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How to Become a Pilot

Many people have a desire to become a pilot. This may be just for private air travel or for aviation careers. If you'd like to know how to learn to fly, this page will get you started. We will also discuss how to become a career aviator, and provide info on flight training schools in the Fresno area.

Basic Requirements

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for obtaining your private pilot's license are:
a) Age: 17 years or older.
b) Must be able to speak the English language.
c) Must pass a simple medical exam.
d) Must pass a written test.
e) Must pass a flying test.

Safety Considerations

You've probably heard that flying is much safer than driving. General aviation flying has about 10 percent as many accidents as cars, per-vehicle-mile of travel. The accident rate has decreased for the last twenty-five years.

There are several reasons for the good safety record. Training for a pilot license is more demanding than for a driver's license. Mandatory ground school and flight instruction, including written and flying exams, help develop uniform levels of flying skill.

Periodic re-training helps to maintain and build competency. New technology is also a factor: aircraft are built to higher standards are instruments are more advanced.

Flight Training

Pilot training is composed of ground and flight school. On the agenda are rules and regulations, flight plans, how to navigate and use the radio, and interpreting weather. To earn your certificate, you must pass the FAA written exam, and then the practical exam, or check-ride.

Ground school can take several forms. This could be regularly scheduled classes at the same location as your flight instruction, or classes at a local college. There exist dedicated aviation schools as well as college aviation degrees; these might be great for someone pursuing a career in aviation. Another choice is distance learning (correspondence courses).

Flight Schools (see below) can be found at the local airports. Before signing up, it's important to visit the school. Talk to flight instructors, examine the trainer airplanes and ask about maintenance.

Flying as a Career

If you are considering flying as a career, then you will need to understand the system of certificates and ratings. There are different types of certificates (licenses) for various levels of flying permission and responsibility. These are:

Student certificate - for your flight training. The flight instructor must be present. The student can fly solo after appropriate instructor approvals.

Recreational certificate - has certain restrictions: specific types of aircraft, the number of passengers, distance that may be flown from take-off point, flight into controlled airports.

Private pilot certificate - allowed to carry passengers and allows for limited business use of the airplane.

Commercial certificate - allowed to carry out some types of flight for compensation and hire.

Flight instructor certificate - can train others, for an aircraft in which the instructor is licensed to fly.

Airline transport pilot certificate - required to fly as captain by some air transport outfits.

In addition, each license can have various ratings added on. Some common ones are:

Instrument - flying in weather where reduced visibility causes you to rely on the cockpit instruments.

Multi Engine - additional engines require knowledge of what to do in an engine-out situation.

For example, with a private certificate, you may see yourself wanting to fly a long-range twin-engine airplane in various weather conditions. You will need a twin-engine rating and an instrument rating.

Earning Potential

According to payscale.com, these are the Median Annual Salaries in California for the corresponding aviation jobs.

Corporate Jet Pilot $76,500

Airline Pilot, Co-Pilot or Flight Engineer $129,180

Commercial Pilot $78,660

Commercial Jet Pilot $80,000

Corporate non-Jet Pilot $45,000

While airline pilot is a very high-paying job, there are also many qualified applicants, especially for positions with major airlines. Backgrounds in military flying or with smaller airlines are helpful; however most major airlines promote from within.

Many people have found rewarding flying careers in the military, law enforcement, freight, tourism and instruction fields.

Flight Schools in Fresno

Since different schools offer different training packages, the best thing to do is to request information from different schools and compare them.

The easiest way to do this is online. Request info from Pilot Training Schools in CA

Mazzei Flying Service 4885 East Shields Avenue, Suite 201 559.251.7501 or 800.622.8687
Memley Aviation 524 W Kearney Blvd 559.233-5165
Command Flight Center 4995 E Andersen Ave 559.251-3600