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What is the first step to becoming a pilot?

Decide you want to fly.

FAA's rules for getting a pilot's license (certificate) differ depending on the type of aircraft you fly. You can choose among airplanes, gyroplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloons, or airships. If you are interested in flying ultra light vehicles, you don't need a pilot's license.

You should also think about what type of flying you want to do. There are several different types of pilot's licenses, from student pilot all the way up to airline transport pilot. The information below describes the eligibility, training, experience, and testing requirements for Student Pilots, Recreational Pilots and Private Pilots.

The aviation industry is a multifaceted, dynamic career field that involves the interaction with, management of, and operation of aircraft. With the extensive career opportunities that exist within the aviation industry, there are many undergraduate programs for students to choose from. Regardless of whether a student majors in commercial aviation, aviation management or air traffic control their degree program will include studies that involve aviation safety, aviation law, and business management and aircraft operations. In addition to seeking a job position flying for an airline or corporate flight department, you can obtain employment in areas such as managing an airport, air traffic control, working in aviation for many government agencies or operating aviation related businesses.
Many Aviation careers require at least a bachelor degree in aviation science, civil aviation or a related field, with courses in aerodynamics, aircraft systems, navigation, human factors, aviation management, aviation law, air transportation and aviation safety. To be a military pilot, a degree is almost 99% required, and 100% required to become an officer.

Links to specific pilot types:

Links to more general information:

FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) current on10 Mar 2011:

FAA Airplane Flying Handbook:


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