How to Become a Pilot

by Shenron on October 27, 2009

As a child, I’m sure many of us remember our dreams of wanting to be an airplane pilot. Even after we grow up and realize that it may not be for us, there’s still a little hope inside that maybe one day we can drop everything and learn how to fly planes. What’s surprising to most people though, once they find out that pilots are in short supply, is that there are many different types of pilots. Now, I don’t mean that there are special types of craft that you can learn how to fly, there are really only two options: plane and helicopter. I meant that depending on what you’re interested in, you can get a career as a commercial pilot, meaning someone that flies for the big airlines like Delta or American, or you can be a private pilot or flight instructor. The possibilities are endless and surprisingly, a lot of the “big bucks” are made by not working for an airline.

Pilot How to Become a Pilot

1. Private Pilot’s License: The first step in the whole process of going from an average Joe to a full fledged aviator is to obtain your private pilot’s license. A private license is one that will enable you to fly single engine aircraft at both day and night with non-paying passengers. Single engine aircraft include the ones you’re used to seeing like small Cessna’s and Piper’s.

• There are two components to the private pilot’s license. Your first requirement is to accrue at least 40 hours of flight time. At least 20 of these hours have to be with a flight instructor in the co-pilot chair next to you. The remaining 20 hours can be divided between instructed flight and solo flights. You must be at least 17 years old to obtain a pilot’s license in the United States.

• The second part of the license is to pass the FAA’s written exam. A passing grade on this exam is considered at least a 70%. It’s often joked in the flying community that you only need to know how to fly at least 70% of the aircraft.

• The final step after you accrue your hours and pass the exam is to complete a check-ride. Check-rides are administered by FAA officials to see if you’re capable of successfully flying and landing an aircraft. This is often considered the hardest part of the entire process.

Pilot 5 How to Become a Pilot

2. Instrument Rating and Commercial License: You may have noticed that I put “non-paying passengers” in regards to the private pilot’s license. You can get your license revoked if you ever try to charge for plane rides if you are not commercially certified. To become commercially certified you must obtain an instrument rating for your aircraft which involves another written test and check ride to prove that you are capable of flying your aircraft solely based on your instruments and without visibility, as well as a commercial license. A commercial license also involves a check-ride and at least a few hundred hours in the air with your private license.

Once you have all of those things in place you can apply to work for a major airline or as a flight instructor. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can start work for a private company to fly their staff around.

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