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3 Ways to Pay for Flight School

3 Ways to Pay for Flight School

The demand for more commercial pilots seems to increase every year, and forecasts over the next 20 years are unprecedented. Boeing estimates the global demand for pilots over the next twenty years will be upwards of 635,000. In the U.S. alone over 80,000 pilots will retire over the next twenty years.

However, the path to becoming an airline pilot can be daunting, particularly the cost of training. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce that cost or receive some financing.

Before we dig into ways to pay for flight training, however, here’s a few tips on reducing the cost.

How to Reduce the Cost of Flight Training

First and foremost, do your homework. Identify all of the flight schools in your area and even consider some of the larger flight schools you could travel to for training. Compare the types of planes they fly, their rates, their instructor rates and what their pass rate looks like.

Once you start your training, make it frequent and consistent. When you train regularly the material sticks and you’ll progress more quickly. In addition, make sure you study on your own time. The more studying you do on your own the less time you’ll need to spend with an instructor who is charging you by the hour.

Treat your training as an actual job and you’ll save money over the course of your training.

Ways to Pay for Flight Training

If you’re headed to the airlines you’ll need 1,500 hours of flight time and several ratings and certificates. All of these carry a hefty price tag.

Fortunately, if you don’t have the funds upfront to pay for it there are options available. Here’s a few common ways pilots pay for flight training when they, or a family member can’t cover the cost.

Scholarships

If you’re attending a university in conjunction with your flight training there are many scholarships available to you. Just talk with your counselor or finance office to get more info.

If you’re not attending a university while flight training there are still some scholarship opportunities but they aren’t quite so plentiful. Start by checking with the AOPA. You can also check out the FAA’s giant list of aviation scholarships.

Here at Thrust Flight we also offer a flight training scholarship that opens up for applications a couple times a year.

Loans and Financing Options

Taking out a loan for your flight training is something to consider very carefully. If you’re pursuing a career in aviation it may be worthwhile to take out a loan in order to get your training done quickly.

By training full time you’ll be able to get all the training completed in a much shorter period of time and, like mentioned above, your training is typically completed faster.

Your goal should be to get to the airlines in 2 years from the time you start training.

If you’re pursuing a career in aviation be sure to head over to our Zero Time to Airline page and take a look.

For information on financing your Zero Time to Airline program, check out our financing page.

If you’re pursuing flight training as a recreational pilot, it may be better to save up rather than taking out a loan to pay for training.

Military Assistance

One route some people choose is to enter the military with the hope of doing their flight training.

This can be a challenging route as you don’t necessarily get to decide if you’ll be a pilot or not. The choice is often made for you.

However, if you were in the military previously or are currently, you can use the tuition assistance program to pay for your flight training.

You can also use your GI Bill to help pay for advanced flight training, however, you must have your private pilot license first. The GI Bill can help pay for your training whether you are doing it through a private or public university or vocational training.

If you’re interested in learning more about the requirements visit the VA website.

Bonus Tip: Work at a Flight School

Many flight schools will give their employees a discounted rate on their training. Check in with local flight schools to see if this is something they offer. Then, keep your eye out for job opportunities at those schools.

You don’t necessarily need to be working for them as a pilot in order to receive discounted training so you don’t need to wait until you become a CFI.

You could work the front desk, work as a dispatcher, or any other number of jobs needed around a flight school and still receive the discounted training.

If you’re looking, be sure to check out our careers page to see if we have any open positions.

How to Pay for Flight Training

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Fedex Pilot Salary – How to Get a Job as a Fedex Pilot

Fedex Pilot Salary – How to Get a Job as a Fedex Pilot

FedEx operates a global cargo fleet that delivers packages around the world. Thousands of businesses and millions of consumers use FedEx every month. Currently, FedEx has over 5,000 pilots and with 100+ pilots retiring every year they are constantly hiring.

With the continued growth of ecommerce it’s expected that delivery needs around the world will continue to increase which is great news for FedEx and provides job security for their pilots.

Where are FedEx Bases?

  • Los Angeles, CA: LAX
  • Memphis, TN: MEM
  • Anchorage, AK: ANC
  • Cologne, Germany: CGN
  • Hong Kong: HKG
  • Indianapolis, IN: IND

What airplanes are in the FedEx Fleet?

  • Boeing 757-200
  • Boeing 767-300
  • Boeing 777F
  • Airbus A300
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-10
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-11

What are the Minimum Qualifications for FedEx pilots?

For FedEx pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

FedEx Pilot Job Requirements:

  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time (1000 hours PIC in jet aircraft is preferred; multi-engine turbo-prop aircraft, 12,500 pounds or greater; certain single engine turbo-prop aircraft, or combination of these).
  • 500 PIC required
  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university

FedEx Pilots Pay

Just like the passenger airlines, FedEx pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 74 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

Fedex First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $75,000
  • Year 5: $165,000
  • Year 15: $203,000

Fedex Captain Pay:

  • Year 1: $227,000
  • Year 5: $257,000
  • Year 15: $280,000

Discover pilot pay for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for a FedEx Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the FedEx jobs website and create a profile. By creating a profile you enter the hiring pool for FedEx. As you continue to fly be sure to update your profile regularly to improve your chances of being selected for an interview. Be sure you also take a look at their knowledge test outline in order to prepare.

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Cessna 172: An Iconic American Airplane

Cessna 172: An Iconic American Airplane

The Cessna 172 made its debut in the world of aviation more than 72 years ago. Fast forward to today, the name Cessna 172 still commands respect and admiration among aviation experts and aficionados. It’s also one of the top choices for pilot training.

History of the Cessna 172

With the Cessna 172, you get almost everything you want in a plane. Whether you want an afternoon joyride, short-haul trip with friends, or you’re trying to build time, the Cessna 172 is exactly what you need.

Undeniably the most popular aircraft, the Cessna 172 is the most produced aircraft in the world with well over 44,000 units produced.

It was 1956 when the world first met this beautiful aviation marvel. With a foundation crafted from the 170, the Cessna 172 was designed with unique features such as an angular tailfin, lowered rear deck (which made it possible to add a rear window) the tricycle landing gear and larger elevators.

These modifications increased the plane’s popularity, with at least 1,400 airplanes produced within one year of its debut. Today, there have been more than 44,000 units produced, cementing the Cessna 172 in aviation history.

Cessna 172 Models

The earliest model of the 172 which debuted in 1956 saw a variety of changes and upgrades, including the creation of special variants such as the 172 Hawk XP seaplane and a proof-of-concept electric-powered Cessna 172.

In 1986, the 172 ceased production, after almost 20 years due to liability concerns. Cessna, a company established in 1911 was acquired by Textron in 1992. Production of the 172 model resumed in 1996 after the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 was passed.

Engineering efforts were channeled towards the building of the 160 horsepower 172R Skyhawk. This model was the first 172 which was fitted with a fuel-injection engine and had a redesigned interior and ventilation system.

The 180 horsepower Skyhawk subsequently followed production in 1998, aptly named the 172S Skyhawk SP.

Due to its multi-purpose capacity and robustness, the Cessna 172 remains popular. While there are other faster and more agile planes from competitors like Beechcraft and Piper, the Cessna is relatively easier and less expensive to maintain.

Due to its popularity, parts are readily available and nearly every aviation mechanic has worked on a 172.

Record Setting Flight in a 172

Robert Timm and John Cook’s names are synonymous with the Cessna 172. It’s hard to talk about this plane without mentioning the world record for flight endurance undertaken by these two pilots from December 4, 1958, to February 7, 1959.

With a registered Cessna 172, Timm & Cook took off from the McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada, and flew the 172 for a total of 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 5 seconds. This world record was done to raise funds for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

Cessna 172 Cockpit

Where the cockpit is concerned, modern Cessna 172’s feature an integrated set of cockpit avionics, known as the Garmin G1000 NXi which included an all-new and improved graphical interface, high-resolution displays, powerful hardware, wireless technology, and increased functionality for situational awareness.

This information is displayed on two screens in the cockpit, together with altitude, airspeed, and geographical position.

Some 172’s also include a digital autopilot feature. This digital autopilot feature was capable of sustaining a steady rate of descent and ascent, consistent speed, and altitude ranges in a completely automatic way. A pilot had the capability of recovering from unwanted altitudes with just a push of a button on the autopilot.

Flight Training in the Cessna 172

Nearly every flight school around the world has at least a few Cessna 172’s in use. Many of the features listed above are the reason. The 172 is aerodynamically stable and easy to handle for new pilots. The high-wing design gives the student a bit of added visibility.

