How to Become a Pilot: A Flight Instructor at a Local Flight School Will Help
Many people dream to be able to fly a small plane over the meadows, mountains and lakes across the beautiful land? Some of them thought that this is just out of range of their financial or intellectual or manual capabilities. This topic might be worth another look.
Yes, getting a private pilot license is not easy. It does require intensive learning, practical training and a financial investment of eight to ten thousand dollars – depending on circumstances. However, for many people it is doable.
The best thing an interested candidate can do is to search some general information online and visit a flight school at the local airport. Flight school personnel will be more than happy to advise anybody in all aspects and answer all questions. For a special rate, around one hundred dollars or so in a Cessna 152, their licensed flight instructor would be delighted to give people interested in flying an “introductory lesson.” Many people take advantage of that, because such a flight is going to let them discover whether this really is something they should do or not.
Starting With a Ground School
The first thing wannabe pilots must do is complete a couple of hours of aviation ground school. This is usually done by a FAA licensed flight instructor, which is the best choice. Theoretically, the ground school training can be done with any licensed ground school instructor or school – some even online.
It is urgently advisable to do the ground school and actual flight training in a parallel manner. Both training parts are going to interrelate and benefit from each other. It is important, however, that the student is comfortable with the flight instructor right from the beginning. Shopping around for a replacement is definitely advisable if somebody is not happy with his teacher.
During the first ten hours, the instructor is going to teach all basic airplane operations and most important flight techniques. He is going to ask many times what the most important consideration while flying an airplane is: Maintaining the minimum flight speed necessary to keep the airplane flying.
First Landings are Exciting
Depending on student’s progress, after a dozens of cockpit hours, the flight instructor is going let the student do take-off and landings just by himself. Of course, he is going to watch every second of a student’s moves in order to secure the student’s and his own safety. Then, most training is going to focus on take-offs and landings, five to ten each lesson.
At the same time, the students are going to experience all kinds of typical flight situations during a regular flight. They call these practice “maneuvers” and they include climbs and descends, slow flight, shallow and steep circles and other important airplane situations.
As the flight training progresses, the future pilot needs a “written” FAA exam, which he must do online. This is the first major step toward the private pilot license. At the same time, the flight instructor is going to introduce the candidates to more difficult maneuvers such as “stalls.”
The airplane stall is a situation when the airplane is so slow that it creates no more lift – and the airplane descends very rapidly. If the pilot does not make any major mistakes – and the instructor guarantees for that – the plane still maintains a level position. What they want to teach everybody is how to recover from a stall. This is essential – and sometimes lifesaving – when the pilot encounters stall conditions, which can happen under unexpected circumstances.
The most exciting moment is student pilot’s first solo flight. The flight instructor is going to allow the candidate to do this when he really is ready to manage the plane just on his own. “Don’t be scared, but don’t be hesitant either. The instructor knows when you are ready”, virtually every flight instructor emphasizes.
However, before the actual first solo flight, the student must get his first “student medical” by an FAA licensed physician – a quite thorough medical examination. This document is gotten at the same time as his “student pilot certificate”, which allows him to fly solo – under exactly described conditions by the flight instructor. Before anybody is allowed to do the first cross-country flight, the person must do the same route with the instructor. Safety first. No corner cutting.
Almost a Private Pilot
After at least forty-five (mostly at least fifty or sixty) training hours in the plane, the students are theoretically eligible for the final exam – the so-called “check-ride”. The flight instructor is going to let every candidate know when he is “ready”. This final exam consists of an extensive oral examination and a predetermined flight with a FAA licensed flight examiner. Examiners are always very seasoned flight instructors who want every good student to pass the test.
The examiner lets the student prove that he can plan and execute a cross-country flight without any problems. He might even help him if he encounters some minor glitches. After one hour in the air, the student pilot might pass the test and become a private pilot. Of course, no paid flying of any kind is permitted by the FAA.
Becoming a Professional Pilot
If the student has some professional ambitions, he may just continue with the training. This means adding additional ratings to the existing private license – such as instrument license, multi-engine license, commercial license or airline transportation license (ATP). For each type of plane over 12,500 pounds that the pilot intends to fly, he also need a “type rating”.
For the pursuit of a professional pilot career, it is very advisable to attend one of many aviation colleges – such as Embry-Riddle University, which has campuses all over the US.
Most pilots are very passionate about flying – professional or not. This passion may lead to the best hobby there is, but it may lead to a serious career also. When the US economy recovers, there will be a big need again for professional pilots in the airline industry and general aviation.