Tag Archives: fly

I want to be That Guy

This blog is about General Aviation and Flight Training. So far I have been writing about flying lessons in an airplane, as this is what I have been involved in as a professional pilot and flight instructor. Even though before I got into airplanes, I used to fly gliders. And during my own flight training I got me an opportunity to sky dive, which was a total blast!

As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago I decided to drive down to the Lodi, CA airport, which is right off highway 99, and got some information on taking some professional sky diving lessons. I was hoping to be able to do this before I get back to working full time again. And today, a friend and a former student Christophe (from France) sent me a link to this cool Hang Glider pilot’s video on YouTube, and now I am thinking….:-)

I want to be that Guy – Nicholas Cage

How to Become a Pilot in the United States

Guest Post by Thomas F. Sullivan

There are many reasons to gain a Private Pilot License, also called a Private Pilot Certificate. The three main reasons are for recreation, business, or a stepping stone to the Commercial Pilot License. While many pilots in the United States get their flight training through the military, here we provide the steps needed to become a pilot by training at one of the many flight schools in America. Lets take a look at the steps which are needed in order to become a certified Private Pilot.

  1. The first step is a psychological step. You need to make sure you are in the proper mind set and have the proper attitude to learn how to fly. This means you should have a very good reason, at least for yourself, in terms of why you want to become a pilot. And a perfunctory reason will not work. The reason for this is because it takes unadulterated commitment on your part in order to gain a Private Pilot License.
  2. Along the lines of commitment, you will need to set aside a large chunk of time weekly for learning how to fly. You could just train on the weekend, but the draw back to this method is that learning to fly could take a long time, a very long time. Therefore, if possible, try to fly every good weather day, and therefore set aside time daily for flight training. It is very important you understand that the closer your lessons are to each other, the less money you will spend in the end. The national average in terms of the flying hours needed to obtain the Private Pilot License is 65 – 70 hours.
  3. Plan on spending around $8,000.00 USD to obtain the Private Pilot License. This includes instructor fee, cost to rent airplane, exams, books, and equipment. Some sources put the cost at about $7,000.00 USD. Again, the more frequently you fly, the lower the end cost will be. Assuming you are average in terms of number of flying hours needed (65 – 70 hours), plan on spending $7,000.00 to $8,000.00 USD.
  4. After you have decided that you truly want to gain a Private Pilot License, you understand the time needed, and you have worked out the financial aspect, you then can start to think about selecting the right flight school. When selecting a flight school, visit every flight school that is within a reasonable driving distance to where you live. The following two steps will help in your selection of a flight school.
  5. You need to decide if you want to become a tri-gear or conventional gear (tail wheel) pilot, or both. Do you want to take your check ride in a conventional gear airplane, or a tri-gear airplane. Today, most pilots take their check ride in a tri-gear airplane. But it should be noted that you will be a more proficient and a safer pilot if you are able to fly more then one type of airplane. This diversity includes being able to fly both tri-gear and conventional gear aircraft.Today, most pilots prefer to stick with a tri-gear airplane from start to finish, when getting their Private Pilot License. Select a flight school which provides both tri-gear and conventional gear aircraft for you to rent, so that you are able to fly both of these types of airplanes.You can train and take your check ride in a tri gear airplane, and later after you obtain your Private Pilot License, get a tail wheel endorsement. No matter how you slice it, the more different types of airplanes you can get checked out in and fly well, the safer you will be as a pilot.
  6. Also, in terms of flight school selection, you need to decide if you want to learn to fly at a FAR Part 141 school, or a FAR Part 61 school. In the United States, flight schools are required to operate under one of these two sets of rules, as laid down by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). One is really not any better then the other. Flight schools which operate under FAR Part 141 provide a more formal curriculum, with slightly fewer hours required for certification, and flight schools which operate under FAR Part 61 are less formal, and hours needed for certification are a little bit more.But since the hours needed in order to obtain the Private Pilot License almost always is much more then the required hours for certification (65-70 hours is the national average), there is really no advantage to learning at a FAR Part 141 school. Your decision in terms of FAR Part 141, and FAR Part 61, should really be dependent on the type of learning environment you prefer. Some students do better in a more formal environment, while others prefer a more laid back, less formal environment.
  7. After selecting a flight school, you then need to select an instructor. Select an instructor you feel comfortable with, both in terms of personality and flying experience. There are basically two types of instructors in the United States. One type is trying to build flying hours and has a desire to move on beyond instruction to a commercial flying job which is more lucrative. The other type of instructor is a career instructor who prefers to instruct, and is not really flying to build hours, but enjoys teaching new students. Career instructors on average tend to be older then hour building instructors. In terms of these two types of instructors, one is really not any better then the other, and selecting an instructor you believe you are compatible with is what really is important. You need to have a professional learning situation, where personality incompatibility will not interfere with the process of becoming a pilot. Selecting the right instructor is probably the most important component in learning how to fly.
  8. Finally, for most areas of the United States, plan on starting the learning process at the beginning of the summer. You need to have plenty of good flying weather in front of you before you start. If you start in the fall, you may end up having to stop due to bad weather and may need to wait until the spring to continue, which means more time and money. Plan on getting the job done within a few months in the summer. This holds true for most areas of the country, but not all. Of course, if you are learning to fly in the Southwest or Florida, then when you start is really not a factor.

