Every pilot needs a good flight bag.

Whether you’re jumping in a Cessna for your very first training flight, or you’re a pilot with thousands of hours under your belt, this article will help you find the best flight bag to meet your needs.

Before we jump into the flight bag reviews, however, let’s talk about what makes a good flight bag.

What to Look for in a Flight Bag

They type of flight bag you buy will largely depend on the type of flying you do.

If you’re a brand new student pilot, you may want a larger bag to carry all of the extra study materials you’ll need when you’re at the airport.

If you just fly occasionally, or always go on short day trips, you can usually get away with a smaller bag that will just fit your headset and iPad/charts.

Of course, if you’re an airline pilot, or about to be one, you’ll want a much larger bag for those overnight flights.

Overall, you’ll want a bag made out of a durable material that won’t wear down easily.

What to Carry in Your Flight Bag

Every pilot has different opinions on what the essential flight bag gear is but in general, you’ll always have these items:

  1. Pilot certificate and Medical
  2. Headset
  3. Backup Batteries (if needed)
  4. iPad
  5. Extra charts
  6. Pencil/Pen
  7. Flashlight
  8. Kneeboard
  9. Water & snacks
  10. Sunglasses
  11. Fuel Tester

As you look at bags, it may help to write out a list of everything you’d like to be able to carry with you. Some pilots also like to have a backup radio and other emergency/backup gear.

Whatever you decide, make sure you buy a bag with enough storage space to comfortably fit everything.

Now that you know what gear you need to store in your flight bag, let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market.

Best Flight Bags for Student Pilots

Editors Pick: Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag Review

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The Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag is a sturdy and highly convenient flight bag that’s easy to carry in one hand but also offers ample space for everything you could need.

There’s a separate pouch for a water bottle for easy access, or a back-up radio pocket. There’s also a fuel tester pocket, and 2 external chart pockets.

The fleece-lined headset pockets make sure that your headset will be kept in place, while the adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry around the airport.

Dimensions are 12”x10.5”x9”.

What’s great about this bag is just how clearly it has been designed specifically for pilots – with lots of thoughtful compartments and design features. The manufacturer Flight Outfitters is well known for creating premium pilot products, and this bag is no different.

The bag is also particularly sturdy and compact, meaning it doesn’t get in your way and you’ll never have to worry about damaging your possessions.

The bag comes in a few different colors, mainly with a black body and colored accents. The fleece interior is lined orange to make it easier to find in the dark.

The drawback is that this bag is relatively small and with very specific pockets. That is to say that it isn’t quite as versatile as some other bags on this list. Some buyers might also prefer a leather aesthetic.


  • Compact Size for essentials
  • Popular with private pilot students
  • Well-thought out pockets
  • Extremely durable


  • Small in size
  • Can’t be easily cleaned
  • Only one color option available


Given it’s compact size, adequate storage space and durable material this flight bag is perfect for both student pilots and flight instructors.

Flight Gear HP iPad Bag Review

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As he name suggests, the Flight Gear HP iPad bag was designed around the iPad. And, given that nearly every pilot you’ll meet flies with an iPad or tablet, there’s a huge market for this type of bag.

As you might expect then, the bag features a large, padded iPad pocket that has a handy pass-through slot for charging.

It likewise comes with the usual headset hanger, water bottle, and fuel tester pockets, organizer pocket (with key ring) and more.

Its compact size once again ensures that it won’t get in the way, and makes it perfect for fitting into cockpits or under chairs.

The front of the bag unzips entirely, which means you’ll be able to easily get in and access all the things you need.

Measurements are 12”x7.5”x132. This makes it just slightly bigger than the previous entry.

The bag only comes in one color, which is black and cyan.

Like the previous option, this bag is very structured with very clearly defined compartments for specific roles. If you hang your headphones inside, this doesn’t leave a lot of space for additional items – such as lunch or a few books.


  • Good looking, Premium Bag
  • Many Functional Compartments
  • Front-Opening


  • Somewhat inflexible
  • Only comes in one color
  • Less resilient than the previous offering from Flight Outfitters


The Flight Gear HP iPad Bag is another excellent option for pilots who really don’t need to carry too much stuff on their flight and around the airport. It’s a well designed bag that makes just about every pocket easy to access.

AirClassics Dispatch Pilot Bag Review

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This bag is the smallest on the list and less rigid than the previous two options. It functions just like a standard shoulder bag. This will appeal to some readers and not others.

While it isn’t rigid, it is made from a durable 600D polyester and the interior tablet pocket is also padded.

The interior is also very spacious with two separate pockets including the main compartment and smaller area for charts and any other small documents. The large space provides room for headsets, along with one or two other items.

You’ll also find a front pocket with space for pens and spare batteries, side slots for fuel testers, flashlights, and water bottles, and an adjustable strap. Note that the water bottle pocket is not specifically intended for that role and won’t fit all bottles.

The interior is lined blue to make it easier to find what you’re looking for in the dark.

While the front compartment is front opening, the two main pockets need to be accessed from the top.

Dimensions are 11.5”x9”x4.5”.


  • Compact Bag for the bare essentials
  • Blue Interior for easy visibility
  • Looks more like a “regular” bag, making it slightly more versatile


  • More difficult to access everything
  • Fewer specific pockets


The AirClassics Dispatch Flight Bag is perfect for the pilot on a budget. It can easily store the essential gear you need for your flights. If you’ll be using this bag as a student pilot, you may want to consider also bringing a backpack to the airport for any additional study materials you need for your lessons.

Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag Review

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This bag is a little different from some of the others on the list so far. This is shaped more like a gym bag, being a longer and more oblong design.

That said, it’s still a rather compact bag and the simple handle makes it easy to carry in one hand.

This shape gives it a much larger main compartment, which the manufacturer describes as “cavernous” (perhaps a tad generous!).

There’s certainly a lot of room in here for books, a kneeboard, and some extra gear compared to the first three bags.

It also comes with many of the benefits you associate with the Flight Gear brand, such as a high visibility interior for easily finding things in the dark, exterior pockets for fuel testers and water bottles, and a comfortable padded strap.

That said, it only comes in a single color and has fewer “specialty” pockets for pilots. It also lacks any additional reinforcement that would make it more durable.

This is a simpler, more affordable design. It will do the job for most, but perhaps lacks the wow factor of some options here, or the extreme practicality.


  • Design provides large interior space
  • Still easy to carry one-handed/store
  • Affordable


  • More difficult to access everything
  • Fewer specific pockets


he Flight Gear HP Crosswind is an excellent bag for pilot’s who want a small bag but still need some extra gear that won’t fit in the smaller bags mentioned above.

In particular, this bag is great for flight students who have a small stack of books and manuals they need to haul around every day at the airport.

Best Flight Bags for Private Pilots

Myogloflight PLC Pro Flight Bag Backpack Review

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This bag is taller than many of the others we have looked at, at 16”x10”x3”.

This gives it a shape more like a suitcase or even a backpack – and it can be worn on the pack or attached to a separately sold “luggage cart.”

This versatility makes it a strong choice for a lot of pilots.

Likewise, the amount of storage it affords will also be very beneficial for many. The entire front compartment opens up, allowing easy access to the roomy interior.

Here, you’ll be able to store an iPad in a pocket, as well as numerous other gadgets and tools in the mesh pockets on the opposite side. These are perfect for headphones, cables, chargers, and more. A handy strap is also perfect for fuel-testers.

The only downsides here are the price, and the fact that it is somewhat large, meaning you’ll need a bit more storage space for it.


  • Lots of storage
  • Versatile system can be worn as a backpack or pulled on a luggage cart
  • Plenty of pockets


  • One of the most expensive options
  • Bottom of bag isn’t reinforced

BrightLine Flex B7 Flight – Echo Review

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The B7 Flight-Echo is a somewhat different beast compared with the other options on this list so far.

This is a much larger bag that has a thicker depth and a whole lot of pockets. Seriously. This bag has pockets everywhere.

In fact, it has three separate attachment points for shoulder straps – and even three pockets right on the front!

It definitely took a while to remember what pocket was storing what.

The bag comes with a SPE instead of a SPA, a big adjustable water bottle pocket. It also has a particularly strong main handle with slots for a J-hook.

The B7 Flight is designed specifically for airline captains, but is suitable for everyone else too. The huge number of pockets, compartments, and zippers means there is plenty of room for all the gear you need.

And with a whole lot of storage space, it’s ideal for a large number of personal uses as well. This will easily hold an iPad AND a keyboard, including cases. You can even fit a 13″ MacBook Pro in here, along with a ton of adapters and documents!

And you can actually fit two sets of headphones in!

Despite all this, it’s actually rather compact and easy to carry in one hand – though it might create a few more space challenges than some of the other options we’ve looked at so far.

It’s tough, though it isn’t specially reinforced as some other options on this list are.

One other handy feature on this bag is its ability to separate into different bags. So if you’re headed to the airport to fly IFR and need more gear you can bring the whole thing. If it’s a VFR day, you can separate the bag and take just take a third of the bag.

No other brand on the list has this unique functionality.


  • Premium bag that’s extremely versatile
  • Huge number of compartments
  • Ability to split into separate bags


  • Can get rather heavy when fully loaded with gear
  • Not specially reinforced
  • Higher priced bag


The BrightLine Flex B7 Flight Echo bag was designed for airline pilots. So if you’re headed to the airlines (or already there) this may be a great option for you. If your the type of private pilot who always wants to prepared for anything (and thus need lots of gear) this bag is perfect for you.

Flight Gear HP Tailwind Pilot Backpack Review

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Flight Gear HP make great bags for pilots, and this flight bag backpack is no different.

If you need to haul more stuff around the airport this backpack is exactly what you need.

Like other bags, the entire front will zip open to provide easy access. Here, there’s ample internal space for a headset which can remain suspended and protected.

There are iPad sleeves, and enough space around the rest to fit a host of other items.


  • Opens all the way
  • Easy to Carry
  • Suspends headphones in the pocket


  • Headphones pocket takes up a lot of space

Flight Outfitters Brush Pilot Bag Review

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This bag comes in a light canvas that has leather accents.

It stands out immediately from the crowd thanks to its color scheme, while the leather elements make it feel premium without limiting the practicality.

The padded headphone pockets (two of them!) mean you don’t waste previous internal storage, of which there is plenty.

The interior is large enough to store a lot of additional items, while the metal reinforced handle is enough to hold weightier items.

This is another bag from the excellent Flight Outfitters, and again comes with a lot of extremely thoughtful design features.

For example, the Brush Pilot Bag features a pass through strap on the back which lets you easily slide it over rolling luggage handles. The orange interior meanwhile makes it easy to find things in a dark cockpit.

We love this bag, but it’s a shame the design won’t be to all tastes.


  • Premium design
  • Reinforced handle
  • Suspends headphones in the pocket


  • Headphones pocket takes up a lot of space

Lightspeed Aviation – The Markham, Leather Flight Bag Review

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For this writer, a flight bag should be a premium item for a successful professional. And for this writer, a premium bag should be leather.

That’s what makes this such a standout option, along with many other excellent features such as the center zipper that opens to reveal a large interior compartment that is more than spacious enough for headsets, charts, and all your other gear.

The front is divided with an organizer pocket for useful items and documents. A zippered rear pocket is great for storing iPads, and the side pockets are ideal for water bottles and fuel checkers – or you can use it for storing a transceiver thanks to the handy antenna-on storage feature.

There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can check out the bag first and return it if it’s not for you.

Of course, there is a trade-off with leather and this option is not as structured or reinforced as some others. It’s also not likely to hold up as well to the weather. But if you want something really premium with lots of pilot-centric features, the Markham is a cut above.


  • Lots of highly useful compartments and pockets
  • Great size and comfortable to carry
  • Extremely premium design


  • Expensive

Have a flight bag recommendation we missed? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out the best books for pilots and add them to your flight bag!

An airspace is a region of air that is available for flying aircraft. However, the precise nature of aircraft that can fly in these regions, and the circumstances under which they are permitted, will vary from one area to another.

As with land, the air above the ground is generally owned by private landowners, governments, and states. There are certain laws and restrictions that therefore must control the use of flying vehicles in these areas.

There are two general categories of airspace: controlled and uncontrolled.

Uncontrolled airspace is airspace that ATC does not control.

Controlled airspace is exactly that, airspace regulated by ATC. This includes Prohibited, Restricted, and the many different airspace classes.

Controlled Airspace Classifications

You want to be transmitting and listening on the correct frequency at all times. Write down all applicable frequencies and have them readily available for your flight. It’s going to make you much less stressed, and can save you from an embarrassing transmission as well. Be sure to have extra pens or pencils on standby in your flight bag.

Class A Airspace

Class A airspace is the airspace from 18,000 feet mean sea level (MSL), up to and including flight level 600. This includes the airspace within 12 nautical miles from the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska.

Operation in class A airspace must be conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR), except in very specific circumstances.

Class B Airspace

Class B airspace is the airspace between the ground level and 10,000 feet MSL around the country’s busiest airports. Here flight is extremely regulated in order to contend with the high amount of air traffic. Air traffic control clearance is required for all aircraft operating in the area. The configuration of each Class B airspace is unique in that the area gets larger as your altitude increases.

Airspace chart class B airspace

Class C Airspace

Class C is the airspace from the surface to 4,000 feet above airport elevation in the regions around airports with operational control towers and radar approach control. These are also airports which have a particular number of IFR operations/passenger enplanements.

Once again, the configurations of these airspaces are individually tailored to each area. That said, Class C airspace normally covers a five nautical mile radius around the airport that extends from the ground level to 1,200 feet and an outer radius of ten NM from 1,200 feet to 4,000 feet.

All aircraft in class C airspace are required to engage in radio communication with the air traffic control before entering the airspace and while they are within the airspace.

Airspace chart class C airspace

Class D Airspace

Class D airspace is between the surface and 2,500 feet above airport elevation at airports with operational control towers. Like others, Class D airspace is configured individually to the airport.

