The Aspiring Pilot: Becoming a Pilot
Not everyone understands what a blessing it is to climb into the wind at 160 knots, ascend to thousands of feet above the ground and burst to brilliant sunshine, while the whole world just goes on beneath. It’s a privilege only a pilot gets every now and then.
I definitely hope that you understand clearly that becoming a pilot is not just a matter of ‘mouth-opening’ determination or dream; it requires a great deal of hard-earned work. This career has one of the most tasking educational processes in the industry and should be known that success at every step of the way is mandatory. Why don’t we go into the basics?
Basically, the pilot training program which you will find in most standard aviation institutes and academies takes a student through;
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In this phase, the student receives the basic flight training which includes, Ground school lessons, flight aerodynamics, aircraft control, and solo flights. Obviously, the take-off and landing lessons do not begin your training in this section, as long as you are not piloting a ‘Toy-Aircraft’, you must be fully aware of all aircraft control systems and management to avoid any form of disaster; I wouldn’t want a crash on my first solo flight, there might not be another chance at it. That’s why the ground school lesson is very important and requires that the student masters it perfectly. It also comprises of flight aerodynamics; it is a lot easier to control your Bird when you know how it flies.
Well in case you don’t know, pilots also have bad days on the job, that’s when weather is a problem. You don’t want to be flying in bad weather conditions where you can’t see where or how far the airport, runway, horizon, clouds or even navigational landmarks are; in short, poor visibility. The only pilots who have the ‘guts’ to fly under these conditions are instrument pilots, and trust me; it is one of the most interesting part of the job. Master it, and you can fly under crazy weather conditions. It involve mastering different instrument approach charts, missed approaches, Very High Frequency Omni directional Range (VOR) approaches, Holding patterns, and Instrument landing Systems(ILS) approaches.
You must have successfully completed your student pilot lessons and earned your solo certificate before graduating into this phase; there is no point learning to drive with a trailer truck if you cannot drive a Volkswagen beetle. The knowledge gained from the ground school lessons and student pilot phase are some of those things your examiner will be looking to test during your private pilot check ride (PPC), so it is of utmost importance that the student pilot phase was diligently mastered. The private pilot lessons include further training in fundamental piloting skills, Basic Aircraft maneuvers, navigations, Traffic patterns, and Air traffic control. Apparently, the skills acquired from this phase enhance a smooth ride through the rest of your training. At the end of this phase, the student must have being able to fly a propeller driven aircraft or multi engine propellers such as the Cesena sky hawk or the Beechcraft Baron on his/her own without the presence of his/her instructor(solo flights).
Commercial training focuses on advanced flight manoeuvres. This set of lessons moves you up to a new class of aircraft. Operating a complex aircraft and more precise flying skills is the theme for this set of lessons. Using advanced equipment is important also, so becoming familiar with how to operate the Global Positioning System (GPS) is an essential skill required. This phase consists of complex aircraft operations, short field Take-off and landings and Emergency Procedures. Once this phase is mastered, you are few steps away from working for any airline you so wish.
Airline Transport Pilot
Obviously, these phase brings into play everything that has being learnt right from the ground school lessons (student pilot phase) to the advanced aircraft checkouts and operation in the commercial pilot phase. On completion of this course phase, you will be emerging into one of the most rewarding parts of the job; an airline Pilot. Descents, energy managements, and advanced aircraft fleets are under study in this phase. In this field though, there is nothing like ‘Jack of all trade’, you have to be type rated on each aircraft type before you are licensed to fly them, it’s going to be a tough call if you want to ‘know it all’.
Every step of the way is obviously important and not only is it expensive to pursue this career, it is also tasking in every way, and so it’s worth knowing what you want and have a clear head to pursue it. I will be around with very many articles giving you help and advice through some aspects of the learning process. You have links all around the pages to give you access to books, software and guide that might be of help during your learning. If it is a dream, it can come true. If it is a hobby, you will love doing it; I think a pilot has the best job in the world.
Please feel free to drop your comments and questions in the columns provided. They will be duly appreciated and attended to.