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Flight School: Military or Civilian?


OK,so you’re dreaming about becoming a pilot. You drive by the airport flight school and gaze longingly at the line of airplanes parked out front. You watch airplanes fly over and wonder where they are going. You’ve seen “Top Gun” or similar aviator movies 10 times or more…in short you’ve got the bug and you’ve got it bad. You’ve decided to take the plunge and learn to fly. Now what? You have to find a flight school!

If you want to become a professional pilot then you may want to consider military flight school. For one thing learning to fly is very expensive and Uncle Sam will pay for it in return for your service to your country. You will have to work your tail off and meet some pretty high standards but the rewards are great for those who follow this career path.

If you decide to go through military flight school, you will have to be in tip top physical shape and have to have 20/20 vision uncorrected. Training is rigorous and not everyone makes it through. Most branches of the U.S. Military require that you are an officer, so a college degree is a must as well as ROTC or similar program.

Civilian Flight School – Part 141 vs. Part 61

If you decide that the military is not for you then you will have to choose a civilian flight school to complete the required training. There are two types of flight school to choose from. You can choose an FAA approved flight school, also known as a “part 141 flight school” or the other choice is an un-approved school or a “part 61 flight school.”

Part 141 refers to the part of the Federal Aviation Regulations that you will train under. A Part 141 flight school is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) because they meet prescribed standards with respect to equipment, facilities, personnel, and curricula. Because they are approved they are able to send their students for check-rides with less flight experience. If you are training to become a commercial pilot, this reduction in experience can lead to substantial savings in money over time.

flight school decisionWhile part 61 schools are “un-approved” that is not to say that the level of training that they provide is not as good as that of an approved school. There are many un-approved schools that offer top quality training. You must do your due diligence to determine the quality of the school. You will want to talk to the owners or managers, some of the flight instructors and a few of the other students currently training with the airports flight school before making a final decision to use them. This is also true of part 141 flight schools.

If you are learning to fly for the sport of it or for the utilitarian aspect of it, then a part 61 flight school may be the perfect choice for you. They will provide an instructor pilot and rent you an aircraft for a specified period of time to complete your flying lesson. They will normally work with your schedule to make it as convenient for you as possible.

Ultimately, evryone is different and you’ll have to decide which path is the right one for your situation. If you must wear corrective lenses, the you won’t be able to go the military path. If you do not have a college degree or the money to pay for college and flight training but can pass all of the physical requirements it may the right choice for you. Either choice you make the end goal is to qualify for certification to fly airplanes. Good luck and enjoy the journey.

Flight School Lists

Click here on the Flight School hyperlink for a list of colleges that offer aviation degrees. Call their counselors to find out if your flight training can be funded with student loans!

If you want to fly in the military, you will have to speak to a recruiter. Click on these links to visit their pages.

Aviation Careers in the Navy
Aviation Careers in the Marines
Aviation Careers in the Army
Aviation Careers in the Air Force
Aviation Careers in the Air National Guard

If you are already a pilot click here to learn how to land a Dream Pilot Job!

Official Pilot and Astronaut Ground Crew Flight School Jacket


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