Another reason it’s popular among flight schools is the standardized components. Since the plane has been around for so many years, parts are readily available so the plane doesn’t need to spend time at the mechanic’s shop waiting for parts like other models may have to do.

Overall, the Cessna 172 is an incredibly popular aircraft for good reason. How do you feel about the Cessna 172? Let us know in the comments below.

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Airline Pilot Salary – How Much Do Pilots Make?

Airline Pilot Salary – How Much Do Pilots Make?

Nearly all pilots choose the career because of their love for flying- but the pay is a nice bonus.

But if you’re considering becoming an airline pilot you’re likely wondering, “how much do pilots make?”

How is a Pilot's Salary Calculated?

Airline pilots don’t necessarily get paid a “salary”. Instead, pilots are paid per flight hour. As of August 2020, the average airline pilot salary in the United States was $102,851 .  But if you’re researching this as a possible career there is a lot more to consider than just the national average.

In order to ensure pilots are not over worked, airline pilots are limited to 1,000 flight hours per year. With that information and the pilots hourly rate, you can find out what your maximum earning potential is for an airline pilot’s salary.

It’s important to note that there are other benefits to working for an airline beyond the salary, but we’ll get into that later.

Factors That Determine Airline Pilot Salary

Just like any other career, an airline pilot’s salary varies depending on a variety of factors. Each airline sets its pay rates based on the contracts it signs. These rates may be based on many different inputs.

Years of Experience

Years of experience is a key factor in the hiring of all commercial pilots, not just airline pilots. While the hiring at the airlines is based on experience, the offers for compensation are set by the contracts the airline has signed with their pilots. In relation to other commercial airline pilot opportunities, experience may dictate the amount of pay you are offered.

For example: A small corporation is looking to hire a commercial pilot for their multi-engine airplane and has two pilots pursuing the same job. One flew 5 years for a banner tow company in a Citabria, and the other was a contractor for 5 years and has flown a variety of single-engine and multi-engine aircraft. The contractor will likely receive a higher offer as he/she has flown in a wider variety of aircraft and has more overall experience.

Total Flight Hours

As mentioned earlier airline pilots are paid on an hourly basis, specifically per flight hour. Logically this means that pilots who fly monthly schedules with higher flight times are going to get paid a larger amount.

Aircraft Type

The airlines pay their pilots different hourly rates depending on which aircraft they fly. As a general rule, the larger the aircraft, the higher the hourly rate.

You get to pick your monthly schedule of hours as well as the airplane you fly based on your seniority number (which is a very important aspect of being an airline pilot, as we have discussed in other blog posts. ) As your seniority number improves, you have more say in which aircraft and schedule you fly.

Major Airline Captain Salaries

All salaries listed below are based on flying 1,000 hours per year and are an approximation  based on available information. Note that airline pay changes regularly.

A pilots salary will vary based on the aircraft they fly. Where available, we’ve included the plane associated with the listed pay.

Airline

Plane

Year 1

Year 5

Year 12

Air Canada

A320

$190,000

$198,000

$211,000

American Airlines

A320

$255,000

$263,000

$278,000

Delta Airlines

A320

$251,000

$260,000

$274,000

Frontier Airlines


$184,000

$208,000

$245,000

Hawaiian Airlines

A321

$233,000

$241,000

$254,000

JetBlue Airlines

A320

$234,000

$246,000

$269,000

Southwest Airlines

737

$241,000

$253,000

$274,000

Spirit Airlines

A320

$186,000

$210,000

$247,000

United Airlines

A320

$260,000

$268,000

$283,000

Major Airline First Officer Salaries

Airline

Plane

Year 1

Year 5

Year 12

Air Canada

A320

$56,000

$151,000

$190,000

American Airlines

A320

$90,000

$169,000

$190,000

Delta Airlines

A320

$92,000

$166,000

$187,000

Frontier Airlines


$58,000

$130,000

$162,000

Hawaiian Airlines

A321

$58,000

$149,000

$177,000

JetBlue Airlines

A320

$89,000

$158,000

$180,000

Southwest Airlines

737

$84,000

$164,000

$191,000

Spirit Airlines

A320

$58,000

$131,000

$164,000

United Airlines

A320

$91,000

$172,000

$193,000

Salaries posted above do not include sign-on bonuses or other benefits.

Pilot Salary - A Timeline

It goes without saying- you earn the least at the beginning of your career and the most towards the end. Before beginning your path towards a career as an airline pilot, it’s important to understand how much you will be making throughout your entire career.

The figures above are based on averages across different airlines but can give you a good idea of the airline pilot salary you can be expecting as your career progresses. It’s also worth noting that the timeline above is stretched out a little longer than what some would experience.

With the current pilot shortage the world is experiencing, some pilots have found the move from a regional airline to a major airline even faster.

For example, prior to Covid many regional airline pilots made it to the majors after only 3-5 years.

You probably noticed that at a couple of spots on the graph, the bar line drops, particularly when you jump from being a regional airline pilot to a pilot for a major airline. This does not necessarily mean you get a drop in pay.

As an incentive for pilots to start at a new airline, sign-on bonuses are sometimes distributed. You would technically earn more money during your first year due to that sign-on bonus.

Sample Pilot Salaries for Regional Airlines

Regional Airline Captain Salaries

Airline

Plane

Year 1

Year 5

Year 12

Air Wisconsin

CRJ200

$71,000

$81,000

$100,000

Endeavor Air

CRJ200

$86,000

$94,000

$110,000

Envoy Air

CRJ700

$83,000

$91,000

$106,000

Horizon Air


$70,000

$80,000

$101,000

Mesa Airlines

CRJ700

$62,000

$69,000

$84,000

Piedmont Airlines

ERJ 145

$76,000

$83,000

$96,000

PSA Airlines


$82,000

$90,000

$104,000

Republic Airways


$90,000

$99,000

$116,000

Skywest Airlines

CRJ200

$75,000

$83,000

$102,000

Regional Airline First Officer Salaries

Few pilots remain first officers at the regional airlines for very long. Most will become a captain at a regional airline within a few years and then from their move to a major airline. This is why some salaries aren’t listed for year 5 and beyond.

Airline

Plane

Year 1

Year 5

Year 8

Air Wisconsin

CRJ200

$37,000

$49,000

$53,000

Endeavor Air

CRJ200

$51,000

$64,000

$67,000

Envoy Air

CRJ700

$83,000

$56,000


Horizon Air


$40,000

$49,000

$52,000

Mesa Airlines

CRJ700

$36,000

$41,000

$49,000

Piedmont Airlines

ERJ 145

$50,000

$56,000


PSA Airlines


$50,000



Republic Airways


$46,000

$55,000


Skywest Airlines

CRJ200

$45,000

$58,000


Do Airline Pilots Receive Signing Bonuses?

At this time most regional airlines give out signing bonuses to attract pilots due to the pilot shortage. Bonuses may vary based on the pilots experience. We’ve seen bonuses ranging from $5,000 to over $15,000.

For example, if you already have a type rating for one of the aircraft you’d be flying the airline may give you a bigger signing bonus since they don’t have to spend as much money training you.

Searching for the perfect headset? Check out our guide on choosing the best pilot headset.

Additional Airline Pilot Benefits

Pilots enjoy plenty of benefits aside from the pay. Especially during times when the industry is strong and, airlines are struggling to compete with the other airlines to bring qualified pilots to their airline.

Free Travel

Most airlines allow their pilots free travel on flights that have empty seats, including a seat for a friend or family member.

Many pilots use these free trips to explore the world or to simply visit friends and family regularly.

Per Diem

Airline pilot‘s receive a very attractive per diem on top of their hourly wage. This amount is to cover your expenses while on trips. Often, the amount is larger than what you spend so could add to your annual income.

Healthcare and Insurance

To remain competitive with the other airlines, most companies have very attractive healthcare and life insurance benefits for their pilots.

Bonuses

While bonuses are not guaranteed in any business, in the good times airlines will offer sign on bonuses to be competitive in hiring. Others offer yearly profit sharing based on the airlines income as well as other contractual agreed upon amounts.

Other Types of Pilot Jobs and How Much They Pay

Flight Instructor

Many will opt to work at a flight school as an instructor as their method of gaining their FAA required minimum hours, but some love it so much they choose to become a career instructor. A career instructor can expect to earn anywhere from $40,000 to $75,000 annually.

Many instructor’s will go on to work as a chief flight instructor for a flight school where your salary can go even higher.

Cargo Carrier

In terms of pay, this is probably the most competitive with commercial airlines. Cargo Carriers.

The pay structure for cargo pilots is very similar to that of major airline carriers.

