Becoming a Pilot: Preparations Before Joining a Flight School

By  //  November 25, 2022

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Many young people dream of joining a flight school and becoming a pilot, but the process isn’t as easy as one might think. You can become a pilot after going through rigorous preparation and training sessions, and if you put in the extra effort, you might end up with a scholarship, too.

As with other schools, the process of becoming a pilot begins with joining a flight school. But is the process truly that easy? Before joining the flight school, you might have to take some preparations.

Below we have listed some important steps and details you must follow as preparations before you can join a flight school.

Obtain the Basic Skills

Soft skills such as concentration and communication are mandatory during flight training. If you’re someone who struggles with concentration and gets distracted easily, you need to start developing your concentration for optimum results.

During the take-off and landing of the aircraft, the pilots need to maneuver the aircraft by following specific instructions. They must concentrate if they want to ensure safe take-off and landing.

Moreover, pilots need good communication skills. While on the ground or flying, the pilots need constant communication with air traffic control. While this training will have its specifics, you need overall great communication skills beforehand so that you can quickly grasp the communication while on the job. 

Learn the Coursework

Many flight schools require you to learn some theoretical material before you can enter a cockpit. These are basic coursework and they teach you the ins and outs of flying and other relevant details.

Some schools let you fly side by side with these lessons, while in most others, you must finish certain coursework, obtain a certificate after passing tests, and then enter flight training.

Some schools also allow you to start studying the material even before school has started. So check with your school to see which options they allow. 

Many flight training schools equip their students with other necessary courses along with flying. California Aeronautical University, a flight school in Arizona, says, “CAU is an FAA-approved flight school that provides not only the essentials of flight training but also offers programs in aviation maintenance and business administration.”  These courses undoubtedly add more value to your certificate.

Fly with Other Pilots

In a flight training school, you will find many other trainee pilots. Some of them will have completed the coursework and entered the actual flight training. You could ask your school to let you fly with the other pilots so that you can learn a thing or two from them.

The process isn’t all that complex. You sit at the passenger side of the cockpit and note their actions and communication from beginning to end. Keep a notebook or checklist with you to take note of what and how they’re doing it. After a couple of lessons, you will learn a lot about flying, and it’ll be easier for you to follow along once the actual training has begun.

Learn to Watch the Weather

If you want complete control over your aircraft and ensure safe flights throughout your life, you must learn to watch the weather. An aircraft will fly based on the weather they’re in. The wind speed and air temperature usually have the most grasp on the performance of the aircraft.

Therefore, pilots should understand how to control the aircraft in different weather and also get a detailed report about the weather before starting the flight.

You can read any textbook to understand weather patterns and how each of them is formed. Alongside this, you should learn to interpret the radar summary and surface analysis chart.

Practice with Simulators

Before starting school, you can practice with simulators to learn the basics of flying. You need access to a computer with a good graphics card to run these simulators. However, an average graphics card can also run the simulator but it will be of low resolution.

These simulators are best for learning hand and eye coordination, basic aerodynamics, and different flight mechanics.

If you don’t have access to a computer and don’t want to invest in it, you can download a flight simulator app on your phone and learn the basics. It will help enrich your knowledge and you will grasp it faster during the actual training.

Practice Communication with Air Traffic Control

Communicating with air traffic control is a part and parcel for pilots. As a trainee pilot, you have to dedicate a large portion of the total training to learning the communication method.

You can do it even before the actual training has started. Listen to the ATC broadcast, and learn the flight jargon. Keep notes regularly, and practice with other pilots. You can also record the commands in your voice and practice with them.

The aviation industry uses a set of phonetics to communicate, and learning them before starting school can give you a much-needed head start.

Enhance Your Network

Another way to learn before school is to become friends with other pilots and enhance your network. Every trained pilot was a student once, and their experiences with schooling and flight training can come of great use to you.

Ask them questions about the basics and their experiences, and how they tackled challenges when faced with adverse situations.

You might not have to look further if you have a pilot in your family, friend circles, or acquaintances. However, if you don’t know any pilots, you can join any local flight club and start networking there.

They are the best place for gathering authentic information from trained pilots and imparting some of your knowledge to other trainee pilots.

Prepare Necessary Documents for Use

You need a handful of documents to enroll in a flight school, so preparing them beforehand is mandatory. The first document is your proof of citizenship. You can obtain it through your social security card, your driver’s license, your passport, or your birth certificate.

Your flight instructor will verify your document and enter it onto their logbook, denoting that they have endorsed your identification. If you’re not a citizen of the United States, you can join the Alien Flight Student Program and get permission to fly under strict conditions.

You’ll also need a medical certificate that will be valid for up to 5 years. If you’re aiming for a professional flying certificate, you should go for the first or second-class medical examination. This eliminates any chances of disqualification due to medical reasons during your training.

Joining a flight school and learning to fly are dreams for many. However, due to the complexity of the training and the rigorous process, many students back off before they can fully grasp it. Choosing the right flight school is also important for success. As flight training is costly, pay close attention to the reviews of the school, the training curriculum, and the expertise of the instructors before picking it for your training.