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How to Become a Pilot

By Andre McFayden

Many people have a hidden desire to learn to fly airplanes. This may be to travel more conveniently, to volunteer as a pilot, or maybe for career reasons. Here is some information to get you started.

1) Minimum Requirements

In the U.S., these are the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for obtaining a pilot's license:

(a) Minimum age: 17 years.
(b) Language: must be able to speak English.
(c) Must be able to pass a basic medical exam.
(d) Pass a written knowledge exam.
(e) Pass a flying exam.

There are similar but varying requirements for each country: check with the governing aviation body for your specific requirements.

2) Safety

You may have heard stories that flying is much safer than driving. General aviation (non-airliner and non-military) flying has about ten percent the number of accidents as automobiles (per-vehicle-mile basis). The accident rate has actually been decreasing for the last 25 years. There are many reasons for this type of flying to be so safe. These include very thorough required training (and re-training), demanding aircraft build specs, and new technology for cockpit instruments.

3) Flight Training

Pilot training consists of both ground and flight school. On the agenda are: rules and regulations, flight planning, how to navigate, use the radio, and understanding weather. To earn your certificate, you must pass the FAA written exam, as well as the flying exam, or check-ride.

4) Costs

A common question for would-be pilots is: How much will it cost? Factors include: where you live, how often you fly, and the type of license. Expect to spend around US $4,500 - $6,000 to obtain a private pilot's certificate. This estimate is usually based on the 40 hrs minimum of required flight time, however the U.S. national average is more like 65 hrs of flight time. Renting the trainer airplane is the biggest chunk of the cost, being somewhere in the range of $50 to $80 per hour.

If the costs seem high, remind yourself that you're learning a life-altering skill. In the long run, many people find that the rewards are huge.

Copyright©2005 RC Airplane Advisor. Visit the site for more information on how to become a pilot. This article may be reprinted if proper credit is given and all links left intact. Andre is a regular contributor to the RC Airplane Advisor.

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