IAPs (arrival extensions for instrument approach procedures) can be either Class D or Class E airspace.

As with Class C, aircraft must establish a two-way communication with ATC facilities that offer air traffic services prior to entering and once within the airspace.

Airspace chart class D airspace

Class E Airspace

This is essentially a catch all. It’s the controlled airspace that is not categorized as class A, B, C, or D. Most of the airspace located across the US is designated as Class E. The aim is to cover sufficient airspace to enable the safe control and separation of aircraft in IFR operations.

You can learn more about the different types of Class E airspace by referring to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

Most charts depict all areas of Class E airspace with bases under 14,500 feet MSL. Where this is not illustrated, the class E airspace is still assumed to begin at 14,500 feet MSL.

Class E airspace base is 1,200 feet AGL in most areas. However, it is also commonly at 700 feet or even at the surface.

Usually, this airspace will extend up to 18,000 feet MSL (not inclusive). Anything above FL 600 is Class E airspace.

Not sure if you have all the gear you need for flight training? Take a look at our list of essential gear every pilot should carry in their flight bag.

Uncontrolled Airspace

Class G Airspace

Class G Airspace is the uncontrolled airspace classification. This means that the airspace is not included under class A, B, C, D, or E. It extends from the surface to the base of the overlying airspace.

ATC has no authority nor responsibility for air traffic control in these regions. However, pilots still need to adhere to the visual flight rules (VFR) minimums.

Special Use Airspace

Some airspace is restricted to certain activities or there are limitations on aircraft activities in the area. This is known as either special use airspace or special area of operation (SAO). In some of these areas there are restrictions placed on the mixed use of the airspace.

Special use airspace, also called special area of operation (SAO), is a classification for airspace where certain activities must be confined. In other cases, it may be an area where limitations can be imposed on aircraft operations that fall outside the remit of those activities. In some cases, these can create limitations on the mixed use of airspace.

Airspace chart special use airspace

Special use airspaces are depicted on charts, and should also include the name, number, and effective altitude.

The most common forms of special use airspace include:

·         Prohibited areas

·         Restricted areas

·         Military operation areas

·         Controlled firing areas

·         Warning areas

·         Alert areas

For example, if a military exercise should be carried out in a particular airspace, then it is important for rules and limitations to be imposed on commercial airlines passing through. This can help to prevent accidents, while also protecting the integrity of those military operations.

Prohibited Areas

These are areas that prohibit the flight of any non-authorized aircraft. These areas will usually be established for security purposes, or for other reasons that are related to national welfare. The designation of these areas can be found in the Federal Register, as well as on aeronautical charts.

Some examples of these prohibited areas include: Camp David, and the National Mall above the White House and Congressional buildings.

When looking at charts you’ll see these designated with a P along with a number. It is absolutely vital that you are aware of any prohibited areas along your flight path.

Airspace chart prohibited areas

Restricted Areas

These are areas where operations may be hazardous to aircraft and are often related to military activities. However, restricted areas are different from Military Operations Areas. Flying in these areas is possible but requires approval and there may be restrictions on the activities an aircraft can engage in when flying in restricted areas.

The hazards in these areas can include artillery firing, aerial gunnery, and other military training that doesn’t necessarily include military pilot training.

Airspace chart restricted areas

Entering these areas without first gaining authorization from controlling agencies can be highly hazardous. ATC facilities apply these procedures when aircraft are not on IFR clearance:

·         If area is non-active and has been released to the FAA, then the aircraft may operate in the space as normal without clearance.

·         If the area is restricted and has not been released. The ATC facility issues or denies clearance to the aircraft into the airspace.

The letter R is used to chart restricted areas along with a number – such as R-4401. These can be seen on the en route chart for use at the altitude.

Curios about pilot pay? Learn how much you could earn at the airlines with our guide to pilot salaries.

Military Operation Areas

Also referred to as MOAs, military operation areas are airspaces that exist for the purpose of training military pilots. MOAs have defined vertical and lateral airspace that separates military training traffic from IFR traffic.

Where an MOA is actively being used, the nonparticipating IFR traffic will require clearance via the MOA. However, this will only be an option if the IFR separation can be offered by ATC. Otherwise, the IFR traffic will be redirected.

Airspace chart military operation area

Be sure to review the sectional chart for the altitudes affected, the times of operation, and the controlling agency.

Controlled Firing Areas

CFAs are areas that contain potentially hazardous activities, however, you will not find these listed on any charts.

Instead these are activities that must be stopped as soon as a non participatory aircraft is spotted on radar, or from a ground or aerial lookout.

Non participatory aircraft do not have to change their flight path.

Warning Areas

Warning areas operate in a similar manner to restricted areas. The key difference is the US does not have sole jurisdiction. These areas are located from 3NM outward off the coast of the US. The activity here has been identified as being hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft, and the purpose of the jurisdiction is to warn pilots of potential dangers.

Warning areas could be located over international or domestic waters.

You’ll see these areas on a map designated with a W.

Alert Areas

Areas with a high volume of flight training or other unusual aerial activity are called alert areas.

Nonparticpitory planes are allowed to move through the space, however, they need to be alert and aware that training activities may be going on here. Both parties, those transiting the alert area, and those participating in the alert area are equally responsible for collision avoidance.

Alert areas can be identified on aeronautical charts by the letter A, followed by a string of numbers.

Airspace chart table

Other Airspace Areas

There are a huge number of additional airspace areas that refer to classifications not covered by the classes we have addressed so far.

These include:

  • Local airport advisory (LAA)
  • Published VFR routes
  • Parachute jump aircraft operations
  • Temporary flight restrictions (TFR)
  • Military training route (MTR)
  • National security areas (NSA)
  • Air defense identification zones (ADIZ)
  • Terminal radar service area (TRSA)
  • Special awareness training
  • Wildlife Areas/Wilderness Areas/National Parks: Request to operate above 2,000 AGL
  • National oceanic and atmospheric administration marine areas off the coast with a requirement to fly above 2,000 AGL.
  • Tethered Balloons for observation and weather recordings that extend on cables up to 60,000 ft

Each of these operates in a slightly different way. In many cases, the title is descriptive of the nature of the airspace.

For example, a military training routes are routes that are used by military aircraft to practice proficiency in tactical flying. These will usually be located below 10,000 feet MSL, at speeds above 250 knots.

Airspace chart wilderness area

Parachute jump aircraft operations meanwhile are areas used for precisely that, which may require special care and attention when passing through.

Wildlife areas might include a request to fly at above 2,000 AGL. This will ensure that birds and other wildlife will not be frightened or endangered by aircraft.

One other particularly important one to know is temporary flight restrictions. These are issued by a flight data center and come out as a notice to airmen. They include the location of the temporary restriction, the defined statute miles, the altitude, and the times of the restriction. You’ll often see these appear when the President or Vice President comes to visit a city.

There are many more airspace classifications and it is important to understand the difference between each type. Pilots should be familiar with the operational requirements for each class, and that includes those that are less common.

To learn more about each of these you can visit the FAA’s website with greater detail on each type of airspace.

Talking with ATC can be intimidating…

…but these 6 tips for communicating with ATC can guide you in your journey to becoming a qualified pilot.

1. Make Sure You Are On The Correct Frequency

You want to be transmitting and listening on the correct frequency at all times. Write down all applicable frequencies and have them readily available for your flight. It’s going to make you much less stressed, and can save you from an embarrassing transmission as well. Be sure to have extra pens or pencils on standby in your flight bag.

2. Plan Out What You Will Say When Transmitting to ATC

Be concise when talking, and think before you talk! Follow this formula when thinking out what you will say so that you are always concise-

  • Who you are talking to
  • Who you are
  • Where you are
  • What you want

“Addison ground(who you are talking to), Sportcruiser 493SC(who you are), holding short of Alpha over Romeo(Where you are), ready to taxi to active with information tango.(What you want)

Air traffic controller

3. Anticipate What ATC Will Say

After flying a few times, it becomes a little more predictable what ATC will say, so use that to your advantage! Anticipate what your directives will be. This will help you listen and you will be more prepared with what you will respond with.

4. Read Back All Pertinent Information When Communicating With ATC

Let ATC know that you understood what they told you, and that you’re going to follow their directions. For example, your takeoff, landing, or taxi clearance.

Air traffic controller

5. Write Down Any Instructions ATC Gives You

Especially at larger and busier airports, you will want to write down everything you are told. Directions can get long and complicated at times, so the less transmissions it takes to get instructions to you, the better for ATC and for you.

6. No Conversations In The Cockpit During Transmissions

There’s nothing worse than missing out on a transmission and not being sure if it was meant for you. Pause all conversation in the cockpit when ATC is transmitting a message so that you are sure to not miss any transmissions intended for you.

For a more condensed version of this information, check out our youtube video below- 6 Tips for Communicating with ATC.

Want some free practice? Check out LiveATC and listen to frequencies at nearby airports.

The Cessna 172 made its debut in the world of aviation more than 72 years ago. Fast forward to today, the name Cessna 172 still commands respect and admiration among aviation experts and aficionados. It’s also one of the top choices for pilot training.

History of the Cessna 172

With the Cessna 172, you get almost everything you want in a plane. Whether you want an afternoon joyride, short-haul trip with friends, or you’re trying to build time, the Cessna 172 is exactly what you need.

Undeniably the most popular aircraft, the Cessna 172 is the most produced aircraft in the world with well over 44,000 units produced.

It was 1956 when the world first met this beautiful aviation marvel. With a foundation crafted from the 170, the Cessna 172 was designed with unique features such as an angular tailfin, lowered rear deck (which made it possible to add a rear window) the tricycle landing gear and larger elevators.

These modifications increased the plane’s popularity, with at least 1,400 airplanes produced within one year of its debut. Today, there have been more than 44,000 units produced, cementing the Cessna 172 in aviation history.

Cessna 172 Models

The earliest model of the 172 which debuted in 1956 saw a variety of changes and upgrades, including the creation of special variants such as the 172 Hawk XP seaplane and a proof-of-concept electric-powered Cessna 172.

In 1986, the 172 ceased production, after almost 20 years due to liability concerns. Cessna, a company established in 1911 was acquired by Textron in 1992. Production of the 172 model resumed in 1996 after the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 was passed.

Engineering efforts were channeled towards the building of the 160 horsepower 172R Skyhawk. This model was the first 172 which was fitted with a fuel-injection engine and had a redesigned interior and ventilation system.

The 180 horsepower Skyhawk subsequently followed production in 1998, aptly named the 172S Skyhawk SP.

Due to its multi-purpose capacity and robustness, the Cessna 172 remains popular. While there are other faster and more agile planes from competitors like Beechcraft and Piper, the Cessna is relatively easier and less expensive to maintain.

Due to its popularity, parts are readily available and nearly every aviation mechanic has worked on a 172.

Cessna 172 on the ground

Record Setting Flight in a 172

Robert Timm and John Cook’s names are synonymous with the Cessna 172. It’s hard to talk about this plane without mentioning the world record for flight endurance undertaken by these two pilots from December 4, 1958, to February 7, 1959.

With a registered Cessna 172, Timm & Cook took off from the McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada, and flew the 172 for a total of 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 5 seconds. This world record was done to raise funds for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

Cessna 172 Cockpit

Where the cockpit is concerned, modern Cessna 172’s feature an integrated set of cockpit avionics, known as the Garmin G1000 NXi which included an all-new and improved graphical interface, high-resolution displays, powerful hardware, wireless technology, and increased functionality for situational awareness.

This information is displayed on two screens in the cockpit, together with altitude, airspeed, and geographical position.

Some 172’s also include a digital autopilot feature. This digital autopilot feature was capable of sustaining a steady rate of descent and ascent, consistent speed, and altitude ranges in a completely automatic way. A pilot had the capability of recovering from unwanted altitudes with just a push of a button on the autopilot.

Flight Training in the Cessna 172

Nearly every flight school around the world has at least a few Cessna 172’s in use. Many of the features listed above are the reason. The 172 is aerodynamically stable and easy to handle for new pilots. The high-wing design gives the student a bit of added visibility.

Another reason it’s popular among flight schools is the standardized components. Since the plane has been around for so many years, parts are readily available so the plane doesn’t need to spend time at the mechanic’s shop waiting for parts like other models may have to do.

Overall, the Cessna 172 is an incredibly popular aircraft for good reason. How do you feel about the Cessna 172? Let us know in the comments below.

Nearly all pilots choose the career because of their love for flying- but the pay is a nice bonus.

But if you’re considering becoming an airline pilot you’re likely wondering, “how much do pilots make?”

How is a Pilot’s Salary Calculated?

Airline pilots don’t necessarily get paid a “salary”. Instead, pilots are paid per flight hour. As of August 2020, the average airline pilot salary in the United States was $102,851 .  But if you’re researching this as a possible career there is a lot more to consider than just the national average.

In order to ensure pilots are not over worked, airline pilots are limited to 1,000 flight hours per year. With that information and the pilots hourly rate, you can find out what your maximum earning potential is for an airline pilot’s salary.

It’s important to note that there are other benefits to working for an airline beyond the salary, but we’ll get into that later.

Factors That Determine Airline Pilot Salary

Just like any other career, an airline pilot’s salary varies depending on a variety of factors. Each airline sets its pay rates based on the contracts it signs. These rates may be based on many different inputs.

Years of Experience

Years of experience is a key factor in the hiring of all commercial pilots, not just airline pilots. While the hiring at the airlines is based on experience, the offers for compensation are set by the contracts the airline has signed with their pilots. In relation to other commercial airline pilot opportunities, experience may dictate the amount of pay you are offered.

For example: A small corporation is looking to hire a commercial pilot for their multi-engine airplane and has two pilots pursuing the same job. One flew 5 years for a banner tow company in a Citabria, and the other was a contractor for 5 years and has flown a variety of single-engine and multi-engine aircraft. The contractor will likely receive a higher offer as he/she has flown in a wider variety of aircraft and has more overall experience.

