Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pilot Career: From Dream To Reality

Everything you need to know to step into a professional cockpit the modern way

pilot careerFor the first time in 30 years, becoming a professional pilot is within the reach of people who once only dreamed of it. We’re in an unprecedented time of skyrocketing demand for pilots, and the number of aviation jobs grows daily. The sky is calling, and if that has been your dream, now is the time to act.
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Regional airlines no longer require instructing time, and the academies bypass the traditional CFI route.
“We offer the airline the most qualified copilot possible,” adds Raker. “We don’t teach them to be flight instructors.” Pilot demand is so great that the regionals have also lowered minimum flying times to unheard of levels—250 hours in many cases. College degrees aren’t required either.

Academies have agreements with regional airlines in which they feed pilots directly to them at lower hiring minimums than nonacademy applicants. “The airlines that hire our graduates know the quality they’re getting,” says Gary Niskar of Westwind Academy. “Our students have trained to airline standards in our Airline Crew Orientation Program.”

The bottom line is that a sharp, healthy and motivated career-changer can today go from zero experience to first officer, flying for a regional airline, in under a year. The training academies are also an excellent route
for those who already have a degree and only need the flight-training part.

Schools & Training 101
The variety of schools and training academies can be overwhelming. Here we show you what’s unique about each.
School/Academy Contact What Makes Them Unique
Airline Transport Professionals (ATP) (800) 255-2877
Ultrafast. Fixed-cost pricing. Self-paced or fixed-length programs.
American Flyers (800) 273-4954
Finish-up programs for pilots who started their training elsewhere. Full training also available.
Baylor Institute for Air Science (254) 710-3563
Earth- and environment-centric programs designed to foster environmental care through scientist-pilots.
Delta Connection Academy (407) 330-7020
Subsidiary of Delta Airlines. 17 years in business. Excellent reputation. International students.
Embry-Riddle University (800) 862-2416
35 aviation degrees to choose from. Industry leader. Brand-new all-glass training fleet. Part 142 training center.
Flight Training Services International (877) 577-2278
Advanced training environment with camera-equipped simulators and Avidyne panels. Mirrors military training.
FlightSafety Academy (800) 800-1411
Advanced-technology learning facilities and simulators. “Business Jet Direct” program. Safety emphasized.
Florida Institute of Technology (321) 674-8120
Affiliated with American Eagle. Personal attention. Fleet of Pipers and SR22s. Aerobatics.
Gulfstream Training Academy (877) 359-4853
Training airline. Students fly international routes to Havana in turbine aircraft. Fast program.
Middle Georgia College (866) 374-6980
Beautiful campus. Eight degree programs and 19 certificate programs. Out-of-state tuition waivers.
Oklahoma State University (405) 744-5000
Small college. Low tuition (currently about $60,000 including training). Out-of-state tuition waivers.
San Juan College (800) 232-6327
Guaranteed first-officer interview after successful completion of training. 95% hire rate with Mesa. Low tuition.
Southern Illinois University (618) 453-1147
Students fly faculty execs and medical school missions. Internships with eight airlines. Turbine transition course. King Air sims.
Spartan College of Aeronautics (918) 836-6886
80 years of aviation training. Excellent reputation. Multi-engine experience during primary training.
University of Cincinnati—Clermont College (866) 446-2822
Two-year Professional Pilot Program offered in conjunction with Sporty’s Academy.
University of North Dakota (701) 777-4761
Liberal arts degree. Bridge program to JetBlue. Fleet of SR20s and Pipers.
Utah Valley State College (801) 863-7825
Online programs available. Quality at an affordable price. Excellent location. Airline affiliations.
Westwind School of Aeronautics (480) 302-9911
737 course. Students don’t prepay. No training contract. New training fleet. Affiliated with Colgan Air.


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