1. Do your initial aviation research
Before you decide if you want to become a pilot, it is important to research the realities behind this career path. Try to immerse yourself within the aviation world. You can do this by visiting different airfields and airports, and researching the flight schools who provide your desired training programme – most flight schools offer a tour around their campus where you can visit the environment you would be training in and ask any important questions you may have. Try to attend careers shows such as Pilot Careers Live, and subscribe to lots of aviation news blogs; this will help you to stay on top of all the current issues and trends within the world of aviation. You could also book a ‘Trial Flying Lesson’ to experience what it’s really like to be in control of an aircraft.
The main aim of researching is to ensure you know all the essentials before committing yourself to becoming a pilot. Make sure you can answer the basics such as; how to get your PPL, what licences are required to become a commercial pilot, find out the difference between modular and integrated courses, what the average salary of a pilot is etc. Once you know these you can then make a fully educated decision of whether this is the right career path for you.
2. Think finances...
Training to become a pilot is a massive financial commitment and is not a decision to be taken lightly. A few airlines do offer financial sponsorship schemes, however these are very competitive and have a very limited amount of spaces. A number of students often fund their training with assistance from their family or finances they have managed to save over a long period of time. Some of the more affordable flight schools, such as FTA, run Integrated courses starting at £59,950, however if these course fees are still too unachievable it may be better to focus on Modular courses. Modular courses allow you to train in specific ‘chunks’, allowing the fees to be spread out over a longer period of time and this method also gives you the opportunity to gain employment in between modules. The reality is that learning to flyis never going to be cheap, but once you are qualified you can potentially reap the rewards of an extremely generous salary – this year the average salary of a commercial pilot was stated as £84,592! (see the full article here).
3. Book your pilot medical certificate appointment
You cannot operate an aircraft by yourself until you have obtained an Initial Class 1 or 2 Medical Certificate, however a Class 1 Medical Certificate is required for commercial operations and training. This certification is monitored by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and once obtained means that you are physically and mentally fit to become a pilot. To obtain a Class 1 medical certificate you can expect to be medically examined for up to 4 hours. The medical examinations include a broad range of things including heart and lung functioning tests, hearing and eyesight tests, lipids and cholesterol testing and also an extensive examination of your entire medical history. All medical examinations must be conducted by an approved Aeromedical Centre (AeMC) in order to be valid. For all the information regarding pilot medical certifications please visit the CAA website and explore all the medical requirements you are expected to meet.
4. Learn as much as you can on the ground
Before you take a seat in the aircraft for the very first time, it is sensible to try and learn as much as you can beforehand so that you are fully prepared for your first flight. Make sure you have read through and fully understood any information in the textbooks you have been provided with for your pilot course. Revise any material your flight instructors may have distributed to you in ground school – if you can fully understand it now, it will be easier to apply later on. Try to get yourself familiar with all the different checklists you will need to be using. Training to become a pilot isn’t easy, make sure you put in the hard work from the beginning to ensure you are more than capable to fly when you get the opportunity to.
5. Finally, dont give up!
Nobody said it was easy, so don’t give up when you hit the first hurdle. Pilot training is unquestionably a hard process; it takes a lot of dedication, drive and commitment. The hours needed studying to pass exams are painstakingly long and complex, but if this is the career for you, you will find a way to get through it. If you begin to find things overwhelming, try creating a ‘To Do’ list and feel the satisfaction each time you tick off one of your tasks. Alternatively, buy a wall planner and map out your schedule, including things such as revision, flying time, ground school lessons, simulator training and also remember to give yourself a break for socialising. And the most important tip of all is to enjoy learning to fly!