Total Flight Hours

As mentioned earlier airline pilots are paid on an hourly basis, specifically per flight hour. Logically this means that pilots who fly monthly schedules with higher flight times are going to get paid a larger amount.

Aircraft Type

The airlines pay their pilots different hourly rates depending on which aircraft they fly. As a general rule, the larger the aircraft, the higher the hourly rate.

You get to pick your monthly schedule of hours as well as the airplane you fly based on your seniority number (which is a very important aspect of being an airline pilot, as we have discussed in other blog posts. ) As your seniority number improves, you have more say in which aircraft and schedule you fly.

Major Airline Captain Salaries

All salaries listed below are based on flying 1,000 hours per year and are an approximation  based on available information. Note that airline pay changes regularly.

A pilots salary will vary based on the aircraft they fly. Where available, we’ve included the plane associated with the listed pay.

AirlinePlaneYear 1Year 5Year 12
Air CanadaA320$190,000$198,000$211,000
American AirlinesA320$255,000$263,000$278,000
Delta AirlinesA320$251,000$260,000$274,000
Frontier Airlines$184,000$208,000$245,000
Hawaiian AirlinesA321$233,000$241,000$254,000
JetBlue AirlinesA320$234,000$246,000$269,000
Southwest Airlines737$241,000$253,000$274,000
Spirit AirlinesA320$186,000$210,000$247,000
United AirlinesA320$260,000$268,000$283,000

Major Airline First Officer Salaries

AirlinePlaneYear 1Year 5Year 12
Air CanadaA320$56,000$151,000$190,000
American AirlinesA320$90,000$169,000$190,000
Delta AirlinesA320$92,000$166,000$187,000
Frontier Airlines$58,000$130,000$162,000
Hawaiian AirlinesA321$58,000$149,000$177,000
JetBlue AirlinesA320$89,000$158,000$180,000
Southwest Airlines737$84,000$164,000$191,000
Spirit AirlinesA320$58,000$131,000$164,000
United AirlinesA320$91,000$172,000$193,000

Salaries posted above do not include sign-on bonuses or other benefits.

Pilot Salary – A Timeline

It goes without saying- you earn the least at the beginning of your career and the most towards the end. Before beginning your path towards a career as an airline pilot, it’s important to understand how much you will be making throughout your entire career.

Airline pilot earnings timeline

The figures above are based on averages across different airlines but can give you a good idea of the airline pilot salary you can be expecting as your career progresses. It’s also worth noting that the timeline above is stretched out a little longer than what some would experience.

With the current pilot shortage the world is experiencing, some pilots have found the move from a regional airline to a major airline even faster.

For example, prior to Covid many regional airline pilots made it to the majors after only 3-5 years.

You probably noticed that at a couple of spots on the graph, the bar line drops, particularly when you jump from being a regional airline pilot to a pilot for a major airline. This does not necessarily mean you get a drop in pay.

As an incentive for pilots to start at a new airline, sign-on bonuses are sometimes distributed. You would technically earn more money during your first year due to that sign-on bonus.

Sample Pilot Salaries for Regional Airlines

Regional Airline Captain Salaries

AirlinePlaneYear 1Year 5Year 12
Air WisconsinCRJ200$71,000$81,000$100,000
Endeavor AirCRJ200$86,000$94,000$110,000
Envoy AirCRJ700$83,000$91,000$106,000
Horizon Air$70,000$80,000$101,000
Mesa AirlinesCRJ700$62,000$69,000$84,000
Piedmont AirlinesERJ 145$76,000$83,000$96,000
PSA Airlines$82,000$90,000$104,000
Republic Airways$90,000$99,000$116,000
Skywest AirlinesCRJ200$75,000$83,000$102,000

Regional Airline First Officer Salaries

Few pilots remain first officers at the regional airlines for very long. Most will become a captain at a regional airline within a few years and then from their move to a major airline. This is why some salaries aren’t listed for year 5 and beyond.

AirlinePlaneYear 1Year 5Year 8
Air WisconsinCRJ200$37,000$49,000$53,000
Endeavor AirCRJ200$51,000$64,000$67,000
Envoy AirCRJ700$83,000$56,000
Horizon Air$40,000$49,000$52,000
Mesa AirlinesCRJ700$36,000$41,000$49,000
Piedmont AirlinesERJ 145$50,000$56,000
PSA Airlines$50,000
Republic Airways$46,000$55,000
Skywest AirlinesCRJ200$45,000$58,000

Do Airline Pilots Receive Signing Bonuses?

At this time most regional airlines give out signing bonuses to attract pilots due to the pilot shortage. Bonuses may vary based on the pilots experience. We’ve seen bonuses ranging from $5,000 to over $15,000.

For example, if you already have a type rating for one of the aircraft you’d be flying the airline may give you a bigger signing bonus since they don’t have to spend as much money training you.

Searching for the perfect headset? Check out our guide on choosing the best pilot headset.

Additional Airline Pilot Benefits

Pilots enjoy plenty of benefits aside from the pay. Especially during times when the industry is strong and, airlines are struggling to compete with the other airlines to bring qualified pilots to their airline.

Free Travel

Most airlines allow their pilots free travel on flights that have empty seats, including a seat for a friend or family member.

Many pilots use these free trips to explore the world or to simply visit friends and family regularly.

Per Diem

Airline pilot‘s receive a very attractive per diem on top of their hourly wage. This amount is to cover your expenses while on trips. Often, the amount is larger than what you spend so could add to your annual income.

Healthcare and Insurance

To remain competitive with the other airlines, most companies have very attractive healthcare and life insurance benefits for their pilots.


While bonuses are not guaranteed in any business, in the good times airlines will offer sign on bonuses to be competitive in hiring. Others offer yearly profit sharing based on the airlines income as well as other contractual agreed upon amounts.

Other Types of Pilot Jobs and How Much They Pay

Flight Instructor

Many will opt to work at a flight school as an instructor as their method of gaining their FAA required minimum hours, but some love it so much they choose to become a career instructor. A career instructor can expect to earn anywhere from $40,000 to $75,000 annually.

Many instructor’s will go on to work as a chief flight instructor for a flight school where your salary can go even higher.

Cargo Carrier

In terms of pay, this is probably the most competitive with commercial airlines. Cargo Carriers.

The pay structure for cargo pilots is very similar to that of major airline carriers.

Cargo Airline Captain Salaries

AirlinePlaneYear 1Year 5Year 8
Air Transport International767$140,000$223,000$268,000
Atlas Air767$142,000$160,000$196,000
FedEx Express767$268,000$301,000$317,000
Kalitta Air$150,000$238,000$286,000
Southern Air767$142,000$160,000$196,000
United Parcel Service$50,000$312,000$329,000

Cargo Airline Pilot First Officer Salaries

AirlinePlaneYear 1Year 5Year 8
Air Transport International767$83,000$151,000$181,000
Atlas Air767$87,000$108,000$137,000
FedEx Express767$81,000$193,000$226,000
Kalitta Air$116,000$162,000$193,000
Southern Air767$87,000$108,000$137,000
United Parcel Service$50,000$200,000$235,000

Charter Pilot

Charter services offer private flights to businesses or individuals. A charter pilot needs to have a professional attitude as they will be dealing with clients even more directly than pilots flying for airlines.

The salary is higher than most time-building jobs, with the average charter pilot in the US earning ~$75,000.

Charter Pilot Captain Salaries

While there are quite a few small charter airlines across the United States, here are a few of the larger operations that post their pay publicly. These charter airlines typically fly large jets which is why their pay closely resembles airline pilot pay.

AirlineYear 1Year 5Year 8
iAero Ways$168,000$178,000$192,000
Miami Air International$96,000$116,000$163,000
Omni Air International$176,000$227,000$273,000

Charter Pilot First Officer Salaries

AirlineYear 1Year 5Year 8
iAero Ways$90,000$98,000$100,000
Miami Air International$47,000$83,000$98,000
Omni Air International$118,000$154,000$184,000

Corporate Pilot

A career as a corporate pilot is similar to a career as an airline pilot in many ways.

It’s a very competitive job, you will likely need a high number of hours to be considered, and you are typically flying larger turbine aircraft.

The differences are of course the number of passengers, type of aircraft you are flying, and where you will be flying. Many may consider corporate pilot as more attractive than airline pilot due to the more consistent schedule and locations.

You will likely not be required to move like you would early in your career as an airline pilot.

A corporate pilot may start out around $60,000 annually (first officer) but has the potential to earn $180,000 or more as they gain more experience and stay with a corporation longer.

Stunt Pilot

For the extreme thrill-seekers, aerobatics might be a fun career for you. Aerobatic pilots, or stunt pilots, perform in aerial shows, compete with other aerobatic pilots, and train pilots in aerobatic flight.

The pay of stunt pilots varies tremendously, but the median earnings of this job pay between $50,000 and $70,000.

It is a very difficult career to break into, and you will need to be passionate about the job in order to break out.

Tour Guide

The job of a tour guide could be for you if you enjoy small groups and consider yourself a people person. The job is location-dependent and can vary greatly in hours.

You could be doing a lot of hours during peak-season, and be earning very little during the off-season, so this gig isn’t for everyone. Average earnings are around $52,000 annually.

Banner Towing

Like instructing, most who tow banners are using the job as a way to build hours. The pay is similar to instructing and can range from $20-$50 an hour.

Crop Duster

One of the more unique and niche jobs on this list, a crop duster (also known as “Aerial Applicator” or “Agricultural Pilot”) is a pilot that uses aircraft to aid in agricultural care.

They may apply pesticides, fertilizers, or even plant seed using their aircraft. This job requires not only aviation training (commercial rating) but agricultural knowledge.

You will need to be knowledgeable on different types of pesticides and fertilizers, and familiar with agricultural practices. If you are able to overcome this knowledge hurdle, you are rewarded with a job that can pay higher than $100,000.

In the US, a pilot license is issued by the FAA and allows an individual to fly a variety of aircraft. But let’s break down the specifics of the different types.

You’ve heard the terms private pilot, commercial pilot, instrument rated, multi-commercial… to someone just diving into aviation these terms can get pretty confusing. In this article we’re going to break down the different types of pilot licenses that you can earn as a pilot.

Example of a pilot's license

To understand this, it’s important to know the difference between a certificate and a rating.

This can be confusing- but to oversimplify it: A certificate is the pilot’s license, and a rating lets you do additional cool stuff with that license.

Pilot Certificate or Pilot License?

 Technically speaking, a “pilot’s license” is not proper terminology. When people say pilot’s license, they’re usually referring to a certificate- although it is used so frequently that correcting it is considered pedantic (but many pilots are pedantic.)

Your certificate is what gives you flying privileges. There are multiple types of certificates, each providing additional privileges.

Ratings to add to your Pilot License

Your ratings are endorsements that expand the privileges of your certificate. Think of ratings as expansions for your pilots license. Ratings “stack” on top of each other. Ratings are much more diverse than certificates. They include your aircraft category/class rating, “type rating” for aircraft over 12,500 lbs, turbojet or turbofan, and additional operating privileges for your certificate (instrument).

This may seem overwhelming, so let’s go over some different certificates and ratings to explain things a little more clearly.

Types of Pilot Certificates (Pilot Licenses)

In the US, pilot certificates are Student, Sport, Private, Commercial, Flight Instructor, and Airline Transport Pilot. There is also a Flight Instructor certificate which may be held in addition to a pilot certificate, but we will discuss that further at the end of the article.

 Each certificate has specific requirements, including hours flown, current certificates and ratings, and certain medical requirements.

Student Pilot License

As the name implies, this pilots license is strictly for students training to obtain further certificates. A student cannot solo without a Student Pilot Certificate. There are a few requirements in order to receive a student pilot certificate.Requirements:

  • Must be 16 years old for airplane, 14 for glider/balloon
  • Proficiency in English
  • Meet certain TSA security requirements


  • Only used for soloing during training for an initial pilot certificate (sport or private.)

Sport Pilot License

Sport Pilot is a certificate that allows you to fly a Light Sport Aircraft with a number of limitations. It is the only certificate in the airplane category that only requires a driver’s license, not a medical.

Typically this certificate is ideal for individuals that do not want to go through the hassle of obtaining a medical and only wish to fly for purely recreational purposes.


  • Must hold a Valid Driver’s License or at least a Class 3 Medical
  • 20 hours minimum flight time logged
  • At least 17 years of age (airplane)


  • Only fly light sport aircraft
  • No more than 1 passenger
  • Only fly during the day, and only under 10,000 feet MSL (mean sea level.)

Private Pilot License

Private Pilot Certificate is the go-to for most that are seeking recreational flying. You have far less limitations than the sport pilot license, can fly larger aircraft, and are not limited to just one passenger.

In order to acquire further certifications needed for flying as a career, you must start with your private pilot license.


  • At least a 3rd class medical
  • Be at least 17 years of age
  • At least 35 hours under part 141 and 40 hours under part 61 (What’s the difference?)


  • Cannot fly for commercial purposes

Sport Pilot or Private Pilot?

A common misconception is that the Sport Pilot Certificate will be cheaper and faster than the Private Pilot Certificate.

In most cases the amount of training and flight time it takes to become proficient enough to obtain the Sport Pilot Certificate is almost the same as the Private Pilot Certificate. So generally the Sport Pilot Certificate cost the same as the Private Pilot Certificate.

Commercial Pilot License

The commercial certificate is specifically for career pilots. If you want to fly as a paid service you must have your commercial certificate.

This is not the final certificate you will need as an airline pilot, but it does open up other job opportunities to you such as corporate jet, tour guide, crop-duster and other types of flying jobs.

Interested in what types of jobs you can have as a commercial pilot? Check out our blog post about how much pilots can make.


  • At least a second class medical to fly for hire
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Private Pilot License
  • 190 total hours logged part 141, 250 logged part 61.