Cargo Airline Captain Salaries

Airline

Plane

Year 1

Year 5

Year 8

Air Transport International

767

$140,000

$223,000

$268,000

Atlas Air

767

$142,000

$160,000

$196,000

FedEx Express

767

$268,000

$301,000

$317,000

Kalitta Air


$150,000

$238,000

$286,000

Southern Air

767

$142,000

$160,000

$196,000

United Parcel Service


$50,000

$312,000

$329,000

Cargo Airline Pilot First Officer Salaries

Airline

Plane

Year 1

Year 5

Year 8

Air Transport International

767

$83,000

$151,000

$181,000

Atlas Air

767

$87,000

$108,000

$137,000

FedEx Express

767

$81,000

$193,000

$226,000

Kalitta Air


$116,000

$162,000

$193,000

Southern Air

767

$87,000

$108,000

$137,000

United Parcel Service


$50,000

$200,000

$235,000

Charter Pilot

Charter services offer private flights to businesses or individuals. A charter pilot needs to have a professional attitude as they will be dealing with clients even more directly than pilots flying for airlines.

The salary is higher than most time-building jobs, with the average charter pilot in the US earning ~$75,000.

Charter Pilot Captain Salaries

While there are quite a few small charter airlines across the United States, here are a few of the larger operations that post their pay publicly. These charter airlines typically fly large jets which is why their pay closely resembles airline pilot pay.

Airline

Year 1

Year 5

Year 8

iAero Ways

$168,000

$178,000

$192,000

Miami Air International

$96,000

$116,000

$163,000

Omni Air International

$176,000

$227,000

$273,000

Charter Pilot First Officer Salaries

Airline

Year 1

Year 5

Year 8

iAero Ways

$90,000

$98,000

$100,000

Miami Air International

$47,000

$83,000

$98,000

Omni Air International

$118,000

$154,000

$184,000

Corporate Pilot

A career as a corporate pilot is similar to a career as an airline pilot in many ways.

It’s a very competitive job, you will likely need a high number of hours to be considered, and you are typically flying larger turbine aircraft.

The differences are of course the number of passengers, type of aircraft you are flying, and where you will be flying. Many may consider corporate pilot as more attractive than airline pilot due to the more consistent schedule and locations.

You will likely not be required to move like you would early in your career as an airline pilot.

A corporate pilot may start out around $60,000 annually (first officer) but has the potential to earn $180,000 or more as they gain more experience and stay with a corporation longer.

Stunt Pilot

For the extreme thrill-seekers, aerobatics might be a fun career for you. Aerobatic pilots, or stunt pilots, perform in aerial shows, compete with other aerobatic pilots, and train pilots in aerobatic flight.

The pay of stunt pilots varies tremendously, but the median earnings of this job pay between $50,000 and $70,000.

It is a very difficult career to break into, and you will need to be passionate about the job in order to break out.

Tour Guide

The job of a tour guide could be for you if you enjoy small groups and consider yourself a people person. The job is location-dependent and can vary greatly in hours.

You could be doing a lot of hours during peak-season, and be earning very little during the off-season, so this gig isn’t for everyone. Average earnings are around $52,000 annually.

Banner Towing

Like instructing, most who tow banners are using the job as a way to build hours. The pay is similar to instructing and can range from $20-$50 an hour.

Crop Duster

One of the more unique and niche jobs on this list, a crop duster (also known as “Aerial Applicator” or “Agricultural Pilot”) is a pilot that uses aircraft to aid in agricultural care.

They may apply pesticides, fertilizers, or even plant seed using their aircraft. This job requires not only aviation training (commercial rating) but agricultural knowledge.

You will need to be knowledgeable on different types of pesticides and fertilizers, and familiar with agricultural practices. If you are able to overcome this knowledge hurdle, you are rewarded with a job that can pay higher than $100,000.

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Types of Pilot Licenses- The Ultimate Guide

Types of Pilot Licenses- The Ultimate Guide

In the US, a pilot license is issued by the FAA and allows an individual to fly a variety of aircraft. But let’s break down the specifics of the different types.

You’ve heard the terms private pilot, commercial pilot, instrument rated, multi-commercial… to someone just diving into aviation these terms can get pretty confusing. In this article we’re going to break down the different types of pilot licenses that you can earn as a pilot.

To understand this, it’s important to know the difference between a certificate and a rating.

This can be confusing- but to oversimplify it: A certificate is the pilot’s license, and a rating lets you do additional cool stuff with that license.

Pilot Certificate or Pilot License?

 Technically speaking, a “pilot’s license” is not proper terminology. When people say pilot’s license, they’re usually referring to a certificate- although it is used so frequently that correcting it is considered pedantic (but many pilots are pedantic.)

Your certificate is what gives you flying privileges. There are multiple types of certificates, each providing additional privileges.

Ratings to add to your Pilot License

Your ratings are endorsements that expand the privileges of your certificate. Think of ratings as expansions for your pilots license. Ratings “stack” on top of each other. Ratings are much more diverse than certificates. They include your aircraft category/class rating, “type rating” for aircraft over 12,500 lbs, turbojet or turbofan, and additional operating privileges for your certificate (instrument).

This may seem overwhelming, so let’s go over some different certificates and ratings to explain things a little more clearly.

Types of Pilot Certificates (Pilot Licenses)

In the US, pilot certificates are Student, Sport, Private, Commercial, Flight Instructor, and Airline Transport Pilot. There is also a Flight Instructor certificate which may be held in addition to a pilot certificate, but we will discuss that further at the end of the article.

 Each certificate has specific requirements, including hours flown, current certificates and ratings, and certain medical requirements.

Student Pilot License

As the name implies, this pilots license is strictly for students training to obtain further certificates. A student cannot solo without a Student Pilot Certificate. There are a few requirements in order to receive a student pilot certificate.
Requirements:
  • Must be 16 years old for airplane, 14 for glider/balloon
  • Proficiency in English
  • Meet certain TSA security requirements
Limitations:
  • Only used for soloing during training for an initial pilot certificate (sport or private.)

Sport Pilot License

Sport Pilot is a certificate that allows you to fly a Light Sport Aircraft with a number of limitations. It is the only certificate in the airplane category that only requires a driver’s license, not a medical.

Typically this certificate is ideal for individuals that do not want to go through the hassle of obtaining a medical and only wish to fly for purely recreational purposes.

Requirements:

 

  • Must hold a Valid Driver’s License or at least a Class 3 Medical
  • 20 hours minimum flight time logged
  • At least 17 years of age (airplane)

 

Limitations:

  • Only fly light sport aircraft
  • No more than 1 passenger
  • Only fly during the day, and only under 10,000 feet MSL (mean sea level.)

Private Pilot License

Private Pilot Certificate is the go-to for most that are seeking recreational flying. You have far less limitations than the sport pilot license, can fly larger aircraft, and are not limited to just one passenger.

In order to acquire further certifications needed for flying as a career, you must start with your private pilot license.

Requirements:

  • At least a 3rd class medical
  • Be at least 17 years of age
  • At least 35 hours under part 141 and 40 hours under part 61 (What’s the difference?)

Limitations:

  • Cannot fly for commercial purposes

Sport Pilot or Private Pilot?

A common misconception is that the Sport Pilot Certificate will be cheaper and faster than the Private Pilot Certificate.

In most cases the amount of training and flight time it takes to become proficient enough to obtain the Sport Pilot Certificate is almost the same as the Private Pilot Certificate. So generally the Sport Pilot Certificate cost the same as the Private Pilot Certificate.

Commercial Pilot License

The commercial certificate is specifically for career pilots. If you want to fly as a paid service you must have your commercial certificate.

This is not the final certificate you will need as an airline pilot, but it does open up other job opportunities to you such as corporate jet, tour guide, crop-duster and other types of flying jobs.

Interested in what types of jobs you can have as a commercial pilot? Check out our blog post about how much pilots can make.

Requirements:

  • At least a second class medical to fly for hire
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Private Pilot License
  • 190 total hours logged part 141, 250 logged part 61.

 

Limitations:

  • Not qualified to fly for an airline

Airline Transport Pilot License

To fly for an airline, the FAA requires you to hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate.

This is the goal for most career pilots, and is the certificate with the most requirements. Typically if you are starting from 0 hours, it takes around 2 years to complete your Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. The biggest reason it takes so long is the required hours.

Requirements:

  • First Class medical
  • At least 1500 hours total flight time in most cases
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument Rating (because of this, your instrument rating is not listed on your certificate if you hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate.)
  • An Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program must be completed.

Limitations:

  • Can’t fly rockets to the moon… unless you own a rocket. Then you totally can.

Note: If your goal is to become an airline pilot, check out our Zero Time to Airline program to get you there in 2 years.

