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Pilot's License

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Time for You to Fly

One of the biggest moments of your life will occur on a relatively lonely
airstrip with just one other person with you. And that will be the first time
you actually take controls of an airplane and take it out on your first flight.
This moment is what makes the difference between every other kind of training
and the path you have chosen to get your pilot's license and become a pilot.
While lots of schools have hands on training, taking an airplane into the sky
is unlike any other classroom experience there is.

But "flight school" would be pretty much useless if it didn't include actual
air time where you are the one doing the flying. After all, once you pass the
pilot's test, you will become certified by the FAA which means that you are
qualified to fly an airplane and that you can take that plane up, handle
different situations during the flight and return it to ground safely.

When you get notification from your instructor when the day will be that your
first training flight will be, you will probably be a bit nervous. It will be a
nervousness that will be mixed with excitement. No doubt during the course of
your training up until then you will have seen pictures of a cockpit and even
sat in the aircraft learning the controls and gauges so you can tie your "book
learning" to the live experience of flying an airplane.

Pay lots of attention during the classroom part of your training. This isn't
like studying English literature or American history. Every scrap of knowledge
you get in the classroom will have direct and important application when that
moment comes that you taxi that airplane out onto the runway to take it into
the air. So learn and ask questions and leave no stone unturned in your eager
quest to conquer every detail of this complicated and important field of

The thing to remember as you strap into the pilots seat of that flight schools
airplane for your first flight is your instructor will be there every step of
the way and he or she won't let anything go wrong. The passenger seat of the
cockpit of a training craft has parallel controls so if your instructor senses
you need help, he can take over and demonstrate the technique for you in actual
flight practice. There is no better learning situation than this.

You will go through every aspect of the flight and there will be checklists of
things to be mindful of from the moment you sit down at the controls to the end
of the flight when you have landed the craft and step out of the plane with one
flight successfully under your belt. Again, you will have covered all of this
in class but you might feel overwhelmed when you are actually in the process of
taking a flight out because you will not only have to remember dozens of things
to check off, you are dealing with the sensations of flying an airplane.

But don't worry because your instructor knows that especially on this first
flight, you will not be an expert at every aspect of the flight. He will help
you start the engine, taxi it onto the runway, interact with the tower and take
off. During the flight, your instructor will be having as much fun as you
watching you discover the fun of flying and banking the plane, gaining
altitude, changing directions and dealing with shifts in the atmosphere around
you. And when the time is right to land the plane, the most important part of
the flight, your instructor will be very involved and maybe handle this first
one for you so you can get on the ground safely with a good learning experience
behind you.

Pay attention, ask lots of questions and get comfortable with what is going on.
If you feel some nervous jitters in your stomach, that's normal. Just breathe
through them and remember your training. In the flights ahead, you will take
over more and more of the controls until finally you are flying the airplane
solo. But you will never forget that first time you took that airplane into the
air and even though you were a student, you were taking that first important
step toward becoming a pilot.

It All Starts with Desire

That first inner prompting that tells you that part of your destiny is to fly
an airplane might just come when you watch airplanes take off and you can only
think, "It would be so cool if I could do that." Sometimes we talk ourselves
out of going for that dream thinking that only Air Force pilots or people who
are on the path to fly jumbo jets can get a pilot's license. But really anybody
can do it, even you!

It might surprise you to learn that tens of thousands of people start out on
the path to get a pilot's license each year and most of them do it not to
become a professional pilot but just to pursue the dream. But it really all
starts with that desire and that inner urging to at least try it. Once you get
a pilot's license, there are a lot of practical ways you can put your love of
flying to use. Sales people use it to get to more customers. Being able to fly
your own airplane also opens up new ways to go see friends and loved ones. But
even if you just want to fly for the sheer fun of it, it's still worth your
while to look into how to get your pilot's license.

All you have to do to start your path toward becoming a pilot is head out to
the airport where there are hundreds of people who know the ropes of the
airline industry. But for better results, don't go to the biggest airport in
the region. In almost any major or medium sized city, there are small local
airports that provide service to private pilots, business aircraft, helicopters
and other specialized flying needs. It is there you find the true flying
enthusiasts and it is there that you will find flying instructors mixing with
mechanics and other airline industry professionals in a relatively relaxed

The first milestone of your search is to meet a few flying instructors who can
give you specifics on how to find out if you really have that inner drive to
become a pilot. These small regional airports are often the homes of a number
of flight schools who are always looking for customers and you can often find
an instructor with an hour to kill who will give you a tour and help you get a
basic understanding of the process you should plan to go through to get your
pilot's license.

Once you make contact with a mentor who can guide you in how to go forward with
your flight training, he will get to know you and your goals. Many flight
schools have the flexibility to design a program around what you want to do
with your pilot's license. There are several levels of pilot's certification so
you don't necessarily have to aim for the highest and most expensive license
which would make you able to fly for American Airlines. If you just want to
take some short flights around for fun, a sports or recreational license is a
perfect fit for you and the flight school can get you there efficiently.

Even on that first interview with your instructor and the school, you may get
offered a chance to go up in one of the school's planes and even to sit in the
pilot's seat. These aircraft are designed so the instructor can control the
plane from his seat too so you can hold the controls and put your feet on the
pedals that control acceleration and lift and as they move in reaction to the
instructors movements, it will feel like you are flying that plane.

If that first experience permanently hooks you and confirms in your heart that
flying an airplane yourself is a must do priority, then you are on your way to
getting your pilot's license. You can get started the next time the school has
a class scheduled and step by step move through the process of getting that 
license and becoming a pilot. Just take it on as an adventure, even a lark 
because even if sometime along the way, you change your mind, you can always 
come back later and pick up where you left off.

The Fastest Way to Get Off the Ground

If you were to interview many of the people who set off on that quest to get
their pilot's license about their motivations, you would get answers all over
the map. And for many the goals are quite ambitious and they might include
starting their own private charter company, becoming a private pilot for a
business like a church or an oil company or working up the system all the way
to the top until they are able to fly the jumbo jets on exotic international

But for many of us, we just want to be able to fly for the sheer fun and joy of
getting up there with the birds and enjoying the freedom of being airborne. This
is just as respectable a goal as any of the others. And if you know your
ambitions before you go into flight school, you can customize what you need and
allow the school to tailor your program to your dreams so you get just the right
amount of training and no less but also no more.

The cool thing is that the FAA recognizes that many want to learn to fly
because it's a wonderful hobby and to just have the fun of going up in an
airplane under their own control from time to time. There is nothing wrong with
knowing that is your level of interest and it's healthy for the airline industry
when people express their fascination with flying by just using a pilot's
license for the enjoyment of the sensation of flying an airplane to get above
the landscape and have a fun afternoon doing so.

So to respond to the interest in a level of licensing that fits your goals, the
FAA introduced a "lighter" version of the pilot's license called the sports
license that gives you the training and the certification to say you do know
how to fly but it is a license that is custom made for the recreational pilot
like yourself. This is a great response to the need for a type of pilot's
license that is not so concentrated on a career in aviation or on the heavier
level of responsibility and learning that a private pilot's license brings with

The sports pilot's license has some restrictions but it allows you to enjoy
flying lighter aircraft for short flights under controlled circumstances. This
fits the "joy ride" desire that is exactly what attracted you to the hobby of
flying in the first place. The category of aircraft you are certified to fly
are called Light Sports Aircraft (LSA) and that category includes two passenger
airplanes, gliders and even aircraft that are lighter than air like hot air
balloons. So when you go to a balloon festival, most of the pilots of those
balloons have sports pilot's licenses meaning they are qualified to fly at this
level of aviation.