  • Not qualified to fly for an airline

Airline Transport Pilot License

To fly for an airline, the FAA requires you to hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate.

This is the goal for most career pilots, and is the certificate with the most requirements. Typically if you are starting from 0 hours, it takes around 2 years to complete your Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. The biggest reason it takes so long is the required hours.


  • First Class medical
  • At least 1500 hours total flight time in most cases
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument Rating (because of this, your instrument rating is not listed on your certificate if you hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate.)
  • An Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program must be completed.


  • Can’t fly rockets to the moon… unless you own a rocket. Then you totally can.

Note: If your goal is to become an airline pilot, check out our Zero Time to Airline program to get you there in 2 years.

Types of Ratings

Every one of these certificates comes with at least one rating (with the exception of Student Certificate.) On the physical certificate, these ratings state the “Category” and “Class”.


Category is the broad type of aircraft. Some examples of “Categories” are airplane, glider, helicopter, etc.


Categories consist of “Classes”. Each category will consist of their own unique classes. For example, in the “Airplane” category you have the “single engine” class and the “multi-engine” class, as well as “land” or “sea” class.

So when you combine all of this information onto the certificate, you get the full spectrum of how and what you are permitted to fly. For example you could hold a Private pilot license with an Airplane Single Engine Land Rating (typically abbreviated to ASEL.)

Type Ratings

Stay with us, this is the last confusing part.

“Types” are a section further broken down from “Classes”. These refer to specific types of aircraft. In FAA speak, a “Type” is a make and model of aircraft such as a Cessna 172 or Piper PA28. Under the Airplane category, you must receive a specific type rating if:

•The Aircraft is Over 12,500 lbs

•The aircraft is powered by a turbojet or turbofan engine

Type ratings are listed on certificates as codes designated by the FAA.

Instrument Rating

The Instrument Rating is one of the most common ratings that pilots get which expands your permissions as a pilot. To understand the Instrument Rating, you need to know the difference between VFR and IFR.

This isn’t overly complicated to understand, VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules and IFR stands for Instrument Flight Rules. It gets more complicated than just weather conditions, but for the sake of this article let’s just say that VFR is for clear, cloudless days and IFR is for overcast, bad weather days.

Your instrument rating allows you to fly in clouds (“instrument meteorological conditions”) and can be obtained with a minimum of a Private Pilot Certificate.


What do I need to pilot a Boeing 737?

Alright so let’s take all of this information and look at what a pilot would need to fly a common commercial airliner for an airline, a Boeing 737 for example.

The pilot would be flying as an airline transport, so his or her ATP certificate would certainly be needed.

The Boeing 737 is a multi engine land aircraft that is both over 12,500 lbs and utilizes turbofan engines, so a rating for Airplane Multi Engine Land is needed, as well as a type rating. The FAA lists the Boeing 737 type code as B-737.

So to fly the Boeing 737, a pilot needs to be an Airline Transport Pilot with an airplane multiengine land B-737 Rating. These certificates and ratings would appear as the picture below.

Example of a pilot license

To get to the ATP certificate needed above, the pilot would have started with a student pilot certificate to earn a private pilot license. Next they would add an instrument rating and a commercial certificate. If the training had been completed in a single engine aircraft, a multi engine class rating would also have to be earned. It is possible to start in a multi-engine aircraft, but this is very unusual.

Wow, thats a lot! What about something smaller?

Let’s look at a little less extreme example. What certificates and ratings would you need to fly you and a friend in a Cessna 172 on floats through the fog in Alaska?

The Cessna 172 is a single-engine aircraft, and since it is on floats it’s class is considered “sea”. You are not flying for compensation, so you do not need your commercial certificate.

Because there will be fog you will not be flying VFR, so will need to be rated to fly IFR. A sport pilot certificate will let you fly with a friend, but you need an instrument rating, which you can only get with private or higher.

So in this scenario the pilot needs to hold a Private Pilot Certificate with an Airplane Single Engine Sea class and Instrument Rating. The license would appear as the picture below.

Example of a pilot license

Flight Instructor

We have one more topic to cover, Flight Instructor Certificate.

To obtain your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), you will need to hold either a commercial or ATP certification. A CFI allows you to instruct students (obviously).

A common practice is to obtain your Instructor Certificate after receiving your commercial certificate and then instruct in order to finish the 1,500 hours needed for ATP certification.

Flight Instructor certificates are different than Pilot Certificates, so the FAA issues a second certificate to flight instructors. There are also Ground Instructor Certificates, which is yet another plastic certificate, but we won’t get into that here.


  • Commercial or ATP certification
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Knowledge received according to Part 61.183


  • To train a student in a multi engine aircraft or toward instrument ratings, you must receive additional instructor ratings, MEI (multi engine instructor) and CFII (Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument)

This article largely focuses on the Airplane Category, so if you are interested in other categories you will need to learn more about their specific classes, types and other ratings.

FedEx operates a global cargo fleet that delivers packages around the world. Thousands of businesses and millions of consumers use FedEx every month. Currently, FedEx has over 5,000 pilots and with 100+ pilots retiring every year they are constantly hiring.

With the continued growth of ecommerce it’s expected that delivery needs around the world will continue to increase which is great news for FedEx and provides job security for their pilots.

Where are FedEx Bases?

  • Los Angeles, CA: LAX
  • Memphis, TN: MEM
  • Anchorage, AK: ANC
  • Cologne, Germany: CGN
  • Hong Kong: HKG
  • Indianapolis, IN: IND

What airplanes are in the FedEx Fleet?

  • Boeing 757-200
  • Boeing 767-300
  • Boeing 777F
  • Airbus A300
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-10
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-11

What are the Minimum Qualifications for FedEx pilots?

For FedEx pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

FedEx Pilot Job Requirements:

  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time (1000 hours PIC in jet aircraft is preferred; multi-engine turbo-prop aircraft, 12,500 pounds or greater; certain single engine turbo-prop aircraft, or combination of these).
  • 500 PIC required
  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university
FedEx jet in the air

FedEx Pilots Pay

Just like the passenger airlines, FedEx pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 74 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

Fedex First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $75,000
  • Year 5: $165,000
  • Year 15: $203,000

Fedex Captain Pay:

  • Year 1: $227,000
  • Year 5: $257,000
  • Year 15: $280,000

Discover pilot pay for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for a FedEx Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the FedEx jobs website and create a profile. By creating a profile you enter the hiring pool for FedEx. As you continue to fly be sure to update your profile regularly to improve your chances of being selected for an interview. Be sure you also take a look at their knowledge test outline in order to prepare.

The demand for more commercial pilots seems to increase every year, and forecasts over the next 20 years are unprecedented. Boeing estimates the global demand for pilots over the next twenty years will be upwards of 635,000. In the U.S. alone over 80,000 pilots will retire over the next twenty years.

However, the path to becoming an airline pilot can be daunting, particularly the cost of training. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce that cost or receive some financing.

Before we dig into ways to pay for flight training, however, here’s a few tips on reducing the cost.

How to Reduce the Cost of Flight Training

First and foremost, do your homework. Identify all of the flight schools in your area and even consider some of the larger flight schools you could travel to for training. Compare the types of planes they fly, their rates, their instructor rates and what their pass rate looks like.

Once you start your training, make it frequent and consistent. When you train regularly the material sticks and you’ll progress more quickly. In addition, make sure you study on your own time. The more studying you do on your own the less time you’ll need to spend with an instructor who is charging you by the hour.

Treat your training as an actual job and you’ll save money over the course of your training.

Ways to Pay for Flight Training

If you’re headed to the airlines you’ll need 1,500 hours of flight time and several ratings and certificates. All of these carry a hefty price tag.

Fortunately, if you don’t have the funds upfront to pay for it there are options available. Here’s a few common ways pilots pay for flight training when they, or a family member can’t cover the cost.

Airplane on the runway


If you’re attending a university in conjunction with your flight training there are many scholarships available to you. Just talk with your counselor or finance office to get more info.

If you’re not attending a university while flight training there are still some scholarship opportunities but they aren’t quite so plentiful. Start by checking with the AOPA. You can also check out the FAA’s giant list of aviation scholarships.

Here at Thrust Flight we also offer a flight training scholarship that opens up for applications a couple times a year.

Loans and Financing Options

Taking out a loan for your flight training is something to consider very carefully. If you’re pursuing a career in aviation it may be worthwhile to take out a loan in order to get your training done quickly.

By training full time you’ll be able to get all the training completed in a much shorter period of time and, like mentioned above, your training is typically completed faster.

Your goal should be to get to the airlines in 2 years from the time you start training.

If you’re pursuing a career in aviation be sure to head over to our Zero Time to Airline page and take a look.

For information on financing your Zero Time to Airline program, check out our financing page.

If you’re pursuing flight training as a recreational pilot, it may be better to save up rather than taking out a loan to pay for training.

Military Assistance

One route some people choose is to enter the military with the hope of doing their flight training.

This can be a challenging route as you don’t necessarily get to decide if you’ll be a pilot or not. The choice is often made for you.

However, if you were in the military previously or are currently, you can use the tuition assistance program to pay for your flight training.


You can also use your GI Bill to help pay for advanced flight training, however, you must have your private pilot license first. The GI Bill can help pay for your training whether you are doing it through a private or public university or vocational training.

If you’re interested in learning more about the requirements visit the VA website.

Bonus Tip: Work at a Flight School

Many flight schools will give their employees a discounted rate on their training. Check in with local flight schools to see if this is something they offer. Then, keep your eye out for job opportunities at those schools.

You don’t necessarily need to be working for them as a pilot in order to receive discounted training so you don’t need to wait until you become a CFI.

You could work the front desk, work as a dispatcher, or any other number of jobs needed around a flight school and still receive the discounted training.

If you’re looking, be sure to check out our careers page to see if we have any open positions.

If you’re considering become a pilot, cost is likely one of your biggest concerns. Every flight student is worried about how much their training will cost.

Most pilots are familiar with the old saying, “An airplane is a hole on the tarmac that you throw money into.” It’s true for airplane owners, who receive frequent invoices from their favorite mechanic. But it’s also valid for student pilots, who are paying for both an expensive airplane and a professional flight instructor.

How much does it cost to become a pilot, you ask? It depends. There are many different licenses and approaches to aviation that you can take.

For private flying, you might just want a sport or private pilot license. If you are looking to make a career out of it, you need to start at the private certificate and work your way through the instrument rating and commercial license.

All flight training follows a similar structure. Flight schools provide applicants with a rough estimate of their total costs, but every student’s final number will differ. Along the way, students pay for the following costs.


Every course will require new textbooks, charts, and supplies. When you first start, you’ll need to buy some pilot gear, but that should last you for many years to come. This includes items like a headset, kneeboard, flight computer, pilot bag, and fuel tester.

Aircraft Rentals

Aircraft rates are billed per hour to the nearest tenth. Depending on the school, they may be billed wet, an all-inclusive number including fuel, or dry, where the student will pay for the fuel they use. Aircraft time is billed based on the Hobbs time recorded from the aircraft, which begins and ends when the engine operates.

The price you pay will vary depending on the type of plane.

Larger, more complex planes cost more to operate and are therefore more expensive. Smaller planes provide a better value since they can be rented for less money.

Flight Instructor Time

Flight instruction time is billed hourly, as well. You will pay for instruction time while you are in the aircraft receiving training, as well as for any ground instruction you receive before and after the flight. You will also occasionally pay for ground-only instruction to help you prepare for exams or check rides.

Cost of taking the FAA exam

Written Exam

When you take a written exam, you have to pay a fee to the FAA testing center. The fee is usually around $100, but it varies by location and type of exam.

FAA Practical Exam

If you do your check ride with a designated pilot examiner (DPE), they will charge for their time. Costs vary considerably depending on the type of checkride and your region. Generally, they are between $500 and $800.

Before You Start

Before you start training, there are a few things that you can get out of the way.

If you are not a US citizen, you will need to apply for approval to begin flight training from the Transportation Security Administration.

This process will involve getting fingerprinted and having a thorough background check completed. The total cost of the process costs about $230.

You’ll need to apply for approval before you can start flying (sport pilot or private pilot), before you begin an instrument rating, and before you start your multiengine rating. US citizens only need to present documentation to their flight instructor before their first flight.

You should also consider getting your FAA medical exam out of the way. The exam is performed by an AME, or aviation medical examiner. It usually costs around $100.

It’s not a bad idea to go ahead and get the more stringent grade of certificate, a first-class medical, especially if you want to fly for a career. That way, if any medical issues come up, they won’t be a surprise later on. If you are only completing your private license, you only need a third-class medical.

Ground School

Ground school usually describes the bookwork and aeronautical knowledge you need to accumulate to pass the FAA’s written exam. There are two ways student pilots can go about accomplishing their ground school–they can take a course specifically aimed at passing the exam, or they can make an independent study program with the help of a flight instructor.

Taking a prepared course is often the best way to get the ground school component out of the way. Truth be told, there is plenty of aeronautical knowledge left to cover after you’ve passed the written exam. The FAA practical exam for your license will also require preparation, and your time with a flight instructor one-on-one is best saved for that purpose.

With so many varying options, the cost of ground school can vary considerably. If you are paying your flight instructor for personalized training, your cost could be significantly more than the cost of a class–it will just depend on how much independent study you do.

It’s worth noting that you’ll be taking written exams throughout your pilot career, and the preparation for them never really changes. Written exams are required for all licenses (commercial, ATP, flight instructor) and additional ratings (instrument, rotorcraft, etc.).

The total cost for most ground schools is around $400, plus the FAA written exam fee, which varies between $90 and $200.

Student Pilot Cost

The student pilot license is issued by the FAA or one of their designated pilot examiners (DPEs). Once you have demonstrated that you can safely solo the aircraft, your flight instructor will give you their endorsement, which shows that you have the knowledge and proficiency to fly alone under some circumstances.

The actual student pilot license is free, but all of the training that goes into getting it is not. You’ll get the student pilot license on your way to getting either a sport pilot or private pilot license, so the real cost is included in those numbers.

