Besides learning the skills to control an airplane, you also need to learn a lot of rules and facts, such as how far away do you have to stay from clouds and what is torque. Some people go to ground school and some people study on their own, under the guidance of a flight instructor.
In America, there’s even aviation high schools, such as Oakland Aviation High School!You’re never too young to start on an aviation career.
There’s over half a million pilots in the United States. What about you? Many pilots want to help you. There are flight instructors at nearly every municipal airport who can give you a demonstration flight to see if flying is for you or check out these programs:
Learn to fly with The 99s
The 99s is an international organization of women pilots with over 6,000 members throughout the world. It was founded in 1929 by Amelia Earhart and 98 other women pilots. Today they help women become pilots through scholarships, networking, and mentoring. Check out their events, book corner, and their latest air race across the ocean at The 99s. Another group Women in Aviation International gives out a ton of scholarships. You can apply at WAI. Guys can try AOPA.org. (See below.)
Learn to fly with CAP
Civil Air Patrol (CAP) offers leadership training, technical education, scholarships, flight training and career education to people ages 12 to 21. CAP cadets comprise about 10% of the freshman class at the U.S. Air Force Academy each year. CAP performs 95% of nation’s inland search and rescue and saves 100 lives per year. For info on CAP, call toll-free 800-FLY-2338.
Get a Free Ride!
Are there any free rides in life? Yes. The Young Eagles program gives kids ages 8 to 17 just that. Since 1992, more than 42,000 pilots have volunteered their time and aircraft to participate in the Young Eagles Flight program. They’ve taken more than 1.7 million young people for demonstration flights in their own aircraft at their own expense.
You may know actor Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or Hans Solo, but he is also an avid pilot. He has even headed up the Young Eagles and has taken 200 kids for rides in his airplanes.
So why does Harrison Ford do it?
“Young Eagles gives kids a view of the world they’ve never seen before,” Ford said. “Each Young Eagles flight is an opportunity to excite kids by sharing your passion for flight and to show them that they, too, can learn the skills to participate in aviation.”
Veteran pilot Ken Daly often donates his Saturdays to sharing his passion. He says he loves kids and loves to fly, but he is also concerned about the future of aviation. “We also realize that the pilot population is shrinking, and the way to reverse this trend is to get youngsters involved.”
Many pilots today got their first flight through Young Eagles and that’s what set them off on a soaring life. So how can you go for a free ride? Check out the Young Eagles or call toll free at 877-806-8902. Check out Girls With Wings, too!
To find an airport near you, check out the airport directory at AOPA, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. AOPA is a great organization fighting to save General Aviation airports all across America. They have comprehensive resources for you at AOPA.org.
Wish there was less requirements? Become a Sport Pilot!
Sport pilots fly light aircraft, utralights, powered paragliders, powered parachutes, trikes and powered hang gliders. Paul Hamilton has an excellent Sport Pilot series of DVDs where you can learn all about getting into this type of flying, what the checkride is like, and how to determine if the weather is good enough to take to the sky. You can get the DVDs from Aviation Supplies & Academics.
Is it hard to learn to fly?
The journey to become a pilot is challenging and amazing. The first time you solo is an exciting rite of passage. To avoid pitfalls, such as flight school problems, it’s good to know the whole process before you start the journey.
Here are some things to investigate about how you want to invest in your future after you’ve decided if you really want to fly and if you want a flying career:
- The process of becoming a pilot
- The process of becoming a commercial pilot
What are all the steps?
- How much can you get paid as a pilot? What’s the pay for each level?*
- What are the different kinds of jobs?
- How do you get those jobs?
- What licenses & ratings do you need to get?
- How do you get them?
- How long does it take?
- Where can you find the money for training?
- How much does training cost?*
- What’s better? Flight academies, private instructors or college programs?
- What’s the future for pilots? The hiring statistics*
- Is flying is for you? What’s it like? Is it hard?
What if you hate math?
- What are the physical requirements?
- Do you need a college degree?
- What can associations, mentors, & conferences do for you?
- What’s the difference between a commercial pilot and an airline pilot?
- Should you buy a plane? What does it cost? What’s involved with ownership?
- How to train in the U.S.
- Other resources and much more!
Yes, there’s quite a lot of training involved. But with a flight plan for your life, you can get started on the amazing journey that will teach you about yourself and about your world.
Think of training for a pilot career the way you think of training to become a doctor: many years of paying your dues before you get the big bucks. Med school is expensive. So is flight training. It’s a commitment pilots make because they love flying. This career often requires a period of “apprenticeship” — a time you will be making a lower income while you build your time, experience and reputation as a safe pilot. Consider it on-the-job training. While you’re gaining experience, you won’t be gaining money. This may be a difficult period, but the love of flying keeps pilots going, not the money at first. Also, the industry is always changing and so are the pay scales, so it’s better to choose a career according to what you enjoy doing. If you love flying, the rewards are awesome.
In 2007, Forbes reported that airline pilots are the #14 best paying job in the U.S. The only other professions in the top 14 are medical and CEO. Pilots beat out lawyers! Those who are passionate about flying take the journey to become a pilot and find joy is the best reason to pursue aviation.
I didn’t know I’d love flying so much until I tried it.
I’m a certified Ground Instructor and Commercial Pilot. I really hope you try your hand at flying. According to AOPA.org, the # of commercial pilots has been dropping every year since 1999 and the # of pilots has dropped 25% in the last 20 years. So, even though the population has grown enormously, there are less pilots. It’s ashamed the number of pilots is dropping when flying is so much fun!
- Scholarship Directory
- AOPA Flight Training
- FAR/AIM manual
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