All posts tagged 'pilot license'

Commercial Pilot Check Ride Prep

Pilot Check Ride Prep

For any pilot looking to chase a career in aviation and especially those who have already passed their flight training days, we all have to experience the dreaded check ride. All the time, money and energy put into completing the requirements count on this one day-and it’s the most nerve wracking thing. If you’re like any pilot you can’t sleep the night before, you show up to your testing place early to restudy everything because you managed to forget it all that morning, and if the smallest thing goes wrong you’re discouraged. But it all becomes worth it when you shake your examiner’s hand as they pass you your new pilot certificate, and you know you earned it. So, let’s talk about some things that might help you pass your commercial check ride:

  • First things first, KNOW YOUR PLANE. Don’t test with a plane on a check ride you’re not familiar with. You should know factors like its glide capability, the systems, Vspeeds etc. This will play a part in both the oral and flight portion of the test. Consider some questions like what type of engine you have or how the electrical system operates. Glide capability comes into play on the engine out scenario and the power-off 180º.
  • Know commercial pilot limitations and where to find them in the regulations. Two questions almost every examiner will ask involve common carriage and holding out. Here’s a hint-both are illegal. You cannot use someone else's plane and charge passengers their rate along with yours. You also cannot go advertising flights for passengers after becoming a commercial pilot, such as “$200 flights round trip to the Bahamas!” with you. That gets into Part 135 operations that has different stipulations, and that you don’t have the privileges to do without a Part 135 certification. This license allows you to operate under 14 CFR 119.1 for flights such as bird chasing, aerial photography and sightseeing (NOT charter flights).
  • Another limitation as a commercial pilot is what you’re restricted to do if you do not have an instrument rating. If you’re unsure of where to find it, check out 14 CFR 61.133. Without an instrument rating, a licensed commercial pilot cannot carry passengers more than 50 nautical miles away from their departure airport. Regulations also restrict carrying passengers at night for hire.
  • Now that you can carry passengers for hire, your flight planning and flying skills should be well developed past what they were as a private pilot. After all, if you’re being paid for these operations you need to be good at them. It comes down to the small things, like turning to a new heading. Don’t throw the bank in there, but smoothly start rolling it in. In short: Make. Everything. Smooth. You want your passengers to be comfortable and feel like they’re flying with an experienced pilot. As for flight planning, use all the resources available for a safe and well-planned flight! This is especially helpful on cross countries, time building to meet testing requirements. One way to do this is finding an airport to refuel for the lowest price. The GlobalAir.com Fuel Mapping tool is perfect for this and ranks airports in a specified radius from lowest to highest fuel price.

The last tip for a commercial check ride, and any check ride for that matter, is to not test until you’re ready. Take it from a pilot with a previous failure and who has talked with other pilots, everything is on your timeline. It’s when you’ve studied and flown enough that you feel you’re truly ready for this new license that it’s time to test. Check rides are stressful and nerve wracking. It’s likely that you’ll fly worse than normal on a test day, and that’s okay because it’s your nerves.

Just remember that safety is the goal, not perfection! Take a breath, take your time, then show the examiner what you’ve been training for.  Do you have any tips that you would like to offer a student pilot you think might help?

How to Afford Flight Training


It’s a new year, which means you’re thinking, once again, about that resolution you had to get your private pilot license. Or maybe you want to work on an instrument rating or even a commercial certificate. You finally have the time to fly - but how, exactly, will you pay for it?

Cash
If you’re lucky enough to be able to pay cash outright for flight training, then you’re doing it right. But even if you don’t have 10,000 dollars in the bank waiting to be spent, don’t discount the idea entirely. Many flight students pay for flight training through careful budgeting combined with a set training pace. If you can afford one flight per week, for example, and can budget it into your regular expenses, then your goal might be completely attainable, after all. Most instructors will tell you that flying less than once a week isn’t ideal, but if you can compensate for the slow pace by doing ground school on your own, chair flying from home or supplementing with simulator time, then you’ll be well on your way. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and paying cash for flight training might just mean you have to put forth a bit more effort on your own than otherwise.

Financing
Sometimes, the only way to get ahead is to get behind… temporarily, at least. Many people have successfully financed flight training through private lenders. Taking out a loan is a good option for those who can or will be able to repay it quickly and easily. And it’s a good option for those who want to go through an accelerated program in which the private pilot certificate is earned very quickly through an intense study program. These fast-paced flight training programs often demand a flat-rate payment up front instead of the pay-as-you-go program that local FBOs often use.

If you’re looking for a flight training loan, check out AOPA’s financing program.

Scholarships
Scholarships are more abundant that you’d think, but you do have to search for them and get your timing right. Often, the scholarships that you hear about are ones that you aren’t eligible for, and it’s tempting to give up. But just because they all seem to be meant for other people - like the college kid who has already obtained a private pilot license or the female that wants to become a corporate pilot - doesn’t mean that there aren’t any out there for you. You’ll just have to look harder to find them.

And you don’t always have to be a minority to earn a scholarship. It’s true that many scholarships are offered with minorities in mind, but the same scholarship offerings often don’t exclude anyone, and you may find a scholarship for you on the Women in Aviation scholarship list, even if you aren’t a woman. Don’t pass over opportunities because you assume that they aren’t for you. Read the find print, and keep digging.

Where to look? Professional organizations at the local and national level will often offer scholarships to a variety of potential candidates. Check your local EAA or CAP chapters, AOPA, or your local and national Women in Aviation or 99s groups, the OBAP or the NGPA. And if you’re reading this, you don’t have to look any further than this website - Globalair.com offers a scholarship of $1,000 annually to four students who are dedicated to blogging on a weekly basis about flight training,

Get Serious.
If funds for flight training are tight, it’s time to get serious about your priorities. Here are a few ways to continue to keep your flight training budget in check:

  • Do as much ground study on your own as possible.
  • Complete an online ground school course before you begin flying.
  • Chair fly at home.
  • Observe flights whenever possible.
  • Be a safety pilot for someone.
  • Take advantage of simulator use.
  • Eat, sleep and breath aviation.
  • Choose your flight instructor wisely.
  • Choose your flight school wisely.
  • Ask for a discount or a flat rate.
  • Offer to help someone else study and they can return the favor.
  • Spend some time thoughtfully completing the homework that your instructor gives you instead of just trying to memorize answers.
  • Ask a lot of questions.
  • Work with a CFI who understands your personal aviation goals.

Have you made it through flight training on a tight budget? What are your tips? Share them with us in the comments section.

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