Phone: 207-324-8919
Open 7 days a week from 7 AM to 5 PM
Open until 7 PM Memorial Day - Labor Day
Important Notice Regarding COVID19 Response
Southern Maine Aviation is following current CDC guidelines regarding COVID 19

Private Pilot Training

Has the time come for you to live out your dream of learning to fly? We do this every day!

We can help you work out a feasible and effective way to earn your private pilot certificate and have a great time doing it. We can formulate a plan around your schedule so that you can work, attend school, and make flying a part of your life too. We have a diverse population of students and renters from all walks of life and we take pride in working with each individual to successfully achieve their private pilot certificate. Give the gift of flight, students can start as young as 16!

Formulating a plan around your schedule creates a feasible and effective way to earn your private pilots certificate. We take pride in working with each individual to successfully achieve their private pilots license.

✈ Two FAA approved training options available
✈ Self-study internet ground training available
✈ Convenient Online Scheduling
✈ iPad with charts provided for each aircraft
✈ Modern, immaculate fleet of aircraft
✈ Formal Classroom Style Ground School Available
✈ On site testing center for FAA exams
✈ Syllabus structured training
✈ Pilot supplies and materials available on site

Instrument and Commercial Training

Instrument Training

Clouds? Weather? Enhance your skills and your safety and experience level with instrument training. New England weather offers us the opportunity to get some great instrument flying experience, and it allows us to practice good judgement and saying “no way today!” We can plan a customized course of instrument flight and ground training that works for you! Our instrument instruction is challenging! And if the weather is just too awful to fly, we can keep making progress in our motion-equipped Redbird simulator.

Commercial Training

Thinking about making aviation a career or second job? Advancing your flying skills by obtaining a commercial certificate can open doors to an aviation career. We can help you make this happen! Based on your experience, we can plan a customized course of training that will work for you and have a good time doing it. Most of our instructors have airline, corporate, or military backgrounds and we will train you to fly as professionally as we can. Are you ready for a challenge?

We are an FAA Approved Flight School.
Part 141 or 61 training is available.

Give us a call if you have questions!

The Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport is a great location for instrument training. The airport has a variety of instrument approaches and close to the Portland and Portsmouth airspaces. Depart to the north and talk to Portland Approach, depart to the south and talk to Boston! And if the weather is just too awful to fly then we can utilize the full motion Redbird Simulator to continue the progress in your training. Give us a call and we can answer your questions!

Backcountry Experience Training

Are you looking to expand your light aircraft experiences? In our best New England summer weather, learn how to get in and out of small grass and dirt strips near the White Mountains and along the coast of Maine. We have dozens of great charted and non-charted airports that we are able to fly into! We can bring a picnic lunch, stop for ice cream at a dairy farm, and buy lobster for dinner along the coast! The options for this four hour adventure are nearly limitless. No previous experience required but you must at least have a student pilot certificate.

Tailwheel Training

Some pilots really love to fly tailwheel airplanes and for them we have a Citabria. Ours was built in 2004, though the design dates back to Grandpa’s time. It is truly “stick and rudder” flying, with fantastic visibility. If you want to get your tailwheel endorsement and open the doors to a whole new world of aircraft and experiences then look no further. We’d be happy to discuss the training with you!


