In all of my travels and interactions in the world of aviation, I am always very personally inspired by student pilots.
Through their heated conversations, frustrations and enthusiasm, I remember my own flight school days.
How exhilarating it was to be pilot training! First wrestle, then hone a new skill – dreaming about my future days in jet-powered flight levels (and wondering how I would ever get there).
And the most savvy 'pilots-in-training' I meet are those looking to craft a plan for their career path – before they can even actually enter the workforce!
I have focused a great deal of my effort on finding the best and most effective techniques and strategies so that newly licensed pilots can quickly move up the ranks and jump straight to their dream jobs.
But there is also a way for a pilot in training to optimize his time in flight school so as to "hit the ground flying" without delay, directly after graduation.
In other words, a student pilot can gain a significant advantage early in their pilot career and achieve their goal much faster than competing (and there will be a lot of competition!)
DISCLAIMER: I will probably receive a lot of hate mail from flight schools about what I am about to tell you here. And they might not be YOUR biggest fan if you decide to take this advice, as it just might be the complete opposite of their "recommendations"!
Do not mistake yourself …
Without a doubt, flight schools provide a valuable service to our industry. And most of them train pilots to an incredible degree of skill and professionalism. Without these essential establishments and the administrators, mechanics and instructor pilots who work there – commercial aviation would cease to exist altogether!
The smartest "pilots-in-training" I meet are those looking to craft a plan for their career path – before they can even actually enter the workforce!
But … they are a business and they have to be profitable to support operations. And as with any educational institution, they are responsible for educating their clientele until the moment they inevitably leave school to begin their careers.
So, once a pilot-in-training becomes an approved graduate, they are no longer a paying customer!
Therefore, a flight school should derive maximum benefit from every pilot in training while they are still enrolled. (We'll discuss the different ways to accomplish this shortly).
So with all of that in mind …
HERE'S THE SECRET IN 2 STEPS to Becoming a Pilot – WITHOUT SPENDING A FORTUNE – so you can get your dream pilot job ASAP: (Wish someone had told me years ago!)
- Get to flight school ASAP.
- Only spend your money on things that are directly related to the success of your next checkride.
It sounds so simple but almost no pilot in training can do it! This is why so many ambitious and deserving students are strapped for cash before they acquire all their licenses – and have to drop out of flight school before they qualify. to enter the labor market.
You probably already know that the more time you spend in training, the faster you will learn to fly. It might take you a year or more to get a private pilot's license if you only have one flying lesson per week – simply because you will be spending so much time "remembering" the skills that atrophy during your stay away from the airport for long periods of time.
This is why I highly recommend attending a reputable flight school full time and flying as much as possible EVERY day. That alone will save you several hundred dollars.
But the real secret to your success as a pilot-in-training is more in what you should NOT be doing.
As I mentioned, flight schools should take advantage of each day that you are there to sell yourself as much as possible. (That's good – that's how they treat themselves to this cute Cessna 172 glass cockpit that you love so much!)
And a major source of income is earned by selling the "extras".
The real secret to your success as a pilot-in-training is what you must NOT do.
You know what I'm talking about. Pilots love shiny gadgets. They thirst for knowledge. They want to be "the best". And they have money to spend – or big loans.
So flight schools – and the 'pilot supply industry' – are happy to part ways with you and your money, convincing you that you 'need' all kinds of juicy extras.
Think of all the fabulous toys you could buy beyond the actual requirements of flight training:
- Books and magazines on special aviation themes
- Training and nostalgia videos
- A portable GPS or an EFB tablet
- Flight planning and simulation software and applications
- ANR helmets
- Graphics subscriptions
- Yellow frames, knee pads and other cockpit junks
- A "Little John Portable" (ew, rude!)
I could go on and on …
But guess what?
You don't 'need' any of this stuff!
All of these books can be purchased as used online at a fraction of the cost. (Even most of your REQUIRED books and graphics can be downloaded for free).
You can use someone else's videos and software.
And a sophisticated GPS and helmet won't help you get past your next checkride.
In fact, most of this stuff is more of a DISTRACTION than a BENEFIT!
But what I call the 'extracurricular' training courses, often offered by flight schools, require even more money (and time).
They have different names, but they all fall into one of the following many categories:
- Advanced flight training such as high performance, rear wheel, aerobatic or high altitude
- Paid flight time or time block construction programs
- Crew Resource Management Training
- Glass Cockpit or EFIS training
- Crash courses or airline preparation
- Any training in a Level D simulator that does NOT result in a type rating
You see the picture.
It's not that these classes aren't great. I'm sure they are.
But taking them before you've gotten all your licenses and built real flight time is probably a huge waste of time and money – for two reasons:
- You will not be able to apply most of the skills you would have learned in your early years as a commercial pilot. And you'll forget about them by the time you're in a cockpit that requires all of that advanced training.
- Most of the potential employers you meet don't care anyway! (And they might wonder why you would pay for time in a B737 simulator when you didn't even have enough flight time to get "approved insurance" to fly on the actual airplane!)
It’s simple. The most valuable training you can receive beyond your flight training will be acquired "on the ground" – while you are PAID as a pilot-in-command.
No 'crash course' can replace the skills you will learn in flight instruction or flight instruction during your first pilot job.
And smart employers know it.
As Chief Pilot, I would ALWAYS choose to hire a pilot who has a proven track record in the real world – than a pilot with a CRM training certificate and a Bose headset, but little to no time. PEAK.
So what can you do as a pilot in training NOW to get into the cockpit of your dreams as quickly as possible after pilot school graduation?
Here is my advice, take it or leave it:
When you are faced with the possibility of spending ANY amount of your money, get used to asking the question: "Is this absolutely necessary for my next checkride to be successful?"
It is so simple.
Ask yourself this question, ask your instructor, and ask your flight school administrators when you register or next qualify.
Get used to asking the question "Is this absolutely necessary for my next checkride to be successful?"
If the answer to this question is 'no' – then don't buy it!
Resist your natural urges to "know it all" and "have that cool stuff".
This will give you two BIG benefits:
- You will inadvertently put yourself on an 'information regime'. You will only learn what you need to know for your current grade, and save yourself a lot of extra information. And thanks to that, you will pass your written tests and your verifications more easily. You will know the correct answer to any question asked – no more, no less.
- You will save a ton of money! And you can use that money for really useful things like your flight instructor rating (if you weren't intending to get it already), a visa, or a permit. working to fly overseas, or your first jet type rating that might qualify you to apply. for your dream pilot job.
The aim of the flight school should be to obtain your pilot licenses. Thats it!
Everything you need will come through the process of building your career as a pilot.