A possible realitycheck PDF Print E-mail
Pilot Education - Prior Starting

There are many jokes in the industry of aviation, but the following two jokes below kind of gives you a hint about what kind of species a "pilot" is.

  • Once there where an old experienced pilot who was asked time after time by young eager folks: »Should I become a pilot?«  - the answer was always the same: »No!«. A friend of the old pilot noticed that and asked him: »Why do you always say "No!" when people ask you if they should become pilots?«»Well, if I say no to them and they still become pilots, they are made of the right stuff« ..
  • A new pilot starts his/her career carrying two bags, one full of luck, the other empty of experience. The trick is to fill up the empty one of experience before the other bag full of luck runs out ..

So what is the point with these jokes? Well, if you are a rational thinking human being, don't become a pilot. You need to be a bit crazy spending a vast amount of your own money on an uncertain future. You have to be 100% convinced with yourself or pretty close, that becoming a pilot is your future, 80% is not enough.

I have been told repetitive times, that achieving certificates and ratings only gives you the right to fly, it does not mean that you know how to fly in real life. Experience will give you that knowledge. And it makes sense and explains the reason why many operators, both large and small ones, often demand among different requirements, about 3-10 times the amount of experience in flying hours from pilots applying for work, compared to what you end up with when you finish your education from the pilot school. And that will be one of the hardest tasks in a pilots’ career, to achieve experience and hours after graduation.


DanCopter Eurocopter EC-155

- It's the Catch 22, need hours to get the job, need a job to gain the hours.

Many people see a pilots job as an untouchable job and they are just soooo lucky. And it is a great job, but there are also some downsides to think about before one should become a pilot, such as:

  • Medical requirements and checks once or twice a year and with the thought that tomorrow the doctor can ground you anytime from flying forever, not just during the checks.
  • Once or twice a year being checked for your flying and decision making skills. Failure could equal no more flying.
  • Having to spend a vast amount of money to achieve the certificates (around € 60-100.000 or more).
  • - and still having absolutely no guarantee whatsoever of getting and keeping a job.
  • Family life. This is often no eight-to-three job with weekends off, especially not in the beginning of ones career. Aviation always flies, incl. Christmas and other holidays. You might be gone for days or weeks, possibly even months if you are being temporarily stationed away from your home base. Does your family back you up on this?

And not to forget:

  • There is a huge responsibility you have as a pilot to your passengers. Cargo, aircraft, yourself and 3rd persons and materials in the air and on the ground. You are the boss, your decisions count, and you are responsible for the outcome.
  • The extreme situations you can be put in when you least expect it, where freezing/panic and momentarily lack of proper response could worsen the situation severely. This job requires 100% professionalism at all time. We don't have a reset button to start the game all over again.
  • On larger aircrafts, the most important task is not the flying itself. As an old wise airline pilot once told me: ».. the most important job you have as a pilot is to sit and wait, wait for the shit to blow up, that something goes wrong, THEN it is your time to show ALL the training and knowledge you have achieved. That is the pilots’ most precious task. It's not the actual flying, these days the computers do that for you ..«. And most people get back in the saddle after a severe incident or accident, a few don't.
  • Do not think that private pleasure flying (PPL) is the same as professional commercial flying. It is not, because you, as a commercial pilot, are being paid to fly so you do not decide how, what and when to fly. Your customer or boss does. Commercial flying is first of all a job and a lot different from private flying. And having been a passenger certainly does not give you an idea what it is like being a pilot. That would be the same saying that just because you have watched a movie, you know what it is like to be an actor.
  • During and after the education there will be a stack of books and loads of papers to read and remember. If you have difficulties about reading, rethink your idea of becoming a pilot.

Now you should have an idea why being a pilot is a well paid job - or at least it should be.

A pilot is no superhuman and it's not rocket science we are dealing with, but you should be clear and realistic about what it takes before starting a flying career, before you start spending your or someone elses money. If you're still hanging on, well - welcome to the club. It's a blast to fly smiley. A tough unstable business, but fun, challenging and exciting too.

A last joke to emphasize it all: It's better being down here wishing being up there than being up there wishing being down here. That says pretty much all that is needed.



Certificate: It is the written approval from the authorities that you as a pilot are approved to fly whatever is listed in your certificate. A certificate is time limited and has to be re-issued after checks. Rating: It is a written approval from the authorities that you as a pilot can exercise your certificate with additional privileges for whatever the rating describes, for example an Instrument Rating giving you the rights to fly in poor weather solely on instruments. A rating is time limited and has to be re-issued after checks. Operator: It is usually your employer. It is the company that with the approvals from the authorities is allowed to carry out the work for a customer. An operator can also be your customer, for example if you have been leased out, usually with an aircraft from your employer, to another operator that is now a customer that has hired you to carry out the needed work usually because they do not have the capacity themselves to do the needed work. PPL: Private Pilot License, that means flying for your own pleasure and the pilot who has a Private certificate can not require a full payment for the entire flight, only ask the passengers to share the actual expenses of the flight and the passengers have to return with the pilot to the departing airport and they have to be known people of the pilot.