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Today’s Flight Plan

We all start with this big dream- we want to become a pilot! But with so many things in the way, being cost, medical issues, and more, how does a teenager do it in today’s world?

I give you my practical advice on how you can use a simulator to start your training early, augment your training while you’re going, and finish sooner and cheaper as a result.

Why not use today’s amazing simulator technology to help become pilots?

From there, it takes a whole lot of P-H-D. PASSION, HARD WORK, and DETERMINATION!

Learn how you can start today, and how to get ahead of the game. We all start somewhere. There’s no reason you can’t start training today!

Useful Links

Flight Simulator X
X-Plane
Prepar3D
Why you should have a yoke, throttle, and rudder pedals
ASA (Text Books)

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Big thanks to Atrasolis for providing the great music for our podcast. Please check them out on their Facebook Page or SoundCloud and get the music you’ve heard for free.

Crew

Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.

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Transcript

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Split the clouds and kiss the runway. This is AviatorCast episode 40!

Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff. Here’s your host, Chris Palmer!

Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. As a young lad, I found myself intrigued by airplanes. Then one day I realized that I could learn to be a pilot myself. It all made sense so I went out and went after it. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight simulation training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an art form, one that we have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility and a commitment to excellence. Show notes, transcript, community discussion and links for this episode can be found by simply going to AviatorCast.com.

So welcome to this, the 40th episode of AviatorCast. It is our joy and pleasure to have you here today, part of our crew. We hope that you’re going to get something awesome from this podcast. I think this is a specific subject that a lot of you younger guys have been looking out for but it’s also applicable to you older guys, so be on the lookout for that.

Before we get to the content on today’s show, I want to let you guys know that we kind of broke one of our records here, or we at least surpassed a pretty big number in downloads. AviatorCast has been around for the last 10 months now, just over 10 months, and in that time frame, we have done 100,000 downloads. We have officially gone past the 100,000 mark. Exactly just a few minutes ago I checked, we’re at 101,903. So, huge thanks to all the listenership. All you guys out there that are listening to the episode each and every week. I know that you guys love this. Make sure you share it and we’d love to hear your feedback by leaving a review on iTunes or by writing us at AviatorCast.com. We’d love to hear from you and we’d love for more people to hear about AviatorCast as well. We feel like we bring some very cool and compelling things to the aviation industry and to training specifically.

So, I wanted to get that out of the way. Huge announcement. Pretty cool that we finally surpassed 100,000 downloads. I hope it’s just the beginning of a great journey for us.

So today we’re going to be talk about going from being a teen to becoming a pilot. I will give you guys some tips, tricks and advice to get your pilot’s license in your teens. Now, I want to mention that this is not just for teenagers. All of these things apply that I will be saying some specific things for teenagers like how they need to do in school and when they can actually solo and things like that that are specific to teens but if you are a pilot out there or someone who wants to be a pilot, a lot of these things are going to apply to you too whether you are 15 or 50. So keep that in mind in listening to this podcast. Certainly don’t turn it off because you’re not in your teens anymore. There is certainly something to learn here.

So I am going to break this show up into two different segments. We’re going to have a flight simulation specific segment for this topic and a flight training segment. So first off, we’re going to get into the flight simulation segment, so I’ll see you guys in there.

And now, the flight simulation segment…

Chris: Alright, I’m really excited to talk about this topic because I think there are a lot of teenagers out there that are kind of trying to put the pieces together and wondering how they become a pilot and kind of all these lingering questions they have about where to go from here. You may have this passion and now you’re ready to move forward and start to learn some things about flying and how you can actually attain your pilot’s license. You may have some financial trouble. You may live in part of the world where it’s pretty expensive to learn to fly, that sort of thing, but there are so many ways to do this. I just want to mention some of things to you guys.

And of course, we’re going to start out with flight simulation. I am very passionate about flight simulation and that is because as a teenager, I started with flight simulation, and going through my teen years especially prior to getting my license as an actual private pilot, using a simulator helped me tremendously. I can’t even tell you how much it helped me. I remember feeling like during my training, a lot of the compliments I was getting from my instructors on how well I was controlling the aircraft and how fast I was progressing the program had so much to do with having had that time as a simulator pilot if you will. Now, I don’t think I’m anything special and I think that as pilots, we should all kind of think that we definitely aren’t made of special stuff. We’re all just kind of average. I am average too.

