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3 Answers

Obtaining a license to fly a jet, helicopter and a career.

Asked by: 5021 views Aerodynamics, General Aviation, Private Pilot

I am currently 23 yrs. old and have a great job. I would like to start flying. Whether it is competitive or anything at that matter. I like to go fast and learn very fast. I would really love to make a career out of flying or engineering planes or jets. Please help me,  I do not know where or who I should talk to about my next steps. Thank You, Jason Cote

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3 Answers

  1. Lance on Oct 23, 2010

    First step would be to go down to your local airport and see if there is a flight school on field. If there is go on in and take an introductory lesson and see how you like it. If you don’t have a flight school at your local airport, hang around and talk to some of the pilots there, they can probably direct you to the nearest flight school.  Helicopter schools are a little tougher to come by because of their insurance costs being so prohibitive. Don’t let that discourage you though, there are even sometimes instructors that will come to you to do training if there is nothing close by.  College is an option here as well, many universities around have aviation programs that include both airplanes and helicopters.  Jets will take you some time to climb up the commercial piloting ladder, or will require you to join the military.
    Now for engineering, as far as working as an engineer for an aircraft company, you must possess an engineering degree from an accredited school, so begin looking towards universities in your area. However, there are some other ways that you can satisfy your need to create with airplanes as well. The best way would be to purchase a kit aircraft, which is an aircraft that you would build yourself. You would purchase the parts and plans from a company who has done testing on them, and then build the airplane.
    Hope this helps you out, and have fun flying!

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  2. Curtis Ide on Oct 23, 2010

    Unfortunately, my gut is to say stay with your great job if you have one but if you like the idea of aviation it can be hard to stay away from.
    Here is a little add-on information from above.  To become a commercial pilot and flight instructor (flight instructor not required) you will need to budget between $50,000 and $60,000.  Flying is a rewarding career and has a great office view but also has it’s downsides like any other job.  You will be away from home regularly for most flying jobs.  Your first couple years of working flight jobs you will be paying your dues and generally making $20,000 to $35,000 a year depending on how lucky you are.  After start getting your hours and experience I would say you can still make $60,000 to $80,000 in your average to well paid flight job.  Some pilots make more some pilots make less but thats a good number to work with.  The flight training process can take as little as 6 months (which I am not very fond of) or years.  You will fly about 120 flight lessons to complete nearly 250 hours of flight training.  If you fly at a local school do your research and ask the flight instructor for a personal resume.  Talk to other students at the school and ask for references.  If they aren’t willing to give them it may not be worth your time. 
    I’d be happy to help act as a mentor for you if you need someone to run things by.
    I can’t help with the engineering other than to say you will need a college degree and probably a masters degree to be competitive.
    Good luck.

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  3. Kent Shook on Oct 24, 2010

    When people ask this sort of question, I think of a friend of mine who did everything right – If you do what he did, you’ll be in good shape.
    He got his ratings while going to a community college and delivering pizzas. With his airplane ratings (Comm-ASMEL-IA, CFII-MEI) in hand, he transferred to a university where he majored in aeronautical engineering while working as a CFI at the local FBO. Not only did he work his way up to flying charters at the FBO (and eventually earn his ATP), he also earned his glider pilot and instructor ratings. Finally, he did some co-op work for an aerospace company.
    After graduating, with a handful of ratings, a degree in aeronautical engineering, and some good experience with both flying and engineering, there were a lot of doors open – And that’s where you want to be.
    As for helicopters – Focus on airplanes first, they’re cheaper! Once you get your commercial, then you can decide whether or not to add on a rotorcraft rating. Rotorcraft jobs seem to have higher starting wages, but with a lower high end. Airplane jobs tend to have terrible starting wages, but after a long road you can make a lot of money. There are dual-rated jobs (where you would be able to fly BOTH airplanes and helicopters), but they are rare.
    Finally, aviation tends to be a very cyclical industry, and you’ll need to deal with a lot of uncertainty. Furloughs, mergers, bankruptcies, it can get very messy! If you really love flying, you may get to enjoy it more if you work as an engineer, or something else completely unrelated to aviation, to make enough money to be able to fly for fun, on your own terms.
    The choice for which path to take is up to you, but I hope this provides some help for you to decide how to proceed. Good luck!

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