Pilots are some of the most skilled and experienced professionals in the aviation industry. They fly planes around the globe, ensuring safe travel for passengers.
How did they get their start?
A career as a pilot requires years of training and experience.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) sets minimum requirements for pilots, who must pass a series of tests before being certified.
In this article, we’ll be going over everything it takes to become a pilot, so you can get a true understanding of just how challenging it can be!
Just like with any highly skilled profession, you can’t just show up without any qualifications and expect to be given a job.
The first step towards becoming an airline pilot is obtaining your private pilot certificate. You need at least 100 hours total flying time, including 10 hours in class B airspace.
You also need to have a valid medical exam from a licensed physician that shows no health issues.
You should also have a high school diploma or equivalent. If you don’t have one already, you will need to take GED exams.
Of course, this level of qualification differs slightly between countries, but the bottom line is that pilots need to have a decent level of school and university education before they can even get their license.
Pilot License Requirements
Once you’ve obtained your private pilot license, you’ll need to go through a process called “check ride.” This is done by a flight examiner who checks your knowledge of regulations and procedures.
It’s important to note that there are two types of check rides: written and oral. Written check rides require you to fill out paperwork while taking a test on paper.
Oral check rides involve an interview where the examiner asks questions about what you know and don’t know about the rules and regulations.
After passing both types of check rides, you will receive your commercial pilot license.
Commercial pilots work for airlines and other companies that operate large aircraft such as airplanes, helicopters, and jets.
Commercial pilots typically hold at least 1,000 hours of total flight time.
In addition to the required amount of flight time, you also need to have completed several courses related to the type of plane you want to fly.
For example, if you’re interested in flying a Boeing 737, you would need to complete a 737-specific training program. These programs usually last anywhere from 6 months to a year.
There are many types of licenses available for pilots. Some of the more common ones include:
- Airline Transport Pilot Certificate – Also known as a multi-engine rating, this allows you to fly passenger planes.
- Flight Instructor Rating – Allows you to teach others how to fly.
- Helicopter Rides Rating – Helps you to safely land and take off helicopters.
- Multi-Engine Land Rated – This allows you to fly multiple engine types of aircraft under one license.
- Single Engine Land Rated – Allows you only to fly single-engine aircraft.
Flight Training Programs
Ok, let’s say you have all the proper qualifications from your school and university, you’re in good health, and you even have your pilot license. What’s the next step?
The most popular way to progress at this point is to attend a flight academy.
There are two main types of flight academies: full service and part-time. Full-service schools offer everything you need to learn how to fly.
They provide all the instruction and equipment necessary to prepare you for your flight tests.
Part-time schools allow students to earn their pilot’s license without having to commit to a long-term relationship with them.
Students must still pay tuition fees, however, which makes these programs less expensive than full-service schools.
You may be able to find free flight training programs online. However, these programs are not regulated by any government agency, so you won’t be guaranteed anything after completing them.
The FAA requires all new pilots to obtain a medical certificate before they can get their license. You can do this either by going to a doctor or getting it certified online.
Once you pass all the requirements, you will then be eligible to apply for your first job as a pilot. The process varies depending on the airline you choose but generally involves applying through a recruitment company.
Similar to flight training programs or ‘flight school’, most pilots will also have to complete some ground school courses.
This is basically the equivalent of a driving theory test that you have to pass before getting your driver’s license.
These courses cover topics such as aerodynamics, navigation, weather, and emergency procedures.
Most airlines require candidates to take an additional course called “Pilot in Command” (PIC) which teaches you about the responsibilities of being a captain.
Is Flight Training Hard?
If you’ve always wanted to become a pilot, now might be the perfect time to start working towards your goal. But, if you think it’ll be easy, think again!
Piloting an airplane isn’t like driving a car. Pilots don’t just sit behind the wheel; they spend much of their day monitoring instruments, controlling the plane’s speed, altitude, and direction.
Plenty of flight school entrants never actually make it to the end of the course for one reason or another.
All kinds of issues like conflicts with instructors, equipment, or their own personal lives can cause potential pilots to fail the course or drop out altogether.
In fact, plenty of pilots who complete the course find out that the career isn’t for them, and they never even progress their flying career beyond that point.
Don’t let this put you off piloting altogether, though. It’s the same thing with any profession that you might get halfway through becoming qualified to do it and decide it’s not for you.
What’s great about having all the qualifications from flight training and a pilot license is that it shows other potential employers that you have a high level of technical aptitude.
Flight training is hard work. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, you could soon be earning a living as a professional pilot. So what are you waiting for? Start preparing yourself today!
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