Real Answers from Real Pilots

I wan to be a commercial pilot, now what?


(Sydney Celata) #1

Hello, I am 15 years old and I want to fly commercially when I’m older. I have done a lot of research but have no clue where to start. I asked my parents about taking lessons to get started but they are not willing to pay for all of it. This is the only thing that has stood out to me to pursue as a career and i do not know a thing about flying. Also, my parents don’t want to spend a lot of money on this and have me lose interest in flying. Any suggestions?


#2

Sydney,

Welcome to the forums and thanks for the question!

To begin with I have to ask you, what about flying interests you? Why are you desiring to be a pilot? People pick their careers for a lot of different reasons, some are good, some not. I initially did not want to be a pilot, I was half way through a business degree in college before I decided that I wanted to fly for a living.

Right now you are too young to really pursue flying. The minimum age to solo an airplane is 16 and the minimum age to get a Private Pilot license is 17. For most people I recommend that they go to college and get a four year degree first, then attend a flight school. In fact, one of ATP’s requirements is that you have two years of higher education before signing up for their program.

It seems like you might be a little on the fence about this as a career, but don’t worry, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living when I was 15, I don’t think most people do. There are two things that you can do to help familiarize yourself with the aviation industry. The first and easiest is to spend time on this forum. Read the various mentor biographies and our “Flying the Line” stories. Make sure to ask as many questions as you can, that is what we are here for.

The next big thing you can do is to go out to your local airport and take an introductory flight. An introductory flight is the most basic of lessons and usually involves 30-60 minutes of flight time. You will get some ground instruction and then a chance to fly the airplane for a bit with an instructor. Usually you will do a few take offs and landings and maybe a few maneuvers. This flight is really just a chance for you to get your hands on the controls of an airplane to get a feel for you really like flying or not. Call out to your local airport and see if there is a flight school that offers such flights. This might make a great Christmas present idea to give to your parents.

Chris


#3

Hello Sydney and Welcome!

As a parent and a pilot I can see both sides in this one. My son has changed his career goal hourly since he was 15, so if he told me he was interested in a career that required me to spend $70,000 I’d have my reservations as well. I think the best thing you can do is demonstrate to them your resolve and commitment to this goal. Perhaps if you got a job after school, saved some money to pay for your first few lessons that would help? You’re still very young but if this remains your goal AND you can show them that you’re not just talking about it but are actually DOING something about it (taking lessons, reading and studying for FAA exams etc) they might just come around and even offer some support.

Good luck

Adam


(joseph vega) #4

I have a question for pilots. I’m 47 years old and I’m considering becoming a commercial pilot, should I continue forward or give up? In other words is it to late for me to pursue my dream? I’ve applied to ATP in long beach, ca so we will see.
Joe


#5

Joe,

Welcome to the forums. I will be honest with you, you are on the upper end of the age spectrum for entering the aviation field. You are not necessarily too old, but I want to make sure that you have realistic expectations.

Let’s say that you complete your training when you are 48, then flight instruct for two years to build your flight time, making you 50 when you are eligible to be hired by the airlines. I think it is very reasonable to think that a regional airline would hire you and that you could have a productive 14 year career there (airline pilots must retire before they reach 65). The odds are that you will not be able to make the transition to a major airline as you will be 55 or more by the time you apply. Of course there are stories of people being hired at the majors in that age bracket, but it is not the norm.

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a career at a regional airline. It is reasonable to expect that you will be a captain for a good chunk of that time earning a pretty decent salary. Check out my article called “What Pilots Really Earn” in my “Flying the Line” section. You could build some decent seniority in that time and enjoy a good schedule.

As long as you enter this career knowing that you will not retire as a 777 captain flying international routes I think you will be fine. Fourteen years of flying is a good length of time to enjoy piloting for a living.

Have you though of which regional you might like to work for?

Chris