Types of Ratings

Every one of these certificates comes with at least one rating (with the exception of Student Certificate.) On the physical certificate, these ratings state the “Category” and “Class”.

Category

Category is the broad type of aircraft. Some examples of “Categories” are airplane, glider, helicopter, etc.

Class

Categories consist of “Classes”. Each category will consist of their own unique classes. For example, in the “Airplane” category you have the “single engine” class and the “multi-engine” class, as well as “land” or “sea” class.

So when you combine all of this information onto the certificate, you get the full spectrum of how and what you are permitted to fly. For example you could hold a Private pilot license with an Airplane Single Engine Land Rating (typically abbreviated to ASEL.)

Type Ratings

Stay with us, this is the last confusing part.

“Types” are a section further broken down from “Classes”. These refer to specific types of aircraft. In FAA speak, a “Type” is a make and model of aircraft such as a Cessna 172 or Piper PA28. Under the Airplane category, you must receive a specific type rating if:

•The Aircraft is Over 12,500 lbs

•The aircraft is powered by a turbojet or turbofan engine

Type ratings are listed on certificates as codes designated by the FAA.

Instrument Rating

The Instrument Rating is one of the most common ratings that pilots get which expands your permissions as a pilot. To understand the Instrument Rating, you need to know the difference between VFR and IFR.

This isn’t overly complicated to understand, VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules and IFR stands for Instrument Flight Rules. It gets more complicated than just weather conditions, but for the sake of this article let’s just say that VFR is for clear, cloudless days and IFR is for overcast, bad weather days.

Your instrument rating allows you to fly in clouds (“instrument meteorological conditions”) and can be obtained with a minimum of a Private Pilot Certificate.

Examples

 

What do I need to pilot a Boeing 737?

Alright so let’s take all of this information and look at what a pilot would need to fly a common commercial airliner for an airline, a Boeing 737 for example.

The pilot would be flying as an airline transport, so his or her ATP certificate would certainly be needed.

The Boeing 737 is a multi engine land aircraft that is both over 12,500 lbs and utilizes turbofan engines, so a rating for Airplane Multi Engine Land is needed, as well as a type rating. The FAA lists the Boeing 737 type code as B-737.

So to fly the Boeing 737, a pilot needs to be an Airline Transport Pilot with an airplane multiengine land B-737 Rating. These certificates and ratings would appear as the picture below.

To get to the ATP certificate needed above, the pilot would have started with a student pilot certificate to earn a private pilot license. Next they would add an instrument rating and a commercial certificate. If the training had been completed in a single engine aircraft, a multi engine class rating would also have to be earned. It is possible to start in a multi-engine aircraft, but this is very unusual.

Wow, thats a lot! What about something smaller?

Let’s look at a little less extreme example. What certificates and ratings would you need to fly you and a friend in a Cessna 172 on floats through the fog in Alaska?

The Cessna 172 is a single-engine aircraft, and since it is on floats it’s class is considered “sea”. You are not flying for compensation, so you do not need your commercial certificate.

Because there will be fog you will not be flying VFR, so will need to be rated to fly IFR. A sport pilot certificate will let you fly with a friend, but you need an instrument rating, which you can only get with private or higher.

So in this scenario the pilot needs to hold a Private Pilot Certificate with an Airplane Single Engine Sea class and Instrument Rating. The license would appear as the picture below.

Flight Instructor

We have one more topic to cover, Flight Instructor Certificate.

To obtain your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), you will need to hold either a commercial or ATP certification. A CFI allows you to instruct students (obviously).

A common practice is to obtain your Instructor Certificate after receiving your commercial certificate and then instruct in order to finish the 1,500 hours needed for ATP certification.

Flight Instructor certificates are different than Pilot Certificates, so the FAA issues a second certificate to flight instructors. There are also Ground Instructor Certificates, which is yet another plastic certificate, but we won’t get into that here.

Requirements:

  • Commercial or ATP certification
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Knowledge received according to Part 61.183

Limitations:

  • To train a student in a multi engine aircraft or toward instrument ratings, you must receive additional instructor ratings, MEI (multi engine instructor) and CFII (Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument)

This article largely focuses on the Airplane Category, so if you are interested in other categories you will need to learn more about their specific classes, types and other ratings.

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Tips For Communicating With ATC

Tips For Communicating With ATC

Talking with ATC can be intimidating...

…but these 6 tips for communicating with ATC can guide you in your journey to becoming a qualified pilot.

1. Make Sure You Are On The Correct Frequency

You want to be transmitting and listening on the correct frequency at all times. Write down all applicable frequencies and have them readily available for your flight. It’s going to make you much less stressed, and can save you from an embarrassing transmission as well. Be sure to have extra pens or pencils on standby in your flight bag.

2. Plan Out What You Will Say When Transmitting to ATC

Be concise when talking, and think before you talk! Follow this formula when thinking out what you will say so that you are always concise-

  • Who you are talking to
  • Who you are
  • Where you are
  • What you want

“Addison ground(who you are talking to), Sportcruiser 493SC(who you are), holding short of Alpha over Romeo(Where you are), ready to taxi to active with information tango.(What you want)

3. Anticipate What ATC Will Say

After flying a few times, it becomes a little more predictable what ATC will say, so use that to your advantage! Anticipate what your directives will be. This will help you listen and you will be more prepared with what you will respond with.

4. Read Back All Pertinent Information When Communicating With ATC

Let ATC know that you understood what they told you, and that you’re going to follow their directions. For example, your takeoff, landing, or taxi clearance.

5. Write Down Any Instructions ATC Gives You

Especially at larger and busier airports, you will want to write down everything you are told. Directions can get long and complicated at times, so the less transmissions it takes to get instructions to you, the better for ATC and for you.

6. No Conversations In The Cockpit During Transmissions

There’s nothing worse than missing out on a transmission and not being sure if it was meant for you. Pause all conversation in the cockpit when ATC is transmitting a message so that you are sure to not miss any transmissions intended for you.

For a more condensed version of this information, check out our youtube video below- 6 Tips for Communicating with ATC.

Want some free practice? Check out LiveATC and listen to frequencies at nearby airports.

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Airspace Classification: A Guide for New Pilots

Airspace Classification: A Guide for New Pilots

An airspace is a region of air that is available for flying aircraft. However, the precise nature of aircraft that can fly in these regions, and the circumstances under which they are permitted, will vary from one area to another.

As with land, the air above the ground is generally owned by private landowners, governments, and states. There are certain laws and restrictions that therefore must control the use of flying vehicles in these areas.

There are two general categories of airspace: controlled and uncontrolled.

Uncontrolled airspace is airspace that ATC does not control.

Controlled airspace is exactly that, airspace regulated by ATC. This includes Prohibited, Restricted, and the many different airspace classes.

Controlled Airspace Classifications

You want to be transmitting and listening on the correct frequency at all times. Write down all applicable frequencies and have them readily available for your flight. It’s going to make you much less stressed, and can save you from an embarrassing transmission as well. Be sure to have extra pens or pencils on standby in your flight bag.

Class A Airspace

Class A airspace is the airspace from 18,000 feet mean sea level (MSL), up to and including flight level 600. This includes the airspace within 12 nautical miles from the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska.

Operation in class A airspace must be conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR), except in very specific circumstances.

Class B Airspace

Class B airspace is the airspace between the ground level and 10,000 feet MSL around the country’s busiest airports. Here flight is extremely regulated in order to contend with the high amount of air traffic. Air traffic control clearance is required for all aircraft operating in the area. The configuration of each Class B airspace is unique in that the area gets larger as your altitude increases.

Class C Airspace

Class C is the airspace from the surface to 4,000 feet above airport elevation in the regions around airports with operational control towers and radar approach control. These are also airports which have a particular number of IFR operations/passenger enplanements.

Once again, the configurations of these airspaces are individually tailored to each area. That said, Class C airspace normally covers a five nautical mile radius around the airport that extends from the ground level to 1,200 feet and an outer radius of ten NM from 1,200 feet to 4,000 feet.

All aircraft in class C airspace are required to engage in radio communication with the air traffic control before entering the airspace and while they are within the airspace.

Class D Airspace

Class D airspace is between the surface and 2,500 feet above airport elevation at airports with operational control towers. Like others, Class D airspace is configured individually to the airport.

IAPs (arrival extensions for instrument approach procedures) can be either Class D or Class E airspace.

As with Class C, aircraft must establish a two-way communication with ATC facilities that offer air traffic services prior to entering and once within the airspace.

