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The License

Your training starts here.  Deciding where your aviation goals lie can be a daunting task

all by itself.  There are many attainable licenses and endorsements within aviation, your personal goals will decide which are right for you to pursue.  Below is a brief description

of pilot licenses, the privileges that come with them and additional endorsements that

can expand the aviation world for you. 

Private Pilot License
This is the first FULL privileged pilot license.  For those who are just looking to fly for fun, locally there are lesser licenses attainable to get you airborne.  However, for those who are serious about pursuing aviation the PPL is where is starts. 
The training involved gives students a broad base of knowledge and piloting skills from which they can build on.  Throughout the training you will have the opportunity to experience many ways of flying, developing such skills as night flying, simulated flying in the clouds, navigation from the air and flying the plane with the precision of driving a car.
This license is fun to attain, with every new and exciting experience being a new milestone within yourself.  You will be amazed every time you fly, the new skills and confidence in controlling the plane you will acquire, and the foundation you will build to pursue for more difficult professional licenses.
Instrument Rating
Known to be the most difficult of training and licensing, the Instrument Rating is advanced study in aircraft systems, equipment failures, handling emergencies, understanding weather, navigation, precise aircraft control and of course flying blind in the clouds.
Do not be discouraged by the perceived difficulty of this rating.  The rewards are far greater, being able to fly when many others are grounded, having the freedom of long cross country flying and the knowledge to adapt to changing weather as you soar in and above the clouds is truly a great honor.


Commercial License


Flying for money!  That is the basic sum up for this license, although that is not all it entails.  This is the "I have arrived" license, meaning that you have accomplished such a level of skill and knowledge that in some capacities you are granted by the FAA the privilege of flying for hire. 


Yes, this license is about VERY precise aircraft control, you can't have your passengers sick or scared every time you takeoff!  However, this level of training is based in knowledge of the rules, regulations and laws that govern the commercial flying industry.  Stressing above all the safety of flight, knowing and accepting the responsibility of taking the lives of your passengers into your hands and ensuring to the best of your ability their safe return to the ground.




Multi-Engine Pilot License

The first major step up in aircraft starts here.  The multi-engine is an "add-on" to your Private, Instrument or Commercial level privileges.  This is a fun and exciting license as it takes all your skills up till now to fly the bigger planes yet takes you back to the thrill of being a beginner all over again.


You will learn a completely new set of flying skills.  Training in understanding advanced aerodynamics, complex multi-engine systems and controlling a multi-engine plane with only one engine operational are just some of the ideas in this program.


The Multi-Engine Instrument level is possessing the skills to not only fly blind in the clouds, working with Air Traffic Control (ATC) but to also be able to handle the complex systems of the aircraft even during an emergency in the clouds. 


At the Multi-Engine Commercial level you have such skills that you can handle all of the above with such deft precision and understanding as to be a professional for hire in the industry.

Certified Flight Instructor


For most, the CFI license is a way to get paid while building the required flight hours required to qualify for the airlines. Unfortunately, by many, considered the "bottom of the barrel" entry level job in the aviation world.


However, consider this;  Every major airline pilot out there was once a student under the instruction of a CFI.  From that point of view the CFI job is a great honor and responsibility to keep the standards of the industry high with quality training. 


The training for this license stresses an intimate understanding of all levels and aspects of flight skills and knowledge.  To the point that as a teacher you can convey an idea such as aerodynamics or aircraft systems so throughly that someone struggling with the concept will understand and be able to apply what they have learned.


Certified Instrument Flight Instructor


The CFII. As unique and difficult as the Instrument Rating itself, a license to teach this challenging yet rewarding level of knowledge and skill is a crown unto itself.  The required level of proficiency and knowledge to not only fly the plane blind, but to teach while doing it is a testament to the level these instructors have accomplished.


As an instructor, you are constantly learning and expanding your skills.  Accomplishing this license is not only a great expansion of this but also opens doors to earning more money and having more opportunities to teach. 


Multi-Engine Flight Instructor


Known as the MEI, and the highest teaching certificate attainable short of the ATP.  Training a student in multi-engine flight and single engine flight operations is challenging to say the least and can even be dangerous at times.  Instructors must have a high level of proficiency and see problems arise before they become critical.


To be an instructor at this level you need to have a very advanced level of aerodynamic knowledge and understanding, excellent flying skills and an intuition of what the plane is about to do next.  The reward for teaching these skills to your students is that you will also gain skill from watching them,  how each learns and the problems that arise.



Airline Transport Pilot License


The ATP.  The highest honor and certification available in the aviation world.  Recognized everywhere as the gold standard in flying and a requirement for a career flying with an airline. 


Due to recent FAA regulation changes that went into effect in 2014 it is now much more time consuming and costly to attain this certification.  That does not mean unattainable, just that most will no longer seek it on there own.  Since the regulation change was very recent you can expect to see some policy changes within airline companies that might help potential employees pay for the additional training costs.


High Performance Aircraft Endorsement


Any aircraft operating with an engine over 200 horsepower requires that the pilot have an endorsement that he or she has received training in the operation and flight characteristics of high performance aircraft. 
This is a fun "add-on" to get as you move up through the ranks.  It is not a huge time or monetary investment, yet opens the opportunity to fly faster, more interesting aircraft and get to your destination quicker!  Also, since most aircraft outside of trainers fall into this category it is a good investment in future flying. 




Complex Aircraft Endorsement


Any aircraft with retractable landing gear, a constant speed propeller and flaps is considered a "complex" aircraft.  These systems are more complex then what trainer aircraft are equipped with, therefore additional training in these systems is required.


Again, this is a fun endorsement and does not require a massive time investment.  This endorsement is usually pursued around same time as the Commercial Rating as you need this to receive that license.


The training involved stresses understanding and troubleshooting more complicated electrical, mechanical and hydraulic aircraft systems. 


High Altitude Endorsement


At 12,500 feet above ground level the air pressure starts to get so low that breathing becomes a problem and with that making good decisions and staying conscious also become problematic.  If you have ever flown from someplace like Florida which is close to sea level, to Aspen or Denver which is at a much higher altitude you would have an idea of what operations at higher altitudes in an aircraft might be like.  Just trying to walk to the store down the street can be unusually tiring, causing dizziness, nausea and a whole host of other problems.


The training focuses on the effects of hypoxia, aircraft pressurized systems, aircraft oxygen systems, operations at different "high" altitudes, emergency high altitude operations and commercial operations.


Usually this endorsement is sought as a last addition before making the transition to a commercial airline operation.   




Is that all?

No, in a word.  There are many other endorsements and ratings out there across many different types of flying.  Helicopters, gliders, ultralights, specific types of aircraft,  just to name a few.  The aviation community is very small, however it is also very diverse with opportunities to experience, learn and find your passion.

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