So in that, I wasn’t taking that as a compliment when my instructors were telling out to me that I was a good pilot. I was rather looking in the past saying “Okay, what had I done that prepared me and got me ready for this” and I attribute a lot of that to having gone through a private pilot, not a private pilot course, but actually having a simulator at home that I could use.

So, I’m going to go through some of the common questions that teenagers have about a simulator and we’ll try to answer some of those and maybe that will shed some light on why you should get a simulator in your teen years. You can start really early. You can start very early, 12 or 13 or whatever, very early in your teens to get a simulator and start. You don’t have to wait like you do to actually get a private pilot license. You can start learning a lot of these stuff now.

So again, I’m going to go through some of these common questions and kind of touch on some of the topics there and we’ll just buzz through these. So the first is why is a flight simulator so great? You guys here me talk about flight simulators all the time and maybe you are a flight simmer yourself, maybe you aren’t familiar with a flight simulator yet and I hope that you learn some information from this particular topic that will help you get in the right direction.

A few great things about a flight simulator. A flight simulator gives you infinite flight time. You can fly the simulator as much as you want. You’re not running up a bill or anything. You’re going to pay for the computer ahead of time, but you’re not paying for gas, you’re not paying for an instructor, you’re not paying for maintenance, you’re not paying for the airplane, you’re not paying for anything but initially that flight simulator. And once you have it all set up, you can just fly, fly, fly as much as you want and that’s one of the best things about a flight simulator.

Flight simulators are also very affordable. In the grand scheme of things, a flight simulator per the amount you can fly it is very, very affordable. If you think of a private pilot course where you’re paying anywhere between 150 or even 300, 400 dollars sometimes, maybe even 500, depends on where you live in the world, but paying a huge amount of money per hour to fly a real airplane, flying a simulator in that infinite amount is very affordable to be able to do these things in a simulator. So a simulator is super affordable.

Simulators these days are also very realistic and quite immersive. Technology has gone to the point and software has gone to the point where it’s starting to blur the lines between what is reality and what is actually a simulation. I think we’re always going to say that. I think we’re always going to say that there is more that a simulator can do or that “Man, it just looks better today than it ever has and hopefully that’s the way it continues to progress.” But these simulators are very realistic. They’re very immersive.

For example, I can load up here in my hometown. I can get the actual real-life weather. I can get the real-life traffic. I can get the look and feel of everything. I can get the real scenery to the point where I can fly around like find my house. It’s ridiculous how realistic and immersive a simulator is. And that’s the point of a simulator. You want to be able to forget at least momentarily little moments here and there that you’re not flying for real, and that’s what a great simulation does, and in today’s world, it’s just so realistic and immersive.

Also, a simulator is great because, exactly what we’re talking about here, you can learn ahead of time. You can learn before you actually go and do your private pilot or your flight training. So, you can take the things that maybe you learned from books and you can try them out in a simulator and you can use different courses like for example, our course here in Angle of Attack, Aviator90. You can get that for free at Aviator90.com. That is a 45-part video course on a lot of the basics and then you can go on your simulator and you can just again fly and fly and fly that infinite amount of flying and just learn a bunch of stuff before you every get in a real cockpit. Now, there are going to be some difficulties in that transition when you go to a real cockpit, and simulation isn’t exactly the same as flying the real world, they both kind of feel different, but at least you’re getting the idea and you’re getting in the system and you’re gaining that knowledge, so there’s a lot to learn.

A couple other things. You can repeat procedures quickly. So say that you come in for a landing, you kind of screw it up, you’re swirly on the approach and you don’t line up with the runway correctly and you come down and you pancaked your wheels. Heck, just reload the flight right there on maybe a couple miles out and just go down and do it again. Just do it again, do it again, do it again. Just repeat and repeat and repeat. That’s what I did with my simulator. I would just repeat things over and over again and I would just nail those landings and then when it came time to my private pilot, I have the feel for how things work. I definitely still had a lot to learn, I’m not saying that, but I had a general idea of how things worked.