The age restrictions for a sports license are pretty much the same as a private
pilot's license but the medical requirements are not as strict and in most cases
if you are medically qualified to have a driver's license to drive to the
airstrip for the lessons, you are qualified to earn a sports pilot's license.
You still have to go through flight training but the number of flight time
hours are not as stressful and the written test is customized to the less
demanding level of interest you have in flying.

The great thing is that you can go ahead and get a sports pilot's license and
begin enjoying flying on an occasional basis and stay at that level as long as
you want. But if at some point down the road, you want to move on to a private
pilot's license, all of your work on the sports license applies so you just
have to "upgrade" your training to the more advanced certification.

But with the sports license you can take a friend up for a flight, tour the
local landscape or enjoy a quick flight to a neighboring town to visit friends
or attend a sporting event. It is the fastest way to get up in the air but you
are still a certified pilot so the FAA has recognized that you know what you
are doing in the pilot's seat of an airplane.

Testing Your Knowledge Before You Fly

When you boil down to the basics of the things you must do before you can get a
private pilot's license, it is basically three things. You must log 40-50 hours
of flight time with your instructor with at least one solo flight in there. You
must pass a flight test where an FAA examiner goes up in the airplane with you
to check out your knowledge and skill in handling the aircraft. And you must be
able to pass the FAA written pilot's license exam.

Maybe because it's a written test, that exam is often the thing that is most
intimidating to people. For many of us, fear of written exams starts in school.
So the more you know how to pass that exam, the better prepared you will be when
you go to the testing center to take the test.

When you were in school, it was considered cheating to know what was on the
exam before you took it. But your instructors and the FAA want you to pass this
exam. So you can pretty much know the questions you are going to have to answer
before you get there. When you attend flight school, almost all of the
classroom time will be devoted to preparing you for this test. So they can help
you get a feel for what is going to be asked. But you can also download from the
internet preparation kits, test manuals and example tests that will have the
contents of the test laid out for you.

So before you start day one at ground school for getting your pilot's license,
get a feel for what is needed to pass that test and make sure you capture that
knowledge from class, the textbook or wherever you find it in your training.
You can virtually build a data base with the answers they FAA test will want
word for word and study that concentrated guide extensively before going for
the test.

There is just one thing that will defeat the jitters of taking the pilot's
certification test and that is when your knowledge is so complete that there is
literally nothing that they can ask you that you don't know well. So when you
attend class at ground school, approach it differently than you might have at
high school. Be an aggressive listener and note everything of substance that
you will need. Go in there like a hungry bear and gobble up the knowledge the
instructor has to share with you. If you miss even one little thing or don't
understand something, ask questions. Sit on the front row so you don't miss a
thing. In this way, you will walk out of each day in class with a complete
encyclopedia of what was taught.

Be just as aggressive about the text book and any supplemental material you can
pull together. The pilot's exam is not a mysterious entity. Lots of people have
taken it so you will be able to find a huge amount of information out there on
what to expect. Eat that information up and go over it every day over and over
again until it is deeply buried in your brain. Then when each question comes
up, the answers will flow out just as naturally as telling someone your name
when they ask.

This approach to taking the pilot's certification test has a double value. By
being very active and going after the knowledge you need, you are also putting
all your energies into becoming a great pilot too. And then when you finally
get your pilot's license and start pushing ahead in your career in aviation,
your training will pay off over and over every time you take an airplane into
the air.

Step by Step to Flying

Probably the first big step if you want to get moving on a career that involves
flying an aircraft is to get a pilots license that enables you to serve as a
private pilot. To put that in context, there are lesser pilot's licenses such
as the student's license or the sports or recreational licenses but there are a
lot of limitations on those licenses. If you want to be able to fly in support
of your business (but not as your business) or to be able to fly with some
freedom as part of your private life, a private pilots license is a good step
and it's a natural first step even if you plan to go on to train to become a
commercial pilot down the road.

Like any other certification, the path to getting a private pilots license is
fairly set in stone. You will have to be in the right age range as you cannot
become a pilot if you are younger than 16. With that simple requirement out of
the way, the step by step process toward finally realizing your dream of having
a private pilot's license is:

1 - Research the flight schools in your area and make sure the one you use has
a good reputation, a well developed program and equipment to support it and
teaching staff that both knows how to fly and knows how to teach. Make sure the
flight schools that make your cut are certified to offer pilot training that
will result in a FAA recognized pilot's license. 

2 - Make sure your finances are in order because flight school will run between 
$3000 and $5000. There are scholarships available and you might be able to use 
federal student loans through FAFSA if the school qualifies. 

3 - Enroll in flight school and clear your schedule. Getting your pilot's license 
should be your life's passion for the next few months. 

4 - Get a medical certificate that is specific to aviation. A general check up is 
not enough so work with the school to find a doctor who can help you pass the 
medical requirements to be able to fly. 

5 - Go through the ground training to be able to pass the written pilot's license 
exam that is required by the FAA. These classes will take about four to five 
weeks to complete. 

6 - Take AND PASS the written exam required by the Federal Aviation 
Administration at any FAA testing center. 

7 - Work with the school to complete thirty to forty hours of required flight 
time with a certified instructor. You can move through his requirement at your 
own pace which means as fast as you can afford to get through it and schedule 
the time with the school and the instructor. The school will provide the airplane 
as that is part of the fees you paid. 

8 - Your next to last flying "exam" is a solo flight with no instructor on board. 

9 - For the final "big" exam, you will go on a flight with an FAA tester who is 
certified to validate that you know what you are doing in an airplane. 

10 - Don't get nervous, you know what you are doing. Pass that final exam and 
you are home free to receive your private pilot's license nice and legal.

You are going to learn a lot during this process. Don't be fooled, it is a lot
of new stuff to learn and you are basically learning an entirely new physical
skill similar to when you learned to swim or ride a bike. So throw yourself
into those test flights and get as comfortable controlling an airplane as you
are driving a car.

You can do a lot not only to speed up the process but to cut costs by working
hard on your own to conquer the skills you need to become a great private
pilot. You can study the written the test on your own and complete the FAA test
whenever you are ready. But once you have that license, you will be glad you
worked hard to get through the process successfully so that from now on you can
honestly say to people, "I am a pilot".

Your Pilot's License Can Help Mankind

Whenever there is a natural disaster, the one thing that is needed is for
pilots who can take supplies in to those in need and look for people in need.
Small airplanes like you would use once you get your pilot's license are a
perfect way to help out because they can fly low and maneuver easily in places
larger airplanes cannot go. This is one of the truly great rationales for you
getting your pilot's license because it really can enable you to help others in
a way that is very much needed.

If you are involved in a charitable organization, having a pilot's license can
be a huge benefit to that group, especially if you also have your own plane or
access to aircraft that can be accessed to pitch in. Many churches operate
missions groups that need to be able to get to remote regions of this country
or others that can only be accessed by private plane. So when you study to get
your private pilot's certification, you can make sure you get some training in
flying in rough terrain and maybe even landing in on an unprepared surface.
That kind of knowledge can save lives and get help to people when they need it
the most.

During hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters that have hit so many
places, one of the most important jobs that is needed very early on is for
scouts that can fly low over stricken areas to search for survivors and to help
map and identify the depth and scope of the crisis. Many people who set out to
get their private pilot's licenses do so out of a deeply held drive to prepare
for this kind of mission. There may be no more gratifying moment than for you
to fly over a flood or tornado stricken area and to spot a survivor that is
clinging to life and to signal them that you will get help back to them. When
that family is dramatically saved by the helicopter crews, you will have a
direct impact on the saving of those lives and you can carry that knowledge
with you for the rest of your life.

You will train or relatively small airplanes during flight school and on a
limited number of aircraft as well. But people in the business call the pilot's
license a "license to learn" because from the moment you get that first license,
you will be constantly learning how to fly other kinds of aircraft and even
getting higher level certifications to fly transport airplanes or large craft
that can carry a larger amount of people. This won't come the day after you
graduate from flight school. But getting that initial pilot's license is a huge
step forward toward moving more quickly to learn about these utility aircraft
that can expand your usefulness in crisis situation.

