It all starts with a dream to someday learn to fly. Just as it started years ago with the Wright Brothers, it has somehow started with you. People ask us why we fly. Why do we enjoy it so much? Well, after 22 years of flying experience I still have only one answer to that question. It’s in our blood, I tell them. It’s something innate that we just can’t describe. We have a passion for airplanes and all things aviation.
Like many who love aviation, I spent my childhood planting myself at the end of airport runways. I was content to sit for hours watching. I can remember the smell of jet fuel, the sounds of the jet engines, and the dream of someday making it into one of those cockpits. While on the sidelines, I examined every detail of those airplanes passing me by. I soaked it all in. Fast forward to the future and since those days I have flown as student, flight instructor, first officer, and captain. My experiences have taken me both domestically and all over the world both as captain and first officer. Like most pilots, I’ve shared the skies with snowstorms, thunderstorms, gusty winds, and some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve seen in your life. I am a CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP, and have type ratings on the BE1900, B737, and B757/767. I am currently a captain on a Boeing 737 for a major commercial airline.
When i began my journey, I didn’t have many aviation mentors. I knew that i wanted to fly but wasn’t sure of the best way to start. With this beginner’s informational article, I hope to start you in the right direction whatever your aspirations in aviation are. Whether you want to simply fly for fun on the weekends or if you want to become a captain for a major airline, I will share some insider’s information that will help you get started. Use this article as a tool to help you save time and money in your aeronautical quests. Enjoy. You are about to embark on a journey that only a small percentage of the world is capable of doing.
The following should be considered when deciding how and where to begin your flight training. This by no means is a complete list. It will, however, get you started in the right direction.
Will you train at an FAA part 141 or FAA part 61 flight school?
Do you want a flight school that offers flexibility or a rigid curriculum? Part 141 schools offer a more structured environment than their part 61 counterparts.
Do you want to become an airline pilot or will you be flying for your own personal use? You need to research your flight school options. Don’t just jump in with the first school you come across. A large part of your decision will be based on whether you will fly professionally or if you simply want to fly for your own personal business or pleasure.
Another critical issue is the flight school instructors. Your flight instructors will obviously play a vital role in the type of pilot that you become. You need to speak with the instructors at the flight schools and determine if they will meet your needs and goals.
Based on your goals, you need to do a bit of research. Have an idea of what ratings and licenses you will want to obtain. Additionally, you need to know what the difference between a license and rating is!
Before you start spending money on flying, you should know the FAA medical requirements for the licenses that you seek. Obviously, you don’t want to waste money on training if you don’t meet the medical requirements!
Financial aid may be available to you. In your research, this is an option that you can explore.
Create two checklists to bring with you on your flight school research. One list should be a flight school checklist and the other should be a flight instructor checklist.
With your decision to learn to fly, you will invest a great deal of time and money. Before you get started, the proper research is critical so that your time and money is not wasted!