Another kind of advanced thing with the simulator is that you can practice emergencies. So you can do things in a simulator that have grave consequences that you could not do in a real airplane like simulate an engine fire or simulate some other emergency that you just wouldn’t want to do in a real airplane. You wouldn’t want to just kill your engine in flight, not super smart, but you could practice all those things in a simulator and kind of get the idea.

And that’s what airlines do all the time. Airlines use these simulators, very high quality simulators to the extent that they teach a pilot all about that aircraft type and that pilot literally goes and flies the real airplane for the first time with passengers. He obviously have some guys there with him being the captain and also a check captain and stuff, but simulators are very good, very, very good.

So how much can you expect to pay for a simulator? So a simulator in and of itself is essentially gaming PC. It’s just like any regular PC. You can also run on a Mac but you’re generally going to be paying between 1000 and 1500 dollars to start if you want kind of an average system, and then if you want a really good system, it will go up from there. So anything that will run a game well, you’re wanting to basically get a system like that. And it’s just getting more affordable for the software that’s out today, so to run something like FSX, you can get something between 1000 and 1500 dollars that operates pretty good. But if you want to go above that and get it to be absolutely amazing, you can make it even more than that.

But I want to emphasize that the point of all these is for flight training and you’re not necessarily just building up a huge gaming PC so that when you’re not flying a simulator, you can play Grand Theft Auto or something. That’s not what I’m suggesting. I think that you need to focus on this being a simulator first and so with that said, maybe don’t spend so much money on the PC itself. Maybe focus on spending more money on the controls and stuff like that which we’ll talk about here next. So that’s kind of the PC component to it. That’s a big component. You can search online for kind of the best specifications to get and what will work for the simulator that you choose to use.

So what hardware do you need to run a simulator? What we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to simulate real flight, right? So what we need are the real controls for the airplane. That starts with the basics. We’re going to want a yoke or maybe a joystick but in most cases a yoke. You’re also going to want rudder pedals and you’re going to want throttle. All those at a minimum. A lot of people will go out and they’ll get the yoke and throttle combo from say someone like Cytec which is a very affordable package, just over, I think it’s about 150 dollars, somewhere in that range.

So they’d go out and buy this yoke and throttle package which just comes together, it just comes together that way, and they forget about the rudder pedals but I tell you what, if you add rudder pedals, it really increases your realism because you actually have to steer on the ground with the rudder pedals, you have to use the breaks. You’re controlling the aircraft in a realistic manner all the time whether you are in the air or on the ground and you’re having to add that rudder pedal component. So I think that is a minimum, to have your yoke, rudder pedals and throttle.

You can also add other peripherals like some people have a trim wheel that you can use. There are some instrument panels out there that you can build out and you can get pretty crazy especially if you get into the airline stuff or you can start to get some MCPs but we’re focusing on kind of the basic training package that you need to support you in a private pilot type of course. So I would say at minimum you need the yoke, rudder pedals, throttle and that will set you up pretty well to where you can really learn some of these subjects and practice a lot.

The software you need. So there are different simulators out there. People have different reasons for liking different simulators. So in a nutshell, those simulators are FSX, X-Plane and Prepar3d or P3D. Now, X-Plane is your version if you are on a Mac. So that’s by default what you will use if you run a Mac. X-Plane is a great piece of software. It looks good. It looks great. It operates very realistically. I think it operates, out of all the simulators, it operates the most realistically aerodynamically in how an airplane actually flies than any of the others. It flies very realistically which I like and I lean that direction if you’re just using a simulator for say training, then I lean the X-Plane direction.

But you know, a lot of us do like the eye candy that comes with a good gaming machine and we do like things to look very realistic and at the end of the day, if it looks realistic, it feels realistic, right? So that also has a lot to do with the realism of what you’re trying to create with the simulator. And so with that said, something like FSX or Prepar3d which are essentially the same software. So FSX is the older software that Microsoft worked on and Prepar3d is that same software that Microsoft worked on yet it’s purchased by Lockheed Martin and they are able to update it, so they’re kind of updating it to today’s standards.

So FSX and Prepar3d look amazing. They are out of this world beautiful, so they just look fantastic. They don’t control as realistically but you can kind of get away with a lot of that stuff. There are some really, really good quality airplanes that you can download for your simulator that will enhance that realism in FSX and Prepar3d. And then you can also download a lot of good scenery. There is a lot of amazing scenery out there that takes what is in general in all the simulators a very poor and very terrible-looking default scenery and just makes it out of this world, unbelievable to where like I was mentioning before, you can go and find your house and everything looks realistic and you can navigate realistically just by dead reckoning.

