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Becoming a Pilot

Old 4th Jun 2009, 14:26
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New York
Age: 26
Posts: 5
Becoming a Pilot

Sorry if this is in the wrong area of the forum, I'm new so please be easy on me!
I'm sure you have to wade through this kind of question day in day out so please bare with me as I'm struggling to find a guide as to the steps I need to take on my way to becoming a pilot that is coherent and not outdated.

I'm a 16 year old situated in the US who has dreamt of being a pilot his whole life. Since I was a little kid I'd always play the microsoft flight simulators and order any magazines that had to do with aviation. I'm becoming more and more certain that this is the career i would like to pursue.

What I'm here to ask is; from now what are the steps I should be taking to set myself on the way to becoming a pilot. I was considering perhaps the best way would be to go to an aviational university (such as Embry-Riddle in the US).

I have read numerous guides but I am struggling to find a clear-explanation, one that I could explain to my parents properly. Should I be looking to take flight lessons from now? Should I wait for an aviational university? Should I be reading any material or textbooks to prepare myself?

Sorry for being a bother but having these questions answered would be extremely helpful for me. Thanks in advance
Muser is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2009, 16:01
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 150

OPTION 1: 42000

PPL - 5000 (You qualify on about 50hrs with six relatively simple written exams. The 50hrs depends on how good you are!)

Night Rating - 1000 (5 Hours. Just a few flights with an instructor to give you a feel for night flying.No formal test at the end.)

IMC - 1000 (About five hours, not a formal qualification and not necessary for the award of a CPL/IR, but a useful way of getting your hours up and getting a feel for instrument flying.)

Hour Building - 15000 (150 Hours at approximately 100 per hour to get you to 2000 Hours to enable you to start the CPL and for it to be issued, you can deduct whatever you do on your IMC or Night Rating from this as there is no specified amount of P1 time to start the CPL course. Bear in mind you need 200 hours total time with 100 hours P1 to apply for the issue of your CPL. 150hrs to start it. Most people go to the USA and do a block of hours at a discounted rate over a week or two for their hour building.You could cut the cost of this in half, if you did the hour building in Florida.)

3000 - ATPL Groundschool (Actually costs around 2000, I factored in the exam costs and living expenses for the two week intensive courses.)

PPL + 150hrs + Night Rating + IMC (Optional) + Groundschool = CPL course starting requirements

CPL - 6000 (Inclusive of your Multi-Engine Rating. You could do a CPL on a complex-single aircraft at a lower cost, but you would still have to get your ME Rating at some stage. Inclusive is cheaper. A CPL is your right to work as a pilot.)

IR - 11000 - (Coupled with your CPL makes you an "airline pilot", a CPL/IR is also known as a 'Frozen ATPL'. The accepted minimum to get a job with an airline.)


P.S All of my figures are rounded up to the nearest thousand pounds. Also, most airlines ask for a Multi-Crew Course these days, on top of your Frozen ATPL. This is a two week class room course where they teach you how to behave on the flight deck. You turn up, you pass. No formal test. Only drawback is it costs 2000. All of my figures you can cut in half if you did them in the USA.


OPTION 2: 20
The cheaper option is... do a 'Frank Abergnale Jr''... and take the transfers off model kits in your bath to make your own Pan-Am cheques.

*20* - Fancy Dress Hire

My figures will be a little out of date as this an old template... But you get the idea!
Poose is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2009, 16:08
  #3 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New York
Age: 26
Posts: 5
Cheers for the attempted reply :P

Really I was mainly looking at some sort of guide / a set of guide lines as to the things I need to get done from now onwards to become a pilot. If that's possibly that would be fantastic, cheers
Muser is offline  
Old 4th Jun 2009, 16:32
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Sheffield, UK
Age: 32
Posts: 5
Well if you didn't help Muser you certainly helped me Poose, so it wasn't all in vein!

The modular route seems like the best option for me, as I've just finished the bulk of my university course and can start gaining a PPL right away this summer. After that, and while I'm doing my dissertation next year I could be hours building, and could possibly even visit the US for a couple of weeks as you suggest to accelerate that step.