Sport Pilot License Cost

The cost of a pilot certificate is related to how many hours it takes you to complete it. Flight training is always performed to proficiency, so the cost varies dramatically from one student to another. It’s all one-on-one training, performed in the cockpit and the classroom. All of that time is billed per hour.

The FAA sets the minimum requirements that students must meet before they can take the FAA practical exam. These are spelled out in the Airman Certification Standards (ACRs), which state precisely how well maneuvers and tasks must be performed to pass. Your flight instructor’s goal is to train you well enough that you can do those tasks safely and proficiently. How much practice it takes to get you to that point depends on how much you study and your aptitude for flying an airplane.

The total sport pilot license cost, including the minimum 20 hours of flight training, is estimated at around $7,000.

Sportcruiser on the ground

Private Pilot License Cost

The difference between the sport pilot and private pilot training programs isn’t as significant as you might think. The private pilot license includes more time learning about the national airspace system, flying at night, and flying cross-countries to other airports.

These are privileges that are more limited under the sport pilot rules, whereas a private pilot is allowed to fly nearly anywhere in the country.

The private pilot course consists of three different phases of training. During the pre-solo phase, you learn what you need to fly the plane safely. That training culminates in your first flight alone around the traffic pattern.

You then move into the cross-country phase of training to learn more about navigation and moving between airports. The last part of the course is practical exam preparation, where you bring all of these skills together and master them. It culminates in your checkride, a two-part practical exam. You’ll have an oral question and answer session, followed by a flight test in the plane.

Like sport pilot candidates, students who begin with the private pilot course can spend radically different amounts of time and money getting the license.

The Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) say that the minimum time you can get a private pilot certificate is 35 hours under Part 141 training or 40 hours under Part 61 (Learn the difference between Part 141 and Part 61). But the national average is closer to 70 hours, indicating that most pilots will take substantially longer than the regulatory minimums.

The minimum private pilot license cost, including 35 hours of flight training, is around $12,000.

Cessna 172 in the air

Instrument Rating Cost

The instrument rating course follows the same general schedule that the private pilot did.

You need to complete a written exam, and many pilots choose to attend a formal ground school to prepare for it. You must complete at least 35 to 40 hours of training, broken into a few phases. In the end, like the private pilot license, you must pass a practical exam that consists of an oral knowledge test and practical flying skills checkride.

One benefit of the instrument rating is that you can accomplish quite a lot of the training in a flight simulator. Modern simulators are full motion, with cockpits that mimic the equipment you take flying in the real world. Time spent flying simulators is excellent for a lot of reasons. Not only does it save you money, but it also creates an environment where your flight instructor can hit “pause” for a moment to explain things thoroughly. And of course, you can train for dangerous scenarios more realistically in a simulator than you can in the plane.

The instrument rating’s estimated total cost, including 21 hours in the G1000-equipped Cessna 172SP and 14 hours of dual in the RedBird full-motion simulator, is around $12,000.

Commercial Pilot Cost

Two types of pilots look to upgrade their licenses to the commercial level.

One set of pilots is going to school to become professionals, and they need to get the required hours to get there. They follow a curriculum, which will need to include another 120 hours of flight time, including 55 of dual instruction and 65 hours of solo time. These pilots enroll in a FAR Part 141 program to get it done quickly.

Other pilots may have had their private certificates for a while and been using them. Maybe they own an airplane, or they rent and fly regularly. These pilots can get their commercial pilot license under FAR Part 61 when they get 250 hours of total time in their logbook. When they have around 200 hours, they should talk to a flight instructor and make a plan.

How much does it cost to become a pilot with a commercial license?

The two types of pilots make it harder to say. With so many hours in question, a lot of money can be saved using the smallest, least expensive planes available.

If pilots are doing independent flying, they might not be interested in the commercial license’s overall cost. All it will take is about ten hours of preparation for the exam. They may just need to know how many hours they’ll need to finish it up under Part 61.

No matter how you begin building your hours for the commercial pilot exam, everyone ends it at the same place–in the cockpit of a complex aircraft. Your initial commercial license test must be in a complex airplane.

A complex plane is one with retractable landing gear, an adjustable-pitch propeller, and flaps. You must have about ten hours in such an aircraft, so these are usually the ten hours right before your checkride.

The estimated total commercial pilot license cost is about $24,000. The exact makeup of the sorts of training flights you need to accomplish to fulfill the regulations vary considerably, so make sure you work closely with a flight instructor when you get to this point.

Fly turboprop planes with a high performance rating

Multiengine Rating Cost

multiengine rating can be added to any grade of pilot certificate–private, commercial, or ATP. Most pilots opt to get it with their initial commercial license or as an add-on after that.

The rating is one of the fastest, easiest, and most fun you can get. Flying a twin is exhilarating after you’ve been flying in a single. The climb rate, higher altitudes, and all-around better performance will bring a smile to your face.

The course includes roughly ten hours of dual instruction in a multiengine airplane. Only about five hours of ground instruction is needed to bring you up to speed on the new airplane’s systems and some multiengine aerodynamics.

The estimated total cost of the multiengine rating, with ten hours in the Beechcraft Duchess, is about $5,000.

Flight Instructor Cost

The flight instructor course is one that mostly revolves around ground training. There are no new maneuvers or airplane systems to learn, but you will be expected to know the material you have learned well enough to teach it to someone else.

There are two written exams required for the CFI course. The Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI) is an exam about basic teaching techniques, introductory learner psychology, communication, and how to structure lessons and a curriculum. The Flight Instructor-Airplane exam looks a lot like the commercial pilot aeronautical knowledge exam.

Everything else about the flight instructor course is about setting you up to teach. You learn how to fly from the right seat of the cockpit, and you must know the maneuvers well enough to perform them while explaining them.

The total flight time required is usually around ten hours. You may have to do spin training if you are getting the single-engine airplane rating.

Every CFI will tell you that flying is the easiest part of the flight instructor course. Oral exams for this license are usually very thorough. You will be asked to prepare an entire ground lesson and teach it to the examiner, and you will need to show a commercial pilot-level of knowledge for all areas that you are asked to perform.

There are different ratings on the flight instructor certificate. If you intend to keep teaching, the flight instructor-instrument rating is worthwhile. The course and prep are similar in cost and time as the initial CFI, but there will be less groundwork prep since you will not have to retake the FOI.

The estimated total cost of a CFI training course is around $4,000.

Become an airline pilot with an ATP rating

Airline Transport Pilot Cost

To qualify to become an airline transport pilot (ATP), you must have accrued 1,500 hours of total flying time. Few people pay for all of that time; the ATP is usually a license that working professionals get after they’re already well into their careers.

Remember, there are lots of jobs in the aviation world that only require a commercial pilot license.

You only need an ATP to work for an airline. Many copilot jobs, banner towing, sightseeing flights, survey flying, or flight instruction all only need a commercial. Most pilots build their time up to 1,500 hours by working other jobs, and then they get the ATP as the next step in their careers.

The actual cost of getting the ATP isn’t that great because the flight training is pretty simple.

Any pilot who has built up 1,500 flying hours is likely to be reasonably experienced. Most ATP applicants need less than 20 hours of flight training to get themselves ready for the checkride. Pilots who do not do a lot of instrument flying may need a little more time since the ATP is heavily an instrument-flying checkride.

The written exam is another matter. The ATP written is difficult, but most pilots find success with independent study programs and the occasional check-in with their flight instructors.

American Airlines dates their origins to 1926, when Charles Lindbergh flew the first official American Airlines flight carrying mail from St. Louis, MO to Chicago, IL. Over 90 years later American Airlines is one of the largest in the US, flying thousands of flights every day to over 350 destinations across over 50 countries.

Currently, American Airlines has a little over 15,100 pilots, and in 2019 nearly 900 new pilots launched their career with American Airlines.

Where are American Airlines Bases?

  • Chicago, IL – ORD
  • Boston, MA – BOS
  • Los Angeles, CA – LAX
  • Arlington, VA – DCA
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – DFW
  • Queens, NY – LGA
  • Miami, FL – MIA
  • Philadelphia, PA – PHL
  • Charlotte, NC – CLT
  • Phoenix, AZ – PHX

What airplanes are in the American Airlines Fleet?

  • Airbus 319
  • Airbus 320
  • Airbus 321
  • Boeing 738
  • Boeing 752
  • Boeing 763ER
  • Boeing 772ER
  • Boeing 773ER
  • Boeing 778
  • Boeing 789
American Airlines jet tails on the ground

What are the Hiring Requirements for American Airlines Pilots?

For American Airlines pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications to start your career. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

American Airlines Pilot Job Requirements:

  • Minimum age of 23
  • Ability to learn and work with PEDs
  • Fluently speak and understand English
  • Must have the right to work in the United States
  • Distance vision corrected to 20/20 and near vision corrected to 20/40 or better in each eye
  • Must be able to secure appropriate authority or Customs security badges
American Airlines airplane at the gate

American Airlines Pilots Pay

American’s pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 73 hour long call and 76 hour short call reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of hourly pay based on available sources.

American Airlines First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $90,000
  • Year 5: $169,000
  • Year 12: $190,000

American Airlines Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $255,000
  • Year 5: $263,000
  • Year 12: $278,000

Discover pilot pay for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for an American Airlines Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the American Airlines job website to see if they are hiring. It’s important to note that American Airlines largely hires new pilots from their regional airline partners.

In order to start your American Airlines pilot career you’ll first need to work at a regional and then apply to an open position for American. If your career goal is to fly for American Airlines take a look at the pilot hiring requirements at Envoy or PSA Airlines.

Envoy Air is a U.S Regional airline founded in 1984 as American Eagle. It was a collection of regional airlines that carried the American Eagle brand name.

In 2014 the company changed its name to Envoy Air. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group. Envoy travels to over 150 cities in North America.  Envoy currently has over 2,500 pilots working for them and 185 airplanes.

Where are Envoy Air Hubs?

  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – DFW
  • Chicago, IL – ORD
  • Miami, FL – MIA

What airplanes are in the Envoy Air Fleet?

  • Embraer 140
  • Embraer 145
  • Embraer 175
American Airlines jets lined up - American Airlines pilot hiring requirements

What are the Hiring Requirements for Envoy Pilots?

For Envoy pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications to start your career. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

AAG Regional Job Requirements:

  • FAA commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings
  • 50 hours of multi-engine fixed-wing flight time (may be reduced to 25)
  • 200 hours cross-country flight time
  • 250 hours fixed-wing PIC
  • 100 hours of cross-country as PIC
  • 100 hours of night flying
  • 75 hours of instrument time (actual or simulated – 50 hours must be in airplanes)
  • 25 hours of night PIC
  • Must be at least 21 years of age and finish ATP written prior to start of New Hire Training
  • Total flight time minimums:
    • 1,500 hours
    • 1,250 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 30 aviation hours
    • 1,000 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 60 aviation hours
    • 750 hours – military flight training graduates
American Eagle Aircraft operated by Envoy

Envoy Air Pilots Salary

Envoy Air pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 72 hour monthly and 75 hour reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources. Prices shown do not include per diem or bonuses.

Envoy Air First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $50,000
  • Year 4: $56,000

Envoy Air Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $83,000
  • Year 5: $91,000
  • Year 12: $106,000

See more pilot salaries by airline.

How Do I Apply for an Envoy Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the Envoy Air jobs website and create a profile.  By creating a profile you enter the hiring pool for Envoy Air. As you continue to fly be sure to update your profile regularly to improve your chances of being selected for an interview. Be sure to also check out their interview tips.

Many people dream of becoming pilots, and it’s an achievable goal for nearly anyone. Getting your pilot license takes a lot of studying and hard work, but the rewards are bountiful.

With your private license, you can fly! You can fly your own plane or rent a plane. Imagine taking a flight for a weekend getaway, or just dinner in the next town.

Those who have been bitten by the flying bug need no further convincing. If you’ve ever wondered how to get a private pilot license, read on to learn more.

What is a Private Pilot Certificate?

The private pilot certificate is the FAA license that allows you to fly airplanes for fun. You can’t get a job flying with a private pilot license, but you can rent or buy a plane and go anywhere you like.

Private pilot plane on the water

It’s one of the most basic licenses, so for pilots looking to become professional aviators, the private pilot is just the first stepping stone. Plenty of pilots very happily operate as private pilots, and never want or need a commercial license.

Is a Private Pilot License Worth It?

All pilot licenses are expensive, so you may be wondering what use the private certificate would have for you.

If you’re comparing it with the less expensive and less time-consuming sport pilot license, the private offers you more privileges. It allows you to fly bigger, faster planes on longer trips away from home. Plus, it allows you to fly at night, or internationally.

If you’re looking to make a career as a pilot, you’ll need to make the private pilot license your first step. To get a commercial pilot certificate, you must first possess a private.

If you just want to go flying to have some fun, then it’s a great way to do that too. The pilot certificate itself never expires, but you must keep it current.

That means flying with an instructor every couple of years and logging a few hours if you want to carry passengers. You do not need to use your license, but if you want to start using it again after a period of inactivity, you must get a flight review from an instructor.

What are the Requirements to get a Private Pilot License?

The requirements are laid out in the Federal Aviation Regulations. You must be 17 years old or older and read, speak, write, and understand English. You must hold a student pilot certificate available from the FAA or an examiner or a sport pilot certificate.

There is bookwork to learn and a written exam to pass. There are also a minimum amount of flight hours you must log with your flight instructor. Specifically, you need to log a minimum of 40 hours of flight training, possibly a few less if you’re training at a Part 141 flight school. These 40 hours contain at least 20 hours of flight instruction and 10 hours of solo training. There are specific requirements for solo cross countries and nighttime flights, as well.

Once you have met all of these requirements, you take a practical exam that consists of both an oral question and answer session and a flight check. If you pass both, you have earned a private pilot license.

Plane about to take off

What Does Private Pilot Training Look Like?