So pretty amazing there. And I want to mention, here’s kind of a little story, okay? So I was in my private pilot ground school. I must have been 16 or 17 years old at that time, I think I was 17 years old, and I remember going to class one day and my ground instructor brought a simulator. It was one of the first times he brought the simulator. I had simulators at home. I had war aircraft simulators like European Air War. I had an F-15 one, like Jane’s F-15 I think it was called. I had some Microsoft Flight Simulator, so I was already using simulators. But what was different was he brought this to class and then another kid brought the CD. He brought the CD and he popped it in the computer and then he installed an F-14. And that blew my mind. I realized “Oh my gosh, there’s this huge add-on market out there. There are so many different little airplanes and sceneries and all sorts of stuff that I can actually put inside the simulator. It’s not just the default stuff I had to live with. So that just totally opened up my world and that’s something you can look into too.

A good source for stuff like that is FlightSim.com or avsim.com. They have a big download library of freeware that you can just go and get a lot of that stuff. That’s kind of the software component of it. You got to choose a simulator you want to work with and then I recommend maybe getting some good quality aircraft and good scenery. You can go overboard here. The point of all these is going to be getting to a private pilot, so we’re not looking to make you guys lifelong flight simmers. We want to get you to a private pilot. That’s the specific subject of this podcast. I don’t want you to go overboard. Save some money for your actual training. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.

Alright, so what are some of the things that you can learn from a flight simulator? Other than some limitations which I’ll talk about in a second, some of the amazing things you can learn from a flight simulator just to name a few. You can almost learn everything under the aviation umbrella in a simulator but just some of the major things that kind of came to my mind as I was coming up with some of the topics here were you can learn how to read the aircraft’s instruments really well and understand them and fly them. You can learn all that stuff in many different types of aircraft so you can learn so much about the aircraft, instruments and the systems.

You can also learn a lot about communication. So there are pieces of software where you can actually communicate live with other air traffic controllers or rather with air traffic controllers and they will control you and you can learn all the phraseology ahead of time before you ever get into an actual airplane, so that is very, very helpful. You can learn how to navigate in all different sorts of ways. You can learn how to fly ADFs, VORs, GPS, all different types of approaches. You can learn to fly crosscountry. You can learn to fly instrument. All sorts of different things. Obviously along the way, you’re going to learn flight technique. You’re going to learn how to take off, land, how to climb, descend, climbing terms, descending terms, all sorts of stuff. There are so many different things that you can learn.

And this is stuff that you will learn in both places right? You’d learn this in a real airplane but obviously you’re going to learn it in a simulator too. You can learn a whole lot about the aircraft systems. Again, going back to instrument flying, you can learn a lot there. You can learn a whole lot about the weather because there is great weather simulation too again like I mentioned earlier where you can depict the real world weather that is at your local airport or along the route that you are currently flying. Say, there’s a thunderstorm ahead or there’s weather closing in around you. Those are things and decisions that you have to make in a simulator and that just helps when you actually become an actual pilot. And then flight planning is another one. If you want to take it really seriously, you can get into flight planning. And those are just a few topics. Obviously, I think we could talk about almost all of the topics under the sun with simulation or real aviation rather and almost port everything right over to simulation.

Alright, so the last kind of common question here is “Is a simulator like real flying?” and the answer is at the end of the day, no it’s not. There a lot of differences and most of them boil down to the senses. In a simulator, you don’t get the real motions that come in an airplane. You’re not going to throw up sitting there, sitting in your chair. You’re not going to feel the bumps really and you are not going to feel the turns. You’re not going to feel your butt getting pressed down in the seat by increased G-maneuvers and things like that. Your senses just aren’t there. You don’t hear the loud noises, you don’t feel the rumble, you don’t smell the smells. So many different things that you’re just not sensing in a simulator that you would sense in a real aircraft, and one of the biggest senses and I think the biggest sense is your vision.

