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Jennifer Metelko

So glad to hear you're interested in being a pilot! I currently fly the CRJ 200/700/900 for SkyWest Airlines out of Chicago. I absolutely love my job and couldn't imagine doing anything else. We are coming up on a shortage so now is a good time. There are many ways to go about becoming a pilot.

1) Go to your local airport.

They'll go as quickly or as slowly as you need. If you can find an old retired pilot, these are always the best. Young, new instructors still know more than you but nothing beats a lot of experience. Cost will vary greatly depending upon where you live. Look for scholarships from aviation organizations such as Women in Aviation. You don't have to be female to join or be awarded scholarships. They award everything from private pilot scholarships to B737 type ratings. It's a valuable organization to be a part of. In aviation, networking is almost as important as knowing how to fly.

2) Go to a 4-year University

We have a saying in aviation....'nothing is more useless than a degree in aviation.' I highly advise against this route, UNLESS you have some pretty beefy scholarships. In that case, go forth. I have a degree in Economics (which is almost as useless! HA!), I got hired without a hitch. Employers want to see some kind of 4 yr degree, but they don't really care what kind it is. If you're looking to get a corporate job, this isn't as true. But then corporate jobs are hard to come by unless you know someone. If money is of no concern, go get a double major.

3) The Firehose to the Mouth Method!

These are places that promise really big things and fast results in a short period of time for a flashy price (ATP for example). They will get you your ratings quickly but you will lack gobs of valuable experience by doing so. These places have their own examiners and train for a specific examiner's test. I can't emphasize enough how much you potentially lose from going this route. It is, alas, taken by many people. The instructors are often recent graduates of the program - a brilliant business model. But they are recent graduates; the people teaching you often (not always) have very little experience. I have a very dear friend who came out of ATP and he's a wonderful pilot, but I believe that it is because although he may have been trained to pass a test, he did not approach it that way. He went out of his way to get as much experience and knowledge as he could. One major con to this route is that you cannot work at the same time. You eat, breath, and sleep flying.


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I am heavily biased towards the local airport route. You can change at any time if you don't like your instructor and you can do other things at the same time. Flight schools are also businesses and they are severely lacking in students right now so make sure to get yourself a good deal. They can't really afford to turn you away. And you shouldn't need to put all of your eggs in one basket. Get your private with one school and see how you like it. Nothing is worse that committing yourself to one school/instructor only to realise you don't like it. Lastly, find a mentor regardless of your path and if you do go to a pilot factory, resist the mentality that you only need to learn as much as is needed to pass the test. This will only hurt you in the long run!

Good luck, please let me know if you have other questions.

Answered 3 years ago

Jennifer Metelko
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Thomas Bissland

I would love to do this as well! If I wanted to do this, I would start at small local airports first. In Tulsa, OK, they have the acclaimed Spartan School of Aeronautics, which is at a local airport. Start small, if you don't really care for it, move on to a bigger college.

Answered 3 years ago

Thomas Bissland