Whether you’re interested in a career as an airline pilot, or you just want to pursue flying as a recreational hobby, flight school is the first step on your journey.

Getting Your Pilot’s License

Just like driving a car, you must be licensed to fly an aircraft.
Additionally, your pilot’s license will specify which type of aircraft(single-engine, multi-engine) you are allowed to fly, as well as any additional ratings(instrument, sea-plane, etc.).
The requirements for getting a pilot’s license are set by the FAA.  Both ground and flight training are required and you will need to log, at a minimum, between 35 and 40 hours of flight time(depending on the type of program), prior to taking your exam.There are two types of programs you can choose to train under, Part 61 and Part 141. Learn about each program and their differences by going HERE.Finally, similar to a driving exam, obtaining a pilot’s license requires taking a written exam and taking a flight test(checkride) with an FAA examiner.

What You Will Learn 

This list isn’t all inclusive, but generally you can expect to learn the following during flight training:
  • Principles of Flight – Basic aerodynamics and physics relating to how airplanes fly.
  • Flight Regulations – FAA mandated rules and laws governing all aspects of flight.
  • Meteorology – How weather patterns affect aviation and flying under difficult conditions.
  • Navigation – How to get from point A to B using basic navigation skills, as well as the equipment onboard the aircraft.
  • Radio Communication – How and when to use the onboard communication systems to contact air traffic control.
  • Flight Instruments – You’ll learn what all of those knobs and switches do and how to use them.
  • Human Factors – How pilot error and correction contribute to the safety of flight.
  • Aeromedical – Human physiology and the effects of flying on the body.

Prerequisites For Flight Training

Before you sign up to begin your flight training, some additional things you should consider doing include getting your aviation medical certificate, researching ALL of the flight schools in your area to find the best one that fits you, and begin to learn as much as you can about flying.
To locate flight schools in your area, a great resource is AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying!, which lists all of the flight schools near you, broken down by airports and types of training programs. And if you’re serious about flying, you should consider joining AOPA.  AOPA offers a wealth of resources and information for pilots of all certificate levels and ratings.

If you want to get ahead and begin learning before you start your flight training, there are some valuable resources out there such as CD training programs and manuals that will assist you both before and during your flight training.

Have Fun!

Learning to master the art of flying takes a lot of hard work and dedication.  From your initial ground school lessons, to your first solo flight and beyond, it’s important to remember to let yourself enjoy everything and have fun in the process. If you can do that, then your flight training will never get dull and you will retain the information better, making you a better pilot!

Shawn Hardin is a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor with over 7,000 flight hours. His experience includes flying as a forestry air-attack pilot, airline pilot, flight instructor, and charter pilot. Visit his website at www.flightinstructorguide.com for more information, flight training tips and free downloads.

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