Flight training is done one-on-one with a flight instructor. The typical flight lesson involves getting to the flight school early to check the weather and preflight the airplane.

You typically meet with your instructor for a few minutes to review your homework and see if you are ready for the flight. During the flight, you will practice maneuvers or scenarios that help you understand how to better fly the plane.

Sometimes, you work on a particular skill like landings. Other times, you work on an entire set of skills, like navigating to a new airport.

Once the flight is over, you park the plane and debrief with your instructor. You review your performance and discuss the things that went well—and the things that went not-so-well. From this, you put together a plan for next time.

Most flight lessons are done in two-hour flight blocks, but you can customize your training any way you like. This one-on-one instructor time is often combined with a ground school course in a classroom, where you learn the book-knowledge you need to pass the exams.

How to Get a Private Pilot License

Ground School

There are two distinct parts to pilot training. Most students and many flight instructors conduct these two items separately, but they are more connected than you might think.

The first part of training is commonly called ground school. This is where you get the book knowledge. We’ll look at the tests you have to take to get the pilot license in a bit, but for now, know that there’s a lot to learn.

Many students have little experience in aviation before they set out to get their license. That means everything is new.

Preflight routine for private pilot

The exact knowledge areas that you learn about in ground school are listed in FAR Part 61. These are the areas that the FAA will test you on during the written exam.

  1. The Federal Aviation Regulations that relate to private pilots
  2. Accident reporting requirements
  3. FAA publications like the Aeronautical Information Manual and advisory circulars
  4. Charts, and navigation using pilotage, dead reckoning, and navigation systems
  5. Radio communications
  6. Weather theory and reports and forecasts
  7. Safe operating procedures
  8. Takeoff and climb performance
  9. Weight and balance computiations
  10. Aerodynamics, engines, and systems
  11. Stalls, spins, and recovery techniques
  12. Aeronautical decision making
  13. Preflight actions to take

Some students complete ground school and the written exam before they even begin flying, while others fly while also taking ground school.

If you are interested in flying but want to learn more, just taking the ground school class is a great way to get an introduction and learn a lot about aviation.

It’s important to note that all of the knowledge areas are important to your flying.

The bookwork you learn for your pilot license is valuable, and you will use the information again. You will build on this knowledge base as you fly, and you will need to know things from ground school to pass your check ride.

Private Pilot Flight Training

The flight training portion of your pilot license course is completely individualized. You train one-on-one with your flight instructor. At some schools, you might fly with any flight instructor, but in most places, you work with only one person.

FAR Part 61 lays out the flight proficiency requirements you need to meet for getting your private certificate in a single-engine airplane.

  1. Preflight preparation and procedures
  2. Airport operations
  3. Takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds
  4. Performance and Ground reference maneuvers
  5. Navigation
  6. Slow flight and stalls
  7. Basic instrument maneuvers
  8. Emergency operations
  9. Night operations
  10. Postflight procedures

As was the case with the ground school requirements, this list only provides a very basic glimpse at everything you must learn. These are the chapter titles. Each one of these headings represents numerous maneuvers or tasks you need to know how to perform.

Airplane about to land

Flight training is laid out in a detailed curriculum that you follow with your flight instructor’s guidance. You begin by learning the basics of operating an airplane.

As you get better, you build on your knowledge until you can conduct an entire flight with little or no help from your instructor. Once you’ve convinced your instructor that you can do it on your own, they let you take the plane up alone for some solo flying.

After you’ve soloed, you begin learning more about navigation and flying cross countries. For the purposes of flight training, a “cross-country flight” is one to an airport more than 50 miles away. You conduct several of these longer flights with your instructor, and when they feel you’ve gotten the hang of it, they let you do a few alone.

As you follow your training curriculum, you are meeting other regulatory requirements.

The FARs lay out the specific number of flight training, solo, cross-country, solo cross-country, and night flying hours you must complete to be eligible for the license.

The last phase of your training is getting ready for that check ride. At this point, you’ve learned about all of the flight proficiency areas, and you have experience in them all.

All that is left to do is practice taking the test. On check ride day, nothing is new. You will have practiced everything with your flight instructor several times, so the check ride is a piece of cake.

What Tests Do you Have to Pass to Get your Private Pilot Certificate?

In total, you must pass three FAA exams to get your private pilot license, though two of those are combined into one event.

Written Exam

The first exam you must pass is commonly called the written exam, but the FAA regulations refer to it as the “aeronautical knowledge exam.” This is where all your ground school knowledge and classes pay off. You must get 70 percent or more of the questions correct. The test is a multiple-choice exam with 60 questions, and you are given 150 minutes to take the test.

The written exam is given at FAA-designated proctored testing centers. You can find them listed on the FAA’s website. You’ll also find sample exams and information about the tests there. Taking the time to effectively prepare for your written exams is key to passing on the first attempt.

To take the knowledge exam, you must have the endorsement of the flight or ground instructor who prepared you for the exam. After the exam is over, you need to sit down with your instructor to review the knowledge areas you missed. You’ll likely be asked about them later on.

The written exam results are good for 24 months. So you must take your check ride to get your license within two years, or else you’ll have to repeat the written exam.

Private pilot taking off in his airplane

Practical Exam or Check Ride

Once you have completed your training and your flight instructor has found that you’re ready for the check ride, they will endorse your logbook and call an examiner. The “check ride” is known in FAA circles as the practical pilot exam, and it consists of two parts. First, you must pass an oral examination, then you move on to the airplane and show them how well you can fly.

FAA employees give some FAA practical exams, but this is rare. More often than not, check rides are given by DPEs, or Designated Pilot Examiners. These are individuals from the aviation community with decades of flying experience who have earned the privilege to give check rides.

The items you are tested on are outlined thoroughly in the Airman Certification Standards (ACS). This document is used by your flight instructor to get you ready and your examiner on check ride day. It lays out the knowledge you need to have, the maneuvers you need to perform, and the completion standards. There are no surprises on check ride day since everyone is using the same book.

What Are The Restrictions on a Private Pilot?

The private pilot certificate has many privileges for those who have earned one. There are no limits on where or when they can fly. In essence, they can hop in a plane and depart on a trip across the country with no further training. They can operate at any public airport, regardless of size, and in almost every type of airspace.

But there are some significant limitations and restrictions to understand. The first restrictions involve the word “private.” Private pilots fly for themselves; they are not professional pilots, and they cannot be paid for their flying or to take people flying.

Pilot preflighting his plane

Secondly, private pilots are limited to flying in VFR (visual flight rules) conditions, which means they can only fly in good weather. They cannot go inside of clouds, and if the visibility is low, they must stay on the ground. VFR flying requires being able to see outside, to see visual references and landmarks. If you want to fly in low visibility, you need to get an instrument rating.

Common Questions About a Private Pilot License

What is the Difference Between a Private Pilot and a Sport Pilot?

The sport pilot certificate was created to provide a less expensive option for those looking to fly. It’s a great place to start, but it has some limitations. Sport pilots are not allowed to fly at night or to fly on long cross countries. They are also limited to slow-flying, low-powered, two-seat aircraft.

There are many neat Light-Sport Aircraft, and getting the license is faster and cheaper than getting a private license. But sport pilots are generally folks who fly for fun around their home airports. If you’re looking to fly four-seater planes (or bigger), or you want to head out on long cross-country flights, then the private pilot certificate is the one for you. Also, if you’d eventually like to get an instrument rating or commercial license, you should start with the private.

Can I Get a Job With a Private Pilot License?

You can get any job you want with a private pilot license, but you cannot get paid for your services as a pilot. To be a professional, paid pilot, you must possess a commercial pilot certificate.

There are certain times when a pilot certificate comes in handy in other professions, however. If you’re a business person and have a meeting in another town, why not rent a plane and fly? If your company reimburses you for driving your car, you can get reimbursed for flying too.

What Comes After a Private Pilot License?

Private pilots are free to rent or buy aircraft and fly as much as they like. If they want to fly different aircraft types, they always need more training before they’re allowed to fly them solo. Some training requirements are spelled out in the Federal Aviation Regulations, while others are required by insurance companies and FBOs.

Plane on the ramp at night

Should you want to continue with flight school, the next big stepping stone is the instrument rating. This is an add-on to your private pilot certificate that allows you to operate on an IFR flight plan, like the airlines do, and to operate in weather that is less than those allowed under VFR, which you must adhere to as a private pilot.

The instrument rating course is of similar cost and scope as the private pilot course. There is a written exam and an FAA check ride you must train for.

You learn how to handle the plane solely by reference to the instruments in every possible situation, and you learn to navigate safely in the National Airspace System from the moment your wheels leave the runway until the moment they touch down, all without looking out the window.

How Far Can a Private Pilot Fly?

There is no limit on how far you can fly, other than your plane’s endurance and range limits.

Even then, you just need to stop somewhere and fill up! If you are renting a plane, you have to pay for the time you have it, and that usually rules out flying around the world.

The FAA private license is recognized by ICAO and other nations, meaning that you can operate an aircraft with the same or similar rules as what you are used to in most places.

Can Private Pilots Fly at Night?

A private pilot can fly at night in the United States. Many other countries, however, require an instrument rating to fly after sunset.

You complete at least three hours of night flying to get your license, including a cross country flight. Flying at night is an incredible experience, but it’s essential to keep up your night-flying skills.

After dark, all pilots must have made three takeoffs and three full-stop landings in the last 90 days to carry passengers.

Envoy Air is a U.S Regional airline founded in 1984 as American Eagle. It was a collection of regional airlines that carried the American Eagle brand name.

In 2014 the company changed its name to Envoy Air. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group. Envoy travels to over 150 cities in North America.  Envoy currently has over 2,500 pilots working for them and 185 airplanes.

Where are PSA Airlines Hubs?

  • Charlotte, NC – CLT
  • Dayton, OH – DAY
  • Arlington, VA – DCA
  • Philadelphia, PA – PHL
  • Knoxville, TN – TYS
  • Norfolk, VA – ORF

What airplanes are in the PSA Airlines Fleet?

  • Bombardier CRJ200
  • Bombardier CRJ700
  • Bombardier CRJ900

What are the Hiring Requirements for PSA Airlines Pilots?

For PSA Airlines pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications to start your career. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

American Airlines Pilot Job Requirements:

  • FAA commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings
  • 50 hours of multi-engine fixed-wing flight time (may be reduced to 25)
  • 200 hours cross-country flight time
  • 250 hours fixed-wing PIC
  • 100 hours of cross-country as PIC
  • 100 hours of night flying
  • 75 hours of instrument time (actual or simulated – 50 hours must be in airplanes)
  • 25 hours of night PIC
  • Must be at least 21 years of age and finish ATP written prior to start of New Hire Training
  • Total flight time minimums:
    • 1,500 hours
    • 1,250 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 30 aviation hours
    • 1,000 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 60 aviation hours
    • 750 hours – military flight training graduates
American Eagle Aircraft operated by Envoy

PSA Airlines Pilots Salary

PSA Airlines pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 75 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

PSA Airlines First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $35,100
  • Year 5: $36,000
  • Year 9: $36,000

PSA Airlines Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $58,500
  • Year 5: $67,500
  • Year 15: $81,900

See more pilot salaries by airline.

How Do I Apply for an PSA Airlines Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the PSA Airlines jobs website and create a profile. After creating a profile, find which open position in which you’d like to apply. As you continue to fly be sure to update your profile regularly to improve your chances of being selected for an interview.

UPS is a U.S Cargo airline that was founded in 1988, in Louisville, KY.  Currently, UPS has close to 3,000 pilots working for them.

In 2019, UPS made $61 billion in revenue delivering close to 5.5 billion packages.  UPS delivers about 22 million packages per day to over 200 countries.

Where are UPS Hubs?

  • Anchorage, AK – ANC
  • Miami, FL – MIA
  • San Bernardino, CA – ONT
  • Columbia, SC – CAE
  • Chicago-Rockford, IL – RFD
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – DFW
  • Philadelphia, PA – PHL
  • Hong Kong, China – HKG
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – KUL
  • Shanghai-Pudong, China – PVG
  • Shenzhen, China – SZX
  • Cologne Bonn, Germany – CGN
  • East Midlands, England – EMA
  • Hamilton, Canada – YHM

What airplanes are in the UPS Fleet?

  • Airbus A300-F4
  • Boeing 747-100
  • Boeing 747-200
  • Boeing 747-400
  • Boeing 747-800
  • Boeing 747-SR
  • Boeing 757-200
  • Boeing 767-300
  • McDonnell MD-11

What are the Hiring Requirements for UPS Pilots?

For UPS pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There are the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

UPS Pilot Job Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university
  • Recent and type of experience will be considered; for example, preference given to candidates with demonstrated flight experience in transport category aircraft within the last 12 months from date of application.
  • Minimum of 1,000 hours Pilot in Command (PIC) hours in fixed-wing jet and/or fixed-wing multi-engine turboprop per 14 CFR 1.1 (UPS will allow military candidates to add a plus (.3) per sortie factor to flight time.)

UPS Pilots Salary

Just like the passenger airlines, UPS pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 81 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

UPS First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $50,000
  • Year 5: $200,000
  • Year 9: $235,000

UPS Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $50,000
  • Year 5: $312,000
  • Year 15: $329,000

Discover how much pilots make for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for a UPS Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the UPS jobs website. At the time of writing, UPS doesn’t have any pilot jobs posted but you can sign up for alerts to find out when they start hiring again.

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All too often, students look at the private pilot license as a stepping stone to other things. But the private is a powerful certificate that grants amazing privileges to its holder. What can you do with a private pilot license? Maybe a better question is, what can’t you do with it!

Every flight instructor reading this is obligated now to point out that there are limitations on the private license, including that you cannot get paid for your flying. But there are lots of exceptions to even that!

What can you do with a private pilot license? Here are ten examples to get you started.

