Following the Path of Becoming a Pilot
Ever since I was little I have been fascinated about planes, everything surrounding them was interesting to me, how they worked, how they looked, how they sounded, and most importantly how could I fly one. As I grew up I had the opportunity to meet some amazing pilots who helped provide insight into the process of becoming a pilot.
There are a few main routes to becoming a pilot, many of which are expensive, take time, and are difficult. But if you have that passion to fly or even are just interested in the field then these obstacles shouldn’t discourage or turn you away. Throughout this essay I will talk about the different routes you can take to become a pilot from schooling to getting your hours and almost everything you need to know to fly. As Garcia states in her article on the pilot shortage, “demand for new pilots is expected to rise dramatically over the next two decades as a result of new aircraft entering the global fleet. Boeing has projected that aviation will need 790,000 new pilots by 2037 to meet that growing demand.” (Garcia 3) This demonstrates now more than ever is the best time to become a pilot.
One of the very first steps to becoming a pilot is to see if you actually like it has to take an introductory flight. This is a basic 30 minute flight for about 100$. Most people who try the intro flight will most likely decide their career before they’ve landed. Next, you should look into getting a college degree, in almost any commercial pilot setting you will most likely require a four year degree. The four main ways to train to become a pilot are first, join a flight school. There are two different types of flight schools, first a Part 141 school. This type of school is evaluated by the FAA, it is a more direct, straight line class and only requires a minimum of 35 flight hours to get your private pilot license, these can be hard for people who need flexibility because of its fast-paced nature. If you are looking for more slow paced, flexible program then a part 61 school is for you. These schools are usually smaller and are more tailored to a learning pilots needs, the only downside to this school is that it takes a bit longer to complete.
The second way to become a pilot is to go through the airforce or navy, this is a great way because you can have college and flight training paid for you. First you have to be an officer in the military to fly, you can do Regional Officer Training Corps (ROTC), this is a four year program throughout college where you will train to become an officer. Another way is to complete Officer Training School which is around a 4 month program. The main takeaway from trying to go the military route is that your main goal is to get a pilot seat, you do this by taking a test your junior year of college where if you get over 25 points on it you qualify for the seat. Once you have that seat you go to flight training which is 2 years and after that you have a 10 year minimum commitment to the military if you want to fly.
The third route is to go to college with a flight program, these are either part 141 or 61 integrated school and may have their own aircraft or partner with local flight training schools. This way can also be quite expensive but is convent due to that your training is integrated into your major. The fourth and final way is to get training through an airline, this has little requirements including, a highschool diploma, and most basic work regulations in the US. This is a great way because after you complete the program you are guaranteed an interview with that airline or even a guaranteed job.
If you decide to take the military route and you got a pilot seat then that’s it, your set, but if you took the other routes it’s a different story. If you got your private license during school, now it is time to get an instrument rating. This rating requires a certain amount of hours using instruments in weather and also requires a written portion and a check ride, which is similar to a drivers test. Next you will start working on your commercial pilot certificate which allows you to get paid. This also requires a test and a checkride while also logging 250 flight hours. Now you can start obtaining flight hours, you can do this many different ways but the main ways you can do so would be to either become a flight instructor, a skydiving pilot, or an aerial photography pilot. You may wonder why you should pursue these jobs and it’s simply for hours. You will need 1500 hours before you can quality for an Airline Transport Pilots licence. This license is the final license you’ll need to become a commercial airline pilot, it requires a written test as well as a verbal test and a checkride.
So that’s it, that’s how to become a commercial airline pilot. Whether you decide to take the military route or to go through a part 141 or 61 and college is up to you, they’re all great ways it’s just what your preference is. People ask if it is hard to become a pilot, if you are passionate about flight and determined to sit in that seat, push the throttle forward, and shoot through the clouds, then no it is not.
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