Where do you start flight training? What does the process consist of? How to get in touch with the right people?
I remember those questions going through my head years ago when I got the itch. How did I know I wanted to be a pilot? I have loved airplanes and going to the airport since I was a child. My parents took my brother and I to airshows every year. One of the memories that stand out to me was when I was at the doctor’s office. (I must have been 7 or 8 years old). My childhood doctor asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Classic question, right? I told him I wanted to become a pilot. At the time I didn’t think much of it.
As a child I had model airplanes and that’s about where it ended. For several years I didn’t think much about being a pilot. Not until my senior year of high school. Where again you get asked the famous question…
To me I guess I’ve always thought of it as a loaded question. One that adults always love to ask, to see what your ambitions were. A question to a young adult holds so much weight. Or at least that’s how I always felt. (What do you want to do when you grow up?) My senior year in high school this hit me hard. I was actually in a position that I need to figure it out and fast because I was graduating in a few months. So I started looking onto different colleges and what degrees I could get. This when I had the AH HA moment. ASU, Arizona State University offered a flight program. That’s when it hit me. I forgot for so long about my goal as a child. This moment reignited my passion. What did I do next? I started looking into how I was going to make my childhood dream come true.
Guaranteed if you ever thought about becoming a pilot. You have asked yourself the questions like;
“How do I start?”
“What is this going to cost me?”
Well those two questions are really dependent on the individual. Right now in the year 2022 is the best time to start flight training. AOPA and Flight Magazine are predicting thousands of pilots to retire in the years to come. Which means, demand in a industry. Now is a great time to start flying. Whether its been a hobby to fulfill. Or it’s been a career goal of yours. Every year there are new flight schools opening up. When I started there was not this many around. Better yet, all the resources available now online, it’s never been easier to start.
Next questions, “what’s the lifestyle like?”
“Are you gone all the time?”
I’m not going to sugar coat anything. You will be gone a lot. That doesn’t mean every night for weeks at a time. That will all depend on your company's schedule. But be prepared to not be home every night for dinner. Although if you want to be home for dinner every night, go find yourself a 9-5 desk job. Because being a pilot is not that. Same goes for starting a family. Its not going to as simple, and it takes a great partner to be supportive that understands the greater picture. Anything is possible with the right people.
Let’s say you have all your affairs in order now. What school is right for you? Well this is the time to do some shopping. Take a look around your local airport to see if there’s a flight school. Chances are there is or maybe not too far a drive down the road you can find one. Now just because you call a couple and one answers the phone think you are done. I encourage you go to several. Use google and the internet to broaden your search. Think of this like you are choosing to buy a luxury car or an Ivy league school. You are about to spent thousands of dollars, so ensure you pick one that isn’t just using you for your money. This isn’t to say you can’t leave and go to another flight school. It just makes your life so much more simple when you find one that can take you zero to hero.
Are all flight schools the same?
No they are not! There is a huge difference of the type of flight schools out there. Part 61 or Part 141. Part 61 flight schools are typically Mom and Pop flight schools. Locally owned and have a small fleet/staff. Part 141 flight schools are much larger and are university or accredited flight schools. Most the time you find yourself paying much more for the same training you could find at a Part 61. But everyone is different and we all choose the school that is right for us.
Now that you find a flight school. I can't stress this enough. Take an intro flight or others call it discovery flight. Extremally important. During my time instructing I can't tell you the amount of times I took potential students on their first flight. Later to find out flying airplanes wasn’t going to be for them. So before you go invest all this time and money. Please ensure you actually enjoy flying.
By now each school has probably sold you there version of what way to earn your certificates. For the most part they are all the same. With the exception of a few others.
In what order to I complete my certificates?
- Private Pilot (ASEL)
- Instrument Rating.
- Commercial Rating (ASEL)
- Then after your commercial sing engine things get interesting.
Two paths to take.
- Path one complete multi engine airplane rating (AMEL)
- Path two, get your CFI (Certified flight instructor)
- Multi Engine Commercial you now need to figure out how to build time...
- If you got your CFI, start teaching and earn some positive cash flow. Hench save for the CFII. Making yourself as valuable as possible.
- Then and only then go get your Commercial multi engine. (AMEL)
- Then MEI, last check ride before your ATP.
- Last step, ATP.
No doubt flight training is expensive…
Pick wisely regarding your situation and life changes and we all make decisions. After you have completed all the ratings and built the necessary flight time. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey! Enjoy the time you spend building time, with your friends, and instructor. Or better yet YOU as the instructor! A lot of people forget to take a step back and realize how great they have it. Less then 1% of the world are pilots. So never take it for granted. Please if you have any questions about anything send me an email at ThePilotLifePodcast@gmail.com.