So you just don’t have that wraparound peripheral vision that you do with a real airplane. Now, some of that might change a little bit if we get some of the stuff like Oculus Rift in the simulator and you can really immerse yourself in it. Now, kind of the difference there is that I’m still trying to find out how Oculus Rift is going to allow a pilot for example to turn the knobs on the airplane or something like that but anyway, that will actually help a lot to increase the vision of the pilot but it still just not the same.

So that kind of wraps up the flight simulation portion of this. I know that I covered a lot and I probably talked too fast but that covers basically why a simulator would be so good to get ahead of time and we’re going to talk about that more as when get into the flight training segment here, but having a simulator with you at home again gives you that infinite amount of hours that you can use. It prepares you well by teaching you so many different things that you’ll end up learning in the actual aircraft and that just gets you ahead of the game. They are things that you won’t have to learn in the aircraft while the aircraft is burning that expensive fuel and while your instructor has his watch ticking and he’s on the clock charging you.

So those are all things that you don’t have to worry about, and then in the actual airplane, you can really focus on the things you need help with and you can hone in on those skills and really refine yourself. And likely, I’ll be completely honest, and I’m a believer in this. Say that you do spend between 1000 to 2000 dollars on this simulator, right? I truly believe that doing so and spending the time to do this will save you money on your private pilot. This will pay for itself if you get a simulator and you use it realistically and you use it to increase your training and knowledge of the aircraft, of the private pilot curriculum. I absolutely believe it will pay for itself and how it pays for itself is I believe you’ll get your license a lot faster. You will have fewer repeated lessons in the aircraft. That means that you’re spending fewer flights, spending 300 dollars or 200 dollars a flight, so I absolutely believe that it will pay for itself if you get a simulator.

Alright, so that is the flight simulation topic. Now we’re going to get into the flight training topic.

And now, the flight training segment…

Chris: Okay, so as I was thinking about the flight training topic, I was thinking back to yesteryear when I went
through my flight training and what it was like and the challenges I had and some of the things that were trying to get in my way of becoming a pilot. It boils down to, and I’m just going to spoil this for you, I was going to save this for the end, but it boils down to this, okay? Remember, PHD. It’s pretty easy to remember, there are a lot of PhD’s out there. Pretty easy to remember. We pilots, we all work in so many acronyms so here’s another acronym for you, okay? PHD, passion, hard work, and determination. That’s exactly what it takes to become a pilot. Passion, hard work and determination.

And those are things that you’re going to see throughout me talking about this flight training segment. How you
actually take all the experience that you’ve had with the simulator and now you take that and you go and you become an actual private pilot. You get that license, you get that ability to fly. That freedom to fly on your own whenever and wherever you want, taking whoever you want with you. And I say that tongue in cheek because you might break some regulations if you fly wherever you want. You might bust some air space and get in trouble, but you know what I’m saying. It gives you that freedom to fly. You get that private pilot ticket, it’s a day that you’ll never, ever, ever forget. It’s a crowning moment in your life and it just gets better from there. It’s just wonderful freedom that you can gain.

So again, now we’re taking all the work that you’ve done with a simulator. You’ve taken that simulator very seriously. You’ve learned a whole lot. You’ve done lessons there. You’ve read books and then you’ve tested out what you learned from the books in the simulator. Things like that. So you’ve used that simulator, great. It’s not just a game. It isn’t really a game at all and now you’re ready to take that knowledge and go get an actual private pilot.

So the big, big first question “Where do I start? Where do I start if I want to get a private pilot?” The first thing I would suggest doing is start off by getting a medical or a physical to see if you’re actually able to do it. The vast majority of people are going to be able to get a pilot’s license. Even if you have some sort of condition, you’re likely able to get a private pilot license under some sort of stipulation. You just need to talk to a doctor and get all that figured out. Now, if you start early on in your teens, so say that you’re starting around 14 or 15 or if you’re really ambitious and you have very supportive parents, you’re starting earlier than that with your flight training, you’re going to run into some issues with getting certification to do that because from what I understand, you can only get your student pilot certificate when you are 16 and your student pilot certificate kind of acts as your FAA medical too. So your first FAA medical will also be a student pilot certificate but there are certain cases where you can get an exception and you can get that solo early. That is pretty rare and they probably won’t give it to you very early. Maybe days ahead of time, maybe something like that but it’s worth looking into.

