checkrides she had seen in a couple years. And all I did was fly the way Joe had taught me to fly. Joe stands out above other instructors I’ve had because no matter your experience level, he will get you to where you need to be. He demands a lot, but that’s because he knows what you need to do to get better. He motivates you to study hard and sets expectations for your ground training and your flights. He emphasizes precision and will teach you to be consistent, which is the biggest hurdle for a new instrument pilot. Joe teaches the control and performance method of instrument flying and I was amazed by how quickly my airmanship developed. His approach is to fly as much as possible and maintain proficiency. This is essential to doing well on a checkride. During my training, all my time was in the plane, not in a sim, and we flew in IMC as much as possible. Although even when VFR, my training was just as good. He uses products like ForeFlight to increase SA and make the training as real and accurate as possible. It was reassuring knowing Joe wouldn’t send me to the checkride unless I was more than ready. I was definitely ready and he also got me there in a minimum amount of hours. Joe instilled a new level of discipline in my flying and I am grateful for that type of instruction. I did very well in military pilot training, and I attribute a lot of that to what I learned from Joe. He is a phenomenal instructor and I would recommend Joe to anyone who is serious about taking their flying to the next level!

J.B. Scott
F-16 pilot, USAF

“I was introduced to Joe Standley by multiple references from former and current students. The statement that convinced me to select Joe as my instructor was “if you want your check ride to go smoothly learn from Joe.” After completing my desired rating, I have to agree completely.

In addition to a mastery of the skills and knowledge required for the rating you are seeking instruction for, Joe has the experience of many years of instruction. He knows where students are likely to struggle, and what skills are difficult to master. He has several approaches to teaching the same concepts and skills. When I was struggling he was always able to present the concept in another way.

Joe instructed, and expected me to strive for a set performance goal, (such as maintaining altitude, touchdown location or holding banks). He pushes you to develop your skills beyond the tolerance allowed for a check ride. It is hard not to hear his coaching in my ear, encouraging me to improve, when I am up for an enjoyable flight alone.   Now I find that the challenges he presented continue to make me a better pilot. As we all know we are constantly improving and learning with each flight. Joe’s instruction taught me to value those experiences and continue to grow in skill.”

Lindy Rucks

“Joe is an extremely dedicated flight instructor with a real interest in making you the best pilot you can be. His emphasis on flight safety along with a thorough understanding of all aspects of the flight are unparalleled. With his ability to tailor instruction to individual needs, breaking down complex concepts into chewable chunks, Joe accelerates the learning process to expedite training without cutting corners”

Jeff Duszynski

Joe is a fantastic instructor!  He is very dedicated to his role and his students.  I’m convinced his success is largely based on his love of the job, and it shows in the results. 

I found his instruction to be both fun and challenging.  He is patient with students and is capable of helping students get through challenging topics by presenting the material in several different ways.  Joe also has some unique ways to teach & simplify subjects, and present them in a logical manner.  After I completed training with Joe, the check ride was a breeze.  I also felt well prepared to go out and use my rating.”

Dale Randol

“I first met Joe a few weeks into my PPL training when we ran into each other at a fly-in breakfast restaurant. I made a mental note to remember Joe because he was sharp, friendly, and focused. By that time, I was already working with another CFI and I continued down that path for many flight hours. When time came to prepare for my checkride, I realized that I was woefully unprepared. My first attempt at the PPL oral exam was a disaster and I knew that I had no chance on the flight portion. That is what can happen when you don’t spend time selecting the right instructor.

I reached out to Joe and he agreed to work with me to help re-train me to prepare for the checkride flight while I prepared for the oral test on my own. On the first simulated checkride with Joe, I failed every single one of the procedures. I was dangerous with a real lack of knowledge. Joe helped me understand my shortcomings in a professional way and even though I was very embarrassed, I knew I could work with him and that he would get me prepared. Over the next few weeks, Joe taught me to fly. This time, the right way. He coached, gave firm and clear corrections when needed and he kept me motivated. It was a tough few weeks but in time, I developed confidence. I knew exactly what was expected of me and I strove to reach those goals of perfection.

When Joe said I was ready, I began to fly solo again and I prepared for the checkride. By the time the exam day came, I was very confident. I knew what to do and I knew I could do it. I often thought of Joe because he taught me so many tricks to make procedures and techniques easier. With the confidence that Joe gave me, flying became a joy and I looked forward to flying with the DPE.

I passed the checkride with NO problems…. all thanks to Joe.

Now, I’m just beginning my real path to becoming a pilot but I feel so lucky to have run into him that winter morning over breakfast. My only regret with my flight training so far is that I didn’t go with Joe to start. He’s an excellent instructor. He will train you and he will make you a safe pilot. Talk to several instructors and I’ll guarantee that you will find that Joe is one of the best.”

Michael Richardson

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