Andrew Button
Full Time Monday-Friday
Andrew Button has been flying since sixteen and has never grown tired of the view. He enjoys flying with a variety of people and different airplanes. He has a small family and enjoys hiking and lake life. Andrew is the Chief Instructor at Southern Maine Aviation and has diverse experience in aviation training and management. He dreams of ocean sailing.
Paul Hodak
Tuesday and Wednesday
Paul Hodak is a retired American Airlines Captain and former flight instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has more than twenty-eight thousand hours of flying experience, from Cessnas to wide-body commercial airliners. Instructing at Southern Maine Aviation has given Paul an opportunity to share his experience with recreational and professional aviation enthusiasts alike.
Richard Whicker
Saturdays and By Appointment
Rich Whicker learned to fly a taildragger in Jaffrey, NH in 1970 and has a multitude of professional flying jobs since. Rich has had a lifelong passion for anything that flies. Ask what is the most important quality a flight instructor must have? “A strong sense of self-preservation”.
Sue Tholen
By appointment
Sue Tholen has been instructing at Southern Maine Aviation part-time for the last 15 years, while working in real life as a structural engineer and IT data analyst and whatever new career suits her fancy. She loves flying taildraggers into interesting new places and has recently taken the plunge into attempting a kit built airplane.
James Stickney
Weekends and by appointment
James Stickney earned his private pilot license in a taildragger then learned to fly aerobatics before continuing on with his other ratings. He currently works in the power generation industry but enjoys sharing his passion for aviation as a part time instructor at Southern Maine Aviation.
Christian Hemenway
Christian Hemenway started flying in 1985 and received his private pilot certificate in 1986. In 1989 he iced the cake with his Instrument, Commercial, CFI & CFII. He worked for a flight school out on Long Island, NY before returning home to Maine to work at his family’s business. He have always loved flying and enjoy sharing that passion with everyone that he works and flies with!
John Gary
By appointment
John Gary has been a regular fixture at the Southern Maine Aviation and the Sanford Airport for the last twenty years. John is a designated pilot examiner and a great resource to the pilot population here at Southern Maine. John can build anything out of wood and is fairly skilled in the kitchen as well.
Nicholas Heyland
Seasonal by appointment
Nicholas Heyland is a college student graduating in May 2019 from Bridgewater State University with a degree in Aviation science and a concentration in flight training. Nick is one of our seasonal flight instructors, who spends his spare time surfing, skiing and camping. He started flying at SMA back in 2013 at the age of 16 and now teaches for the flight school.
Cindy Daigle
Part Time
Cindy Daigle is a part-time instructor that started flying 20 years ago. Her day job is a Business Systems Manager but she feels that sharing her passion for aviation as an instructor is a dream come true! When not flying taildraggers, light sport aircraft and gliders, you may find her in her hanger working on her Aeronca Champ. The next dream is aerobatics! Cindy enjoys camping, kayaking, and hiking with family and friends.
Chad Rassmussen
Full Time Tuesday-Saturday
Chad joins us from Louisville Kentucky. As the son of a UPS pilot he has been exposed to aviation his whole life. After graduating college from Franciscna University he trained with ATP, and then taught as a multi-engine instructor for FlightSafety Academy. Chad joins us as a full-time instructor excited to continue sharing his passion for aviation to new and seasoned pilots alike. Chad enjoys riding motorcycles, cooking, and the outdoors among many other things.
Richard Peterson III
Full Time Friday-Tuesday
Richard is a native New Englander and joins us from New Hampshire. He trained at ATP and is excited to join the local aviation community and train new pilots. Richard enjoys his family, outdoor activities and playing with his pet ferret, Ricardo.
John Tiplady
Full Time Monday-Friday
John Tiplady started flying at the ripe age of 11 at his hometown airport of Beverly, MA. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he obtained most of his ratings. He has a passion for teaching, taildraggers, and flying aerobatics. When John isn’t flying, he enjoys nature walks with his dog, Piper, and photography.

Our Fleet

Beechcraft Duchess N6928H
Immaculate low time 1984 Beechcraft Duchess with new interior, paint, and engines. Counter rotating 180 HP engines. Garmin G5 glass equipped flight instruments and Garmin 530 / 430 avionics, autopilot.
Pricing: $400/hour and $75/hour for multi-engine instruction.
This aircraft is currently dual only.
C172SP G1000 N11682

New to our fleet! 2006 Skyhawk G1000 glass panel is here! IFR certified with KAP140 autopilot will make an easy transation from our other SPs. For students seeking to become a professional pilot, the G1000 is the most widely used glass trainer platform.