But what I’m saying here is that you need to find out early on what your medical challenges are if any or road blocks to preventing you from becoming a pilot. This is kind of just the physical, right? You’re going to go to an actual guy, a doctor that would generally do an FAA medical and you’re going to say to him “Hey, I know I’m 14 years old but I just want to see if I’m cleared for these certain things. I want you to give me a physical as if I was going to take this, do this right now.” And although you may not be able to do that, at least you can find out what’s going on. And this applies very much not only to just teens but some of you older guys too. Go in, get the physical, try it out, see if there are any limitations. If there aren’t, you’re in the green. If there are, then you start to dig in and work with those challenges.

Alright, so that’s that. You got to get the medical thing out of the way. You got to find out if you can do it from that perspective. Let me just share just very briefly and I could share this story for the rest of the show, but I have to say that when I was 17, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I was told by an FAA doctor, the first one I called, that I could not become a pilot. And I want you to know that I would not take no for an answer. I broke down and I cried for about 5 to 10 minutes but then I realized just kind of this aha moment that I was not going to take no for an answer.

So if you find out that something comes up that is going to prevent you from becoming a pilot, do not take no for an answer. You fight it and you fight it and fight it and fight it until you can figure it out. That is determination, okay? Remember, passion, hard work, determination. You have to be determined to do this.

Alright, so how much does this cost? How much does it cost to become a pilot? Now, this I realized is a huge barrier for a lot of people because it is expensive. It’s something that I’m not even sure I could afford right now to go through a private pilot. It’s very expensive and you’ve got to kind of figure it out. At minimum and we’re talking United States dollars here, it’s going to be different in other parts of the world. You have to do maybe just a quick Google search and kind of find out. But at minimum, we’re talking about 5000 dollars and that’s absolute best case scenario. You were the best flight sim pilot of all time, you did your study and you rocked every single lesson that you did, you didn’t have any setbacks. That’s minimum hours for a private pilot, around 45 hours. But most likely, you’re going to be in the 9000-dollar range and I say that because that is the average. That’s the average hours that someone gets a private pilot, is at about 67000 hours which comes to about 9000 dollars depending on the flight school you go to. There are bargains, there are ways to do it cheaper. It just depends on what you can do and where you are sort of thing. So that’s the price range you’re talking about.

Now, again, remember how I mentioned earlier that I absolutely believe that a flight simulator will pay for itself? I really don’t believe that if you are a dedicated flight sim pilot and have been for years and you’ve learned so much of this stuff ahead of time, I do not believe you’re going to come anywhere close to the 9000 range. I would guess you’re going to be more in the middle of there from 6000 to 7000, having had that experience and worked on that stuff ahead of time. Again, I absolutely believe that your simulator will pay for itself.

Alright, so another common question “Do I need to go to college?” If you want to be an airline pilot, you need to go to college. There are certain cases where you don’t but for the most part, the major airlines especially require a bachelor’s of science for the most part. That’s not always the case. Military pilots kind of get by from that. The military route is a way to go. I didn’t even put that in here but the military route is a way to go but you’ve got to be top of the top to do that and chances are you may not even get into flight school in the military because it’s so competitive but if you do, then they pay for everything and you get some of the best jobs.

But again, do you need to go to college? If you want to be an airline pilot, yes you do. However, you don’t have to get it in professional flight or a professional flight program. That’s not to look down on professional flight programs. I think they are absolutely fantastic. A lot of people just find it wise to get their training kind of outside of knowledge or while they’re going to college but then they get their degree and something they can fall back on just in case something happens medically where they can’t be a pilot anymore, they have a degree and some training to fall back on that they can use as a secondary career. So that’s the college thing. Now, are you required to go to college to be a pilot? No. It’s just that a lot of the major airlines require college degrees to apply. There are ways to get around that. Sometimes it depends on what you know or who you know rather, but for the most part, they require those.

Another question, “Is it hard?” Absolutely, it is hard. It is very hard to become a private pilot. It’s going to be
hard to work through any of the medical issues that you have. It’s going to be hard with the money. It’s going to be hard study, but it is as equally if not more so rewarding. So remember that, it is hard but it is very, very rewarding and you’ll understand that when you go flying for the first time. You’ll get it and you’ll get the bug and you’ll just want to do it.