Class E Airspace

This is essentially a catch all. It’s the controlled airspace that is not categorized as class A, B, C, or D. Most of the airspace located across the US is designated as Class E. The aim is to cover sufficient airspace to enable the safe control and separation of aircraft in IFR operations.

You can learn more about the different types of Class E airspace by referring to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

Most charts depict all areas of Class E airspace with bases under 14,500 feet MSL. Where this is not illustrated, the class E airspace is still assumed to begin at 14,500 feet MSL.

Class E airspace base is 1,200 feet AGL in most areas. However, it is also commonly at 700 feet or even at the surface.

Usually, this airspace will extend up to 18,000 feet MSL (not inclusive). Anything above FL 600 is Class E airspace

Not sure if you have all the gear you need for flight training? Take a look at our list of essential gear every pilot should carry in their flight bag.

Uncontrolled Airspace

Class G Airspace

Class G Airspace is the uncontrolled airspace classification. This means that the airspace is not included under class A, B, C, D, or E. It extends from the surface to the base of the overlying airspace.

ATC has no authority nor responsibility for air traffic control in these regions. However, pilots still need to adhere to the visual flight rules (VFR) minimums.

Special Use Airspace

Some airspace is restricted to certain activities or there are limitations on aircraft activities in the area. This is known as either special use airspace or special area of operation (SAO). In some of these areas there are restrictions placed on the mixed use of the airspace.

Special use airspace, also called special area of operation (SAO), is a classification for airspace where certain activities must be confined. In other cases, it may be an area where limitations can be imposed on aircraft operations that fall outside the remit of those activities. In some cases, these can create limitations on the mixed use of airspace.

Special use airspaces are depicted on charts, and should also include the name, number, and effective altitude.

The most common forms of special use airspace include:

·         Prohibited areas

·         Restricted areas

·         Military operation areas

·         Controlled firing areas

·         Warning areas

·         Alert areas

For example, if a military exercise should be carried out in a particular airspace, then it is important for rules and limitations to be imposed on commercial airlines passing through. This can help to prevent accidents, while also protecting the integrity of those military operations.

Prohibited Areas

These are areas that prohibit the flight of any non-authorized aircraft. These areas will usually be established for security purposes, or for other reasons that are related to national welfare. The designation of these areas can be found in the Federal Register, as well as on aeronautical charts.

Some examples of these prohibited areas include: Camp David, and the National Mall above the White House and Congressional buildings.

When looking at charts you’ll see these designated with a P along with a number. It is absolutely vital that you are aware of any prohibited areas along your flight path.

Restricted Areas

These are areas where operations may be hazardous to aircraft and are often related to military activities. However, restricted areas are different from Military Operations Areas. Flying in these areas is possible but requires approval and there may be restrictions on the activities an aircraft can engage in when flying in restricted areas.

The hazards in these areas can include artillery firing, aerial gunnery, and other military training that doesn’t necessarily include military pilot training.

Entering these areas without first gaining authorization from controlling agencies can be highly hazardous. ATC facilities apply these procedures when aircraft are not on IFR clearance:

·         If area is non-active and has been released to the FAA, then the aircraft may operate in the space as normal without clearance.

·         If the area is restricted and has not been released. The ATC facility issues or denies clearance to the aircraft into the airspace.

The letter R is used to chart restricted areas along with a number – such as R-4401. These can be seen on the en route chart for use at the altitude.

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Military Operation Areas

Also referred to as MOAs, military operation areas are airspaces that exist for the purpose of training military pilots. MOAs have defined vertical and lateral airspace that separates military training traffic from IFR traffic.

Where an MOA is actively being used, the nonparticipating IFR traffic will require clearance via the MOA. However, this will only be an option if the IFR separation can be offered by ATC. Otherwise, the IFR traffic will be redirected.

Be sure to review the sectional chart for the altitudes affected, the times of operation, and the controlling agency.

Controlled Firing Areas

CFAs are areas that contain potentially hazardous activities, however, you will not find these listed on any charts.

Instead these are activities that must be stopped as soon as a non participatory aircraft is spotted on radar, or from a ground or aerial lookout.

Non participatory aircraft do not have to change their flight path.

Warning Areas

Warning areas operate in a similar manner to restricted areas. The key difference is the US does not have sole jurisdiction. These areas are located from 3NM outward off the coast of the US. The activity here has been identified as being hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft, and the purpose of the jurisdiction is to warn pilots of potential dangers.

Warning areas could be located over international or domestic waters.

You’ll see these areas on a map designated with a W.

Alert Areas

Areas with a high volume of flight training or other unusual aerial activity are called alert areas.

Nonparticpitory planes are allowed to move through the space, however, they need to be alert and aware that training activities may be going on here. Both parties, those transiting the alert area, and those participating in the alert area are equally responsible for collision avoidance.

Alert areas can be identified on aeronautical charts by the letter A, followed by a string of numbers.

Other Airspace Areas

There are a huge number of additional airspace areas that refer to classifications not covered by the classes we have addressed so far.

These include:

  • Local airport advisory (LAA)
  • Published VFR routes
  • Parachute jump aircraft operations
  • Temporary flight restrictions (TFR)
  • Military training route (MTR)
  • National security areas (NSA)
  • Air defense identification zones (ADIZ)
  • Terminal radar service area (TRSA)
  • Special awareness training
  • Wildlife Areas/Wilderness Areas/National Parks: Request to operate above 2,000 AGL
  • National oceanic and atmospheric administration marine areas off the coast with a requirement to fly above 2,000 AGL.
  • Tethered Balloons for observation and weather recordings that extend on cables up to 60,000 ft

Each of these operates in a slightly different way. In many cases, the title is descriptive of the nature of the airspace.

For example, a military training routes are routes that are used by military aircraft to practice proficiency in tactical flying. These will usually be located below 10,000 feet MSL, at speeds above 250 knots.

Parachute jump aircraft operations meanwhile are areas used for precisely that, which may require special care and attention when passing through.

Wildlife areas might include a request to fly at above 2,000 AGL. This will ensure that birds and other wildlife will not be frightened or endangered by aircraft.

One other particularly important one to know is temporary flight restrictions. These are issued by a flight data center and come out as a notice to airmen. They include the location of the temporary restriction, the defined statute miles, the altitude, and the times of the restriction. You’ll often see these appear when the President or Vice President comes to visit a city.

There are many more airspace classifications and it is important to understand the difference between each type. Pilots should be familiar with the operational requirements for each class, and that includes those that are less common.

To learn more about each of these you can visit the FAA’s website with greater detail on each type of airspace.

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The Best Aviation Headsets for Pilots

The Best Aviation Headsets for Pilots

Communication is absolutely critical while you’re up in the air – and good quality aviation headsets make all the difference when you’re communicating with the tower and other aircraft.

Whether you’re a brand new pilot searching for your first headset before you start flight training or your a seasoned airline pilot, you’re sure to find a headset that will meet your needs on this list.

What to Look for In an Aviation Headset

Here are some of the most important factors you should consider when trying to pick out an aviation headset.

Passive Noise Reduction vs Active Noise Reduction

A great aviation headset has to block out more than just one type of background noise and system interference at the same time.

Some headsets are great at the one and not so good at the other, and many times this is something you’ll only discover once you’ve tested it out for yourself.

Passive noise reduction is simply the noise the headphones block with their design. Most aviation headsets are over ear headsets and will block out a good amount of sound.

Active noise reduction (ANR) is when a headset emits a second sound that cancels out the other sound. In simple terms, the emitted sound wave is the inverse of the outside noise sound wave and thus they cancel each other out.

Comfort

After a long 4 hour cross country flight with a bad headset you’ll be ready to upgrade to something more comfortable. You want a headset that isn’t too tight but tight enough to provide a good seal and provide that passive noise reduction.

To help you find a good fit you may be able to borrow different brands of headsets from your flight school to test out before you buy your own.

In-Ear vs Over Ear

Another thing to consider is in-ear vs. over ear. Good in-ear headsets are comparatively new to the market but have become quite good at blocking sound (typically via active noise reduction).

Even with advancements, however, over ear headsets are still generally better at reducing noise in the cockpit. You may also find over ear headsets more comfortable when wearing for long periods of time.

Good Microphone

The quality of the microphone is just as important as the quality of what you can hear through your headset.

Communication while up in the air (or still on the ground for that matter) are always a two-way street. What’s the point if you can hear the other side just fine, but they can’t hear a thing on your end?

Again, testing out a few different headsets ate your flight school can be a great way to find ones you like.

The Top 8 Aviation Headsets By Category

Every pilot will have their own preference when it comes to a good headset. Considering the most important qualities listed above, I’ve tried to break down this list into top performers by category.

