How To Become a Pilot

Often people with the desire to fly have carried that dream since childhood. Go for it! Check out local aviation shows and talk with pilots about their experiences.   You may begin lessons before you even pursue your medical certification or any of the tests.  Lessons are a good way to determine if you are serious about pursuing this further.  Read the Federal Aviation Administration’s FAQ page.  Phoenix East Aviation offers a great how-to guide which will give you a basic understanding of the steps you would need to take.  Sporty's Academy has a great guide called Begin Your Flight Training.  Starting with three three resources should fill in the knowledge gaps of what it will take to make your dream a reality.

Become a reader of Flying magazine, ipad Pilot News, or AirFacts journal to keep up on aviation news. Watch videos about weather, instruments, and flying tips.  Here are many books  by renowned aviator Richard Collins.

Below are your options for becoming a pilot and the steps needed for each option.

Option 1

Join the U.S. military.  Every branch has an opportunity for flying.  Since military pilots are officers, step one is to earn a bachelor’s degree.   The next step is to complete Officer’s Training School for that branch of the military. There are several paths to becoming an officer. Your first contact with the military can begin before you start college, or you can wait and connect with the military after you have received your college diploma.  Details are on the recruiting website for each military branch.  You can be a pilot and be in the reserves as well.

Here are quick links to read about pilots for each military branch:

 Army Aviation officers

Air Force pilots

Coast Guard Wilks Flight Initiative Program

Marine fixed-wing pilots

Marine rotary pilots

National Guard

Naval Aviators

Option 2

Obtain your pilot’s license for recreational purposes OR become a private pilot as a career.  There are limitations to when and where a recreational pilot can fly.

Begin with flying lessons, then work on your medical and student pilot certificates. You do not fly solo until you have the student pilot certificate.  You may not have passengers while you only have a student pilot certificate.  You must be endorsed for each type of plane you intend to fly.

Be sure to check out the FAA’s Become a Pilot section.  Here is UIUC’s Aviation page for prospective students.  

Start your learning with a Learn To Fly course appThis course will prepare you for the written, oral, and flight tests.  This app is sold by Sporty's Academy of Cincinnati, Ohio.  See them for all your lessons and required learning.

Pilot Mall offers a $500 flight simulator for your PC.  Browse their site for "quality aviation supplies and gifts." This includes lots of books! ☺

Option 3

Become an airline pilot.  They often hire ex-military pilots.  A regional pilot does not need a bachelor’s degree, but a national airline pilot does.  ATP Flight School answers your questions here.

Best wishes!