Most likely, you’re reading this article because your child told you he/she wants to become a pilot and you’d like to learn more on the subject. Below you will find answers to questions that might come to your mind, information concerning subsequent steps to becoming a pilot, whether flying is safe, how much it costs, how commencing an aviation experience will affect your child, as well as how and when to begin it.
The dream of flying
If your child dreams of becoming a pilot – be happy for him and give him support. Children rarely have ambitious dreams and this one is highly ambitious – making it come true will require from your child persistence, stubbornness, and consequence in pursuing long-term goals. Use any way possible to help him fulfil the dream.
Is flying safe?
Flying is said to be dangerous. Someone may say, that based on media it can be concluded that airplanes or gliders crash quite often. First of all, plane crashes are a subject that immediately captures the public interest and, thus, whatever happens to an airplane or a glider, is widely publicised right away – to a much greater extent than in the case of events involving other means of transport. For that very reason, there’s a common misleading view that flying is dangerous. As for airliners in the so-called scheduled air transport, only one in several millions of scheduled flights ends in an actual crash. The likelihood is thus extremely low. By comparison, a car drive is far more dangerous.
In general aviation, which includes gliders and small training airplanes, crashes are very rare. During glider and on-aeroplane training, the student pilot is accompanied by an instructor who supervises flight safety and corrects any errors made by the trainee. The training covers take-offs, landings, and preventing emergency situations, yet should such an emergency occur, the student pilot is trained to handle it. After several tens of flights, when in the opinion of the instructor the trainee has mastered the art of basic pilotage, the latter sits and exam before his first solo flight with another instructor, who assesses the student pilot’s skills with a critical and objective eye. Having successfully passed the exam, the student pilot performs his first solo flight supervised by the instructor, experiencing unparalleled focus, gravity, joy, and pride.
You’re certainly pondering at this very moment: isn’t it too soon for a student pilot to perform a solo flight after only several tens of flights? Instructors bear responsibility for their students at the time of training – including legal responsibility. For that reason, they don’t allow their students to fly solo if they doubt their competencies. The student pilot is allowed to perform a solo flight only if he has perfected basic pilotage to an extent that during flights with the instructor he successfully and consistently performs all stages of flight – from take-off to landing – by himself, without the instructor’s assistance, while the instructor who’s sitting in the back only supervises flight safety.
When to start?
Frankly, one can start flying at any age, as long as his health allows him to and provided that the flight candidate successfully passed his pilot medical examinations. Nevertheless, many airlines prefer younger pilots as their minds are more receptive and they have more years of flight ahead of them than their older colleagues do.
Glider pilot training can be commenced as early as at the age of 14, whereas private pilot licence training – from 16 years of age. As a pilot who began his first training at the age of 21, I believe you should embark on training as soon as possible. This way you start acquiring knowledge of aviation and gaining experience that accounts for flight time sooner.
In aviation, flying hours and the ratings held are key determinants of the pilot’s experience.
Today, it’s not uncommon for a Boeing, Airbus or Embraer to be piloted by 25-year-olds, though some might be surprised. These ambitious young people started their aviation adventure as teenagers. Some of them started flying gliders, others took off from piloting airplanes from the very beginning, built their valuable flying hours, successfully sat countless exams and, eventually, passed a demanding airline recruitment procedure.
How will aviation affect your child?
A glider pilot training or a private pilot training with which one starts his aviation experience as an adolescent is not only hours spent in the air, your concern about the child or the money you’ll have to pay for the training courses. During training your child will spend several times more hours on land than in the air. He’ll meet many people, too – instructors, experienced pilots or colleagues he’ll train with, have countless conversations with, and deepen his knowledge of aviation. He’ll join a circle of people who share dreams, goals, and passion. These people will vary in terms of age, but still, they all will be linked by an invisible thread of understanding, whereas age differences will be much smoother than outside the aviation industry.
During the training, the student pilot will be supervised by an instructor, which resembles a student-teacher relation known from schools. However, the instructor will expect the student pilot to get up early and to observe the schedule (training, particularly glider training, usually begins early in the morning), as well as to prepare equipment and the take-off efficiently, to keep the gliders or the airplane clean, and lastly, to work efficiently both individually and with other student-pilots during a flying day, so that the flight schedule is implemented efficiently and safely.