1. Take Family & Friends Flying

Once you’ve gotten your license, one of the most fun things you can do is share flying with the people who are closest to you. They’ve all heard how much you love flying and how much you’ve learned from your flying lessons. So show them what it’s all about!

Private pilots are allowed to carry passengers, just not for hire. Interestingly enough, private pilots can split the costs of a flight with friends and family.

That means if you have a group who wants to fly with you, they can help you pay for it all. The FAA uses the term “pro-rata share;” you must pay for your part of the flight.

If you have one other person, then you can divide the costs in half. If there are four of you, you must pay for a quarter. Costs can include rental fees, fuel, and whatever other costs are associated with the actual flight.

Many pilots learn to fly in two-seat aircraft, limiting the number of passengers you can carry with you. But there’s no limit on the type of plane a private pilot can fly as long as they meet the ratings on your license.

If you are rated to fly single-engine land airplanes, you can fly any of them, so long as they are less than 12,500 pounds and not turbine powered.

If you’ve never flown a four or six-seater, the first step is to find one for rent. Upgrading to a four-seat Cessna or Piper is easy, and they fly very similar to the smaller varieties. Before you can rent it, the FBO will require a check-out with their instructor to familiarize you with the plane. It’s not a test or anything–it’s just a quick and easy flight lesson.

Six-seaters are usually high-performance airplanes, which will require more training. Likewise, “complex planes,” with flaps, adjustable propellers, and retractable landing gear, will require additional training.

Plane on the ramp at night

2. Fly at Night

Your training included a few hours of night flight, and you’re allowed to fly anytime you like.

Night flights are a lot of fun since they provide a beautiful view of the world from above, especially over cities. Airports are neat at night, too.

3. Check Out a Fly-In or Aviation Festival

Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Lakeland, Florida, host the first and second-largest fly-ins in the world, respectively. EAA Airventure in Oshkosh is a colossal aviation festival.

Hundreds of airplanes converge on the town every year in late July. Sun-n-Fun is its southern cousin, and nearly as big. It takes place in Lakeland, near Orlando, every April.

Both events are part fly-in, part industry trade show, and part airshow.

You’ll see planes from all different areas of aviation and meet pilots from all over the world. There are seminars to learn new skills and plenty of pilot toys to check out.

Flying into these events takes a little planning. There are always special traffic procedures to handle the astonishing amount of aircraft that converge on these airports.

At Lakeland, for example, they divide up both the main runway and its parallel taxiway into thirds, creating six separate landing areas and touchdown points. It can be intense, but with a little planning, it’s worth the trouble.

There are also many regional aviation meet-ups and fly-ins all over the country. Find the local place to fly-in for weekend breakfasts or barbecues.

Another option is an aerobatic competition, which is also a lot of fun if you can find them in your area.

4. Learn a New Skill

One thing that keeps aviation interesting is that there’s always something new to learn.

The private license is just the first step you take. You might buy a Cessna and fly for fun for the rest of your aviation career, but that doesn’t stop you from trying new things and expanding your skills.

A few of the things you can try out are aerobatics, flying a taildragger, or mountain flying. These are all skills that your license allows you to do, but they generally aren’t covered in your training.

All you have to do is find a flight instructor who is an expert and get a few hours of dual instructor. Taildraggers; high-performance planes with more than 200-horsepower; and complex planes with flaps, retractable landing gear, and constant-speed propellers require an instructor endorsement.

And, of course, many pilots love honing their skills enough to pursue other ratings. The instrument rating takes your flying to the next level by teaching you how to fly like the professionals.

It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a big challenge, but your flying skills will improve ten-fold.

5. Take a Business Trip

Your certificate allows for you to fly in the furtherance of business. That means that if you travel for work, you can rent or buy a plane to do that traveling in.

Just like your business can reimburse you for fuel and automobile operating expenses, so too can they reimburse you for plane expenses.

If you travel by car for work, flying can make a lot of sense. It saves you time compared to driving, and it can get you to nearly anywhere you need to go.

Use your private pilot license to take a business trip

Look at all of the general aviation airports that serve the communities in which you work. Many FBOs have courtesy cars or access to rental cars.

6. Fly for a Charity

You’re allowed to donate your time to charity flying with a private certificate.

Examples of the most popular charities involve providing flights to people who need distant medical care or helping move rescue pets to their forever homes.

There are also environmental charities conducting survey flights or taking scientists aloft, or taking passengers who have always dreamed of flying on trips.

Flying Magazine has compiled a great list of many aviation charities. The choice of charities varies depending on your region of the country.

7. Take Your Date Night to New Heights

Want to impress a special someone? Try a romantic flight! It can be a simple trip around the pattern if they’re nervous or as involved as a weekend trip to the mountains or beach.

The $100 Hamburger trip for a romantic dinner after a cross country is a date never to be forgotten, and it doesn’t have to be a hamburger.

8. Fly Internationally

There aren’t any substantial limits on traveling with your private license; you can fly all over the world.

If you’re on a trip and you’d like to go flying, it may be as simple as heading to the nearest GA airport and going up with an instructor.

Depending on the country and their requirements, you may even be able to rent a plane and go up alone.

If you want to stick closer to home, check out some closer borders you can legally cross. Canada, Mexico, and The Bahamas all make outstanding aviation destinations. Flying internationally requires a little bit of studying to make sure you understand your destination’s rules and regulations.

There are always little differences to brush up on. If you’re renting a plane, an instructor will help you with a check-out flight. If you’re on your own, call AOPA or the country in question’s aviation department.

Of course, once you put home behind you, you might not want to stop anytime soon. How about South America, the Caribbean, or maybe Europe? Many pilots dream of flying around the world in a general aviation airplane. What an adventure!

There are plenty of blogs and stories to check out from pilots who have done it. Joining the “Earthrounder” club is truly a bucket list dream.

9. Go Traveling and Sightseeing

You don’t have to leave home to see some cool stuff. The United States has one of the most varied landscapes of any nation.

From sea to shining sea, America is made for flying. An aerial tour of the country is a great way to see a lot and to see it in a way that many people would only ever dream of.

Private pilots can fly nearly anywhere. For most of the country, VFR flying requires no notice and no approvals. Just hop in your plane and go!

Remember, if you are a flat-lander traveling to the mountains, it’s a good idea to look into getting a mountain check-out flight from a knowledgeable certified flight instructor.

Even if you don’t want to go far, there are many places to see from the air closer to home.

10. Share Your Passion for Aviation With Others

You already know that you can take folks flying, but there are other ways to share your passion.

The FAA Ground Instructor certificate is a great way to get into mentoring and teaching. The certificate requires nothing more than a few written exams.

After a little bit of studying and passing those tests, you get your license and teach ground school classes. It’s an easy first step towards becoming a flight instructor, and it puts you ahead of the game if you ever wanted to get your commercial.

Air Wisconsin is a U.S regional airline that was originally founded in 1965 as its own company.

Now however, Air Wisconsin operates on behalf of United Airlines and United Express.  Air Wisconsin travels to over 70 cities in North America.  There are currently almost 600 pilots working for Air Wisconsin.

Where are Air Wisconsin Hubs?

  • Dulles, VA – IAD
  • Chicago, IL – ORD
  • Milwaukee, WI – MKE

What airplanes are in the Air Wisconsin Fleet?

  • Bombardier CRJ200

What are the Hiring Requirements for Air Wisconsin Pilots?

For Air Wisconsin pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time
Air Wisconsin pilot

Air Wisconsin Pilot Job Requirements:

  • FAA commercial pilot’s license with multi-engine and instrument ratings
  • 50 hours of multi-engine fixed-wing flight time (may be reduced to 25)
  • 200 hours cross-country flight time
  • 250 hours fixed-wing PIC
  • 100 hours of cross-country as PIC
  • 100 hours of night flying
  • 75 hours of instrument time (actual or simulated – 50 hours must be in airplanes)
  • 25 hours of night PIC
  • Must be at least 21 years of age and finish ATP written prior to start of New Hire Training
  • Total flight time minimums:
    • 1,500 hours
    • 1,250 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 30 aviation hours
    • 1,000 hours – with qualifying 2- or 4-year aviation university program with 60 aviation hours
    • 750 hours – military flight training graduates

Air Wisconsin Pilot Salary

 Air Wisconsin pilot’s pay will vary based on the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 75 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

Air Wisconsin First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $37,000
  • Year 5: $49,000
  • Year 8: $53,000

Air Wisconsin Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $71,000
  • Year 5: $81,000
  • Year 12: $100,000

Discover how much pilots earn for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for an Air Wisconsin Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the Air Wisconsin website. At the time of writing, Air Wisconsin doesn’t have any pilot jobs posted but you can sign up for alerts to find out when they start hiring pilots again.

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Delta Air Lines is a global commercial airline. Nearly 200 million passengers fly to over 300 destinations in 50 countries. Currently, Delta has over 13,000 pilots. Read on to learn how much you could earn on a Delta Air Lines pilot salary.

Where are Delta’s Bases?

  • Atlanta, GA – ATL (World’s largest airline hub)
  • Boston, MA – BOS
  • Detroit, MI – DTW
  • Los Angeles, CA – LAX
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN – MSP
  • Queens, NY – JFK
  • Salt Lake City, UT – SLC
  • Seattle, WA – SEA
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – AMS
  • London-Heathrow, United Kingdom – LHR
  • Paris-Charles de Gaulle, France – CDG
  • Seoul, South Korea – ICN
  • Mexico City, Mexico – MEX
  • Tokyo, Japan – HND

What airplanes are in the Delta Air Lines Fleet?

  • Airbus A221
  • Airbus A223
  • Airbus A319
  • Airbus A320
  • Airbus A321
  • Airbus A332
  • Airbus A333
  • Airbus A339
  • Airbus A350
  • Boeing 717
  • Boeing 738
  • Boeing 739ER
  • Boeing 752
  • Boeing 753
  • Boeing 757-200 VIP
  • Boeing 763ER
  • Boeing 764ER
Delta Air Lines Planes on the ground

What are the Hiring Requirements for Delta Pilots?

For Delta Air Lines pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

Delta Air Lines Pilot Job Requirements:

  • At least 23 years of age
  • Graduate of a four-year degree program from a college or university accredited by a U.S. Dept. of Education recognized accrediting organization
    • Degrees obtained from a non-U.S. institution must be evaluated for equivalency to U.S. degrees by a member organization of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES)
  • Current passport or other travel documents enabling the bearer to freely exit and re-enter the U.S. (multiple reentry status) and be legally eligible to work in the U.S. (possess proper working documents)
  • Minimum of 1,500 hours of total documented flight time
  • Minimum of 1,000 hours of fixed wing turbine time (airplane and powered lift combined)
  • Minimum of 250 hours PIC or SIC as defined in 14 CFR §61.159(a)(5) in an airplane category
  • Minimum of 50 hours of multi-engine airplane time
  • TSA required fingerprint based Criminal History Records Check and a Delta background check
Delta Plane being towed

Delta Air Lines Pilot Salary

Delta’s pilots pay will vary heavily based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 74 hour monthly and reserve guarantee. Given this, the salary below is only a rough estimate of annual pay based on available sources.

Delta Air Lines First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $92,000
  • Year 5: $166,000
  • Year 8: $187,000

Delta Air Lines Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $251,000
  • Year 5: $260,000
  • Year 12: $274,000

Discover how much pilots earn for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for a Delta Air Lines Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the Air Delta Air Lines website. At the time of writing, Delta doesn’t have any pilot jobs posted but check back often to see when they start hiring pilots again.

As a job, flight instruction straddles a fuzzy zone between professional pilot and professor.

You need to have a flight bag full of goodies to do your job correctly. Some of that stuff you will have been carrying around since day one of your pilot training, while other things are new tools you need to teach.

Here’s a look at some of the supplies you might want to consider purchasing for your CFI training, which you’ll use every day while teaching students.

You can find a lot of flight instructor supplies lying around your flight school or FBO. Some flight schools have built up a collection of old instruments, classroom aides, and various props that instructors can grab when they need them.

Other times, you’ll be working on your own in an empty hanger. In those cases, you’ll need to think ahead and figure out what you need when.

An Organization and Note System

If there’s one constant in flight instruction, it’s the need to take copious notes. You’ll take notes in the plane, on the ground, before and after the flight, and during ground lessons.

The key to your success will depend on how organized you can keep those notes. Of all of the instructor tools you can have, a clean and tidy note system is the one that will pay for itself first.

Tablets like the Apple iPad offer fantastic versatility for flight instructors. There are hundreds of apps you can browse that will help you teach, both on the ground and in the air.

Notability is a great app that can help you organize your notes into binders for each student. Notes can consist of handwriting, typed text, photos, or video.

You can even make PDF templates to make all of your notes match the same format or your school’s lesson plans.

Most pilots already know about Foreflight and the wonderful tools it has for pilots. Foreflight has some great options for instructors, too, including route recording and having any chart at your fingertips. Since many of your students will want to use it, it helps to be knowledgeable about this app yourself.

Also, give some consideration to the power of your tablet and how it can help organize the rest of your flying life. Look for apps that educators use in the classroom.

Explain Everything is a great one. It allows you to create multimedia slideshows that can be projected and presented. During the presentation, you can quickly annotate, draw, and point to things.

There’s another great app that shows a wind tunnel simulator. You can put in different shapes and airfoils, and you can change the angle of attack right on the screen.

One of the handiest accessories you can have for your tablet is a high-quality stylus. Even though many tablets don’t come with them, they are available as an accessory.

With the iPad, most are now compatible with the Apple Pencil, but you can still find many generic styluses online for older units.

Some people don’t like taking notes or record-keeping on a tablet, which is fine too. But it’s still just as essential to have a dedicated note-taking and organization system.

Demonstration Props

As a CFI teaching students, you’re going to spend your time trying to convey some pretty abstract and complicated subjects. In the process, it helps to have something physical to point at and talk about.

For every lesson plan that you can think of, try to find something you could have on hand to relate it to.