It is when you can fly the larger transport airplanes that you can then kick it
up a notch to fly large amount of supplies into an affected area. The hurricane
Katrina situation is a good example because during those first critical days
and weeks, so much was needed by people who could not get out of that crisis
zone. Your help could save not just a life but hundreds of lives if you are the
pilot who helped get those provisions to needy people.

There is something deeply gratifying about using a special talent to help
people in need. And when you had to put a lot of yourself out to get that
talent like you have to do to get your pilot's license, using that skill to
bring relieve to people is even more meaningful. And if anything makes it worth
trying hard to learn to fly, giving a little bit back to mankind sure is that

You Can Make Your Dream of Flying a Reality

There is a club that formed a number of years ago which gave its association
the strange name of "The Man Will Never Fly Society". This group of skeptics,
it turns out, is a frivolous group whose real charter is to get together and
drink. Most reasonable people know that not only does man fly but almost
everyone has flown as a passenger in some form or another in their lives.

But you and I could be part of the "I will never fly society". If you have
often wondered if it would be possible for you to get your own pilot's license
and actually find an airplane all by yourself, it really does seem like a dream
that is far out of reach.

We all have dreams. And while in childhood we might dream of being King
Arthur's knight or a fairy princess, those dreams pass. But some dreams may
start in childhood and stay with us for a long time. Those dreams may be more
than just childhood fantasies. They may be a deep inner voice telling you your
destiny in life. And for a lot of people, that dream of flying never goes away,
even if you stop talking about it when you "grow up".

That dream you have of one day learning to fly may be that inner child in you
telling you that this is something you were born to do and to be fulfilled as a
person, you must indeed someday fly. That doesn't mean you are going to become a
full time pilot of a major jumbo jet, although if that is your destiny, that's
great. Maybe being able to fly will enable you to do good things for a
charitable organization. Perhaps it will free you to see the world or to do
some good for someone that you cannot even imagine right now. Whatever the case
is, it might be time to find out what is holding you back from going after that
dream and get you moving down that path to see the dream become a reality.

In a lot of cases, we get intimidated when we peek into the cockpit of an
aircraft maybe after a commercial flight and all of those dials and levers
seems overwhelming. You look at that pilot and you think, "How can he keep it
all straight?" And when you feel that urge to fly an airplane, you think that
it's impossible because how could you ever conquer the technical knowledge
needed to operate a complicated thing like an airplane?

Just as often the thing holding us back is just not knowing where to start. We
fear that the society of pilots is an elite race and that we just don't have
the stuff to fit in. Insecurity, fear of trying, fear of failing and fear that
we aren't smart enough are all ingredients that keep you always wondering and
never going for it. However, when we begin to replace those fears with reality,
we see a whole different picture emerge.

The truth is that the path to learning to fly is one that is well known and
well tested. In fact, thousands of people every year learn by going to a local
flight school and taking a few classes and then sitting with a skilled trainer
to learn to take an airplane up and fly. It not only is possible, it's
relatively easy to do and the schools are ready and willing to give you the
knowledge and skills to realize your dream. All you have to do is pick up the
phone and get the ball rolling. And within a few weeks, you too could be flying
above the clouds, just like that kid in you always dreamed of.

Turning a Passion into a Career in Flying

The desire to fly with the birds in the sky is as old as mankind itself. Some
of our oldest stories from ancient myths involve man's desire to fly. So if you
felt that yearning which in our day in age means getting a pilot's license, you
are in good company. But there are as many directions a pilot's license can
take you as there are people who want to be certified to fly with the birds.

Your final goals in the airline industry might change and evolve the deeper you
get into the culture the airline industry. For many of us, at first we want to
get that pilot's license partly for fun so we can enjoy that occasional outing
with family and friends and maybe just to prove to ourselves that we can do it.
But once the "bug" of flying gets in your system, don't be surprised if you see
yourself involved in aviation full time and turning your passion for flying
into a very successful career.

As soon as you to see yourself as a professional in the airline industry, you
will do well to change your approach to training and your preparation for your
next big step in the world of aircraft and flying. If you are going to follow a
path within the world of the big airlines to perhaps work your way up to
eventually pilot a big commercial jumbo jet, that is a different educational
goal from becoming a sports pilot for fun or to just be able to fly from time
to time as part of your business.

Obviously a career as a commercial airline pilot is going to take a lot of time
and patience to work your way up to that level in the industry. But if you know
that is your long range goal, your trainers and the flight school you attend
can make sure you are given coursework that targets that higher level of
pilot's license than most "hobbyists" go for. And because you are serious about
a career as a flyer, you can also begin to learn more and more about the culture
of the airline industry and network with the "right people" for your next big
steps in that direction.

But one creative option that is an outstanding way to prepare for a career in
the airline industry whether that is to work as part of a large organization or
to start your own business is to go after a four year degree in flying or
aviation which gives you much greater depth of education. The costs of getting
a pilot's license are pretty high. And when you are done, you will have that
pilot's license but nothing more. It will be up to you to learn the business
side of the airline business.

But by channeling those funds into a full degree plan, you will still get your
pilot's license but it will be integrated in with a full program that will give
you the business exposure, support courses in accounting and math and exposure
to other aspects of the industry such as aircraft repair, flight control and
aviation management at all levels of the business. You will come out of this
program with a full degree that you can then take on to specialized training or
even to a masters or PHD in the field.

This is a worthwhile consideration especially if you think you might start your
own flight school or another support business that supports the industry. And it
never hurts to have exposure to how the entire airline business works if you
plan to be part of it long term. It won't take much to check out what programs
are available and it might be one of the smartest career moves you ever made.

Getting your Pilot's License on the Cheap

There is a difference between being economical and being cheap. And when it
comes to getting your training for your pilot's license, you want the best
training you can get. When you finally get to the point that you can fly an
aircraft, not only will your life be in your hands, the lives of others,
possibly your family and friends may depend on being able to handle that
aircraft with skill and with a good background in training.

But flight school and pilot's training is not an inexpensive operation. You are
learning to operate some very sophisticated machinery and to learn a new skill
that is different than anything else you have ever done. But even though you do
not want to cut corners on the important elements of your training which is time
with your flight instructor and in the air learning to handle that aircraft,
with some extra effort on your part, you can cut some costs and not compromise
the quality of your pilot's license.

There are two big sections to pilot's training which are the theory and the
practice or the book learning and the application or hands on learning you do
working directly with the aircraft. When you go up for your pilot's license,
you will face a pretty rigorous written exam. So much of your time in flight
school will be in class walking through this material.

But there is no requirement that you learn this material from an instructor.
You can work with a Part 61 flight school which has the flexibility or tailor
your program (as opposed to a Part 141 school which conduct classes in strict
accordance with guidelines) so you can do a lot of that study and concept
learning independently and not have to pay to sit in class to learn what you
could have conquered at home for free.

You can buy books that will walk you through every aspect of the pilot's
license test and sit down at your kitchen table and learn it all as fast as you
are able to absorb knowledge. Many of these tutorials will have quizzes and
example tests so you can have someone work you over pretty good so by the time
you walk in to take the written exam you are ready.

Of course there are plenty of online sources that can give you the same in
depth training absolutely free. Sometimes studying online is easier because
it's a bit more interactive and fun. One such site is but you can Google "pilot's
license training" and locate others from reputable agencies that will do the
job just as well.

The hardest thing about home study is to keep yourself accountable and moving
forward though. So set a schedule of what you are going to achieve and make
steady progress, just like you would if you were in a classroom setting. You
can then download the Practical Standards Test (PTS) and study the actual
layout and questions that you will be required to pass "open book". So by the
time you are ready for the test, you are really ready for that test.

