First of all, congrats on your dream of becoming a pilot! Flying is just awesome. Second, you don't need to get a degree in aviation to be a commercial pilot. You can get all your ratings from a non-university flight school at a municipal airport. I used to work at a flight school at a small municipal...
Best answer: First of all, congrats on your dream of becoming a pilot! Flying is just awesome. Second, you don't need to get a degree in aviation to be a commercial pilot. You can get all your ratings from a non-university flight school at a municipal airport. I used to work at a flight school at a small municipal airport where people could get their private, instrument, commercial, and multi engine ratings as well as high performance/complex and tailwheel endorsements. Many of our students went on to get flying jobs. You would be much better off getting a degree in something else that can benefit you within the aviation industry, or outside of it entirely. You could get an aviation degree that focuses on aviation mechanics and get your A&P license, which would be very desirable if you don't end up flying for a career. You could also get a degree in business or computer science, both of which can benefit you working for an airline or any other type of company. My first flight instructor had an art degree, and he went on to fly for an airline.
Just because you get an aviation degree that focuses on being a professional pilot, that is no guarantee that things will work out in your favor and put you into an airline job. I have a Bachelor's degree in aviation science, in the professional pilot field, and that career dream fell flat because I didn't have the connections to know who to blow to get a flying job. Now I have no other education background to fall back on and that makes it very difficult to find a good career.
Mainly what you have to do first is go for an introductory flight to see what it's like, and take a lot of time talking with the flight instructor about the aviation industry and your career goals. If you find you like flying (who wouldn't?), start out going for your private pilot certificate. Follow that up with your instrument pilot certificate. From there you can go for the commercial and then the multi-engine ratings. (Do the commercial one first, or if you do commercial and multi at the same time, at least do the commercial checkride first. If you do the multi engine checkride first, that won't count as a commercial multi engine rating, so when you do the commercial pilot checkride you'll then have to do the multi engine checkride again to commercial pilot standards, therefore paying for it twice.)
Finally, flying has gotten really expensive. When I started out flying it was cheap, but over the years the hourly rental rate for even a small plane has doubled or even tripled. The price of fuel has quadrupled at the very least. If you can buy your own airplane or have access to a plane owned by a family member or friend, that can save you a ton of money (buying your own airplane wouldn't be cheap, but in the end you'd own it while renting for years gets you no closer to owning anything, and airplanes retain their value over time because of the regular maintenance).
Checking out the Civil Air Patrol as others have suggested is a good idea, too. See what you can do for them and what they can do for you.
BTW, I have to add, using a computer flight simulator like Microsoft Flight Sim can greatly help you with your instrument training because it helps you practice flight planning, follow your route, monitor radio navigation and maintain a proper track, plan for and interact with winds, and everything. That's because it's all procedures that you're following. Flight simulators can't give you that seat-of-the-pants feeling to understand all the movement and control forces, making it not very good for helping you with the private pilot training (although just as with instrument flying it helps you practice all the procedures of flight planning, radio navigation, etc.), but they're wonderful for the very technical aspects of instrument flying. I actually practiced instrument flight planning and procedures back in the mid 90s with SubLOGIC Flight Simulator II on my Commodore 64. It worked because following the needles on the instruments was all the same. Plus, Flight Sim has models of the very same radio panels and GPS units that are common in aircraft, letting you practice with those pieces of equipment and get fluent in using them without ever having to sit in the airplane. There are other brands of flight simulator you can choose from that may be very good as well, but I have no experience with them to suggest anything.
3 weeks ago