From Dreams To Reality…
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge, Lawyer and 30th POTUS.
Passion is what feeds today’s industry. Young aspiring pilots are aware of the grueling path ahead: costly flight lessons, years building hours, heavy competition, low entry pay, long work hours, mandatory retirement, constant training and evaluation, constant drug and alcohol testing, background checks, and huge liability. And yet, they are determined to power through.
All aviators say that passion and determination come from the fascination for the power of technology, the sense of freedom that comes with climbing up through an overcast to clear sky, the thrill of approaching the runway in total control, the jaw-dropping sunsets, and the wonders of the sceneries seen from above.
As for hard work, it starts at choosing the right course of action for your career as a pilot. Some questions must be answered before you proceed: what is your ultimate goal in aviation? Are you aiming at an airline or a corporate jet position? Do you want to buy an airplane or will you rent? Do you wish to travel or just fly locally? Will you be a part time or full time student? Will you need financial help?
If you are still sure that you want to make flying your profession, three possible roads lay ahead:
This option requires embracing the military lifestyle and shouldn’t be solely based on your desire to become a pilot. You will need to become an officer first and then qualify for officer training school, and hope to be approved. This is an average of 5 to 10 commitment.
While it is imperative for major airlines, and not mandatory for regionals, as a general rule you will have a rough time being considered without a degree. Bachelor of Science with emphasis in Aviation is preferred. This is the most common, but financially challenging path.
Learning how to fly requires individualized instruction. Choosing a good flight school and instructor to begin working on your private pilot certificate – the very first step to wherever you wish to go in aviation – can be tricky as there are many available. You will find two categories: Part 61 and Part 141. While the first is more flexible for students, the latter is FAA certified, follows its guidance and inspections. For that reason, less flight time is required for each license:
- Private pilot license (minimum age: 16 years old) – required Part 61: 40 hours /required Part 141: 35 hours.
- Commercial pilot License (minimum age: 23 years old) – required Part 61: 250 hours/required Part 141: 190 hours.
If you want to fly as an airline pilot, you are required to have a minimum of 1,500 logged hours. The first step to get there is to work on you private pilot license and then move on to obtain:
Required Part 61: 40 flight hours + 50 Hours of cross country Pilot-in-Command (PIC) and 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument conditions/ required Part 141: 35 flight hours.
(*All pilots transporting passengers or cargo must get a commercial pilot’s license with an instrument rating issued by the FAA) – required Part 61: 250 flight hours+100 hours PIC (Pilot in Command) + 50 hours cross country +10 hours of dual instruction in a complex aircraft/required Part 141: 190 flight hours.
When facing competition for a position in the industry, many candidates may opt for smaller regional airlines. There, they can accumulate experience on scheduled passenger-carrying flights into busy airports in all weather conditions.
But if the airline path is not your choice, with your commercial pilot’s certificate in hand, other options are open to you: flight instructor, charter pilot, cargo pilot, test pilot, agricultural pilot or you can choose to go corporate.
A corporate pilot position – often at the end of fierce competition – is not your typical 9-to-5, regular schedule-job but it can also offer diversity, adventure, and decent average salaries. One can expect to become eventually Chief Pilot of a major flight department and then onto a Director of Operations for a flight Department.
Going To The Right Flight School
Good pilots are the product of good flight training. With an ever-threatening worldwide commercial airline pilot shortage, flight schools have becoming increasingly sought after. In the US, Florida is by far the most attractive place for flight training because of its clement weather and aviation friendly environment. In South Florida only, over 200 pilot training schools are welcoming a flow of international and domestic students looking for cheaper, faster and a more pleasant location to learn how to fly.
For those who know their goals and capabilities, finding THE best flight school based on your training needs is the next step.
In addition to the choice between the two categories, – Part 61 and Part 141- you will need to consider your available time, financing needs (Part 141 schools can qualify for a few reimbursed training) and location.
Once you have your short list of flight schools, here is what you should find in the one you will chose:
- Good school reputation on flight regulations and safety policies
- Years of operation in the business
- Good instructional staff, enrollment numbers, and credentials
- Reasonable number and types of aircraft used in the school’s flight instruction program
- Spacious and pleasant facilities for ground school purposes
- Possibility of benefits as housing and financial aid
- Full airport services (instrument approaches and control towers)