You can also work with your instructor to help you be totally prepared when its
time for actual flight training in the air. He can give you the checklists so
you are ready when you show up. If you make mistakes, learn what you did and
practice that skill in your armchair at home.

The more you get out of the way on your own, the less time in the airplane
which costs by the hour. And by taking charge of your training and only using
the experts for hands on training you need, you get just as good an education
in flying but you save a ton of money.

Getting Your Pilot's License for the Fun of it

There are a lot of great motivations for getting your pilot's license. The
field of aviation is full of employment opportunities and if that is where you
want to make your career, you can keep adding to your skills and climb the
latter to more responsibilities as you learn to fly bigger commercial aircraft,
for more money as well. Another motivation that often drives us to want to fly
is that it opens up new ways to be of service to others. If you like to work
with charitable or church organizations, being able to fly to sites of disaster
is an extremely valuable skill to offer.

But one great payoff for the investment of work and money you put into getting
your pilot's license is that you can have a lot of fun when you can take to the
skies and do some exploring from that high up. Being able to fly whenever you
want to adds a whole new world to your entertainment life and it might become
your recreation of choice, at least when you first get your license.

For one thing, being able to get up above your city gives you the ability to
explore your town in an entirely new way. You can find your house and get a
perspective on the neighborhood that you may have never seen before. You can
follow streets along and see little neighborhoods and businesses that you had
no idea was there. Take a friend a few maps with you and enjoy gazing down on
the city from literally the birds eye view.

Flying opens up whole new opportunities for your dating life for sure. Taking
your best girl up for what is without a doubt the most romantic way to view a
sunset is sure to get the romantic juices flowing. And because flying extends
your borders to other communities and even to border states, you can dash to a
nearby town for an exotic dinner or follow your favorite sports team around
much easier than by car.

As soon as you begin using your pilot's license to explore the world around
you, you are going to discover some natural wonders near where you live that
you may have never seen before. You may find hills and even mountain ranges
that will call to you to come and explore from the sky. And as long as your gas
supply is good, you can wander those hills with complete freedom knowing you can
get back to your landing strip with a new adventure under your belt.

If you spot a stream or river that you had never tracked down before, you will
want to get back into the sky as soon as possible to follow the trail of that
river to see where it runs. Your imagination will be going wild imaging the
lives of those who live along those banks. The great thing about flying is that
you don't have to be held to any highway or road. You can go to the most remote
locations and gaze down and even take pictures and know that true thrill of
exploring and discovery.

If you are a camera bug, the open skies will give you chances to get photos
unlike anything you ever could capture before. Imagine flying near a souring
eagle and being able to get close ups of that majestic bird in a natural
setting. You have seen pictures like that but to be able to capture it live
will be a thrill that will be hard to top. That camera will get a work out with
the huge diversity of nature shots or even great pictures of the really majestic
architecture of your own city that takes on an entirely different aspect when
you photograph it from the sky.

The range of ways you can explore the world and have new adventures flying free
would just keep opening up to you. And you could explore them with loved ones,
friends and family and get a lot of wholesome fun because you took the time to
get your pilot's license.

The Day After you get Your Pilot's License

There is a singular thrill that surges through you the day get your first
pilot's license. You feel as though suddenly you grew wings and stopped being a
terrestrial creature and in a way became a cousin to the birds who were free to
fly the skies at will. That little license says that you have the knowledge and
the skills to take an aircraft and sour far above the rest of mankind, even if
only for a little while.

So what next? The instinct most new pilots have is to get out there and show
off this new skill. But the one thing you should have learned in flight school
is to take it easy and be very cautious about every decision you make when it
is you taking the controls of an airplane. Naturally you will want to gather
your friends and family around and they will want you to take them on a flight
to put your new pilot's license to use. And it's ok for you to be proud and to
want to show your loved ones that you are capable of flying just like you
always said you would one day be able to do.

But also let a certain amount of fear and trembling remind you of everything
you learned. When you get in the pilots seat of that airplane and you have
passengers back there, this is not the same as having that flight instructor
sitting in the passenger's seat with dual controls ready to step in and correct
your mistakes.

It's not pleasant to remind ourselves of this one fact but it's good for you to
keep in mind that planes can crash and crashing a plane can kill you. Moreover,
it would be a disaster if you had a mishap on one of those first flights out
after you got your pilot's license and you lost or injured someone you love.
That specter of danger which is also why flying is exciting, should help you
approach these early flights with the greatest of caution and to make very
conservative choices in when and where you take your "joy ride" to show off
your talents to your family and friends.

They say that when you see a juggler juggle five balls in the air during a
performance, he can probably juggle seven or nine in practice. But he only does
what he knows he can do when it comes to involving other people. Well you should
adopt that same caution because these are lives on the line, precious lives.

Schedule these early trips on the best possible days for flying. Pick days
where there is a light breeze, bright blue skies above and that you feel great.
Make sure the airplane has been inspected to the most precise detail and that
every possible precaution has been taken. In the air, no hot dogging. Fly in
simple, easy to execute patterns and don't go far before you return to the
airport and land safely. When you get off the airplane, your wife and kids and
friends will be all totally impressed. And you can breathe a sigh of relief
that you "pulled it off."

They often call the license to fly a plane a license to learn because you will
keep learning more and more every year to stick with your passion for flying.
Next you can take on learning to glide, learning to fly only by instruments and
learning other aircraft. Each of them will be another skill to add to your
resume. And each one will be exciting. So getting your pilot's license is not
the peak of the mountain of flying. It is just the first step up the mountain
to a vast world of aviation that you will never tire of exploring.

From Flying an Airplane to Owning One

There is a natural progression of involvement in your love of flying that all
starts when you first catch the dream that you really can become a pilot. It's
a big job to get out there and find out how to get through flight training
school to get your pilot's license. The money, time and effort to get that
training is demanding but its actually good that it is because when you finally
pass the tests and do your solo flights and you earn that license, you really
walk away with a sense of accomplishment.

But you walk away with something else even more exciting which is a license
that says that you really are a pilot and the authorization to take an airplane
up in the air. It's an addictive feeling to fly an aircraft and there are lots
of opportunities for jobs that will take advantage of this well earned skill
you. So just as there is a natural next step after you get a drivers license to
want to own your own car, very often new pilots begin to get the bug to own
their own plane after they become addicted to the love of flying.

There is no question that the freedom you will gain from owning your own plane
will take your love of flying to the next level. And there are some good
economic reasons for taking this step too. Very often you can build a small
business of your own just putting your plane at the disposal of people who need
it. Offering charter airplane services to businesses or individuals to get them
where they need to go quickly and efficiently can be a good paying career and
give you the chance to fly to lots of places you may have never thought about

Owning your own small business built around your plane and your love of flying
can go a lot of different directions. You might find a great market offering
recreational flights to people who want to get up above the town and look down
on it like the birds can do. Often groups will charter an airplane to take them
to the nearest city that has a national sports franchise to see the big game.
These kinds of customers are often able to pay handsomely for your service and
who knows, you might get to see the game too.

You should do your homework before thinking about buying a plane though because
not only is it an expense up front but there will be ongoing costs that go with
owning such a unique vehicle. Obviously you can't park the plane in your garage
or back yard so you will need a hanger to house your airplane day in and day
out. Most of us don't own our own hanger right off the bat so that will be an
ongoing cost as well. And if you have your plane in a public hanger at the
local regional airport, how will that affect your ability to use the plane at a
moments notice if you want that kind of access?

