So, You Want to Be a Pilot…Now What?
By Brandon Martini, COO, Stratus Financial
What does it take to climb the ranks of professional piloting? It’s not just about mastering the controls and understanding flight mechanics. It requires hard work, dedication, and passion. It demands physical fitness, mental resilience, and grit.
Becoming a pilot isn’t an overnight process; it takes time.
It is not just about learning how to operate an aircraft. You’ll need to meet specific eligibility requirements first. It’s more than simply having a passion for aviation. A solid foundation in certain subjects and personal attributes is necessary as well.
You might be surprised to learn that there isn’t any particular degree requirement. However, possessing a fundamental understanding of mathematics and physics could be beneficial. Why? Because these subjects are integral parts of aviation theory.
You will also have to meet the following general requirements:
1. Minimum Age Requirement: The FAA necessitates that those wishing to receive their PPL (private pilot license) must be a minimum of 17-years-old.
2. Educational Background: Proficiency in English is mandatory since it’s universally used across all aspects of aviation.
Medical Fitness Requirements
Piloting isn’t just about mental sharpness; physical health matters too. To make sure pilots are safe, they must pass a comprehensive medical evaluation administered by an FAA-accredited doctor.
1. This assessment includes vision tests because being able to see clearly while flying is crucial for obvious reasons.
2. Standard Physical
3. Heart testing if over 40 years old
Flight Journey Experience
Beyond classroom learning lies actual flight training – where theory meets practice. Aspiring aviators need to log at least 35/40 hours of flight time (141 vs 61), which includes solo flights under various conditions, before applying for their PPL although you should expect much more. The national average to obtain your private pilot certificate is somewhere around 85 hours and it can vary greatly with the school you go to and the location you train in.
So, if you’re all set to start your adventure towards earning your pilot’s license, keep in mind the path you’ll be choosing in flight training programs and schools. In the journey of becoming a pilot, choosing the right flight school or training program is a crucial step. Factors such as location, recommendations, and the type of program play a significant role in this decision-making process.
The Intricacies of Part 141 and Part 61 Programs
When exploring flight training programs offered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you will come across two primary types: Part 141 and Part 61. Comprehending the contrasts between these courses is critical for settling on an educated choice.
A Part 141 program is typically associated with well-established pilot schools and follows a stringent syllabus approved by the FAA. It includes both classroom instruction and practical flight experience, its more similar to a college degree program.
On the other hand, Part 61 programs offer more flexibility in terms of schedule but may take longer to complete – approximately five to six months when trained part-time. These programs are often provided by local flight schools or independent instructors, allowing students to have more control over their learning pace while still gaining ample hands-on flight experience.
1. Your personal circumstances will largely dictate whether you choose a Part 141 or Part 61 path;
2. Each program has its own unique benefits depending on individual needs;
3. You must carefully consider all aspects before deciding which program best suits your future career as a pilot.
Exploring Types of Pilot Certificates
Piloting isn’t just about taking to the skies; it’s a journey through various stages of certification. From the basic private pilot certificate (PPL) to more advanced qualifications like the commercial pilot certificate (CPL), instrument rating (IR), and airline transport pilot (ATP).
The Commercial Pilot License Journey (CPL)
What sets apart a CPL from a PPL? The ability to earn money for flying services. A CPL requires higher flight skills and knowledge, but it’s an achievable goal. You’ll need at least 250 hours in the air, including training on complex aircraft systems. It can be challenging, for sure, but imagine where you could go.
Navigating with Instrument Rating
An Instrument Rating is your key to navigating under IFR conditions – when visibility isn’t great. This certificate helps pilots fly safely even when they can’t rely solely on visual cues. Becoming IR certified takes practice and study, but it opens up new possibilities for flights that aren’t always blessed with clear blue skies.
Aiming High: Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP)
If piloting is more than just a hobby for you, then getting an ATP certificate should be your ultimate goal. Why? Because this qualification puts you in command positions within commercial airlines – yes, we’re talking about the first officer and captain’s seat here.
Recall that other essential accreditations involve the multi-engine and instrument ratings, which may require additional expenditure. Remember, every step brings you closer to soaring high.
The Application Process
Beginning a voyage to become an aviator is an electrifying undertaking. It involves a step-by-step process that, when followed diligently, can lead you to obtaining your coveted pilot license.
First and foremost, you must fulfill the application requirements and gain flying experience. Completing ground school courses is an essential component of the journey to obtaining your pilot license. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to experience a discovery flight, which serves as a teaser for what awaits you in the world of aviation.
To become a professional aviator, you must meet certain prerequisites defined by the FAA and your school of choice.
Some of them are listed here:
Are you at least 17 or 18 years old? Are you proficient in English?
You must first pass an aviation medical exam to confirm your physical fitness.
Flying Experience and Ground School
Both flight experience and classroom learning are crucial components in your journey towards obtaining a pilot license. It is important to log flight hours under various conditions, including night flights and instrument flights.
One of the most exciting parts of the application process is the Discovery Flight. This introductory session allows potential pilots to experience the thrill of controlling an aircraft, under the supervision of an instructor. It provides a firsthand opportunity to determine if a career in aviation is the right path for you. It is worth noting that this initial experience also counts towards your official flight logbook entries, so it should not be skipped.
So, you’ve been wondering what it takes to become a pilot? You now understand the importance of age, education, and medical fitness. You also recognize the significance of different classes of medical certificates in aviation. Choosing the right flight school or training program involves careful consideration, and you are now well-informed about this. When it comes to Part 141 versus Part 61 programs, you can make an informed decision. The various types of pilot certificates, such as CPL, IR, and ATP no longer seem confusing. You also have a clear understanding of the application process, including prerequisites like ground school knowledge tests and discovery flights.
**Please Note: The above information is not all-encompassing and there may be additional factors to consider. Please complete additional research to determine the right path for yourself.**
Becoming a pilot is no easy feat, but with Stratus Financial by your side, financing your journey becomes less daunting. Ready for lift-off? Let us help turn your dreams into reality! Visit Stratus Financial today and let’s navigate this exciting journey together.
If you’re a flight school owner and interested in partnering with Stratus Financial, you can reach out to Gustavo Sanchez-Sorondo, our School Relationship Manager, and an experienced private pilot. To explore the potential benefits of partnering with us an to initate the conversation, we recommend scheduling a call with Gustavo to discuss how Stratus Financial can enhance your flight school’s offerings and revenue streams.