Some look for in-ear headsets, others want Bluetooth capability and a wireless model; you yourself might be after something else.

The Best All Around Headset - Bose A20 Aviation Headset

The Bose A20 is one of the most popular aviation headsets on the market. It’s used by thousands of pilots around the world.

It’s designed to be used in environments with a high volume of external noise and uses active noise cancellation to minimize it. Bose claims this headset reduces external noise by 30% compared to conventional headsets (granted, they don’t define what they mean by conventional headsets).

There is a Bluetooth option of this headset that allows you to listen to music or take phone calls. And you can choose to mute or mix your audio sources.

All of the settings on this headset are conveniently controlled using a small control module attached to the headset cable.

The mic can be connected to the right or left earphone allowing you to customize it to your liking. And while the headset isn’t nearly as light as the Bose Proflight Series 2 below, it’s still a lightweight headset at only 12 oz.

The biggest downside to the A20 headset is the price tag. This headset comes in at about $1,000 making it one of the priciest options on the market.

If you’re looking to wear one of the best pilot headsets on the market this is the one for you.

The Best in-Ear Headset - Bose Proflight Series 2 Aviation Headset

If you’re tired of bulky, heavy aviation headsets, then consider the Bose Proflight Series 2. It’s one of the lightest headsets available on the market right now – and the best possible value for money at this price level.

Weight is a defining factor with this model weighing in at a total of only 4.5 oz. That’s considerably lighter than the standard aviation headsets some readers might be used.

This headset uses active noise cancellation to cut back on outside noise so you can hear tower clearly. There are three different active noise cancellation settings you can choose from so you can adjust the headset in flight.

The headset also includes Bluetooth connectivity. All of the settings on the headset can be controlled via a control module on the cable.

One downside to this headset is the earbuds. If you aren’t a huge fan of earbuds you may not want to wear these. After a few hours they can start to get a bit uncomfortable.

In terms of clarity, both in-and-out, the Bose Proflight Series 2 is highly rated.

Best Headset for New Pilots - David Clark H-10-13.4 Aviation Headset

You can probably find David Clark headsets in just about every flight school across the country. It’s a dependable headset that doesn’t break the bank. I even have a couple pairs on hand to use whenever I take friends up to fly.

David Clark headsets use passive noise reduction so it won’t get nearly as quite as some of the other options that include active noise cancellation but they still work quite well.

One of its best qualities is the fact that the David Clark aviation headset is highly adjustable: The boom mic can be worn on both sides, and adjusted to exactly where you need it.

The headset does use a noise cancelling mic that helps reduce the noise transmitted when you speak and the function certainly seems to work well in my experience.

This is really one of the best headsets out there for new pilots. David Clark headsets make a great first, second or backup headset for anyone.

Curious about how much pilots make? We’ve done the research and pulled the numbers so you can begin your search for the right airline to work for.

Best Headset Under $300 - Kore Aviation KA-1 Premium

When it comes to headsets that fall under the $300 price point, a lot of professional pilots may think you can’t get a high quality headset for the money. But in reality, you can find some decent options such as the Kore Aviation KA-1 headset.

While it lacks many of the features of the Bose A20, it will still operate well enough for most student pilots.

Gel cushioning keeps it from pressing too hard against the ears. Many cheap headsets are known for being rather uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time but that isn’t the case with the Kore headset. Of course, comfort isn’t the only thing that makes the Kore model worth considering.

Easy-to-reach controls and its highly adjustable nature helps. It also performs well when it comes to noise canceling and overall sound quality. Better than other models of the same price point, which is how this particular model ended up on this list.

The biggest downside to a low budget headset such as this one is long term durability. Don’t expect to use this headset for years and years. It will however, get you through your student training.

All things considered, the Kore Aviation KA-1 headset is a good option for student pilots on a tight budget.

Best Wireless Headset - Lightspeed Sierra Aviation Headset

If you don’t want to shell out $1,000 for the Bose A20 but you’d like a step up from the David Clark headset, this is the headset for you.

The Lightspeed Sierra headset comes highly rated both for it’s comfort and noise cancelling abilities.

Just like the Bose A20, this headset uses active noise cancellation (ANR) which does an excellent job eliminating outside noise so you can hear tower and other pilots/passengers clearly.

This headset also uses conventional AA batteries so you don’t have to worry about keeping it charged, just make sure you keep extra batteries in your flight bag.

The headset also includes Bluetooth functionality but there are some users who have had issues using it on phone calls.

Overall this is an excellent headset with top features unavailable in many other headsets. Take a look and see if this is the right headset for you.

Lowest Budget Headset - Kore PNR Aviation Headset

If you’re budget is really tight, the Kore Aviation P1 PNR is probably the best option for you. It’s priced even lower than the Kore Aviation KA-1.

Some of the benefits of the PNR Aviation Headset include what the manufacturer calls Premium Noise Reduction, and it is equipped with foam cups and traditional wire boom microphone control.

It has a 3.5mm port so you could run a cable to your phone to listen to music if you’d like.

It can be one of the heavier headsets, but it’s also priced at the point where weight usually isn’t as vital as quality: Who cares if it fits a little heavier than the lightest model mentioned in this article when it still fits the bill as one of the most budget-friendly.

How much does this model stand to cost you? Take a look.

Runners Up

The David Clark DC ONE-X ENC Aviation Headset

Here’s another one by David Clark, who’s known for making high quality headsets. The DC ONE-X headset could be considered David Clarks competition with the A20 headset.

Essential features that define the David Clark model are the 5-year warranty and the active noise canceling ability.

This headset also includes Bluetooth functionality so you can listen to music or take phone calls with it which is a handy feature. The ability to listen to music on those long flights definitely helps out.

While I haven’t used this headset personally, it does have a decent number of complaints around comfort on longer flights.

Overall the DC ONE-X is a sound headset that will serve you well.

Once you’ve got a headset, be sure to pick up the perfect flight bag to carry all your gear. Every pilot has their own must have gear but if you’re not sure where to start check out our list of flight bag essentials.

The Faro G2 ANR Premium Pilot Headset

The Faro G2 headset is a decent option but I think there are better options found above. I include it here because it’s the low priced headset that actually includes active noise reduction, something you normally have to pay more to get.

There’s a 3-year warranty, and it ranks high on reliability: It could be said that it’s built like a tank – but that is the only impressive enough feature to still give it a mention in this article.

The headset also includes noise cancelling in the mic which should make your voice come through a bit clearer when speaking. And it has volume controls for each ear which can come in handy.

The total weight ranks at more than 2 pounds so it’s heavier than many headsets out there. The biggest complaint I found with this headset was the sound quality. While the ANR functions well, the headset just doesn’t bring audio in loud enough for some pilots.

What headset recommendations do you have? Let us know if you have one that didn’t make the list and we’ll take a look.

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The Best Flight Bags for Pilots

Flight Outfitters Brush Pilot Bag Review

The Best Flight Bags for Pilots.

Every pilot needs a good flight bag.

Whether you’re jumping in a Cessna for your very first training flight, or you’re a pilot with thousands of hours under your belt, this article will help you find the best flight bag to meet your needs.

Before we jump into the flight bag reviews, however, let’s talk about what makes a good flight bag.

What to Look for in a Flight Bag

They type of flight bag you buy will largely depend on the type of flying you do.

If you’re a brand new student pilot, you may want a larger bag to carry all of the extra study materials you’ll need when you’re at the airport.

If you just fly occasionally, or always go on short day trips, you can usually get away with a smaller bag that will just fit your headset and iPad/charts.

Of course, if you’re an airline pilot, or about to be one, you’ll want a much larger bag for those overnight flights.

Overall, you’ll want a bag made out of a durable material that won’t wear down easily.

What to Carry in Your Flight Bag

Every pilot has different opinions on what the essential flight bag gear is but in general, you’ll always have these items:

  1. Pilot certificate and Medical
  2. Headset
  3. Backup Batteries (if needed)
  4. iPad
  5. Extra charts
  6. Pencil/Pen
  7. Flashlight
  8. Kneeboard
  9. Water & snacks
  10. Sunglasses
  11. Fuel Tester

As you look at bags, it may help to write out a list of everything you’d like to be able to carry with you. Some pilots also like to have a backup radio and other emergency/backup gear.

Whatever you decide, make sure you buy a bag with enough storage space to comfortably fit everything.

Now that you know what gear you need to store in your flight bag, let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market.

