Choosing a flight school is one of the key decisions for a would-be pilot. The reason a person wants to fly is important in aviation careers. That goal will impact how and where to train.
College Choices in Aviation Careers
Degree and private flight schools are available. A college or university degree is required to fly passenger planes for airlines. Two-year associate and four-year bachelor programs are offered through multiple colleges and universities. The two-year option offers the potential to earn seniority, log more hours, and build seniority at an advanced pace. Counselors and admissions offices can point aspiring pilots in the right direction for the answers they seek.
GI Bill for Veterans in Aviation Careers
For a United States veteran, GI Bill money may be waiting. VA-approved flight training programs are offered through colleges and universities. Specific terms and conditions apply. The agency’s requirements should be fully understood up front.
Private Pace Programs in Aviation Careers
Shorter training programs are available for students who do not have an interest in flying for the airlines or just want to fly for fun. Requirements for pilots outside of commercial airliners are less stringent. Corporate, mail delivery services, tour operators and medical services are among flying positions available beyond national and regional airlines.
The FAA offers non-degree flight training through its aviation regulations, also called FAR. FAR Part 141 requires a pre-approved curriculum and more stringent FAA review of a flight school. Part 61 may be more convenient for part-time students or those who want more flexibility in mastering specific techniques. The Part 61 program is highly customized. Its requirements and costs depend on the flight experience the student brings into the program. Many students already holding their Private Pilot License participate in Part 61 programs to earn additional ratings and certifications.
No matter the flight school program, the route to earning a Private Pilot License requires four steps:
- Obtaining a student pilot certificate by scoring at least 70 percent on a written FAA test;
- Passing an aviation-specific medical exam through a certified physician;
- Completing a minimum of 35 to 40 hours of instructed and solo flight time;
- Demonstrating in-air piloting skills during an hour-long “check ride” with an FAA examiner.
Carefully defining goals will help eliminate surprises when allocating time and money to earning a pilot license and certifications. Setting proper expectations is essential to satisfaction with a flight school and training. A better experience is reported by students who know before they go what to expect from their pilot training program.