G1000 Checkout Policy

Pricing: $165/hour
Citabria 7GCBC N291CA
Our 2004 Citabria 7GCBC is a great taildragger, with awesome responsiveness and visibility. It is available for solo rental, tailwheel instruction and spin training endorsements Garmin 250XL manual.
Pricing: $150/hour
C172 SP N53468
Our 2003 Skyhawk SPs are the backbone of our training fleet. IFR certified with KAP140 autopilot, King KLN94 GPS, and 180hp.
Pricing: $160/hour
C172 SP N916BA
Our 2002 Skyhawk SPs are the backbone of our training fleet. IFR certified with KAP140 autopilot, King KLN94 GPS, and 180hp.
Pricing: $160/hour
C172 SP N172TG
2002 Skyhawk SPs are the backbone of our training fleet. IFR certified with KAP140 autopilot, King KLN94 GPS, and 180hp. and JPI-701.
Pricing: $160/hour
C182 RG N7131S
Wow – HSI, DME, KAP/KFC 200 autopilot w/ flight director, traffic, King KLN94 GPS and 150 kt cruise! Retractable gear and 235hp.
Pricing: $190/hour
Redbird Motion Simulator
Our FAA-approved advanced training device simulates a traditional Skyhawk as well as a G1000 Skyhawk.
Pricing: $75/hour

Commonly Asked Questions

We have had students as young as 12 and as old as 92. It is a good idea to be tall enough to be able to reach the rudder pedals. The FAA requires a pilot to be at least 16 years of age to solo and 17 years of age to take the practical test.
A Discovery Flight is your first flight lesson. It is your introduction to the airplane and the world of flight. Actual flight time is about 30 minutes, during which the student takes the controls for some basic flight maneuvers. The instructor handles the take off and landing, with the student following along on the controls. At the end of the flight there will be a debriefing to go over the flight and to plan for your next lesson. Allow about one and a half hours. The cost is $109 and includes your first logbook.
We are open 7 days a week, 7 am to 5 pm. In the summer we are open until 7pm. You can arrange for a lesson any time in that block, or after hours by prior arrangement with your instructor.
We supply the airplane and headset. You’ll need to be comfortably and appropriately dressed for seasonal weather. Sunglasses are a nice accessory on sunny days, but not required.
The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of instruction and experience for a private pilot certificate. Most pilots require 60 or more flight hours to prepare them for their practical test. A lesson usually includes one hour of flying. We recommend 3 to 4 lessons a week, but some students pace it at one or two lessons a month.

Aircraft Rental $9,900

60 hrs @165.00/hr

Flight Instructor Time $1,950

30 hours @$65/hr

Books, test fees, misc. $800

Total $12,650

Note: Cost shown are estimates and are based on typical hours, not minimum requirements. Prices are subject to change.

This will happen after both you and your instructor feel you are ready. The FAA requires you to have passed your flight physical, be 16 years of age, and your instructor has signed an endorsement in your logbook that you are ready. That first flight alone is referred to as your “Solo” and generally happens after 12 to 20 hours of instruction.
There is no need for any bookwork before you take your first flight. There is some studying involved in flying, to learn the regulations and the inner workings of an airplane, but that can be done as you work on developing your flying skills. The FAA has a required written test, but it’s multiple choice and they tell you the questions and possible answers beforehand, so don’t sweat it. There are a lot of study aids, videos and classes available to help you learn the material. We can help you find one that works for your learning style.
We make our aircraft available for rent to licensed pilots for anything from a quick flight along the coast to a month long trip to explore the west. There are thousands of public airports in the United States hoping you’ll stop by.
Most of our students start their lessons in one of our Cessna 172’s. These high wing four seat aluminum airplanes are known as “Skyhawks”. They are comfortable, predictable and very well built, making them one of the most popular – and safe – training aircraft ever built. Some pilots really love to fly tailwheel airplanes and for them we have a Citabria. Ours was built in 2004, though the design dates back to Grandpa’s time. It is truly “stick and rudder” flying, with fantastic visibility.
We want flight training to be safe AND fun. It isn’t safe if thunderstorms are in the area or the clouds are low. It isn’t fun if it is really windy or turbulent or cold. Book your lesson when you can and if the weather is outside your comfort zone (or ours), we’ll just cancel the lesson and fly on another day.