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How to Become a Pilot: The Steps You Need to Take

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There’s never going to be a better time to follow your dream of becoming a pilot. So stop making excuses and start planning your future.

Becoming a pilot is not as complicated as you might think. In fact, you can become a licensed pilot in less than a year! All you need to do is follow the steps and work hard.

Ready to get started? Read below for a quick and simple guide on how to become a pilot.

Pilot Schools

As with any other career, you’ll need a good education to become a pilot. You should research programs in your area and find the one that best suits you. Flight school provides you with all the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to start your journey as a pilot.

Admissions into flight school will depend on your previous educational experience. Most schools require a high school diploma and others also require a bachelor’s degree. You can usually find admissions guidelines online when researching potential flight schools. If you don’t think you are qualified, you can reach out to an admissions expert and ask about opportunities to earn necessary credits before applying.

When choosing a flight school look at the opportunities they offer students after graduation. If you are interested in becoming a commercial pilot, choose a program that prepares you and introduces you to the most popular commercial airlines in the country. If other alumni are working for major airlines, that’s a good sign that you will have the opportunity to interview with those airlines too.

Pass Medical Exam

As a part of your training to become a pilot, you will need to pass aa medical exam sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This exam is overseen by an Aeromedical Examiner. They are responsible for assessing whether a pilot meets the medical standards required to become a pilot.

If you want to become a commercial pilot you will need what is referred to as a class 1 medical certificate. During the medical exam, the examiner is going to test your vision, hearing, and heart function. They will take blood and urine samples as a part of their evaluation.

The medical exam is similar to an annual physical when your primary care doctor is assessing your overall health.

Student Pilot Certificate

The next step to becoming a pilot is to get your FAA student pilot certificate. This is the first official document you will get on your journey to becoming a certified pilot.

You can apply for the certificate through the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA). You will need this certificate to start flying with an instructor.

Ground School Classes

Ground school classes provide more traditional education about flying. During these classes, you will learn about the mechanics that allow airplanes to fly. You will also learn about the practical elements of flying an aircraft. Ground school is a very important part of becoming a pilot because it explores the theory of flying an aircraft.

Unlike flight school, ground school covers general aviation topics and culminating in a final exam testing your knowledge. You will need to pass the final exam to move on with the process of becoming a pilot.

Flight Lessons

During your time in ground school, you will have an opportunity to train with airplane simulators. These programs use highly advanced technology to show you what it will be like to fly an airplane. When using this technology you will be working with a certified flight instructor.

The instructor will help you learn and answer questions you may have. The simulator is a great opportunity to test what you learned during your time in ground school.

Private Pilot Knowledge Test

The FAA knowledge test is a written test for students. This exam decides if you have learned enough from your ground school experience. It will test your knowledge of things like weather, flight instruments, and aerodynamics of flight.

This is a computer-based exam and you will need a recommendation from your flight instructor before you can take the exam

Private Pilot Practical Exam

As the name suggests, this exam tests your practical abilities as a pilot. This is also known as a check ride because the designated pilot examiner (DPE) is checking your flying skills. They want to know that you have the knowledge and the practical skills necessary to safely fly a plane.

The practical exam also includes an oral portion in which the DPE will ask relevant questions to further test your knowledge. Once you’ve passed this portion of the exam you have officially earned a private pilot’s license (PPL). With this license, you can fly single-engine aircraft.

Commercial Pilot Training

If you are interested in becoming a commercial pilot, you will need to take a few more steps. First, you need to get an Instrument Rating. The Instrument Rating allows you to fly in weather with limited visibility using the correct aviation instruments. This process usually takes about two months.

After that, you can start your training to become a commercial pilot. To pursue this career you will need a 2nd class medical certificate. Finally, you will complete the necessary training to earn a commercial pilot license (CPL).

To earn a CPL you will need to pass a written FAAA exam and complete 250 hours of flight time. This must include 100 hours of pilot-in-command (PIC) hours and 50 hours of cross-country flying. You will also need to pass the FAA check ride exam.

Once those steps are complete, you are a licensed commercial pilot, congratulations!

How to Become a Pilot and Fulfill Your Dream

Why wait to pursue your dream of becoming a pilot? Now that you know how to become a pilot, it’s time to take the first step. If you are prepared to study and work hard, you can become a pilot within the next year.

Don’t forget to spend time researching the best schools and opportunities for you. Your education is paramount to your success as a pilot. Start your journey today!

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