There isn't much that matches the level of freedom that a teenager feels the first time they drive without an adult after getting their driver's license. There is one thing, however, that could surpass that feeling of freedom—piloting an airplane.
Most teens look forward to getting their driver's licenses so they can take to the road. But some teens are more interested in taking to the air and getting a pilot's license, like Matt Guthmiller. Matt got his pilot's license at age 17 and flew around the world at age 19. Here's what you need to know if you are a teen and interested in getting a pilot's license.
There is no age requirement to take flying lessons. However, there are age requirements to obtain a student pilot certificate, which allows you to fly solo. If you are interested in solo piloting a balloon or glider, you have to be at least 14 to be eligible for a student pilot certificate. If you want to solo pilot a powered plane, you need to be at least 16. Some aviation schools offer special courses for young pilots.
High School Classes
Just as with any other training, education is important. And since piloting an airplane does have risks involved, it's important to take a few high school classes that can help you in aviation and piloting an airplane. Here are a few high school courses to add to your curriculum.
- Math, particularly algebra and geometry. You'll need to be able to quickly determine distances and measurements when piloting an aircraft.
- Speech. You'll need to be comfortable with speaking because you'll need to communicate with the radio tower with a strong, clear voice. Therefore, it's a good idea to take speech classes.
- Computer science. A basic understanding of computers and technology can be beneficial in piloting an aircraft and in navigating the technological tools that are part of the industry, such as geofencing systems.
- Weather science. If your high school offers a weather science class, take it! While the class in high school won't particularly teach you about aerodynamics and propulsion in regards to your aircraft, it's important to have an understanding of various weather and wind patterns, especially since they can affect flights. You'll then learn about how wind and weather affects aerodynamics and propulsion in flight school.
Speak with your flying instructor about other classes that he or she recommends you take while you are still in high school. You may also want to consider if your ultimate goal is to use your pilot's license for recreation or to earn an income. If you are considering the income-earning potential of your pilot's license, such as giving aerial tours or dusting crops, add business, management, and/or accounting classes to your schedule at some point in your high school career.
There are scholarships available for young people who want to attend aviation colleges and flight schools. As with most scholarships, there are requirements that need to be met before you can be considered for the scholarship, particularly a good overall GPA score. Another common requirement that aligns with many other types of scholarships is an essay.
Since you are looking for an aviation scholarship, don't be surprised to see that many of them require you to hold a current student medical certificate or qualify for one. Due to a recent change in FAA regulations, this is now a separate document from a student pilot certificate. The reason this is a requirement for most aviation scholarships is because a medical certificate is necessary as a means of determining if you are healthy enough to pilot an aircraft.
For more information and options, talk with an aviation school, such as Parkland College, directly.