There are many ways to become a pilot. However, lets should start with your goal. Do you want to just enjoy flying yourself and maybe a family member around once in a while? Do you want to become a flight instructor? Want to fly for a private company, a charter company or even the airlines? All of this defines you path to becoming a pilot.

  1. Step 1: Am I eligible to become a student?

  2. To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must:
  3. Be at least 17 years of age for a rating in other than a glider or balloon.
  4. Be at least 16 years of age for a rating in a glider or balloon.
  5. Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the Administrator may place such operating limitations on that applicant’s pilot certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft.
  6. Step 2: Determine You Training Path

  7. Now that you know your goal the next step is to determine how your going to get your flight training. This can be a very confusing step as there are several options.
  8. Let us explore the options here to help you make decision that helps fit your needs, budget and schedule…
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  10. Do you join a Part 61 flight school
  11. Do you join a Part 141 flight school
  12. Do you find an independent Part 61 Flight Instructor at at your local airport.
  13. First lets talk about the Flight instructor. Any FAA-approved flight instructor, no matter if they are associated with a flight school or not may train a student under Part 61 regulations.
  14. Part 61 vs Part 141:
    when we the term Part 61 or Part 141 is used in terms of flight school, it is just the classification designated by the FAA as regulations for both types of schools and it defines the minimum requirements for pilots who are trained at each type of school.
  15. Part 61:
    by far the most flexible school type and this type of school can range from a single instructor with 1 airplane to a group of instructors with a full program and a large line up of airplanes, similar to a 141 but without the specifics changes to requirements. The Part 61 schools are very common and found at many airports both in metro areas as well as rural.
  16. Pros
    More Flexible environment for your training. This allows a customized approach from the instructor to each student to reach the desired goal.
    Flexibility for Part-Time students to reach their training goals on a specific timeline.
    Students have the ability in this type of school to interview instructors vs be assigned.
  17. Cons
    Can be less structured and this can be a drawback. it does not mean the are always unstructured but generally speaking there it is just the nature of the schools as they accommodate a wide range of students.
    May require students to spent more time either per available or by the fact it has not other options.
    May have fewer instructors on staff to accommodate an aggressive training program.
    When using a fully independent flight instructor (only one) it may be hard to make a busy schedule accommodate your needs.
  18. Part 141:
    This type of flight school has much larger oversight and structure from the FAA and are subject to regular audits by the FAA. The school must also meet a set of minimum pass rates on the practical examples.Keep in mind that both type of flight schools still require students to meet a standard minimum for performance as a pilot but the way they are structure can offer different values for specific scenarios
  19. Step 3: Take An Intro Flight Lesson

  20. Part of deciding if you want to be a pilot is taking an introductory flight lesson. This will help you experience flying, the aircraft and the instructors you may later be training with. It is also a great way to see what it’s like to get behind the controls of an aircraft.
  21. Step 4: Get your FAA Medical Certificate

  22. So you love the flight! Now it’s time to close out a core requirement in your journey to becoming a pilot. The FAA requires you to get an FAA Medical. This is a way to meet the basic medical requirements established for pilots by the FAA. Later, if you want to fly for a living you will have to meet more strict requirements on the medical, but for now a basic 3rd class medical will do just fine.
  23. So where the heck do you get an FAA Medical? Search google for your area and an AME (Aeromedical Examiner). Make the appointment and pay the fee and you will be on your way in no time.
  24. Step 5: Apply for an FAA Student Pilot Certificate

  25. Work with your flight school or an instructor at this point so they can help you sign up and apply at (IACRA) Airman Certification and Rating Application website for your certificate.
  26. You do NOT need a student pilot certificate to take flying lessons, but you cannot solo without it. Best to just get it done
  27. Step 6: Start Your Flight Training

  28. Ok, your now ready.. You have meet your basic qualifications, you have a medical, you have selected a school and an instructor, you have your student certificate…Finally, you can start your training. Your flight training will now lead you toward taking your Knowledge test (written) and your Practical test (flying).
  29. Step 7: Pass a Pilot (rating X) Knowledge Test

  30. You can do self study courses or work with your flight school to complete your ground school and preparation for your required knowledge test. This test is performed at a designated FAA exam center which you can find with a simple google search. Remember you must be endorsed either by your instructor or the self study company in order to take the test.
  31. Be sure you have proof of your identification and your endorsement when you go to take the test.
  32. Step 8: Pass the (rating x) Practical Exam

  33. Now that you have the written (Knowdldge) test out of the way, you next and final phase is to pass a practical test.. This test is two parts (1) Oral and (2) flying demonstration.
  34. You will take this test with what is known as a (DPE) or Designated Pilot Examiner. Your instructor or flight school will set this up for you when you are ready. You have to be endorsed by your instructor
  35. Once you have completed this portion of the testing you will be given a temporary pilot certificate for the rating you are seeking (i.e. Sport, Private).