One of the most adventurous and rewarding skills to learn is piloting airplanes. If you have a passion for flying, then flying could be much more than a hobby. It could be a career. Jobs for airplane pilots are expected to grow by up to 21 percent through 2020, but competition is stiff, especially for positions with major airlines. Becoming a pilot requires serious classroom and experiential training. In addition, piloting is not for everyone. People with certain characteristics and skills tend to excel as pilots more easily than others.
Pilots are responsible for much more than flying planes. A pilot must understand how a plane works and how to check that all the mechanical and electronic systems are in proper working order. In addition to actually operating an airplane, pilots must be able to read charts, monitor instruments and navigate while in the air. Pilots must also be able to communicate effectively with ground control personnel, copilots and passengers.
Education and Training Requirements
Several routes are available for becoming a pilot. A popular choice is to join one of the branches of the military to learn the necessary skills. This is preferable by many because the training is free, and after serving the mandatory time commitment, you will have nearly all of the skills required to work as a civilian pilot.
Those who do not wish to join the military must go to a civilian pilot-training school. Some schools only offer the necessary training to receive a private or commercial pilot license, but other schools offer programs to receive an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in aviation. A program offering a full degree is often the best choice for those who wish to make a career of piloting because many companies now require all new hires to hold bachelor’s degrees.
To receive a commercial pilot license, you must be at least 18 years of age and have logged a minimum of 250 hours of flight time. Applicants must also be able pass health examinations and have 20/20 vision. However, it is a myth that commercial pilots must have naturally perfect vision. Pilots are allowed to wear corrective lenses to meet the vision requirements. In addition to these requirements, pilots must be able to fly airplanes with only the use of instruments and must have at minimum of 40 hours of instrument-only flight time.
Finally, if you would like to be an airline captain, then you must receive an airline transport pilot certificate. The requirements for receiving this certification include being at least 23 years of age, having a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time and passing both written and practical exams.
Characteristics of a Quality Pilot
The best pilots possess several important character traits and skills. Communication skills are particularly important for transmitting information to ground control. Pilots must also be careful listeners because instructions received while in flight can mean the difference between life and death. Pilots must have excellent vision and depth perception and be quick to respond to dangerous or unexpected situations. Problem-solving skills are also important because complex situations can arise without notice, and effective solutions will need to be implemented as quickly as possible.
Andrea Jackson is a copywriter for Phoenix East Aviation, a pilot training school located in Daytona Beach, Florida.