So, kind of along the lines of the college thing and the hard work thing is how good of grades do I have to get? I don’t want you guys to focus so much on getting good grades as I want you to focus on how hard you need to work for this and how much you need to study. So you really need to learn how to study and how to retain this information from all these private pilot stuff and you need to learn to work hard. Kids that get good grades, it is very rarely because they are extra smart or they work extra. It doesn’t really come down to genius. It really comes down I believe to them being organized and them working hard. I absolutely believe that everyone can get good grades that way.

Now, I’m not of the mindset and this is a purely personal opinion that grades are not everything. If you are looking to become a military pilot, grades are huge. You’re not going to get into those flight programs if you don’t get the best grades but I’m a believer that hard work and learning to study and learning how to do this stuff is so much more important than grades because at the end of the day, grades from the previous year you’re probably not even going to remember, even the previous quarter, but hard work and learning how to learn are going to stick with you for your entire life, so that is very important to focus on as a young person or really any of us can learn from that specific lesson.

“Alright, so what should I study and when?” I would suggest that you’d go out and you purchase one of these private pilot courses. I personally like ASA. You can find them at asa2fly.com or Jeppesen for your textbooks. Again, I like ASA myself. They do good textbooks. I wouldn’t say they’re the best. I would actually put Jeppesen textbooks as far as graphics and all that stuff above what ASA does, but I think that ASA’s supporting material like their oral exam guides and their maneuver guides and their private pilot curriculum and the way they present their material is better for me. They just do a lot better job for me and they summarize things better so I can understand it. So I really like what ASA does. But again, there are some other great sources out there. Jeppesen is one of them. You can go to Sporty’s. There are a lot of different people out there but those are kind of the few that came to my mind. And maybe I’m being biased because I’ve used those before but that’s what I like.

Alright, so here is the big, big, big, big, big, big, big question. “What if I don’t have money to start?” What if your parents aren’t going to support you as far as paying for your private pilot? You know what? That is absolutely normal. It’s nothing against your parents. I’m sure they love you. It’s just that it’s not kind of in the cards for what they planned and for the most of you, your parents aren’t going to be able to pay for it.

So here’s the thing guys. Remember, PHD, right? Remember I talked about determination with medical work. This comes down to hard work. You may have to work after school every single day while you’re a teenager, okay? Once you become eligible to work, you may have to work every single day. But if you do that and if you save your money, you can pay for this yourself. You can do this. If you really, really focus and you really want this, you can get this. I would say you have to be very careful with that money. You have to work hard. You got to be a good employee and you have to retain that job and find jobs that maybe pay well too.

Don’t discount the value of working smarter rather than harder and what I mean by that is don’t just work your butt off to work your butt off. If you find another job that pays more that you know you can excel at, go for that. You got to accelerate this process. Just keep that in mind. But what I am saying is that you can earn this yourself as a teenager. It is doable.

Also another part of that is I know we talked about parents a little bit. Talk to your parents about your plans. Talk to them about your passion for this. Show them through using your simulator and studying these things on your own that you are willing to put in the work and you are willing to make sacrifices to make this happen. And then see if they can help and support you. Just bring them in on the conversation. I think you’re going to find that the vast majority of the time, your parents are going to be very supportive and they’re going to want that’s best for you. Especially if you have a dad or a mom that’s a pilot, they’re going to be so excited that you want to do this, so bring them in on the conversation. Try that out. But again, hard work, determination, you can also do this on your own. If your parents can do it, it’s nothing against them. I’m sure they still love you. Again, just find another way to do it. Determination, okay?

Part of that is I know you may not be able to afford a private pilot course at first or rather a full private pilot
license so forking out all that money, but you need to start with the small stuff. So as soon as you can afford to buy good books, buy the books. As soon as you can afford to maybe get a headset, get a headset. Now a headset is maybe not necessary because you can borrow one from a flight school but just those little things. What I’m saying here is if you buy your books ahead of time, you’re going to have all that time to study those books and when you start your private pilot during that time that you’re earning your money.

So that’s kind of the end of this flight training topic and some of the things to look out for when getting your private pilot specifically you teenagers but a lot of these things again also apply to you older guys and again I want to mention and harp on the fact that this is all about the PHD. It’s all about the passion, it’s all about the hard work and it’s all about the determination. I absolutely know you can do this. If you’re listening to this podcast, I know you have the passion. It’s going to take more passion than you can possibly imagine to get you through all of the hard work that you have to do, and then you have to be absolutely determined that you’re just going to keep, keep, keep going. So PHD, remember that. Passion, hard work, determination.

