5 Steps to Becoming a Pilot

Have you ever wanted to be at the helm of an aircraft, guiding your crew and passengers toward their far-off destination? Or perhaps you are more interested in solo flight, piloting your own small airplane to a weekend getaway. Most people who dream of becoming a pilot don’t know where to start, or get scared off by the amount of testing and training that must be completed. If you have the drive to become a pilot, however, the rewards of flying make the effort worthwhile. Although there are many routes to earning your pilot’s license, below are 5 general steps those with an inner-pilot should complete take in order to take to the skies.

1. Determine the Type of Aircraft You Want to Fly
The FAA has different rules and requirements for all different types of aircraft. Depending on whether you want to fly a helicopter, airplane, glider, or balloon, you may need to obtain a specific certificate in order to become a pilot of that aircraft. Research the certification requirements of the aircraft you intend to fly.

2. Why Are You Becoming a Pilot?
After you figure out which type of aircraft you intend to operate, you need to determine what your flying goals will be. Are you earning your pilot’s license to fly recreationally? Do you intend to charge passengers for private flights? Is your dream to fly for a big commercial airline? Depending on what type of flying you do, you may need a specific pilot’s license in order to operate.

3. Receive Your Medical Certificate
The FAA requires all potential pilots to earn a medical certificate before they are allowed to fly solo in an aircraft. It is recommended that you get this medical certificate before you begin your flight training. If you start your flight lessons before passing your medical certification, you may lose money should any unforeseen medical conditions prevent you from flying.

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4. Find a Reputable Flight School or Flight Instructor
Many major airports offer some type of flight training, either through a flight schools or with a certified flight instructor. It is important to know that there are two different types of flight schools: FAA-approved and Non-approved.  With FAA-approved flight schools, you can rest assured that a high standard in facilities, equipment, and staff has been met. That is not to say, however, that Non-approved flight schools are of a lower standard. Do your homework and ask for referrals before selecting a flight school or flight instructor to begin your training.

5. Familiarize Yourself with the Tools of the Trade
In addition to knowing the ins and outs of the aircraft you plan to operate, you should also research the wide variety of pilot supplies that you have at your disposal. The list of small, but extremely useful pilot accessories includes everything from aviator sunglasses and flight jackets to logbooks and Bose aviation headsets. Ask around to see what other pilots recommend in terms of supplies.

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