Best Flight Bags for Student Pilots

Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag

The Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag is a sturdy and highly convenient flight bag that’s easy to carry in one hand but... Read the Review

See the latest price

Flight Gear HP iPad Bag

As he name suggests, the Flight Gear HP iPad bag was designed around the iPad. And, given that nearly every pilot... Read the Review

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AirClassics Dispatch Flight Bag

This bag is the smallest on the list and less rigid than the previous two options. It functions just like... Read the Review

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Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag

This bag is a little different from some of the others on the list so far. This is shaped more... Read the Review

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Editors Pick: Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag Review

The Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag is a sturdy and highly convenient flight bag that’s easy to carry in one hand but also offers ample space for everything you could need.

There’s a separate pouch for a water bottle for easy access, or a back-up radio pocket. There’s also a fuel tester pocket, and 2 external chart pockets.

The fleece-lined headset pockets make sure that your headset will be kept in place, while the adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry around the airport.

Dimensions are 12”x10.5”x9”.

What’s great about this bag is just how clearly it has been designed specifically for pilots – with lots of thoughtful compartments and design features. The manufacturer Flight Outfitters is well known for creating premium pilot products, and this bag is no different.

The bag is also particularly sturdy and compact, meaning it doesn’t get in your way and you’ll never have to worry about damaging your possessions.

The bag comes in a few different colors, mainly with a black body and colored accents. The fleece interior is lined orange to make it easier to find in the dark.

The drawback is that this bag is relatively small and with very specific pockets. That is to say that it isn’t quite as versatile as some other bags on this list. Some buyers might also prefer a leather aesthetic.

Pros

  • Compact Size for essentials
  • Popular with private pilot students
  • Well-thought out pockets
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • Small in size
  • Can’t be easily cleaned
  • Only one color option available

Conclusion:

Given it’s compact size, adequate storage space and durable material this flight bag is perfect for both student pilots and flight instructors.

Flight Gear HP iPad Bag Review

As he name suggests, the Flight Gear HP iPad bag was designed around the iPad. And, given that nearly every pilot you’ll meet flies with an iPad or tablet, there’s a huge market for this type of bag.

As you might expect then, the bag features a large, padded iPad pocket that has a handy pass-through slot for charging.

It likewise comes with the usual headset hanger, water bottle, and fuel tester pockets, organizer pocket (with key ring) and more.

Its compact size once again ensures that it won’t get in the way, and makes it perfect for fitting into cockpits or under chairs.

The front of the bag unzips entirely, which means you’ll be able to easily get in and access all the things you need.

Measurements are 12”x7.5”x132. This makes it just slightly bigger than the previous entry.

The bag only comes in one color, which is black and cyan.

Like the previous option, this bag is very structured with very clearly defined compartments for specific roles. If you hang your headphones inside, this doesn’t leave a lot of space for additional items – such as lunch or a few books.

Pros

  • Good looking, Premium Bag
  • Many Functional Compartments
  • Front-Opening

Cons

  • Somewhat inflexible
  • Only comes in one color
  • Less resilient than the previous offering from Flight Outfitters

Conclusion:

The Flight Gear HP iPad Bag is another excellent option for pilots who really don’t need to carry too much stuff on their flight and around the airport. It’s a well designed bag that makes just about every pocket easy to access.

AirClassics Dispatch Pilot Bag Review

This bag is the smallest on the list and less rigid than the previous two options. It functions just like a standard shoulder bag. This will appeal to some readers and not others.

While it isn’t rigid, it is made from a durable 600D polyester and the interior tablet pocket is also padded.

The interior is also very spacious with two separate pockets including the main compartment and smaller area for charts and any other small documents. The large space provides room for headsets, along with one or two other items.

You’ll also find a front pocket with space for pens and spare batteries, side slots for fuel testers, flashlights, and water bottles, and an adjustable strap. Note that the water bottle pocket is not specifically intended for that role and won’t fit all bottles.

The interior is lined blue to make it easier to find what you’re looking for in the dark.

While the front compartment is front opening, the two main pockets need to be accessed from the top.

Dimensions are 11.5”x9”x4.5”.

Pros

  • Compact Bag for the bare essentials
  • Blue Interior for easy visibility
  • Looks more like a “regular” bag, making it slightly more versatile

Cons

  • More difficult to access everything
  • Fewer specific pockets

Conclusion:

The AirClassics Dispatch Flight Bag is perfect for the pilot on a budget. It can easily store the essential gear you need for your flights. If you’ll be using this bag as a student pilot, you may want to consider also bringing a backpack to the airport for any additional study materials you need for your lessons.

Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag Review

This bag is a little different from some of the others on the list so far. This is shaped more like a gym bag, being a longer and more oblong design.

That said, it’s still a rather compact bag and the simple handle makes it easy to carry in one hand.

This shape gives it a much larger main compartment, which the manufacturer describes as “cavernous” (perhaps a tad generous!).

There’s certainly a lot of room in here for books, a kneeboard, and some extra gear compared to the first three bags.

It also comes with many of the benefits you associate with the Flight Gear brand, such as a high visibility interior for easily finding things in the dark, exterior pockets for fuel testers and water bottles, and a comfortable padded strap.

That said, it only comes in a single color and has fewer “specialty” pockets for pilots. It also lacks any additional reinforcement that would make it more durable.

This is a simpler, more affordable design. It will do the job for most, but perhaps lacks the wow factor of some options here, or the extreme practicality.

Pros

  • Design provides large interior space
  • Still easy to carry one-handed/store
  • Affordable

Cons

  • More difficult to access everything
  • Fewer specific pockets

Conclusion:

he Flight Gear HP Crosswind is an excellent bag for pilot’s who want a small bag but still need some extra gear that won’t fit in the smaller bags mentioned above.

In particular, this bag is great for flight students who have a small stack of books and manuals they need to haul around every day at the airport

Best Flight Bags for Private Pilots

Myogloflight PLC Pro Flight Bag

Here, you’ll be able to store an iPad in a pocket, as well as numerous other gadgets and tools in the mesh pockets on.. Read the Review

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BrightLine Flex B7 Flight - Echo

The B7 Flight-Echo is a somewhat different beast compared with the other options on this list so far. This is a much... Read the Review

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Flight Outfitters Brush Pilot Bag

This bag is the smallest on the list and less rigid than the previous two options. It functions just like...Read the Review

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Flight Gear HP Tailwind Backpack

Flight Gear HP make great bags for pilots, and this backpack is no different. If you need to haul more stuff around... Read the Review

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Lightspeed Aviation The Markham, Leather Flight Bag

For this writer, a flight bag should be a premium item for a successful professional. And for... Read the Review

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Myogloflight PLC Pro Flight Bag Backpack Review

This bag is taller than many of the others we have looked at, at 16”x10”x3”.

This gives it a shape more like a suitcase or even a backpack – and it can be worn on the pack or attached to a separately sold “luggage cart.”

This versatility makes it a strong choice for a lot of pilots.

Likewise, the amount of storage it affords will also be very beneficial for many. The entire front compartment opens up, allowing easy access to the roomy interior.

Here, you’ll be able to store an iPad in a pocket, as well as numerous other gadgets and tools in the mesh pockets on the opposite side. These are perfect for headphones, cables, chargers, and more. A handy strap is also perfect for fuel-testers.

The only downsides here are the price, and the fact that it is somewhat large, meaning you’ll need a bit more storage space for it.

Pros

  • Lots of storage
  • Versatile system can be worn as a backpack or pulled on a luggage cart
  • Plenty of pockets

Cons

  • One of the most expensive options
  • Bottom of bag isn’t reinforced

BrightLine Flex B7 Flight – Echo Review

The B7 Flight-Echo is a somewhat different beast compared with the other options on this list so far.

This is a much larger bag that has a thicker depth and a whole lot of pockets. Seriously. This bag has pockets everywhere.

In fact, it has three separate attachment points for shoulder straps – and even three pockets right on the front!

It definitely took a while to remember what pocket was storing what.

The bag comes with a SPE instead of a SPA, a big adjustable water bottle pocket. It also has a particularly strong main handle with slots for a J-hook.

The B7 Flight is designed specifically for airline captains, but is suitable for everyone else too. The huge number of pockets, compartments, and zippers means there is plenty of room for all the gear you need.

And with a whole lot of storage space, it’s ideal for a large number of personal uses as well. This will easily hold an iPad AND a keyboard, including cases. You can even fit a 13″ MacBook Pro in here, along with a ton of adapters and documents!

And you can actually fit two sets of headphones in!

Despite all this, it’s actually rather compact and easy to carry in one hand – though it might create a few more space challenges than some of the other options we’ve looked at so far.

It’s tough, though it isn’t specially reinforced as some other options on this list are.

One other handy feature on this bag is its ability to separate into different bags. So if you’re headed to the airport to fly IFR and need more gear you can bring the whole thing. If it’s a VFR day, you can separate the bag and take just take a third of the bag.

