Are you suitable material as a professional pilot?

Published: 04 Oct 2013 By David Learmount

To be a successful professional pilot, you need to have had a good general secondary education, ideally with an emphasis on mathematics and physics. If the latter subjects were not your specialisation, you must have an aptitude for them or you will struggle with the academic subjects you need to study to earn a commercial pilot’s licence.

A degree is not essential, but it helps, especially if it was in engineering, mathematics or science.

To be a pilot at the professional level, you will need better-than-average hand-eye co-ordination, and a naturally good sense of spatial orientation in three dimensions.

Your health, hearing and eyesight must be first class, and colour-blindness would disqualify you. It is advisable to have a full aviation medical health check before doing anything else.

Since flight training is very expensive, before you invest time and money in it, take a pilot aptitude test to ensure that you have the necessary natural aptitudes, because these cannot be learned beyond a certain point. Possessing ordinary life skills, such as car driving, is not necessarily a good guide because that is conducted in two dimensions, not three.  FTOs can either provide an aptitude test or refer you for one.

The military will not take you on unless you pass extensive tests, and some FTOs will require you to pass an aptitude test before they accept you for a commercial pilot’s licence course.


Read the next article about becoming a pilot, What's the job really like whne you get there?
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