How do I become a pilot? Some people specifically want to know how to become a Charter Pilot, Commercial Pilot or a Bush Pilot. Most people know that they will have to go to flight training school. What else is involved? And how much do pilots make? I’ll try to answer these and other questions for you.
Of course you’ll need flight school training. You’ll also need some experience and on the job training as well. Flight school training can only teach you so much. You’ll need some practical experience before anyone will hire you.
When you decide to become a Pilot, flight school is your first step. After basic flight school, you’ll be asked to pass the FAA private pilots test. This includes the following:
- Pass the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test
- Obtain at least a third-class medical
- Log at least 40 hours of flight that includes at least 20 hours of flight training from an instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training in the areas of operation for a private pilot and include at least- 3 hours of cross-country – 3 hours of night flight training
- One cross country flight of over 100 nautical miles total distance; and
- 10 takeoffs and landings to a full stop
- 3 hours of flight training on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments
- 10 hours of solo flight time consisting of at least- 5 hours of solo cross-country – 1 solo cross-country flight of 150 mautical miles total distance, with full-stop landings at three points, and once segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations; and 3 takeoffs and three landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower
- Pass the FAA practical test
If that sounds like a lot of training, well it is. After all, you’ll be learning to fly a freakin’ airplane! And it’s not cheap. In my area, a Flight School to get your private pilots licensing will set you back around $8000. In some places it’s a little less, in other places it’s a whole lot more!
Commercial Airline Pilot or Charter Pilot
To become what is called a Commercial pilot (not an airline pilot), you’ll need to take the FAA Commercial test.
This will include the following:
- Hold at least a Private Pilot License
- Pass the FAA Commercial Knowledge Test
- Obtain at least a second-class medical
- Have logged at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot
- Pass the FAA practical test
You can again expect to pay in the range of 6 to 8k to obtain your commercial pilots license. The largest cost in obtaining both of your license is the aircraft rental. So if you own or know someone who owns an airplane, you cost could be less.
Most commercial airline pilots get their start in the Air Force. Your best bet is too try and get on at an air freight company. Obviously, this pay is a little less than an air charter company where you’ll be flying people around all the time. It’s bad if you crash either way, but most air charter insurance companies and business owners would rather you crash with a load of plywood than a load of passengers!
Most flight training schools have offices at local airports. Look for a high quality school at an out of the way airport instead of a major International airport. Many of these people you meet will be in your network of people who may be able to help you land a job as a charter freight pilot.
As for the pay, expect to put in long hours for 20 to 30k to start. With experience comes more money. Also, it really depends on the type of plane you’ll be flying. Larger planes equal more money! Again, check with the people in your local area or at the flight training school. Learning how to become a Pilot or Charter Pilot can be a lot of fun, especially if you love flying!