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Flight Training and Pilot Career Preperation

Flight Training and Pilot Career PreperationLearning to fly can be one of life’s most rewarding adventures. The freedom of moving in three dimensions is not only fun but can lead to interesting career and travel opportunities. To take advantage of aviation’s rewards, you must make sure you get the good, solid information that you’ll need to be a safe, confident pilot in the air. One of the most important steps in that process is finding the right flight school.

Although flight schools fall into two basic categories, Part 61 or Part 141, there is a third category that bears serious consideration by prospective pilots, particularly those planning a professional piloting career: nationally accredited training institutions. Accredited schools must meet rigid standards of accountability for virtually every area of operation and must apply to an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Collegiate aviation degree programs also play a large part in today’s training marketplace, and you should consider earning a degree if you are planning a professional flying career. A plus in seeking a degree is that in many cases you are eligible for financial aid and scholarships that will assist you, not only in your academic endeavors, but in flight training as well.

What is the best way to prepare myself for a career as a pilot?

Below you will find a great advise from David A. NewMyer, Ph.D., Professor and Chair Aviation Management and Flight.

As far as entering the airline industry as a pilot, you need three basic things:

  1. Certification: You need to earn your PPL from the Federal Aviation Administration (as you indicated), then, your Commercial Certificate with Instrument and Multi Engine Ratings; then, a Flight Instructor (Airplane Rating at minimum) as one way to continue to build flight time…eventually building to your Air Transport Pilot or ATP Certificate at 1500 hours of total flight time.
  2. Flight experience, measured in flight time, as already implied above, is key to being hired. However, it is not just about the total hours you build, it is about the quality of those flight hours that interests the airlines. Three particular things that they look for are: A. multi engine flight experience (experience flying twin engine aircraft)–this gets you beyond the training stage into a first level job where you will begin to fly turbine aircraft as a first officer or co-pilot. To get that first level job, you will have to have around 1000 hours of total flight time and approximately 300 hours of multi engine time (unless Congress and/or the FAA change rules for regional airline first officers and make it a higher limit–which they are currently discussing);
  • B. multi engine TURBINE or JET flight experience; and,
  • C. Pilot in command or Captain time in a multi engine turbine or jet aircraft…..usually earned flying for a regional airline, a corporate flight department, a charter flight company or some other aircraft operator with turbine or jet equipment.

To get hired with a larger airline that pays well these days (Southwest or FEDEX or UPS or American, etc), you will have to have in excess of 3000 hours (and probably way more) of total time and at least 1000 to 1500 hours of Captain time in a turbine aircraft. That experience will take you 5 to 10 years to earn AFTER you complete all of your ratings as noted in #1 above.

         3. The third thing that you need, you have: A college education (BS degree or higher). While some airline employers might want an aviation degree, the key thing is that a college education that includes flight training has been shown to be very helpful in the success of initial new hire pilots; however, an aviation degree is not required at this time.

As far as other professional flying jobs that might be as lucrative as an airline job, you might want to consider flying in the corporate or business aviation arena. There are a number of such flight departments who pay their senior captains and their chief pilots and directors of aviation as well or better than top-paying airlines. And, there are literally thousands of corporate turbine aircraft out there flown by thousands of flight departments. However, their hiring standards are quite high and you can expect to be competitive for the really good corporate or business aviation flight jobs at above the airline standards mentioned earlier (you will need 4000 to 5000 total flight hours and in the area of 2000 or more Captain hours in turbine equipment to even be considered).

With regard to scholarships for aviation, there is an excellent listing available from the University Aviation Association entitled THE COLLEGIATE AVIATION SCHOLARSHIP LISTING. You can order it via the UAA website at  using a major credit card. It has over $1.0 million in aviation scholarships listed. However, most of these scholarships are for use in collegiate or university aviation programs…..some are not, but, most are.

Finally, regarding where you might want to go to flight school to learn to fly. First of all, I do recommend that you take your full Private Pilot Certificate training right where you are to make sure that flying is for you. Then, once you have made that decision (whether it is for you or not), then, consider going to one of the major flight academies to train. There are several out there with fairly good reputations. I would consider two or three of them carefully looking at price, at the average time it takes someone to complete their program, at their placement history in the last two years (during these tough times, where are their graduates going?) and at financial aid and loans that they might have available to assist you.

Some of the big names in this business are (in no particular order): Flight Safety Academy, Southeastern Flight Academy, ATP, Delta Connection Academy and Gulfstream. And, there are certainly others….go to your local bookstore and buy a copy of FLYING magazine and you will see the ads for these companies there. Contact them individually and get answers to all of your questions (see above for a partial list of questions); then, create a spread sheet with the answers listed for each school to each question so that you can compare them. Then once you havwe collected the information, visit the top 2 or 3 schools to see which one fills the majority of your needs best. Remember that these academies are for profit academies, so, the choice is YOURS not theirs (it is not like applying to Princeton). If they want you badly enough, they might be willing to give you a starting scholarship for the first course…negotiate a bit and let them know you are looking at two or three different academies in your search for the “best one.”

Aviator Flight Training Academy offers professional pilot training programs with a minimum of 200 hours of multi-engine time. The flight school has a state of the art 37,000 square foot facility, featuring a CRJ Level 5 Flight Training Device (Simulator), large classrooms and individual briefing rooms.

Distributed by Viestly

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