Learn to Fly
"Pursue your Dream"

Basic Information, Universities and Flight Schools, Links,
and "motivational" P-51 fly-by audio  
(98 KB)

Cessna 150
The Cessna 150 - a great flight training airplane
Cessna 150 interior
Step right in!   You CAN fly!

Slew to: Military Flight Training - Civilian Flight Training - Universities with Flight Programs - Flight Schools - Learn to Fly Links

Basic Information

Military Flight Training:
  If you qualify (both physically and academically), learning to fly in the military is an excellent, and probably the best option. The advantages are:
  • Excellent quality training. The military will invest over a million dollars in training you to be a pilot.
  • Rapid progression to complex and / or jet equipment.
  • It's free, and you will be paid an Officer's salary the entire time.
  • Airlines tend to look favorably on military-trained pilots.
  • The camaraderie among fellow Officers and pilots.
The disadvantages include:
  • A significant commitment of years to the military. Now typically nine years after attaining your wings.
  • Deployments overseas, on board ship or to land-based locations that may not appeal to you or that take you away from your family for many months at a time.
  • In times of war, the possibility of increase in physical risk
  • Generally, you need a four-year college degree before being trained as a pilot
ROTC, the Reserve Officer Training Corps can help pay for your college while attaining your degree.
So, if you can qualify, I'd recommend looking into the military.

Civilian Flight Training:

The pilot licenses:
Student Pilot License (Required to 'solo', or fly by yourself)
  • Usually issued as a combined "Student Pilot License / Third Class Medical Certificate" by an Aviation Medical Examiner. This is a fairly simple medical exam. The medical is valid for 5 years / 60 months if obtained when under 40 years old, 24 months if issued when 40 or older. See the "Basic Med" information and links under Private Pilot below.
  • Flight instruction can be received at any age, but to solo an airplane, you must be 16 years old.
  • Gliders and balloons can be soloed at age 14.
  • The back of the certificate and the Student Pilot's logbook is signed by a Certified Flight Instructor ("CFI") to allow you to solo, and later, to take solo cross-country flights.
  • No minimum hours are specified, but details of training required are spelled out in Federal Aviation Regulations ("FARs") 61.81 thru 61.95.
  • Passengers may NEVER be carried by a Student Pilot.

Private Pilot License (the license to fly passengers)

Commercial Pilot License
  • Minimum age: 18
  • Allows you to earn money for flying.
  • A Second Class Medical is required. The medical is valid for 5 years / 60 months if obtained when under 40 years old, 24 months if issued when 40 or older.
  • Minimum hours under FAR 61.129 : 250 hours.
  • FAR 141 generally requires fewer hours.
  • Another Knowledge Test and Practical Test is required.

Instrument Rating
  • Allows flying in weather 'less-than VFR' or in 'Instrument conditions', such as in the clouds.
  • Rating goes onto a Private or Commercial license.
  • Minimum hours under FAR 61.65:
    • 50 hours cross-country time as Pilot in Command.
    • 40 hours of simulated instrument time under the 'hood' - which is flying with an instructor while you wear a 'view-limiting device' allowing you to only see the instruments.
  • FAR 141 generally requires fewer hours.
  • Another Knowledge Test and Practical Test is required.

Multi-engine Rating
  • Rating goes onto a Private, Commercial or ATP license.
  • Allows flying multi-engine airplanes.
  • No Knowledge Test, but a Practical Test is required.

Certified Flight Instructor
  • Commercial License and Instrument Rating (or ATP) required first.
  • Allows you to teach flying - which many people do to build flying experience.
  • Ratings on the CFI include: Single-Engine, Multi-Engine and Instrument.
  • An extensive Knowledge Test and Practical Test is required.

Airline Transport Pilot

Universities with Flight Programs:

Broward College Aviation Programs
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Aviation Programs
Florida Institute of Technology Aeronautical Science Degree
Middle Tennessee State University Aerospace Programs
University of Alaska Anchorage Aviation Technology
University of Memphis Commercial Aviation
University of North Dakota Aerospace Programs

Flight Schools:

Aerosim Flight Academy
AirVenture Flight Center
ATP Flight School
Flight Safety Academy
Pan Am International Flight Academy
Sierra Academy of Aeronautics
Spartan School of Aeronautics

Other Learn-to-Fly Links:

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Learn to Fly section
Airline Training Orientation Program - Fly a B-737 Simulator ! (Student and Private Pilots welcome)
Becoming an Aviation Pilot by Trade-A-Plane
Cessna Pilot Centers
EAA's Learn to Fly page
FAA Information on becoming a pilot
     Airman Search - FAA's Pilot Registry
     FARs - Current list of all Federal Aviation Regulations
FedEx Flight Operations Careers
Instrument Procedures Handbook Excellent, color online book [FREE] from the FAA
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Airline and Commercial Pilots
Rick's CFI Instructor Notes and Links
P-51 fly-by audio  
(98 KB)
Sporty's Pilot Shop videos and information:
   Learning to Fly - Why Learn to Fly? (Part 1 of 4)
   Learning to Fly - How Do You Learn to Fly? (Part 2 of 4)
   Learning to Fly - Your First Flight (Part 3 of 4)
   Learning to Fly - Choosing a Flight School (Part 4 of 4)
   Student Pilot News

Updated June 13, 2017

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