No other brand on the list has this unique functionality.

Pros

  • Premium bag that’s extremely versatile
  • Huge number of compartments
  • Ability to split into separate bags

Cons

  • Can get rather heavy when fully loaded with gear
  • Not specially reinforced
  • Higher priced bag

Conclusion:

The BrightLine Flex B7 Flight Echo bag was designed for airline pilots. So if you’re headed to the airlines (or already there) this may be a great option for you. If your the type of private pilot who always wants to prepared for anything (and thus need lots of gear) this bag is perfect for you.

Flight Gear HP Tailwind Pilot Backpack Review

Flight Gear HP make great bags for pilots, and this flight bag backpack is no different.

If you need to haul more stuff around the airport this backpack is exactly what you need.

Like other bags, the entire front will zip open to provide easy access. Here, there’s ample internal space for a headset which can remain suspended and protected.

There are iPad sleeves, and enough space around the rest to fit a host of other items.

Pros

  • Opens all the way
  • Easy to Carry
  • Suspends headphones in the pocket

Cons

  • Headphones pocket takes up a lot of space

Flight Outfitters Brush Pilot Bag Review

This bag comes in a light canvas that has leather accents.

It stands out immediately from the crowd thanks to its color scheme, while the leather elements make it feel premium without limiting the practicality.

The padded headphone pockets (two of them!) mean you don’t waste previous internal storage, of which there is plenty.

The interior is large enough to store a lot of additional items, while the metal reinforced handle is enough to hold weightier items.

This is another bag from the excellent Flight Outfitters, and again comes with a lot of extremely thoughtful design features.

For example, the Brush Pilot Bag features a pass through strap on the back which lets you easily slide it over rolling luggage handles. The orange interior meanwhile makes it easy to find things in a dark cockpit.

We love this bag, but it’s a shame the design won’t be to all tastes.

Pros

  • Premium design
  • Reinforced handle
  • Suspends headphones in the pocket

Cons

  • Headphones pocket takes up a lot of space

Lightspeed Aviation – The Markham, Leather Flight Bag Review

For this writer, a flight bag should be a premium item for a successful professional. And for this writer, a premium bag should be leather.

That’s what makes this such a standout option, along with many other excellent features such as the center zipper that opens to reveal a large interior compartment that is more than spacious enough for headsets, charts, and all your other gear.

The front is divided with an organizer pocket for useful items and documents. A zippered rear pocket is great for storing iPads, and the side pockets are ideal for water bottles and fuel checkers – or you can use it for storing a transceiver thanks to the handy antenna-on storage feature.

There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can check out the bag first and return it if it’s not for you.

Of course, there is a trade-off with leather and this option is not as structured or reinforced as some others. It’s also not likely to hold up as well to the weather. But if you want something really premium with lots of pilot-centric features, the Markham is a cut above.

Pros

  • Lots of highly useful compartments and pockets
  • Great size and comfortable to carry
  • Extremely premium design

Cons

  • Expensive

Have a recommendation we missed? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out the best books for pilots and add them to your flight bag!

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Categories
Airline Pilot Career

Going to College to Become an Airline Pilot

Going to College to Become an Airline Pilot

There’s a lot of conflicting information online about whether or not a 4-year college degree is required to become an airline pilot. But do you need a degree to be a pilot at the airlines?

Some sources claim it’s absolutely mandatory, while others say you don’t need one at all. As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Aviation College- The Bottom Line

To cut right to the chase – you do not need a degree to be an airline pilot, but by the time you move on to the majors it’s a good idea to have one.

Most majors list 4-year degrees as preferred and some even mandate them. Even during pilot shortages, the majors are very competitive when compared to the regional airline, so it’s always advisable to get whatever edge you can over your competition.

Airlines

Degree Requirements

American Airlines

Southwest

Delta

United Airlines

This is not necessarily the case at the regionals. Pilot demand always hits the regionals before the majors so they can’t afford to be as picky.

These regional airlines hire directly out of flight schools. Since the typical route for an airline pilot is to start at the regionals and work up to the majors, it’s common for pilots to use their time at the regional airlines to complete their 4-year degree via online resources.

Alternatively, getting your degree prior to or in conjunction with your flight training offers you the option of reducing your required hours prior to being eligible for an airline pilot position. The FAA’s “1,500 hour rule” can be done in just 1,250 or 1,000 hours depending on what type of degree you obtain (see §61.160 for details.)

So the question becomes: how should you balance going to college with flight training?

There are a few different options and each one is going to work better for different individuals depending on their situation.

Most major airlines have 4-year degrees as a “preferred” requirement. Updated as of 6.25.2020

As you weigh your options on becoming an airline pilot, you should also consider how much you’ll be paid based on the path you choose. Take a look at our pilot salary guide to get an idea of how much you could earn.

Take your FAA written exam

1. Attend a 4-year university that offers flight training

Many choose to get their flight training through a 4-year university that offers flight training, a route that will have you flight training while following the traditional college timeline.

Typically you’ll finish all of your ratings by the time you’ve completed your degree program (usually an aviation related degree to take advantage of the hour reductions mentioned above) and then you’ll need to either instruct or find another job as a pilot to reach the rest of your required hours. If you’re instructing this typically takes around a year.

Timeline to Airline Job:

5-6 years

Pros:

• Obtain degree along-side your flight training

• Complete your degree and flight training in one location

• Reduced required hours if obtaining aviation degree

• Student loans are more readily available for individuals unable to finance their flight training on their own or with parents’ assistance

Cons:

• Expensive

• More than 4 years to start flying for the airlines

• Training is not accelerated, meaning you spend more total time on flight training

• No fallback – an aviation degree is only good for aviation

Best for:

Those that are unable to finance without Title IV assistance

• Students who may want to wait a few years and enjoy the “college experience” before starting a job

2. Attend a 4-year university and flight train elsewhere

Although perhaps one of the least-traveled paths, some choose to begin their flight training after obtaining a 4-year degree. Typically those who take this path obtain a degree outside of aviation, and begin flight training at a pilot school shortly before or after graduating.

This is the longest and most expensive option, but it does give the student the most flexibility in their career pathway.

Timeline to Airline Job:

6-7 years

Pros:

• Multiple career options after completing training

• Ultimately spend less on your flight training vs doing it at a University

• Degree offers security in the event of an industry downturn

Cons:

• Most expensive, as you are paying for both a 4-year degree and flight training separately

• Takes 6+ years. As important as seniority is in the airlines, you will have to determine if this is a deal breaker for you.

Best for:

• Those who aren’t 100% sure they want to be pilots

• Students who have the means to spend extra money on their education to have flexible career options later in life

3. Attend a flight school and finish your degree online

For those that know they want to be an airline pilot and want to get there as quickly as possible, this is the most attractive option.

Many online university programs will offer credit for the ratings you’ve obtained from flight schools, and you could use this to get up to 45 credit hours. This would reduce your bachelor program after flight training to about two years.

The most efficient way to do this is to attend a flight school with an accelerated airline pilot program (usually takes 8-10 months to complete) and once you obtain all your ratings, begin taking online classes while working as a flight instructor.

This way you are getting the aviation degree needed to take advantage of the 250-500 hour discount, and simultaneously instructing to start knocking those hours out.

Given the right circumstances, this pathway could get you through all of your ratings, all of your FAA required hours, AND your bachelor degree in just 3-4 years. You could even be flying for a regional during the end of that timeline if you fly enough to reach the required hours prior to obtaining your degree. This is attractive when considering seniority numbers in the airlines.

Timeline to Airline Job:

2-3 years

Pros:

• Most cost effective

• Quickest method to get a seniority number

• Reduced required hours if obtaining an aviation degree

Cons:

• No fallback – aviation is the only career an aviation degree will be useful in

• No “college experience”- if the college campus experience is important to you, then you’re going to be missing out (although Thrust Flight has a pretty similar atmosphere.)

• Title IV loans rarely available at flight schools

• Very demanding schedule

Best for:

• Those who want to get to the airlines as soon as possible

• People who can forego student loans in order to save more now and earn more in the long term

• Students who are positive they want this career

Do Your Research

Before making a decision on which path is right for you, make sure you understand the concepts of the 1,500 hour rule as well as seniority numbers in the regionals.

These factors may affect which path is best for you. Each student is different. We talk to people every day with different recommended paths, because accelerated flight training from zero time through all your ratings is not the best option for everyone. Do your research. Call different schools. Talk to pilots and student pilots. In the end, you want to make the decision that is best for YOU.

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airlines in less than 2 years! Click below to learn more.