How to Get Your Pilot’s License

There’s no feeling quite like flying a plane. At thousands of feet above the ground, you cut through the air with the ease and precision of a bird, something humans years ago would never have imagined possible. It’s an indescribable sensation like no other, on top of being a convenient mode of transportation that allows you to travel literally “as the crow flies.” With as gratifying as it is to learn to fly, there’s no reason anyone shouldn’t go through the steps necessary to get your pilot’s license, as long as you pass the requirements.

In order to be eligible for your pilot’s license, there are a few things that are required of you. First and foremost, you need to be physically healthy and have a proficient grasp of the English language, as English is the language used most commonly used by air traffic controllers. While other languages are definitely spoken over the radios, if requested, you must be able to communicate in English. Much like driving a car, you also need to be a certain age to get your pilot’s license. Although you can’t receive a regular pilot’s license until you reach 17, at 16 you can get your student pilot’s certificate where you can lay some groundwork and learn the basics for when you’re old enough. Once you’re ready, here are the necessary steps to getting your pilot’s license.

  1. Find a school and get yourself enrolled.

Do some research and find yourself a school that seems like it would be a good fit for you. If you need help, the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association has a database of all licensed flight instructors.

  1. Get your health checked.

Just like you need a physical to play sports in high school, before you can be cleared to fly a plane you need to be deemed “in good health” by an Airman Medical Examiner designated by the FAA.

  1. Learn the basics.

Before anyone is going to let you hop into a plane and fly it, you’re going to need to learn a lot about piloting. On top of all of the work you’re assigned during your ground course, it’s also a good idea to broaden your pool of knowledge with any informational materials you can get your hands on.

  1. Fly.

Once you’ve learned all of the basics and fundamentals of piloting, it’s time to put those lessons into action in the air. The FAA mandates that all student pilots undergo at least 40 hours of time in the air before you can get your license, and of those 40, at least 20 hours need to be with an instructor. Keep in mind that these are the minimum requirements, and many students spend much more time in the air practicing. In this “flying phase,” there are three important steps:

A. Dual flying – As mentioned, you need to fly for at least 20 hours with an instructor when you’re first beginning to learn.

B. Solo flying – Here’s where you take the reigns and get in some time practicing flying all by yourself.

C. Written exam – For part of your examination to earn your license, you need to take a 60 multiple-choice question exam to assess how well you’ve retained from your first lessons.

D. Flight test – The very last step, just like your driving test, is your flight test. You’ll be required to answer questions and then the instructor will board the plane with you to assess your skills.