Taking Command of the Blue Skies

Flying 101

It takes a genuine interest or passion for flying for one to become a pilot. Certain skills and a mature mindset are required to successfully command an aircraft. Although flying can be very rewarding, it requires a serious commitment of both time and money.

Different Types of Pilots

One needs to ask themselves what the goal is in learning to fly. Is it for pleasure, recreation, the start of a career as a professional pilot or perhaps being able to have a quicker mode of transportation at your fingertips?

Asking yourself what kind of pilot you wish to be is important, but also taking the expense incurred is equally so. Flying by some, is considered a regal luxury as it does not come cheap!

Type of Pilot Avg Hours of Flight Instruction Avg Cost of Flight Instruction Avg Salary (if pursued as a career)
Recreation / Sport 30-40 hrs $3,000-$5,000 n/a
Private / Charter 3 months $6,500-$12,000 $35,000-$65,000
Commercial Airline 4 months $75,000 $23,000-$250,000
Flight Instructor 2 months $66,000 $91,000-$111,000
Cargo 31 hrs $10,000 $25,000-$200,000
Regional Airline 4 months $70,000 $16,000-$60,000
Agriculture 3-4 weeks $14,000 $20,000-$70,000
Military 52 weeks Paid by DOD ($1 billion) $21,000-$100,000
Helicopter 60-70 hrs $10,000-$15,000 $29,000-$57,000
Corporate 1500 hrs $80,000-$134,000 $19,000-$200,000

Note: The above figures are based on “average.”

Do Your Homework BEFORE Selecting A Flight School

Finding a reputable flight school can be intimidating. Make an informed decision on where you will go based on asking yourself:

  • What kind of pilot do you want to be?
  • How much can you afford to pay for flight school?
  • Can you devote the required amount of time to attend flight school?
  • What kind of aircraft do want to fly?

While not only learning all there is to know about being up in the air, obtaining the academic knowledge on the “how,” “where,” and “when” to fly safely plays a key role to being a successful pilot.

Ground school consists of instructor-led classes or an online program taught as self-paced. The fundamentals of flying are the main focus. It helps to know what makes something go up and come down, rather than just assume it is so.

Two Types of Flight School

There are two categories of flight training and depending on what kind of pilot you choose to be, you will fall into one of these two categories. Each category defines the minimum requirements that each pilot is required to undergo for training and certification.

The two sections vary with differentiations focused on the structure of training time:

  • Part 61 – relaxed on timeline
  • Part 141 – more stringent on following a guided syllabus

Some employers require that their pilots have Part 141 training. Part 61 requires more self discipline for time management. Regardless of whether one decides on Part 61 or 141, the ultimate goal is to obtain a pilot’s license.

Part 61 Part 141
Minimum Total Flight Hours 40 35
Minimum hours with Certified Flight Instructor 20 20
Home study allowed for ground school yes no
Must attend formal ground school no yes
Night flying time 3 hrs 3 hrs
Dual Instruction 20 hrs 20 hrs
Instrument Instruction 3 hrs 3 hrs
Takeoffs / Landings at Night 10 full 10 full
Solo time (total) 10 hrs 11 hrs
Solo time (local) 5 hrs 2.5 hrs
Solo time (cross country) 5 hrs 8.5 hrs
Transfer to another flight school Yes with restriction 20-50% of time flown is accepted / credited