What You Need to Know About Becoming a Commercial Pilot

Now’s the time because of:


  • “It’s not going to ever get less expensive,” Trent says. “So if you have any sort of inclination to do it, you’d better do it, because the longer you wait the more expensive it’s going to get.”


Tightening FAA regulations

  • The FAA is changing the eligibility requirements for pilot in command. Traditionally, commercially certified pilots could build flight
    Moose's Tooth on the Ruth glacier

    Moose’s Tooth on the Ruth glacier

    time in small airplane operations like Trent did, but that is no longer permissible. “First of all they want age 23 and they want you to have 1500 hours.” Second in command and flight instruction with the appropriate credentials are still viable options for building flight time, at least for the time being. Most larger aircraft, including the airlines, require an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license “Just to get the certificate they’re going to make it $15,000,” Trent laments. “It’s almost like they don’t want anybody else doing it. Or if they do, it’s only for those who can really afford it which might chop off a lot of those pilots who would probably be better at it. Just because you’ve got money doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good pilot.” While that requirement has not gone into effect yet, it’s implementation appears inevitable.


How to make it cheaper:

Know a flight instructor?

  • Most people in the aviation community recognize how astronomical the expenses are and many are willing to help out newbies for a reduced fee.

Study solo

  • Skip ground school costs by purchasing text books and studying solo. Each rating from private to ATP requires the candidate to pass a written knowledge test which you can prepare for on your own. After acing the test,  enlist a flight instructor or flight school to bolster what you’ve learned and fill in the blanks with real world knowledge.

Buy an airplane. Seriously.

  • Although the price tag for most planes is intimidating, it usually works out to be large savings for new pilots. Trent recommends buying “a little Cessna 150, mid-time engine, you can fly that thing for 500 hours, sell it for five thousand less than what you paid for, maybe ten thousand less than what you paid for.” A plane equipped for instrument flying would be best, though harder to find. Part of that daunting price tag is the associated costs—insurance, maintenance, fuel, etc.—something you are actually paying for during airplane rental whether you realize it or not. This way, you pay for it for yourself. “It’s the cheapest possible way to do it. A lot of people don’t do that because buying an airplane and getting any kind of insurance on it is very difficult if you don’t have any flight time but it’s doable. You can do it.”
Office with a view at 10,000 ft.

Office with a view at 10,000 ft.


2 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Becoming a Commercial Pilot

  1. Pingback: Trent Griffin | Professional Nomads

  2. I had wondered what was involved in getting one’s license. That’s a long road. But I suppose I _want_ whoever’s flying my plane to have passed a high bar! Thanks for the info and sharing, Trent.

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