Then after that's complete and I've totally finished uni it shouldn't be too difficult to get a job related to my course and save up the extra dosh to move onto a CPL and beyond before I'm 25...

Sounds like a plan!
DanTM is offline  
Old 5th Jun 2009, 22:38
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: With my head in a sandbox!
Posts: 136
I am no expert on how things work in the States, but the bottom line is that you will need to find a way to fund training. At 16, you could start learning to fly now, and in the UK you can get a PPL issued at 17. I think it's the same on FAA licences but do some research there. That's the first step you will need to take, but it might be more cost-effective to wait until you want to start a more continual training programme towards your CPL. Before you start training, you will need to get a class one medical certificate from the FAA, something you will not be able to fly commercially without at all.

At 16, you are still rather young, relatively speaking. My advice would be to continue your education - the more qualified you are, the better back-up plan you will have, and the more you will be able to take with you into a flying career. An aviation degree would be a good way to go about that, but most importantly do something that will reflect decent grades and that you will enjoy.

In the meantime, by all means get up there and flying! Perhaps do some gliding - it's a fantastic way of building a hugely solid foundation for the rest of the flying you will do (plus it's cheaper). Eventually, as the US employment market is different to Europe, you should anticipate the need to build hours for a couple of years as an instructor, which may well be poorly paid, but it gets the hours. Try to get hold of pilots currently training, a few airline pilots and people in similar situations to yourself to give yourself access to a massive source of relevant information and experience. Hopefully that's more useful.
PAJ is online now  
Old 6th Jun 2009, 00:29
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Abroad
Posts: 1,175

Should I be looking to take flight lessons from now? Should I wait for an aviational university? Should I be reading any material or textbooks to prepare myself?
May I suggest, since you appear to have no direct familiarity or contact with the aviation scene, to pop down the local airfield and talk to a few pilots. Perhaps hang around a local club or FBO if there is one and try to get a part-time job there, maybe in exchange for a bit of flight time.

Get to meet and talk to as much aviation people as you can (pilots, mechanics, dispatchers, etc.), but do it in person, not on the internet. Then you will be much better prepared to make a decision and present your plans to your parents in an effective way.

Best of luck.
LH2 is offline  
Old 6th Jun 2009, 12:05
  #7 (permalink)  

PPRuNe Handmaiden
Join Date: Feb 1997
Location: Duit On Mon Dei
Posts: 4,254

I'd spend a bit of time going through the FAA site so you get the facts. The UK and Australia have "how to" sections on their sites so I can only imagine that the FAA does to.

Spend some time researching what the majors want academically so you get that bit right while you're young. They will also have hours and experience listed there too. (I hope) Look for "careers" in small print on their websites.

As a rough guide, they prefer ex military pilots or pilots with a degree (any I believe but "science orientated" are preferred) and a lot of hours in commuter + size aircraft.

American Eagle commuter airline.

If airline flying doesn't appeal, there's corporate flying and a whole host of other sorts of flying out there.

Corporate aviation is not quite so fussy about a degree but they still need hours. An example, NetJets USA Pay attention to the "other attributes".

Right now. OK.

Do the best you can at school. Pick subjects that you're good at and get the highest grades.
Do you play team sports? Do something to show team spirit, cooperation, leadership and so on.

Do you have any preconditions that would stop you from flying? Bad eyes, bad asthma, diabetes etc?

Find your nearest airfield and go say hello to some folks. If you can go gliding, do that. It's a good alternative for you at the moment plus you'll meet people who aren't necessarily trying to get you to sign up to some expensive training programme.

Get a part time job if money's an issue. You'll need every cent you can get your hands on if you don't get into military flying.
redsnail is offline  
Old 6th Jun 2009, 13:19
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Colorado
Age: 28
Posts: 9
Here's the guide from an American, for an American hahah.