But one of the biggest issues that you will need to be prepared to provide for
when becoming an airplane owner is maintenance. Perhaps you became fascinated
with the mechanical side of airplane technology when you went through flight
school. So a career as an airplane mechanic might be ahead for you and it might
be tempting to learn to take care of your own airplane as well. But its best to
at least keep on retainer a qualified airplane mechanic to perform routine
maintenance and to "check out" the plane routinely to make sure it is in good
working order.

When you get that plane in the air, the last thing you want is for you to not
know if the plane is sound mechanically. So while paying a mechanic to service
your plane routinely is an expense, it's crucial that your plane be safe to fly
every day. So it's a worthwhile expense. All of these costs mean that if you
want to own a plane, you will have to commit to take care of it. But the fun of
owning a plane and the potential for high paying charter business means that it
might be a very good next step in your ongoing career as a pilot.

Evaluating a Flight Training School

When you finally make that decision to go for your pilot's license, it's an
exciting step for you. It will be fun to tell friends and family that you feel
it in your bones that you are ready to put in the time and effort to get that
all important pilot's license to start your journey toward success. But just as
in any area of specialization, finding the right school that you feel good about
using to achieve this goal takes some looking and some evaluation.

You will be putting a lot of time and money into the flight school you choose.
And they are taking you through not only some knowledge training but a
discipline of learning to become a completely different person. You will go
from a person whose idea of flying was sitting in coach and thinking about your
in flight meal to the guy in the cockpit calling the shots. You will "become" a
pilot and you want your guide through this transformation to be a good one.

There are basically two kinds of flight schools and they are referred to as
Part 61 or Part 141 schools. Now naturally you would assume one category to be
superior. But in terms of the outcome, both can get you the knowledge and
experience you need and help you become a pilot. The difference is their

A Part 141 school must live up to a very strict curriculum that the FAA lays
out and every Part 141 school operates exactly the same way. Obviously there
are some values to this approach. The primary value of going to a Part 141
flight training school to get your pilot's license is that because they all
operate identically, you can change teachers or even schools midstream and just
pick up where you left off.

A Part 61 flight training school doesn't put itself into that discipline. So
these schools will have a greater variety in the way the material is presented,
the order it is given to you and how you learn it as well. Part 61 schools can
use more creativity in how they take you through the process and very often the
instructors are more creative as well. And since pilots are notoriously
independent people in the first place, you will probably meet more "characters"
at a Part 61 school.

Neither of these two types of schools is actually superior. Since the pilot's
license testing is standardized, they will all get you there the same way. The
Part 141 approach gives you the security that they are completely governed by
the FAA and the ability to change teachers or schools with no disruption to
your education. A Part 61 school can customize the training to you and if there
is an area of instruction that you might need extra help with, they can be
flexible and make sure they cover the bases you need covered in greater depth.

Before you decide on a specific school, get a good list of the best regarded
pilot's license training schools in your area. The administration at your local
airport will be able to point you in the right direction. Many times a large
city will have a number of smaller airports that service charger flights and
smaller operations and they often have flight schools on premises. So if the
international airport isn't being helpful, try the smaller ones in the area.
Then set about checking out the facilities, the teachers, the planes and the
reputation of the schools.

By interviewing not only the staff and teachers of the school but graduates to
find out the good and bad of each school, you will have done your homework
well. But also get to know the instructor who will be your primary guide
through learning to be a pilot. This will be your mentor on that first big
moment as you take the controls and take an airplane up for the first time and
you and he (or she) will be alone in that cockpit frequently as you log the
necessary air hours to qualify to take the test. But by checking this all out
ahead of time, by the time you put down your money and start the process of
learning to become a pilot, you will know that you are in good hands with the
school you selected.

Certified to Fly

When you first got the vision to become a pilot, how did you see yourself? For
some of us it is at the controls of a jumbo jet operated by one of the big
airline companies flying from one exotic location to another and having the
power and responsibility for that billion dollar airplane and hundreds of lives.

For others it's being a private pilot for a small airline flying rich people
around or just flying for your own pleasure. You are free, literally "as a
bird" to glide over the world gazing down and deciding where you might land
before taking to the air again. These are fun images and even as you work your
way through flight school and then start "paying your dues" in the airline
industry to work toward your goal, its good to keep the dream so you always
have the next rung of the latter ahead and you never give up.

It's good to have a firm idea of who you want to be as a pilot because it
actually affects the kind of pilot's certification you will go for after flight
school. So understanding the different kinds of certification and what is
required to meet the requirements for that level of responsibility can be
important. Of course, your goals may change the longer you stay in your career
as a pilot. But if you know going in what is required, you can tailor and
customize your training and preparations around your goals.

There are actually six levels of pilot certification, one of which you may
already have. If you are already in flight school and you have gotten to the
point that you are taking training flights and handling the craft yourself, you
had to already get a student pilot certification. All pilots' certifications
have requirements and restrictions so obviously as a student pilot, you can
only operate an airline in the instructional setting and not on your own except
for your final solo flights as authorized by the school.

Just above the student level but a pilot's certification that you can use for
your own purposes are the sports and the recreational pilot's license. These
certifications are less restrictive than the student's license but you will be
limited to fly only in good weather conditions and strong daylight, that your
distances will be limited as will the type of aircraft. You can also only have
one passenger with a student license. What the FAA has created in the sports
and recreational licenses are certifications that allow for some enjoyment
level flying but are not certified at a high enough level to make being a pilot
your career.

The top three levels of pilot's licenses are the private pilot license, the
commercial pilot and the airline transport license. The names are fairly self
explanatory. Often new pilots try to reach the private pilot level before going
on for the more demanding higher level licenses. With a private pilot license,
you can operate a much greater variety of aircraft including helicopters and
balloons and you can use your pilot's license as part of your job although you
cannot be paid for flying. So your job may be crop dusting and you are paid for
that and your ability to fly a small aircraft is in connection with your job.

Obviously the commercial pilot's certification and the airline transport
pilot's license are the ones you would go for to be able to fly the big jets.
But you may never need to get that far. So evaluate your goals and target your
certification accordingly. In that way you are using your training time well
and when you have reached the level you aspire to, you will get that sense of
satisfaction that you are a pilot who is realizing the dream.

Breaking Out the Costs of Flight School

The term "hidden costs" strikes fear into most of us because it means we are
going to pay more for something than we thought. Sadly, many times a business
will hide some costs of goods or services so you can "discover" them once you
have committed to use the service. Having to pay for a pillow on a flight after
you already forked over hundreds of dollars to the airline is a classic example
of hidden costs.

When you are preparing to go into flight school to realize your dream of
getting your pilot's license, its is imperative that you know how much you need
from a budget perspective before you sign a contract to go through the program.
So to be sure you are not going to get hit with a lot of "hidden costs", it
pays to know the terminology and to know what questions to ask before you agree
to use that school to get your license to fly.

When you first contact a flight school, they will lay out the red carpet for
you. You will get a tour of the facilities including the classrooms and the
airplanes to be used for your in flight training. You will meet wonderful
instructors and the end of the tour will probably include a test flight where
you get to sit in the pilot's seat as though you were actually flying that
plane. That experience alone can hook you to want to be part of their program.
Then they will present you will some colorful brochures, a contract and a class
schedule and finally, a schedule of costs along with payment options.

There is a good reason they are showing you the costs last. They want to get
you excited and "hooked" before you review the fees. It's important to remember
that the majority of flight schools are "for profit" businesses and the
competition for customers is intense. The number one reason a school fails to
"close the deal" is often the cost. So if they can soften that blow by not
showing you some of the costs of getting your pilot's license with them, they
might be able to get you into class and you will just deal with the additional
costs after the fact.

This is a little bit deceptive but they do it to get business. It's up to you
then to know what questions to ask and to understand the terminology of the
schedule of fees. Make sure that when you get the estimate of what you will
have to pay that it is broken out in some detail. If all they are quoting you
is the cost of classroom instruction, that underestimate the costs
tremendously. Additional costs will include:

*  Books and classroom supplies. You may need to buy these yourself so to get a
complete budget, do that shopping before signing a contract. 

