Step by Step to Flying. Probably the first big step if you want to get moving on a career that involves flying an aircraft is to get a pilots license that enables you to serve as a private pilot. To put that in context, there are lesser pilot’s licenses such as the student’s license or the sports or recreational licenses but there are a lot of limitations on those licenses. If you want to be able to fly in support of your business (but not as your business) or to be able to fly with some freedom as part of your private life, a private pilots license is a good step and it’s a natural first step even if you plan to go on to train to become a commercial pilot down the road.
Like any other certification, the path to getting a private pilots license is fairly set in stone. You will have to be in the right age range as you cannot become a pilot if you are younger than 16. With that simple requirement out of the way, the step by step process toward finally realizing your dream of having a private pilot’s license is…1. Research the flight schools in your area and make sure the one you use has a good reputation, a well developed program and equipment to support it and teaching staff that both knows how to fly and knows how to teach. Make sure the flight schools that make your cut are certified to offer pilot training that will result in a FAA recognized pilot’s license.
2. Make sure your finances are in order because flight school will run between $3000 and $5000. There are scholarships available and you might be able to use federal student loans through FAFSA if the school qualifies.
3. Enroll in flight school and clear your schedule. Getting your pilot’s license should be your life’s passion for the next few months.
4. Get a medical certificate that is specific to aviation. A general check up is not enough so work with the school to find a doctor who can help you pass the medical requirements to be able to fly.
5. Go through the ground training to be able to pass the written pilot’s license exam that is required by the FAA. These classes will take about four to five weeks to complete.
6. Take AND PASS the written exam required by the Federal Aviation Administration at any FAA testing center.
7. Work with the school to complete thirty to forty hours of required flight time with a certified instructor. You can move through his requirement at your own pace which means as fast as you can afford to get through it and schedule the time with the school and the instructor. The school will provide the airplane as that is part of the fees you paid.
8. Your next to last flying “exam” is a solo flight with no instructor on board.
9. For the final “big” exam, you will go on a flight with an FAA tester who is certified to validate that you know what you are doing in an airplane.
10. Don’t get nervous, you know what you are doing. Pass that final exam and you are home free to receive your private pilot’s license nice and legal.
You are going to learn a lot during this process. Don’t be fooled, it is a lot of new stuff to learn and you are basically learning an entirely new physical skill similar to when you learned to swim or ride a bike. So throw yourself into those test flights and get as comfortable controlling an airplane as you are driving a car.
You can do a lot not only to speed up the process but to cut costs by working hard on your own to conquer the skills you need to become a great private pilot. You can study the written the test on your own and complete the FAA test whenever you are ready. But once you have that license, you will be glad you worked hard to get through the process successfully so that from now on you can honestly say to people, “I am a pilot”.