Is Becoming a Pilot on Your Bucket List? 4 Steps to Make Learning to Fly a Reality

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Updated May 15, 2019
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Trever

Trever is a commercial pilot with over 1,700 hours of flight time as well as the owner and general manager of Inflight. He has numerous hours of mountain flying experience and a serious passion for teaching. In just 2 years he earned his Gold Seal Flight Instructor at the age of 22 and became a flight school owner at 23 years old.

Are you looking to fulfill your lifelong goal of becoming a pilot? Well, we’re here to tell you that your goal is within reach. With the right steps, anyone who has dreamed of soaring among the clouds can get started with the process of learning to fly.

So if becoming a pilot has always been on your bucket list – here are four steps to make it a reality.

Determine the Obstacles to Enrolling in Flight School

First, you should take some time to reflect inward. Try to determine some obstacles that have prevented you from enrolling in flight school in the past. Maybe it’s a busy career, perhaps you’ve put your focus on family, or maybe it’s something different altogether. Whatever it may be, determine if those obstacles are still there and how you can overcome them to pursue your dream. Consider employing some of these time-saving techniques as you get going with flight school:

  • Keep it consistent: Conduct training on the same day, every week, so that your family, boss, friends, etc., know that that’s the one time you’re unavailable. This will help keep you focused on lesson plans as you progress.
  • Find a flexible flight instructor: If your schedule demands flexibility, hire an instructor who is able to work around your schedule. Many are open to scheduling adjustments, even last minute.
  • Adjust your schedule: Changing a few things in your routine can go a long way in giving you extra time for flight school. For example, if you usually go to the gym after work, you could move your workout to the morning so you can fly later. Work smarter, not harder to make enough time for flight school.
  • Check out our other post to find more ways to balance your personal and professional life with flight school.

Get a Health Check-Up

In order to be eligible to fly a plane and obtain your private pilot certificate, you’ll need to pass a few basic medical requirements. All pilots, other than those operating a glider or balloon or flying under light sport pilot rules, must possess a medical certificate, known as “medicals” for short, in order to fly legally. There are three kinds of medicals, first, second and third class, each with its own requirements, duration, and privileges. Although any class will suffice, student pilots need only a third-class certificate.

Obtaining a medical certificate before flight training will alert you to any condition that would prevent you from becoming a pilot before you pay for lessons. You’re required to obtain your certificate from an aviation medical examiner (AME), who has been approved by the FAA to administer the medical exam – find a list of approved doctors in your area here.

Get a Financial Check-Up

While learning to fly is a worthwhile endeavor, you will need to have some money saved up or a form of financing in place to pay for flight school. Those that plan on obtaining an airline transport pilot (ATP) license may want to reach out for even more funding through avenues like scholarships or federal grants, as many ATP pilots spend upwards of $70,000 for all of their training. Needless to say, learning to fly will require you to take a realistic look at your finances so you can fund your education and reach your goals. Below are some ways that you can pay for flight school:

  • Save up the cash: You can get started with flight school with just a couple thousand dollars, which is obtainable over time if you have the right savings strategy. Plus, the majority of schools will be open to payment plans which let you pay as you go, rather than paying for everything up front.
  • Open a supplemental low-interest credit card: While you may not want to put all of your expenses on a credit card, but this can open up a way for you to supplement any cash-on-hand or other high-interest financing options.
  • AOPA financing: The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association offers flight training financing, offering loans up to $100,000 to pay for all your flight training. You can get your Private Pilots License for around $100 to $200 a month for 84 months.
  • Grants and scholarships: There are a lot of organizations that offer flight training scholarships. Find a list of aviation scholarships here. Or, apply for a federal Pell grant and get up to $5,900 each semester from the federal government that you do not have to pay back. If you’re going to attend a University for your flight training, apply for a federal Pell grant through the FAFSA Application.  

Research Flight Schools

Choosing the right flight school is one of the most crucial decisions that will impact your success as an aviator. Not only will the flight school provide the resources you need to meet your goals like study materials and airplanes, but the team of certified flight instructors will also be your motivators in pushing you toward the finish line.

Here are a few guidelines on choosing the right school for your needs:

  1. Flight instructor availability: When deciding on your school, ask what the student-to-instructor ratio to get an idea of how accessible your instructors are likely to be. If you’re unable to get face-time with instructors, you could experience costly delays in finishing your flight school classes. Ask what the student-to-instructor ratio is at the school. This will give youç
  2. Airplane availability: It’s generally best to choose a flight school with a number of high-quality, new-generation aircraft with which to train. This is crucial in learning modern-day flying techniques and staying safe, as well as keeping training time down so you don’t waste time and money.
  3. Safety record: Research your potential flight school’s safety record with the FAA. You want to train at a flight school where the aircraft are well maintained and the instructors have put safety above all else.
  4. Personalized attention and training plan: How does the school approach its flight training program? Ideally, you should choose a school that takes a personalized approach rather than a generalized one. A personalized approach means that your instructor takes an active interest in your education, tailoring training programs around the specific way that you learn.

Are you searching for a reputable flight school?

Contact the team of certified flight instructors at Inflight Pilot Training today!

Inflight is a leading pilot training company serving Minneapolis/St. Paul and the surrounding areas. With a reputable training program and deep roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, we help those who’ve dreamed of flying reach their goal of becoming a pilot. Get in touch to find out more.

For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.


Trever

Trever is a commercial pilot with over 1,700 hours of flight time as well as the owner and general manager of Inflight. He has numerous hours of mountain flying experience and a serious passion for teaching. In just 2 years he earned his Gold Seal Flight Instructor at the age of 22 and became a flight school owner at 23 years old.