First things First, the road begins by going out and flying. You can find all your local flight schools at

walk in and tell them you want to start learning to fly, they will give you a rundown on their pricing etc. A typical rate for a Cessna 172 is 125 Dollars an Hour. you need 250 hours for your Commercial license, and the instructor will cost you another 45 bucks or so an see where this is going right? its god damned expensive.

an outline of the Road

College, 4 years. Required for any Major airline job.

Private Pilot's License
Instrument Rating
Multi Engine License and a High performance endorsement for the singles.
Commercial Pilot's License
Certified Flight Instructor

^^^ start those now, and when you enter college keep working on them, try and get college and the licenses done around the same time/within a year of each other.

from this point - No one, and I mean Nobody in their right mind is going to hire you to fly their airliner. you have to start working your hours in as a Flight instructor, you will teach people to fly just as people taught you to fly for 2-3 years at least.

once you have around 500-1000 hours Total time, you can start thinking of applying to Regional airlines, these are airlines like;

Colgan Air
Air Wisconsin
Mesa Airlines
Great Lakes
Horizon air

list goes on, they are the "Bitch" To the airlines, the airlines fill these airplanes owned privately by their respective carrier, but painted in the major airlines colors. they pay horribly and work you hard.

expect to earn another 1500-2000 hours doing This over 2-5 years

Now... you are in a position to apply for a job as a Major airline pilot, IF you get hired you will take a pay cut, but that cut will ultimately turn into a nice Rise over a couple years.

at 16 you're old enough to solo

once you hit 17 you can get your private license
you can get a Commercial license at 18
you can get the ATPL at 21 *if you meet the requirements*

the licenses will cost you around 30-40 thousand US Dollars, the college costs as much as college, pick any Bachelor's Degree you would like. Airlines don't care what you major in, just that you have the 4 year degree.

I Recieved my PPL on 2/25/2009
redberon2003 is offline  
Old 6th Jun 2009, 23:23
  #9 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New York
Age: 26
Posts: 5
Thank you very much for the replies
Muser is offline  
Old 7th Jun 2009, 00:37
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: UK, US, now more ɐıןɐɹʇsn∀
Age: 36
Posts: 894
BTW, there are small flight schools where you can get C152 or similar for 70-90 bucks rental, plus instructor extra for dual. Sure, most of your training towards PPL would be dual, but then you can do some jolly flying towards minimum hours. Many do their PPL in C152, some hour building and then instrument flying training in C172 or PA28 etc, more stable and better equipped planes. You need to do some complex hours (variable pitch prop and retractable gear) towards/during CPL training anyway.

Also, in the FAA system you can cross-credit various hours dual and PIC from other flying, ie helicopters, gliders, gyros, think some LSA time as well.
I'm not saying you're going to do all this, but if you're good, like gliding, rack up some solo gliding time, it could count towards the total time and total PIC times for CPL issue.

I've done some heli flying to PPL standard (licence not yet, some delays, funding, time, studies etc in the way), asked the planks instructor at that RW and FW school in Oregon and he said that if one's good, all the maneuvres for CPL checkride (if not counting all the bits and bobs like night time, IMC flying/training etc) could be done within 20-30h of dual instruction.

Work hard, try to have fun. If you don't have rich parents, going it via Associate degree through community college helps - disbursement of federal student loan that can cover practical flight training, not relying on commercial loans like SLM etc. Quite a few flight schools would tell you all the details. Something like that isn't in the UK although if young enough, teenagers and early 20s studes can get hold of some free time through RAF sponsorships etc.

Don't forget to do some networking and once you're confident PPL holder, some nice trips with friend or two should lower the cost of rental, as long as it's equal :-D

FAA website has some of their books online in PDF format. Check it out.
Also, FARs or CFR available online below.
GPO Home Page
Click on Title 14, then part 61 and then part 61.129 will show you cross-crediting options. You may not take advantage of it, but you can.
Gliding will make you better pilot and could save you a bacon one day if things go pear-shaped in power aircraft. I try to do some gliding these days.

MartinCh is offline  

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