Alright guys, so that is it for this episode of AviatorCast. A couple aftershow AviatorCast actions. First, take a quick two-minute survey at Survey.aviatorcast.com. Here you can give us ideas for upcoming shows and leave us feedback. Second, continue the conversation by joining us on AviatorCast.com or write me directly at me@aviatorcast.com. I love to hear from you in either location. Third, you can subscribe by not missing another AviatorCast episode. You can just simply subscribe through iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, SoundCloud. We have things in different locations. iTunes in the number one, easiest place to get it. Go there.

And that brings us to number four which is we’d love to get an honest review from you on iTunes. This is a place where others learn about AviatorCast so that they can come and enjoy the show as well. So we ask that if you do enjoy the show, go and review us on iTunes and we’d really appreciate that.

Also, if you’d like to check out any of our training products, head to flyaoamedia.com. Start with the basics for free with Aviator90, I mentioned that. All of you teenagers should sign up, okay? Aviator90.com, free. You have zero reason not to. You can also learn instrument flying and more with AviatorPro or even fly many of the world’s most popular jets virtually with our training products for the 737, 747, 777 and MD-11 again at flyaoamedia.com. Just as a side note, Angel of Attack also offers professional video services at AngleofAttackPro.com.

Many thanks also go out to the Angle of Attack crew for all of their hard work to make this episode possible and all they do outside of AviatorCast. These guys are awesome, they’re dedicated, and I’m really proud of all that they’ve done.

Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here, part of our community and so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things.

Until next time, throttle on!

This article was posted in AviatorCast, Blog


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  • syed haider z

    As usuall very thorough!but for knowledge hungers like me,and others to come soon,extra video tutorial labelled as extra should also be uploaded.simply because at google there knowledge content for 777 and 737 and others are very confusing and displacing at many forums,either the content is good or commercial trash!

  • Pingback: AviatorCast 39 – Tips & Tricks voor je PPL - simFlight.NL()

  • iamhere13270

    I’ve been playing combat flight simulations like DCS and BMS for quite a while now, and head tracking is important. So, yes – there is an alternative to the Oculus Rift. Its called the TrackIR, which is an infrared camera that tracks a 3-point clip clipped to a hat/headphone. How it works is it amplifies your head movement. For example, rotating my head 15 degrees in real life will rotate the view 90 degrees in the virtual environment. This allows me to look around the virtual cockpit to interact with all the switches and also track other aircraft precisely.

  • wmburns

    There’s a small error in the show notes. The X-Plane WEB site is http://www.X-Plane.com (not xplane.com) . Great site. Keep up the good work!

  • flyingtigers

    lovely work chriss please keep it comming man your enthusiasm and energy towards passion for aviation is unlike any I seen around except me LOL. I love to say that your last podcast 39 was very very informative and definetely inspiring to continue in flight simulation training !

    • Glad it had an impact! I felt that my emotion and passion certainly showed through on that show in particular. I was more than happy to do it.

  • Mike

    Chris, first a general note of thanks for all the work that you put in on this podcast and on the Angle of Attack training materials. As far as this episode specifically, I wish that I had been able to listen to this teen to private pilot information twenty years ago. It would have been very helpful to have someone lay out the process for me back then.

    One thing that I would like to add to the discussion, however, is that going straight for private is not the only option in today’s world. For many people starting out, working on a sport pilot is a great way to dip one’s toe into the aviation world. There is a lot of fun that can be had in a two seater (the Carbon Cub for example). The convenience of medical self-certification is a definite perk. Flying will never be a career for me, and I may or may not ever progress beyond sport. Even if I eventually do go on to get my private, sport is a great place to start out.

    • That’s certainly true. I guess I always considered most teens as wanting to fly for a living. I never really considered that they’d just want to go flying. Most of my thoughts were geared toward that train of thought.

      If you were to get just your Sport Pilot, I feel like it would be inhibiting if one planned to make an actual career out of it. Then there would be those extra steps. When things are already expensive enough, it makes it hard.

      Just my thoughts.

      Thanks for the great comment!

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