Gyroscopes are a great example. It’s one thing to read about rigidity in space and gyroscopic precession in the book, but it’s an entirely different thing to feel it in your hands or see it before your eyes. How can you make that happen?

Pick up an antique-style toy gyroscope top. You pull the string, and with the top spinning on a book, you can easily show rigidity in space. Tap the side with a pencil, and precession comes to life.

Another excellent prop for the gyroscope discussion is a custom-built bicycle wheel. This one doesn’t fit in your flight bag easily. With a handle mounted on the hub that the student can hold, you can make enough force to surprise them when gyroscopic precession hits in a place they might not be looking.

Any airplane parts you can get your hands on, be it from real planes or model ones, are helpful.

You can use a small propeller from an RC model plane to talk about P-factor and washout. A small model plane with control surfaces helps show stability, the directions of motion, and types of controls.


You might already have a collection of aviation books, but it is convenient to have your references and sources close at hand. And while all of these publications are available on your tablet, having paper copies in the classroom is handy for finding things quickly while discussing with your students.

The most important books to have around are the FAR/AIM, the FAA handbooks, and your aircraft’s POH/AFM.

Old Paper Charts

On that same note, it’s handy to have a collection of old charts around. On the one hand, many students are no longer buying physical charts and relying solely on their tablets.

Their instructor’s paper charts might be the only time they get to hold paper examples, which is a shame.

You can learn a lot about a chart just by studying the publication in its entirety. When was the last time you looked at a chart and perused the legend?

Class D airspace

The new digital equivalents are outstanding, but for beginners, they sometimes don’t make a lot of sense and can seem ad hoc in their structure.

Primary instructors should keep a drawer full of old sectionals, especially ones from other parts of the country with features their students don’t see in the local area.

Flatland students will especially enjoy looking at sectionals from mountainous areas. Don’t forget to have a TAC and a WAC for reference, too.

Instrument instructors will need even more options. Like the VFR sectionals and chart supplements, instrument charts are best learned initially from the paper examples. Students learn on either Jeppsen or government charts, and as the CFII, you should have a set of both to teach the differences between the two systems.

Classroom Supplies

Some flight instructors use shared classrooms, while others use their own space all the time. Their preparation will largely depend on the overall organization of their flight school.

If space is shared, you should assume that what you need to teach will not be there when you need it. Bring your own supplies. The biggest thing missing nearly every flight lesson–functional dry erase markers.

If you teach from a tablet, you might want to make sure you have access to a compatible projector in your classroom.

A poster of the cockpit of your training plane is handy for chair-flying activities. If you can find one that matches exactly, you’ll increase your student’s positive learning between the classroom and the cockpit.

How to get a private pilot license

Instrument Training Tools

Never count on your students to have their own supplies, either.

It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them; the time will eventually come when even the best-prepared student has forgotten something.

For the CFII, it’s usually their instrument hood or goggles. Keep a spare set in your flight bag to save the lesson.

It’s also up to the instructor to have some form of instrument covers. There are simple suction-cupped rubber covers for steam gauges or cling-film covers for electronic displays.

Airplane Supplies

There’s an entire list of things that you may find handy to have when operating an aircraft as a flight instructor.

You’re teaching your student how to be a self-sufficient pilot, but at the same time, you’re operating as the school’s representative and as the veteran pilot onboard.

Some schools may keep their planes stocked with these items, but other places may put the responsibility onto the pilots.

Here are just a few items that you might want to keep in your flight bag or at least in your office.

  • Windscreen cleaner cloth and water in a spray bottle
  • Tire gauge
  • Manual fuel gauge
  • Fuel testing jar
  • Spare batteries for your headset
  • backup battery for your tablet
  • A nice multitool with flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers

Instructor Go-Kit

Finally, think about the personal things you’d like to have handy after a long day on the job.

Think through some what-if scenarios. What if, at the apex of a long cross country, the plane breaks down at a distant airport?

It’s not out of the realm of possibility, and it might be a day or two until a mechanic can get to it. Should you pack a full overnight bag when you go on long trips?

That might be overkill, but if you’ve got a track record for this sort of diversion, no one will fault you for it.

Some in-between level of preparedness is likely sufficient. Throw a travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush in your bag, along with some emergency snacks and a big water bottle.

It also can’t hurt to have sanitizer wipes and even a first aid kit if you fly in planes that don’t already have those supplies onboard.

And all flight instructors will benefit from a pack of gum or breath mints, even if you only have them to subtly offer your students.

What are your top recommended flight instructor supplies?

Flight instructors know that learning plateaus are a natural part of learning a new skill. It’s happened to all of us at one point during our training.

You’re progressing fine, until one day you just can’t get it. Maybe it’s nailing the flare for landing, or maybe it’s reading a specific type of performance chart (I’m looking at you, crosswind component chart).

Whatever it is, everyone else seems to get it except for you. It’s a terrible feeling, and you aren’t sure what to do about it when it’s happening.

good flight instructor should have a few tools in their flight bag for dealing with inevitable learning blocks. With the right techniques, you can guide your students through these rough patches and start making positive progress again in no time.

All students will have the occasional hangup every once in a while, but it’s seldom a cause for concern.

Set Realistic Expectations

The best way to prevent learning blocks is to set your students up for a positive training experience early on in their flying careers.

If you train younger, career-path students, they are far more likely to worry about their progress and compare themselves to their peers than adult learners.

But no matter the age of your student, they will have a learning plateau at one point or another.

When you first meet with your students, plan a conversation about the phases of flight training and what they can expect. Point out that they will likely experience a plateau at some point and that it’s a natural part of the learning process.

Your goal is to set realistic expectations and reduce their anxiety before they ever even have any.

flight instructor checking the plane

An equally important point of this conversation is to convey that everyone learns these skills differently and that it’s perfectly normal for some to progress faster than others.

It may sound a small thing to the instructor, but what you’re doing is laying a foundation for a positive culture among your students. And, in case there was any doubt, your students are comparing notes and talking about their flying when you’re not around.

Accept the Challenge

The first thing to do when you see your student plateau is to tackle the thing head-on.

Start by ensuring that your student has a positive attitude about it; you do not want them giving up too quickly or getting discouraged early on. Break the task, maneuver, or ground lesson into smaller, more attainable goals.

Remember the building blocks you learned in the fundamentals of instruction? Start putting them to good use.

Make sure they’ve mastered all the skills leading up to this point, and break the problem-making task into as many baby steps as you can. The great thing about smaller goals is that they can help you transition a level plateau into a slow and steady ascent.

Try Something Completely Different

So you’ve tried explaining it every way you know how, you’ve taken the controls and demonstrated the task, but it’s still not clicking.

Try turning the table and make your student play flight instructor. Have them do more talking, and see if you can find in the gaps their understanding.

If none of this is working, starting asking senior instructors if they’ve ever had this same problem. You’d be amazed at how one innocuous little tip can completely change the entire scenario.

If nothing in your toolbox is working, it’s time to step back.

Your student can’t keep going up and doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. It’s time to take a break, so skip the lesson and come back to it later.

Let them excel at something different to rebuild their enthusiasm and confidence.

You can even just take a flight for fun. If you’ve got a pre-solo student who just can’t get their landing consistent, trying taking them on a cross country for a hamburger.

Or just have them take a mini-vacation with a week off from flying.

Have Them Fly with Another Instructor

Flying with a different instructor is a fantastic way for your students to learn something new. Don’t let your ego get in the way here.

It says nothing about your skills as an instructor; no instructor has ever been able to teach every student everything.

flight instructor and student doing preflight check

Sometimes instructor changes are simply for personality reasons, and sometimes their just because you need a little advice on how to handle an individual student’s training.

It might help not to let on that the change is due to the learning plateau—but do brief the other instructor on the situation. Then tell your student that they’ll have to fly with whatshisface on the next flight due to a scheduling conflict.

You don’t want them worried about their performance or stressing about the change. You just want them to have a positive flight with another instructor.

Invite Them to Backseat

Another thing you can do is have them backseat with a more advanced student. If that student is working on the same task, that might be good or bad.

The purpose of back seating is to just get your blocked student out of their headspace for an hour or two. It’s not just to say, “See, this guy can do it!”

Let them observe another student learning something.

Probably the best scenario is if that other student is having trouble with some other task. Show them that other pilots have these same problems and that with perseverance and hard work, they will get over them.

What other tips do you have for flight instructors to help their students through learning plateaus?

One of the most challenging parts of being a CFI is also one of the things that flight instructor training doesn’t prepare you for—dealing with the constant flow of students.

It’s incredible how quickly a full flight schedule can make you feel like you’re falling behind. The more flying you do, the more recordkeeping and notes you’ll have to take.

The only way to keep your head above water is to develop a system that works for you, one that you’ll stick with.

6 Tips for CFI Organization

Lesson Plans for the Real-World

Lesson plans are discussed at length in CFI training, but real-world lesson plan use is different than what is usually taught. Nearly every flight school has a curriculum set up, so all the flight instructor has to do is follow it. FAR Part 141 flight schools have these curriculums approved, but even FAR Part 61 schools use some sort of syllabus, be it from Jeppesen, Cessna, or their own creation.

So you don’t have to come up with the elements of the lesson plan, but you do have to follow it. The closer you follow it, the easier your job becomes.

To keep you on track, you should have a print out of the lesson plan with you at all times when you’re with your student. You can check off tasks as you complete them and keep notes about how well the student performed.

Take Notes…Lots of Notes

The printed lesson plan page is an excellent place to take general notes, too. The more notes you take during a flight, the better.

If you’re going to move right on to your next flight student as this student leaves the building, you’re going to need to remember this flight or ground lesson later.

If you teach six or seven students in one day, that becomes increasingly difficult.

Sometimes, you might not see the student again for a month or more. The only solution is to take notes as things happen.

Notes from each meeting with a student are essential on many levels. On the one hand, reviewing your notes helps you remember what happened the next time you meet with that student.

Your notes also help brief other instructors should your student fly with someone else. If your student is up for a progress check, the chief or assistant chief can review the student’s progress through your notes and find areas they might want to know more about.

Your instructor notes provide a more complete picture of the student’s learning than the lesson plan and standard grading scheme allow.

Taking notes during the flight often makes students nervous. If you have to jot down notes, it’s probably not good, right? Their minds immediately begin to wonder what they’ve done and what the heck are you writing.

Flight instructors talking in the hangar

You can attempt to stop this from the get-go by telling every student that you have a terrible memory and need to write everything down.

Point out that you write down as many good things as bad, which is a good habit to have anyway. Once they get used to seeing you write notes, they’ll tune it out.

Taking notes in the air requires a little practice.

A kneeboard is good, but you often don’t want your student to read the notes before getting back on the ground.

Printing your lesson plans on a half-page printout and folding it over like a greeting card enables you to make notes on the lesson plan as needed and on the blank side for general notes, too.

Whatever you do needs to be quickly accessible in a crowded cockpit when under pressure, so keep it organized and tidy. Using shorthand or other abbreviations is a great idea.

Tidy Recordkeeping

These notes won’t do you any good if you don’t have a tidy system of recordkeeping.

Many instructors inherit the system that their school uses. But many schools only keep the bare legal minimum and leave lesson notes and instructor briefings up to the CFIs.

In that case, you’ll need to ask around and see what the other instructors do.

It gives you the flexibility to create your own awesome system, but it also means you have to do all the work of creating your own awesome system.

Leverage New Technologies

The tablets that many of us use in the cockpit have a plethora of apps that can help us take notes and keep organized.

One of the best apps is called Notability. It’s a simple note-taking app that allows you to handwrite notes and organize them into folders. Handwriting with a stylus is much faster than typing, making it more useful in the air.

You can also draw, add photos or video, and use it to annotate PDF files. If your school’s lesson plans are in PDF format, you can load them into Notability and mark them up as needed.

You can then type them out later, or at least clean up the illegible parts.

Tablets are great ways to stay organized for many other reasons, though.

You can download many FAA handbooks and publications to the tablet, freeing up your flight bag and reducing the time it takes you to find bits of info. ASA makes a great, searchable FAR/AIM app.

You can also use the voice recorder or video camera apps to record notes or student interactions, with their permission, of course.

Record them doing a maneuver in flight, and then replay and talk about it during the debrief.

flight instructor reaching into airplane

Tablets lend themselves to the cockpit exceptionally well. Popular flight apps, like Foreflight, give you approach charts, sectionals, and planning tools.

But the productivity apps that are useful in the classroom can also be applied in the cockpit by CFIs.

Plan for the Paperwork

Paperwork is not the glamorous part of being a CFI, but it is one of the most critical parts.

Most pilots have an open disdain for paperwork. It’s the closest thing to a real-job that they have to do, after all. And CFIs have even more of it than most pilots do.

The unfortunate truth is that most CFIs don’t dedicate enough time to doing the paperwork.

At the end of the day, you’ve got a mountain of notes you need to go over, and you need to organize each student’s records. But you’re also exhausted and ready to head home.

Most flight schedules don’t afford the time to allow a CFI to make their notes during the day since the next student is often ready and waiting by the time you’re done with a lesson.

So what’s the solution? A lot of it depends on your school’s scheduling policy. You can always maximize any gaps in your schedule from bad weather or no-shows by doing paperwork.

But you can also build in extra time throughout the day, just 30 minutes here and there, to make sure you don’t fall behind on paperwork.

Perfect Your System

Over time, you’ll pick up on exactly how much you need to do and when.

It’s essential to look at your recordkeeping as a whole system, one which gets completed due to planning and strategy.

If every student has a matching record jacket, and every flight has a form-based lesson plan with a notes section, it’s a lot easier to keep doing the same thing for every flight.

The key to making this work is to ensure that you keep the FAA, the school, your students, and yourself happy. The school and the FAA are worried about the legal minimums—lesson plans completed and organized, various vital records kept safe.

But you and the student should be interested in their learning progress and ensuring that you’re prepared for their next lesson by remembering precisely what they need to work on.