*  Duel instruction fees. A big part of your training is in the air. What they 
might not tell you is that you will have to pay for the instructor's time by the 
hour for every hour you are up there with him. And you must plan for the cost of 
the plane. Plan for a minimum of $50 an hour labor and $100 an hour for the 
equipment. But this is something that is worth getting an exact quote on when you 
are estimating what it will cost to get your pilot's license with that school. 

*  Fuel costs -- it takes gas to operate that airplane while you are flying it. 
They might not be including the cost of gas in with the airplane rental fee. Make 
sure you know what to expect as that can be a big hidden cost, especially with 
gas costs high as they are right now.

In order to get a cost number you can depend on, you must estimate how many
hours of flight training you are going to need. The FAA requires that you have
a minimum of 40 hours flight time and you may need more to cover the many
situations you must understand before you become a solo pilot. Also keep in
mind you must do one final flight where you go up with an FAA examiner so find
out the costs of his or her time and add at least an hour of flight time to
your totals.

Staying on Top of your Game as a Pilot

If they didn't tell you in flight school as you studied for your pilot's
license, you certainly learn it pretty quick after you get into the airline
industry that the pilot's license is only the beginning of a lifelong of
learning and growing in a field that is always changing. So even after you get
your career as a pilot launched and are making a living in the trade, there are
always ways you can be working every day to keep up with what is going on not
only in aviation generally but with your local airline industry and what is
going on even within your own company.

It is for this reason that the best thing you can do for your career as well as
for your day in and day out ability to stay on top of the game at the local
level is become part of the tightly knit group of other pilots in your area.
Pilots are a very unique breed of people and the experiences you have in the
pilots seat of an airplane are unlike any other profession there is. So its
natural you will won't to be together because you are a community of people who
are the only ones that have that common experience.

Networking with other pilots gives you benefits that really cannot be
quantified. And you really don't go about this task in an organized fashion.
You do so around the airport in the lounge as you encounter other pilots and
you share details about the flying conditions that day or other important
things pilots need to know. Not only is that valuable at the time but it can
pay off long term. If something important develops during the day, you can find
out about that before it affects your flight. Problems with the runway, with the
tower or other issues that could dramatically affect your flight fly through a
network of pilots far before any official notification.

Your network of pilots will become a network of friendships that can provide a
support group one for the other in the case of emergencies. You will learn each
others flight schedules and if one pilot cannot perform, there is someone that
can step up and handle that flight. The network of pilots can also be self
correcting. If one pilot needs some help getting back on top of his game, you
and the other of your support group can pull him aside and talk him through he
rough patch. That may even mean supporting each other during personal crisis or
to get into a 12 step program. But this kind of support means you don't have to
let any pilot just fall out of the program if you are watching out for each
other and helping each other when help is needed.

There are other levels of networking that you can tap into as a member of the
aviation community that you may not have thought of before. Even though we
think of the FAA as that big governmental agency in the sky, this agency is
staffed by people who have a vested interest in taking care of pilots and
making sure everybody lives up to some standards to the industry is safe and
profitable. There are local members of the FAA who would like nothing more than
to know every single pilot better to find out how the agency can serve your
needs. You may not know this but the FAA holds meetings every other week that
are classes for pilots just like you to help you stay up to date with your
education and to answer any questions that may have come up about the industry
and the FAAs relationship to it. The FAA offers free training and publications
all focused exclusively on the aviation industry that you can take advantage of
just for the asking. So include the local FAA representatives in your network of
professional associations. It will pay you well to tap this huge government

But don't limit your networking just to these two groups. Get to know the
mechanics that take care of the airplanes your lives depend on. You would even
do well to stay current with what is going on with the flight instructors who
are training new pilots as they are often more up to date on the industry than
old pros like you.

Somebody Has to Fly the Goodyear Blimp

Getting your pilot's license is just the start of a life in the world of
aviation that can really take you anywhere. While there is a lot you can do
with just a private pilot's license, you can take that starting point and go
into helicopter flight, flying gliders or even on up into larger aircraft until
you get licensed to fly the big jets for the big airlines.

But one specialization that you may or may not have thought of is flying those
blimps that you see over stadiums during ball games or over the parades at
holidays. We tend to take for granted that they are up there doing whatever
Goodyear or whoever owns the blimp wants them to do all by themselves. But
somebody has to fly those blimps and your pilot's license is a good launch into
what will become a very fascinating job that is unlike anything else in aviation.

Becoming a blimp pilot means finding the right company with the organization
that is staffing for that job. But flying a blimp is not a fast paced job in
term of the flying you will do. Most of the time a blimp travels very slowly
because, obviously, a blimp is large and cumbersome and it really cannot
maneuver that quickly. It is designed to hover in place and move slowly over
the destination such as a ball game so the top speed you will reach in the air
might be thirty five miles per hour.

Another big difference when flying a blimp is that you will hover the craft
fairly close to the ground compared to a faster moving airplane. Sometimes you
will fly as low as 1000 to 1500 feet which means at that height, you can
actually see the people on the ground and at that speed, you can wave at them.

Because blimps are used almost entirely for promotional or recreational
purposes, your role as the pilot of a blimp almost puts you into show business
yourself. You will have a much greater interaction with people who come to see
the blimp so you will enjoy far more socialization that you might as a private
pilot which sometimes can be a bit of a lonely job.

By the very nature of why companies keep blimps, if you land that pilots job,
you are going to be traveling virtually nonstop. So be sure you really like to
see the world and that this kind of travel is not going to disrupt family life.
It's a great job if you are young and have not started your family yet and you
just want to have some adventure.

If you wish to make becoming a blimp pilot a real objective, take your existing
pilot's license and become certified as a lighter than air pilot as well. It
won't be that much more work and it positions you perfectly to fly a blimp. As
you wait for the chance to get in the door with the few organizations that do
operate blimps, you can go ahead and log some good experience using your pilots
license in a charter situation so you have a solid resume of flying when you are
ready to specialize flying blimps.

The "big break" you will be looking for is just to get in on the ground floor
with a company that owns and operates a blimp. You may have to serve your time
as part of the ground crew of the blimp but that by itself is a fascinating
job. Here is where you will learn the technical aspects of maintaining a blimp
and the safety issues that go into keeping a big vehicle like that aloft.

Your flight experience then will put you in line to apply for the pilot or co
pilot position when it becomes available. And by becoming an experienced crew
member, you will be in an ideal place if the company decides to add a blimp and
needs a whole new crew including a pilot. While the pay of a blimp pilot is not
going to make you rich, you will see the world and you will have one of the
most unique jobs in aviation. And if you get to fly over the Super Bowl and
have a birds eye view of the biggest game of the year, well that's just another
one of the great perks of being a blimp pilot.

Some Flight Training is Better than Others

If you or your child wants to become a pilot, how successful they will be in
reaching that goal may depend to a large extent on the pilot's license training
they get at a local flight school. As with anything else, there are great
schools, good schools and poor schools and you won't find that evaluation on
their web page or in their yellow pages ads. So you will have to learn to
evaluate the school before you put down your money for training to become a

It might surprise you how many flight schools there are in your area. You can
always use the yellow pages to start the search. But there is also an internet
site dedicated strictly to helping you with this task.
Http:// has listings for every state and links to web
sites where you can learn more about each school's facilities.

The two clear cut qualifications that will tell if one school is better than
another at teaching you to fly is their depth and knowledge of the airline
industry and the technical field of study of aeronautics and how to fly an
airplane and their depth and knowledge in the being able to teach others this
skill. They may have wonderful pilots with hundreds of hours of flight time but
if they don't know how to teach, they won't be much good to you. Similarly, they
have wonderful teachers who can take you from ignorant to expert in the
curriculum but if they don't have any more than a surface knowledge of what it
means to be a pilot, their credibility is questionable.