Owing to the strong focus on safety, aviation develops in student pilots – and future commercial pilots – traits and skills, such as: self-discipline, organisational and teamwork skills, resourcefulness, diligence, and foresight. Whereas in the air, during flight training that prepares the student pilot to solo flights, he learns to analyse the situation and to make decisions on his own with a deficit of time.
The path to becoming a commercial pilot
As already mentioned on the homepage, the path to becoming a commercial pilot is not an easy one, but it does lead to making your dreams come true and it’s worth the effort despite all the difficulties. Here you’ll find a detailed step-by-step description of the path one must cover in order to become a commercial pilot – read this manual all the way through to get a grasp on the stages and possibilities that await your child. Go from one step to another using buttons provided below each subsequent article.
At present, aviation market is growing at a very high speed. Owing to low prices, air travel becomes more and more accessible and the number of scheduled flights is increasing. This has translated into a growing demand for pilots. Every several years, airlines recruit a high number of pilots with at least 200 hours of flight time on airplanes with CPL(A), IR/ME (Instrument Rating on Multi Engine airplanes) who successfully passed theoretical ATPL(A) exams – and these requirements are very low.
Currently, we deal with a situation where numerous airlines are seeking pilots at the same time and problems begin to arise due to an insufficient number of high-quality applicants. Airlines fight for pilots who started their first PPL training only 2-3 years earlier. It’s a good opportunity to begin one’s aviation adventure.
The goal of getting all the ratings required by airlines can be achieved in two ways: one can either cover the training on his own (or by taking a loan) or get to an aviation college that will incur expenses for all the training courses. As a rule, aviation colleges require their candidates to already have some flight experience, therefore one must meet the costs of making a glider pilot licence (GPL) and a private pilot licence (PPL) first. The said costs amount to approx. EUR 1,300 for GPL and approx. EUR 6,000 for PPL.
If one manages to get to an aviation college, which is a great success, after two years’ studying he can become qualified to a flight training financed by the college. It’s not an easy thing to get listed on the training, though, since the level is very high and competition is usually strong.
In the case of a failure, one must reckon with covering training expenses by himself. The total cost for all the training courses from scratch until getting a commercial pilot licence (CPL) including Instrument Rating on Multi Engine (IR/ME) airplanes and theoretical ATPL(A) exams is EUR 30,000 – 35,000. You’ll find a detailed cost estimate with editable amounts here.
Is it worth it?
In my opinion, it is. With the first step on the path to aviation, a man’s life changes forever. Many people divide their lifetime into the years before the first flight training and the years after. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards”. This quote is just the perfect reflection of the fascination with flight so characteristic of those who experienced the state of flying. If your child becomes absorbed by aviation and you fuel his passion, share his interest and give him a sense of support, he won’t have any time to waste in bad company or on drug-taking. He’ll have something that gives a strong sense of life purpose – aviation and the dream of becoming a commercial pilot. If the child is persistent enough, he’ll enjoy his dream job, an intriguing life, and high income.
Salaries of airline pilots vary depending on a given airline and the type of airplane.
Beginner-pilots in smaller airlines that pay less get at least USD 20,000
per year, while in the case of captains, depending on their experience, the airplane, and the airline, it amounts to over USD 180,000 per year. These estimates vary depending on a given country, airline, type of airplane, and current situation on the market; however, these data show pilots’ remuneration to be generally quite good and relatively high – even in relation to considerable costs of flight trainings.
How to start?
If you decide to support your child in fulfilling his dreams about aviation, first sign the child up for a glider course at an aeroclub. Theoretical training begins in winter and early spring, whereas practical training starts as soon as it gets warmer outside and the condition of the airfield surface allows flights to be commenced. You will find all vital information, such as:
- How to become a pilot? – step by step (a must read)
- What to consider when choosing a training centre?
- What to expect in aviation? (a must read before contacting an aeroclub)