How to Become a Pilot: Everything You Need to Do

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In 2019, there were around 127,100 pilots which proves it’s a popular industry to be in.

Pilots have a fantastic career where they explore new countries, enjoy job security, and meet like-minded people. Perhaps you want to become a pilot but you’re not sure where to start.

Sounds familiar? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how to become a pilot.

Try a Discovery Flight

If you’re determined on becoming a pilot then contact a flight school and ask whether you can take a discovery flight. This gives you an insight into the world of flying and what to expect as a pilot.

During your discovery flight, a professional flight instructor will accompany you and handle the takeoff and landing. And, if you’re lucky, they may let you take the controls once you’re in the air. This is also a great time to ask any questions you have about flight school and what the job entails.

Note that discovery flights last between 30 minutes to an hour and cost up to $250.

Apply for FAA Medical Certificate

Before you learn how to fly a plane, you must apply for an FAA Medical Certificate. This proves that you’ve passed the basic medical requirements so you’re fit enough to fly. If you want to fly professionally, then you must meet a higher standard than recreational pilots so apply for a certificate from an Aeromedical Examiner (AME).

Go to Flight School

It’s a no-brainer that pilot school is the best environment to learn the ropes. One type is a Part 141 school which has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and has a rigid, fast-paced teaching structure. 

A bonus of choosing a Part 141 school is that fewer flight hours are required to get your licenses. You only need 35 hours while other institutions demand 40, useful if you are eager to start your career quickly.

Or choose a Part 61 school if you’re unsure how to learn to fly a plane. This offers students more flexibility so budding pilots learn at their own pace and learning style. Part 61 schools are great if you want to train on a part-time basis but it will take longer.

If you’re interested then check out the Orlando Flight School: https://www.l3commercialaviation.com/us/airline-academy/faa-pilot-training/orlando-flight-school/.

Take an Airline Cadet Programs

Another option is to join an airline cadet program which many airlines offer. Requirements vary but candidates must have a good level of English, hold a high school diploma, be legally allowed to work in the U.S, and hold a valid passport.

You don’t need any flight experience as the four-year program will cover the essentials of becoming a pilot. But you must be 19 years old and the total cost is around $120,000 which includes tuition, accommodation, supplies, and transportation.

Consider Joining the Military Service

Another route is flying in the military whether it’s for the Air Force or Navy. You’ll become a commissioned officer but you’ll need a degree from a civilian college or university.

Once you’re in an office, you must go through pilot training where you must pass an array of aptitude tests. The bonus of joining the military is that they’ll pay you to train, great if you don’t have the funds for an airline cadet program.

Earn a Private Pilot Certificate

You can also earn a private pilot certificate if you’re at least 17 and fluent in English. First, complete ground training with a certified flight instructor and they’ll cover key principles like aerodynamics, stall recovery techniques, and how to navigate the plane.

Then you must take an exam and log in 40 hours flight time to get your license.

Get Your Instrument Rating

If you want to fly through clouds, rain, and unclear skies then you must master your cockpit instruments. It’s difficult to navigate through zero visibility so this is a useful skill to have as a pilot. To get certified, take a ground training course, pass the written exam, and log 50 hours as a pilot along with 40 hours in a simulator.

Accumulate Flight Hours

Flight hours are key if you want to become a pilot. Note that before you can qualify for your Airline Transport Pilot certificate, you’ll need around 1,500 hours. Feeling overwhelmed? Then get a certified flight instructor (CFI) certificate and teach others how to fly as it’s a quick way to accumulate the necessary hours.

Earn Your Airline Transport Pilot (ATP)

If you want to become a commercial airline pilot then you’ll need an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. This shows that you’re eligible to fly a large aircraft.

To qualify for this certificate, you must be at least 23 years old, have a commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating, and a medical certificate. You must also log around 1,500 hours of flight time, complete ground school training, and have 10 hours in a simulator.

There’s also an MTP Multiengine Airplane written exam to pass before you can get your certificate.

Getting Your First Pilot Job

You’re officially certified to become a pilot. Congrats! To be a good candidate, you must work well with teams, under pressure, and be able to adapt to changing schedules. Pilots must also be flexible, willing to spend extended periods away from home, and constantly be prepared for flight duty.

That’s How to Become a Pilot

Hopefully, you now know how to become a pilot.

Start with a discovery flight to see whether you like it then apply for a flight school to get the required certificates. Pilots constantly learn to get their instrument rating, necessary flight hours, and start applying for jobs. Good luck!

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