The flight school itself should be well equipped to provide the equipment to
give you the education in how to be a pilot and to equip the teachers with
everything they need. Don't be shy to inspect the classrooms, the books and the
other equipment that will be needed in ground school to get you ready for the
written pilot's license test you must pass to become a pilot.

But also ask about the airplanes the school has for your training flights and
eventually the solo flights you must have to go before the FAA and seek a
pilot's license. The different kinds of airplanes you can train on, the greater
your depth of knowledge will be. How old are the airplanes and how many of each
kind do they have? You want to know that the airplanes are in good repair and
that there are facilities so the school always has planes to take up for your
training even if some are in the hangers for inspection or repair.

The same criteria should be asked of the flight instructors and specifically of
the instructor who will be your primary mentor for this process. That person
should have a good resume of accomplishment both flying for a living and
working in the airline industry. You want a seasoned pro to be sitting next to
you when you take the controls of an airplane for the first time. But you also
want an instructor who has the heart of a teacher. He or she should love
passing information to others and taking a roomful of "civilians" and turning
them into accomplished pilots.

You have the right to ask a lot of questions. You should get details about
costs which will include supplemental costs like books, training materials,
fuel surcharges and flight time fees. By the time your evaluation is done, you
should have a firm idea what the school has to offer and a solid base of
knowledge to use to compare flight schools. From there you can make the right
choice who will be teaching you to take to the air and fulfill your lifelong
dream of becoming a pilot.

So You Want to be an Airline First Officer

When you are in that long process of getting your pilots license, its fun to
think about the different jobs in the airline industry that this license might
make possible for you. Obviously, the top echelon of being a full fledged pilot
is to pilot one of those jumbo international jets. But there is a path between
where you are and that job and first officer is a fine goal to start out with.

Of course, one way to quickly become the head of the team on a commercial
airline is to go to work for an airline where you will be piloting a smaller
craft or to work for a charter airline so you are the only one flying the plane
on each outing. That's not a bad option and it's a respectable job using your
pilot's license. But sometimes nothing will take the place of climbing the
latter in a larger airline so you can enjoy the big rewards of someday being
the chief pilot on a large craft going to some exotic route.

If you get to the position of first officer on a large aircraft, that is no
small position. It is an "apprentice" position and you are in the position of
being an assistant to the captain while you learn the ropes of operating a
large and complex craft. But if you are a young pilot and you want to get a
good flight log of real life cockpit experience, paying your dues as a first
officer is an outstanding time in your career and one you will benefit from
tremendously. It won't pay as well as when you make full pilot but look on it
as your "internship" and be glad that by holding down that spot, you are on
your way.

Much of the excitement of piloting a major aircraft for one of the big airlines
comes to you even as the first officer. And that major airline flight time on
your resume is nothing short of priceless as you move forward in your career in
the industry. Along with learning the nuances of the aircraft itself and how to
respond to different in flight situations from a technical point of view, the
time you have working as a peer with an experienced airline captain and crew
can help you sort out the culture of the airline of the industry so you can not
only navigate the aircraft but your career in the industry as well.

By serving some good months or years in the first officer position, you are
putting yourself directly under the scrutiny of the people who make the
decisions about hiring for airline captain jobs and other senior positions in
the airline industry. Airline captain is not a position that you can just walk
off the street and do. And by doing some good time as a first officer and
getting noticed for your good work in that position, you will be in great shape
when the time comes for you to apply for the top job.

So include a stint as first officer in your career path as you start your
ascent through the positions of authority in your airline career. And when you
make this first level goal and have a first officer position, don't be too
hasty to rush through it. This is an outstanding time to build relationships
and to demonstrate competency not only to the people who might promote you to
captain but to the airline staff and your fellow crew members who may one day
say "Yes Captain" to you when you sit down to command a big aircraft en route
to London, Paris or Rome.

Living and Breathing Your Desire to Fly

When you first go to a flight school and spend some time with one of the
instructors to find out if learning to fly is for you, he or she will commonly
take you up on a demo flight where you get to sit in the pilots seat for take
off, during the flight and landing. And while the expert is doing all the work,
you get the feel for being in the pilot's seat of an airplane, maybe for the
first time. For many of us, that first flight is a transformation that will
take you from someone curious about flying to a true believer with that deep
inner drive to learn to fly whatever it takes.

If the flight instructor who took you on that first flight knows what he is
doing, you will walk away from that first experience with an armload of
information including the curriculum for ground school, the costs of training
for your pilot's license and a layout of the time commitment involved. It might
be a little overwhelming when you get home and start looking over all of that
material. But if that inner drive to become a certified pilot has birthed the
love of flying in you, you will then and there determine that you are going to
put in the time and conquer the knowledge so you too can become part of that
special society of people who can fly an airplane.

You should make that moment when you are filled with determination to learn to
fly and make it one of those big memories you often go back to. That is because
if you really want to be a great pilot and to get there as quickly as you
responsibly can, you should be prepared to make getting through flight training
and learning this amazing new skill the absolute top priority in your life for
the weeks ahead as you go through the learning process.

For one thing, the training to learn to fly is not cheap. You are taking
training from specialized experts whose time is not cheap and flight schools
provide the airplanes, gas, supplies and insurance so you can take their
airplanes up for learning flights. You cannot get a pilot's license without
flying several times a week throughout your training period. So be prepared to
pay several thousand dollars for top notch flight training. But if you can make
that investment, and you put in the time to get the work done, you are virtually
guaranteed that at the end of the curriculum, you will earn your pilot's license.

And just as you take into account the financial investment, you should be
prepared to make the time investment to learn to fly a top priority for you.
Whether you are taking classroom lessons or your lesson that day is to take the
aircraft up, you should be prepared to be at the flight school a couple hours
for each session. And to make progress, you should plan 2-3 lessons a week. In
addition there is the travel time to the school and time to study and prepare
for the next time you are with the instructor.

There are a lot of resources you can use to conquer all of the new terminology
and areas of knowledge you will have to become expert in to truly "become" a
pilot. But look on that intimidating body of knowledge ahead as the mountain
you have to climb to achieve this lofty goal. Then charge into that mountain
and climb diligently every day. You can conquer that information if you study
and give this passion of yours plenty of time. And the more you learn at home
and during times when not at the school, the faster you will progress.

Before you know it you will be taking the flight test for your pilot's license.
You will have put in sufficient hours in the air and your knowledge will be rock
solid. And when you walk out of that testing and you conquered it all, you will
look down at that pilot's license and you have every reason to feel proud. You
will have not only finished a course of study, you will have changed into a
completely different person. You are now and will forevermore will be -- a

How to Pay for Your Dream

Having a dream of becoming a pilot and getting behind the controls of an
aircraft to guide it into the clouds is the start of a great life reaching for
the stars. But that first step of getting your pilot's license is a big one.
Not only is flight school challenging and something that will take significant
effort and time, it's quite an expense as well.

Flight schools are not cheap. Offering instruction in getting a pilot's license
means employing highly trained and skilled instructors who are skilled pilots.
In addition to the expenses of running classrooms, flight schools must be able
to help you complete 40-50 hours of actual flight time which involves one on
one time with that instructor. So flight schools must provide the airplanes
along with the mechanics to keep those planes in good repair. All of that is
expensive and that is built into the cost of your training.

So to make your dream a reality, sometimes you have to get a student loan or
some financial aid to get where you want to go in the airline industry. Like
any other form of education, there is assistance available if you know how to
get it. So you are determined not to give up on your dream, you will have to
make finding financial backing as much of a project as getting through flight
school and getting that pilot's license.

