Fold one corner down, fold the other down. Fold the paper in half, hot-dog style. Fold one side over, flip, fold the other. What do you have? A rudimentary flying object that nearly every student learns to make by third grade. For most students, a paper plane is as far as their flying career will go. However, some students continue their aeronautic pursuit by earning their own private pilot licenses even before they earn their high school diplomas.
Some schools are beginning to include aviation in their curriculums. These classes help students explore their interest in aviation and prepare for pilot exams. Aviation classes do not just breed pilots; students who are interested in aeronautical engineering can also gain much from learning about flight from aviation classes. Students practice realistic flying scenarios on simulators and get the opportunity to even fly real planes on the weekends. Callie Lawfer, a student from a Florida high school that has recently introduced an aviation program is anxiously awaiting her private pilot license. She says:
“A private pilot license is not only an amazing opportunity for future adventures, it’s a foot in the door for some incredible job opportunities. Recreational aviation is a huge community of people with a common passion for flying. Being up in the air is like no other feeling; it is better than any other high you’ll ever get.”
There are three levels of pilot licenses: Private, Commercial, and Airline Transport. A private pilot license allows a certified person to fly a powered non-commercial airplane, with no compensation by any passengers. Whether you love to fly or are seeking training for a future career, earning a private pilot license is rewarding.
A private pilot license is the first step on the road to multiple careers. The commercial airline pilot industry allows its professionals to travel all over the world and be exposed to beautiful landscapes and interesting cultures. Similarly, a commercial pilot could open his or her own private business and be compensated for transportation. The military is also a great option for patriotic people who love to fly and want to serve their country. Entering the military with a private pilot license lays a strong base of knowledge for passing military pilot certifications. If a pilot career is not in the cards, flying for pure enjoyment is a great hobby to get into. It not only allows freedom, but it also can help you skip annoying airports on your own trips!
To earn a private pilot license, one must first obtain a student pilot license to fly solo, without an instructor present. The first requirement of a student pilot license is 16 years of age. It also requires a medical examination and the ability to read and write in English. After receiving a student pilot license, real flight training can begin with an instructor. An instructor will teach you everything about flying, first on the safety of the ground and then in the open air. After an instructor deems the student pilot competent, the instructor will give the student pilot an endorsement to fly solo. Flying solo is where the path to the private license really begins.
According the the Federal Aviation Administration, a private pilot must be at least 17 years old. Along with the student pilot requirements, one must acquire 40 hours of flight time. At least 10 hours must be solo flights and at least 5 solo flights must be cross-country, from one airport to another. Yet, these hours are not free unless you own your own plane. Renting a plane for practice hours and hiring an instructor amounts to nearly $5,000. Luckily there are generous scholarships for students pursuing their pilot’s license. Once the hours have been accumulated, the final step is passing three tests: written, oral, and practical. These tests would be an easy feat after successfully conquering the open air!
Few high schoolers can say that they have been in the cockpit of a plane, and even fewer can say that they have flown a plane on their own. There are many unique hobbies to try out, but flying is a liberating hobby to pursue that can have lasting benefits for your career or your own enjoyment!