So, your high school grad has big dreams of learning how to fly and becoming a licensed pilot: what’s the next step you should take to help them get into the best flight school? Many families believe their children can’t start training until they have a four-year college degree, but that’s not true. You can enroll your child in flight training while they are in high school.
Introducing Your Child to Flying
At Leopard Aviation in Arizona, we offer your child the chance to learn flying from the best pilots and certified flight instructors in the country. Our students go on to have fulfilling aviation careers as both private pilots and pilots for commercial airlines.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything your family should know about flight school and why it’s a better choice than a four-year college for students who dream of becoming a licensed pilot.
Becoming a Pilot: Minimum Qualifications for Your Child to Learn to Fly
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards, syllabus, and regulations for students who wish to train to fly in the USA vary based on age and other factors. Your child can join a flight school with zero experience at age 14.
To fly without an instructor in any other aircraft, the student must be 16. Then, after gaining flight experience from a certified flight instructor (CFI), 16-year-olds can take a flight test for a balloon or glider but must be 17 to test for a helicopter, airplane, or other aircraft.
After students finish their regular flight training, they must also meet these FAA qualifications:
Student Pilot Certification: Age 16+ and obtain a Class 2 medical certificate
Private Pilot Certificate: Age 17+, obtain a valid student license, and log 45 to 75 flight hours plus 10 to 20 ground school hours.
Commercial Pilot Certificate: Age 21+ and 250+ log hours of flight time with a certified flight instructor.
Don’t worry; the Leopard Aviation team will help. We have a detailed focus on learning methods, a cutting-edge fleet, and a network of resources to help your child enroll in aviation school and make their dream a reality!
One of the traits that differentiates Leopard Aviation from the fleet of flight schools out there is our training methodology; everyone learns differently and it’s our goal to make the dream of becoming pilot available to everyone, no matter how they learn. Just this year we trained a blind woman to fly. In addition to teaching the way you need to learn, we believe that all training should be fun – we’re flying, after all, let’s ensure we enjoy the ride!
Flight Schools vs. Traditional Colleges
The traditional course for high school graduates is going to a four-year college. However, college isn’t necessary to enroll in a private pilot school or commercial airline flight training program. Furthermore, the cost of college tuition has more than doubled in the 21st century:
In comparison, flight school training is faster and less expensive. A Bachelor’s degree takes four years; courses at flight schools take approximately a year to earn your commercial pilot license.
You can expect the cost of flight training to vary based on the skills your child wants to learn. For example, a license to fly private aircraft may cost up to $15,000. The costs vary by student as some students need more time to become behaviorally comfortable with the different flight scenarios and controls.
However, flight training programs for airline and commercial pilot courses cost about $50,000 to $65,000, which is still cheaper than four-year schools by $50,000 to $100,000. Once you earn your commercial pilot license, you can actually earn money as a certified flight instructor while logging hours in your flight log.
Financing Your Flight School: Available Options
Financing flight school is one option many of our aviation students explore when deciding to participate in our pilot program.
At Leopard Aviation, we partner with the Meritize Platform to help our students achieve their career goals. You can learn more here and apply for a Meritize loan in a matter of minutes. Finance program repayment only begins after the student obtains their commercial pilot license.
Once you decide your child is ready to train and face the challenges of a flight school program, the next step is helping them determine their career path in the aviation industry. Piloting private aircraft is a popular choice but doesn’t offer the same lucrative salary as flying for commercial airlines.
According to FAA data, in 2021, there were 250,197 students in flight schools, 161,459 licensed private airmen, and 104,610 commercial pilots. Typical pilot and airline career paths include:
- Private licenses
- Commercial licenses
- Airline transport
- Certified flight instructors
- Mechanics and repairment
- Engineers and navigators
- Ground instructors
To focus on business, aviators who fly for private airlines have excellent salaries north of $85,000 in their first year as a commercial airline pilot. Of course, the pay is regional and depends on your child’s specific career path. However, a private pilot will earn an average salary of $100,673. In contrast, the average salary for a college graduate (depending on their major and department) is $55,260.
Commercial Pilot Training
The real money is in flight school training and flying for a commercial airline. Not only will your child get to fly around the world, but airline employees in commercial flight careers earn a median salary of $134,630.
Pilot Shortage and Demand
As the fallout from the pandemic continues, every airline in the world feels pressure from an extreme pilot shortage. FAA experts estimate there will be a gap of at least 34,000 pilots by 2025. Many factors contribute to the low enrollment in flight schools and commercial pilot training programs, including:
- New FAA safety regulations
- Increasing pilot retirements
- Rising education and instructor costs
- Increasing travel demands
Boeing estimates that the USA will need at least 30,000 new pilots each year for at least 20 years, if not longer. Every airport and airline organization in the country is working on adding new aircraft, but they lack the commercial pilots necessary to operate their new fleet.
Invest in Your Child's Future with Flight Training Programs at Leopard Aviation
Paying for four years of college isn’t necessary for your child to join a flight training program. At Leopard Aviation, we offer some of the best flight programs in the country with instructors who teach in brand-new aircraft and create a safe, fruitful learning environment.
Once your child graduates, their career path will determine their financial stability. Our flight school is an investment in your child’s future career and happiness. Working for a commercial airline is a lucrative and fulfilling career, and we help your child achieve their dreams of flying professionally.
Call Leopard Aviation today at (480) 605-4539 to learn more about training from the best flight school in the nation.