Becoming a Pilot

Become a Pilot


For those of us who love airplanes, we know that flying can be for anyone who has a passion for aviation. We also know that it takes skill, dedication, the right mindset and attitude of an early explorer, and an adventurer’s spirit. It takes quick thinking and the ability to divide your mind among a wide variety of things. It takes a degree of confidence and personal drive to become a pilot.

Flying is for everyone – However, becoming a pilot takes planning, dedication and a carefully drawn out map. It takes a motivated student, a patient yet fervent teacher and a commitment from both parties to make aviation a priority. It doesn’t have to be done full-time – it most definitely can be undertaken as a part of your life – but it cannot be approached casually. Flight training is not about getting flight hours; it is not about just showing up and flying your time and expecting significant results. It is about studying and learning aviation, even if it is one piece or one lesson at a time.

Your path can start with studying at home, talking to other pilots, taking an introductory flight lesson or two, getting a flight simulator program on a laptop or home PC, and eventually starting out with a few lessons to sample the process. After those initial steps, you’ll know more about your personal aviation journey, and you’ll know what it’s like to train to become a pilot. And if it has to be a dedicated lesson or two a month, that’s fine, as long as you stay focused on aviation between lessons. On the other hand, it certainly is something that you can jump into with both feet and never look back. You can eat, sleep and breathe the training, and dedicate a few weeks to completely immerse yourself in the process, and come out a certified pilot. Or, you can go somewhere in the middle. The journey is different for us all, because all of us have different schedules and outside factors. You and your instructor – or flight school – need to have a serious conversation about what you can commit, from both a scheduling and financial standpoint, to reach your goals. Then, you and your flight school need to create a program just for you. Flight training is not cookie-cutter, it is not one-program-fits-all, and it is why not everyone can be a pilot. But you can.

Remind yourself that aviation is not a means to an end; it is an aspiration toward greatness. It is different from driver’s education and different from learning to golf. If it wasn’t, then everyone could be a pilot. But then maybe aviation would be ordinary; it would be common. It would be no different from learning to tie your shoes, and it would not carry the allure that it does.

If you want to become a pilot, then you can become a pilot. And if you do, you will not be the same. Becoming a pilot is a change in your life, and that change is different for everyone. You can find a path to becoming a pilot that will work you. You just have to prepare and plan for it.

In a lot of ways, figuring out how to take flight training requires the same skills as you need to be a pilot. It takes desire, and it takes commitment. It takes a can-do attitude, and it takes a problem-solving mindset to overcome the obstacles that might impede your progress. But if you make the decision that you will become a pilot, then you can. And American Flyers would love the opportunity to guide you along the way.

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Every Time a Bell Rings a Pilot Gets Their Wings


Everyone enjoys recognition; and most people don’t like to brag about their achievements. When one of our graduates rings the bell, they are letting everyone know that they are now a member of this unique fraternity; they have achieved a goal. Ringing the bell also serves as a reminder and a salute to all who rang the bell before them.

The ringing of the bell is something sought after by American Flyers students. We have had graduates who have taken their check rides back at home – several states away – fly back to their AF Alma Mater just so they can join the ranks of those who have rung the bell.

Becoming a pilot is a huge achievement! It is something that such a small population of the world can boast. There are less than 600,000 pilots in the US; only about 2,500 people a month will become pilots. The exclusivity gets more significant when we continue beyond the already unique private pilot certificate. Pilots with instrument ratings are 1 in 1,000, and pilots with commercial or flight instructor certificates are 1 in 3,000. So, depending on which aviation milestone our student just lapped, they are part of a very selective group.

Whether this is their first certification in aviation or just their most recent, it is a big deal. So, it has been a tradition in American Flyers that when someone becomes a pilot for the first time, or gets their next pilot certification or rating, they let everyone in the school know by ringing the bell in the lobby. It is a victory song, and the bell is often rung repeatedly and with lots of feeling. (Some of our poor and defenseless bells have actually been pulled off the wall, but hey – I’m not about to get in the way of an excited new pilot!) The clanging bell signals to everyone in the building that something fantastic has happened, and we all drop what we are doing – students and staff alike – to come congratulate and welcome them into this new phase of their aviation journey. It is their graduation, their “We are the Champions” moment, and it is something very much worth celebrating./P>

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Flight Path from Maintenance Intern to Chief Pilot

Paul Janecki

Paul Janecki has been serving the general aviation community as a member of the American Flyers’ team for over 30 years. Originally from Illinois, Paul started with American Flyers in Fort Lauderdale as part of our Maintenance Intern program in the early 1980’s. Upon completion of the intern program, Paul began working as an instructor for us, eventually working his way up to Chief Pilot and School Manager.

All this experience is why we have asked Paul to spearhead the grand opening of our new office in Scottsdale, AZ. When opening a new office, you need a jack of all trades, and that’s Paul in a nutshell. Paul has performed 100’s of maintenance inspections, provided 1000’s of hours of instruction (he has over 3,000 hours in Cessna 310’s alone), and he is very enthusiastic about the growth of our Scottsdale office.

Paul is an invaluable resource to the American Flyers family. We’re incredibly proud of him and would love for you to meet him. If you’re able, please stop by our new office and say hello to our “jack of all trades.”

Thank you, Paul, for all your hard work. You make American Flyers a better place to work and train.

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