One often untapped resource are grants from organizations or companies that
benefit from a fresh supply of good pilots. You can find out at your nearest
airport the types of organizations out there that have grants for students who
need help with flight school. Pilot fraternal organizations as well as men's
clubs like the Boy Scouts, the Lions Club or the Shriners often have
scholarships for deserving students. If you have an adult relative in one of
these groups or you are a member or an alumni of one of these groups, check out
any grants they might have before you go to strangers.

Another clever way to get financial aid is to look for colleges that offer a
full degree in aviation and flying. Often these schools operate a fully funded
flight school as part of that curriculum. And if you enroll in an accredited
college or university, the scholarship and federal student loan program through
FAFSA is always there to be of help. Another "back door" trick to get free
tuition and even some funding from the school is to go to work for the school
or have a parent do so. Often colleges give free schooling to employees and
their kids as part of their employee benefits.

But even if you are working with a school that is only about training pilots,
talk to the administration because they may know of more grants or student
loans you may qualify for. Before you start on this quest, make sure you have
your financial documentation in order. That means have your tax documents all
gathered up as well as bank records, pay stubs or anything else that document
your financial status and can be used to demonstrate financial need for

The school can be an important partner to you in finding the funding you need.
There may be existing federal programs like the Pell Grant or the Stafford or
Perkins loan programs that will work to get you the money you need to get
through flight school. Again, getting logged in with the FAFSA program is
essential to go after any government funding but once you are approved by
FAFSA, the government will most likely guarantee any student loan you need.
That means banks and credit unions will welcome you with open arms when you
come to them for a student loan.

You may actually be surprised how much financial aid is out there to help you
realize your dream. If you must pay for your schooling with a student loan,
don't despair going into debt. Once you get your pilot's license, your market
value will skyrocket and you can pay the loan off from the good job you get in
the aviation industry. And it's worth going through that loan process because
in the end when you have realized your dream of becoming a pilot, you will be
able to sour above the clouds piloting an airplane and you will be grateful for
anyone who helped you along the way.

How Not to Crash an Airplane

When you enter flight school and start to anticipate those hands on flight
lessons, that's really the exciting part of the program. We all know that the
classroom learning and the technical knowledge are important. You really cannot
expect to be a pilot without knowledge of aerodynamics and the technical theory
about aircraft and how they work both in flight and during take off and landing.

But it is when you get in the pilots seat and take the controls of an airplane
that things get exciting. The FAA requires that you get 40-50 hours of airtime
actually flying an airplane and getting in flight instruction from a certified
pilot before you are qualified to test for a pilot's license. This makes sense.
After all, flying an airplane is a mechanical and physical skill. Along with the
knowledge of how to read the instruments, how the plane works and the
relationship between the craft and the atmosphere, there is a certain amount of
"seat of the pants" knowledge that can only come from handling an airplane up in
the air, where you wanted to be all along.

There are a lot of aspects to flying to cover during your time in the air with
your instructor. The take off takes some getting used to and you have to learn
to carry this part of the flight off safely and in cooperation with the tower
and other aircraft in the area. When in the air, finding your altitude and
dealing with different situations that come up while flying can really only be
taught when they happen. And landing the airplane is an area of particular
focus because that is where there is the biggest potential for error which can
be catastrophic.

One area of flying that must be part of your training that maybe wasn't part of
your thoughts when you daydreamed of becoming a pilot is disaster recovery. You
know that when you drive a car, there are dozens of "situations" you might get
into that require that you make corrections or have the wherewithal to handle a
crisis situation and get through it with as little damage and injury as
possible. While flying an airplane does not put you in the same kind proximity
of other aircraft as driving does, you have more dimensions to flying (up and
down) as well as wind, weather and airborne hazards to be concerned with. In
addition you may face equipment malfunction while in the air and you must have
some knowledge and experience in how to handle this kind of crisis to get
through it alive.

If your flight training doesn't include crisis training, you should get it at
all costs before you even consider taking other people up in your airplane and
you are responsible for their lives. You should have an instructor who will
intentionally cut the engines and teach you how to handle the aircraft without
the aid of power and to glide it safely to the ground. You should also get what
they call "spin" training which is what you will need if you suddenly find the
aircraft spiraling to the ground "spinning" while you frantically try to figure
out how to pull out and save your life and the airplane as well.

This part of your training will be a bit frightening. But your instructor will
be able to put you into the situations you need to understand and talk you
through them so you have the knowledge you need to recover from disasters if
they happen to you while flying. You will be glad you are prepared even if you
never experience problems flying and it will give you self confidence to know
that you were taught how to respond to crisis rather than having to figure it
out when it happens.

Helicopters to the Rescue

Getting a pilot's license with the intent on learning to fly a helicopter is a
very ambitious goal. But of all of the aircraft, the helicopter is probably one
of the most versatile and useful kinds of flying in society. However, it might
be obvious that it is more complicated to fly a helicopter than a conventional
private airplane. So the training is more extensive, difficult and expensive as
well. But adding the helicopter to the list of your piloting skills on your
resume will make you tremendously marketable in a field that is always in need
of well trained pilots.

You don't have to look far to find ways that helicopter pilots are getting
great jobs in all segments of society. Every local news team has at least one
if not several traffic or weather helicopters to help report the news. Every
day these pilots whisk a news team off to the heart of a fast breaking story,
often a story that is filmed directly from the cockpit of their helicopter.

The need for helicopters to assist law enforcement is easy to witness by just
watching any cop or detective show on television or in the movies. But the way
the pilot of the helicopter becomes a big part of many police situations is not
overstated. For law enforcement, the need to get right to the heart of a crime
situation is nothing short of critical. Time makes a big difference when it
comes to solving a crime or stopping a dangerous situation from spiraling out
of control. So many times it is the helicopter pilot who can take a team of
highly skilled police or FBI officers right into the middle of a trouble
situation with pinpoint accuracy. And when those heroes of the police
department can save a life because you got them there fast, there is no way to
estimate how great you will feel about your role in that important job.

Helicopter pilots can find great employment giving rides around the city during
the holidays, flying busy executives to high stakes business meetings from the
top of skyscrapers, whisking rock stars away from overly adoring fans or
working for hospitals getting remote patients to medical care quickly and
saving lives in the process. This means that the chances are your life as a
helicopter pilot will be exciting, fast paced and always doing something urgent
taking you to the most interesting of places.

But of the many ways that helicopter pilots find great jobs helping others in
society, rescue missions may be the most meaningful. During the hurricane
Katrina disaster, it was a common thing to see helicopter pilots going in and
plucking people off of rooftops to take them to safety and to be reunited with
their grateful families. In forest fire situations, helicopters are what are
used to dump water or chemicals on the fire to try and stop the burning. And it
is the helicopter that is used to get in the middle of danger and get people out
or to get the injured to medical professionals quickly and save lives. Your
skills in handling that complicated aircraft will never seem more crucial than
when you are using them to benefit your fellow man in trouble.

You should know the demands that will be put on you when you start on your
course to learn to fly a helicopter and get a pilot's license that says you can
be counted on to handle this important vehicle with skill. Unlike a conventional
airplane, the helicopter and maneuver straight up and side to side with
phenomenal flexibility. It can hover over a location virtually in one place and
be landed with nothing more needed than a small plot of ground to place it down
on rather than a long landing field. The skill to be able to actually do these
maneuvers with this precision flying machine take time and money to gain.

You will work very hard in pilot's school for helicopter pilots. And this
specialization of pilot training is anywhere from 5-10 times more expensive
than conventional pilots training. But if you can get the training under your
belt and the experience to show you can handle a copter like pro, the
employment opportunities are abundant and the money good for you to have an
exciting and diversified career flying helicopters as your job and your passion.

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