Flight School

Spread your wings and learn to fly

For centuries, humans have yearned to fly. Today, it's possible to earn a very good living doing just that. The aviation industry offers some of the most exciting careers, including airline pilot, copilot and flight engineer. Most pilots transport cargo and passengers, but as many as 1 in 5 are employed by other industries, such as agriculture (dusting crops and spreading seeds).

High profile yet high risk careers include directing firefighting efforts, tracking criminals, monitoring traffic, and rescuing and evacuating injured persons.

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Getting Educated

There are a number of different ways you can get aviation training. The local airport or flying club may have facilities for training, including training aids or individual flight instructors.

Finding the best flight school (or the one that best suits your needs) requires a bit of research. The Internet is a great place to start. You may also want to look under "flight school" in your local Yellow Pages. Most flight schools are relatively small, private operations, but there are some colleges and universities that offer flight training.

Make sure you find a school that's FAA approved. Non-approved schools don't necessarily provide inferior training, but with an FAA-approved school, you can be sure the quality is there. You'll also have to complete fewer flying hours with an FAA-approved school - for example, in order to earn a Private Pilot Certificate, you'll need 35 hours from an approved school and 40 hours from a non-approved school. If you live in a larger center, you may have your choice of several FAA-approved schools.

If you want to be a commercial pilot, attending an FAA-approved school is a must. In order to fly any commercial plane in the United States, you must have a commercial pilot's license and an instrument rating from the FAA. In order to qualify for these, you must have 250 hours of flight experience (though your required experience may be reduced if you meet certain requirements).

Another option many prospective pilots choose is to enlist in the U.S. Forces, where air training will be included in service time.

Job Prospects

If you're interested in pursuing a career as an airline pilot, bear in mind that there are significant medical, physical and training requirements. The job outlook for commercial pilots is still relatively good, despite the fact that the air industry has experienced a few economic setbacks in recent years.

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