So there you have it. The steps you need to take in order to become a Private Pilot. The most important considerations are proper mind set and attitude, commitment of time and money, type of airplane you want to fly, and finally flight school and instructor selection.

To quote Leonardo da Vinci:

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return”

If you follow these steps, you can experience what only Leonardo da Vinci could only dream of, the archetypal dream of flight.

Thomas Sullivan, the author of this article, is a web developer and publisher who resides within the Boston, MA area. He is a Private Pilot, the creator of Intellego Web Publishing, and the creator and webmaster for Pilot Portal USA and Pilot Jobs.

5 Questions you should ask yourself before starting Flight Training

Have you been thinking about learning to fly an airplane? Or have you thought about it in the past? How about, have you ever dreamed about piloting an airplane? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then go ahead and read on.

Learning to fly an airplane is fun, easy, and a mission possible in most people’s case. Here, read the questions below that you should ask yourself if you ever considered learning to fly or getting yourself a pilot’s certificate.

1. Motivation – What do I need to learn how to fly for; pleasure, business or as a career?

2. Location –Where should I go get my flight training done?

3. Source – What type of flight training provider would be best for me?

4. Scheduling – Full time, part time, formal or informal, what type of scheduling would work the best for me?

5. Financial – How am I going to pay for my training? Would I need financial aid, student loan, personal loan, or some other type of financial assistance?

The reason you should ask these questions to yourself is because it helps you chose the right program, and also helps you understand the budgets and time / effort commitment required. I’ll give you some ballpark numbers here to think about:

If you want to learn how to fly for pleasure, you are looking at about a total of 60-70 hours of flight training time, and about 40-50 hours of ground studies, and to get the best bang for the buck, you should expect about 10-12 hours of training time per week. If it is for pleasure, then you really can simply take the training at your own convenience, or go to one of those vacation / accelerated training places with or without your family. Cost of the training will depend on many variables, like when, where and which aircraft. But for most people, you are looking at about $6000 to $10,000 price range. Of course, there are ways to make it cheaper as well as luxurious and high end as well.

For business reasons, the basic training as above is still required, but what changes is the motivating factor, and possibly some tax advantages, both for training and then actually renting / owning an aircraft and the related cost factors (operating expenses).

As a career? Well, now that is a very detailed topic, I can write a few books on it. Write me an email for any specific questions, and subscribe to this blog (RSS Feed). I write about all this here just about everyday. So read and educate yourself. Here, read these 2 posts for starters: Top 20 Career Options as a Pilot, and 101 General Aviation and Flight Training Scholarships.

Where to get your flight training? Options could be: a local flight training school, a flying club, an independent flight instructor (or CFI as we call them), a pilot flight instructor friend, a vacation / accelerated flight training gig, formal accredited flight training institutes, military academies, aviation college or university program, and so on.

I am just a 6-seater Pilot

I logged into my facebook account today and an instant message popped up. It was Rohan. A former student at a former flight school American School of Aviation, where I held the position of a Chief Flight Instructor for over 6 years. I had not talked to him in a while, and had completely lost track of his whereabouts. First thing first, I added him as a friend so we can stay in touch from now on. What a great thing this facebook is!

Then I just followed the norm, and asked him what he was up to nowadays. To my shocking surprise, he broke a long chain of “looking for an airline job” rhetoric. He told me, “I have started working (since) about 8 months ago, sir”. “Really”, I said. “Congratulations Rohan! What kind of job? A pilot job”? And he replies back with an affirmative. I was very happy for him.

With the industry situation today, I have not heard of many fresh commercial pilot certificate holders getting a pilot job anywhere. And he tells me he has been working since about 8 months now. So, my next thing was, “Le’me see some pics man!”. I asked him how come there are no job pictures on his profile, and just some old birthday party pictures. To this he replies, “I am just a 6-seater pilot, sir”.

Huh!! What is wrong with this? Just a few hours ago I was talking to another former student, Santhosh, and he was telling me that he has a job, working as a software engineer, but how desperate he is to get a pilot job. And here is this one, he has a job, and here he is telling me that he did not post any pictures of him in the cockpit while at job, because he is just a 6-seater pilot!

My dear pilots, the fun of flying is not necessarily proportional to the number of seats behind you. It is not. And no, don’t tell me higher the number of seats, higher the responsibility. This is not true either. Would you be lesser responsible or fly with lesser amount of precision if there was only One passenger in the airplane? Being a pilot, at least for me, means, me, my machine, and the wild blue yonder. Heck, he is saying it’s just a 6-seater, and I would give up a nights sleep for a single seater anytime!!

Anyways, he did upload some pictures, and I am attaching a couple of them here in this post. And the aircraft that he flies is a Piper Aztec. And he gets paid to do so!

Congratulations again Rohan. I am very proud of you and happy for you. All the best.