Careers: Flying & Aviation/Dear Sir,


QUESTION: I am a high school graduate from Ghana.I have this passion and dream of becoming a pilot but do not know which courses in the aviation to offer.I want to be a chief pilot.Can you please help out?Thank you.

ANSWER: Dear Nana:

There are three parts to the answer of pursuing your dream to become a pilot:

1.  Earn the appropriate government certificates and ratings to be a pilot:

A.  This usually starts with becoming a "Private Pilot" (earning your Private Pilot Certificate or License)--this takes from 40 to 55 hours of flying and an equal number of hours of studying on the ground....

B.  Next comes the Commercial Pilot Certificate with an Instrument Rating.  This Certificate allows you to "fly for hire" (earn money while flying others or by flying cargo).  The Instrument Rating allows you to fly in poor visibility conditions (usually where the cloud height is below 1000 feet above the ground and forward visibility is under one mile).

C.  Then comes the multi engine rating, which allows you to fly twin engine aircraft (usually, smaller piston driven aircraft)---larger jet twins require specific training in each model of aircraft).

D.  Then, you pursue a Flight Instructor-Airplane rating which allows you to teach others to fly.  Using this rating is a common way to build your flight experience.

2.  Once you have earned the appropriate government certificates to become a pilot, then, you must build your flight experience.  This flight experience is both a function of building your flight time (the hours you have flown) but also flying at night, flying in instrument conditions, and so forth.  The more varied flight experience you earn, the better it is for your career to become a professional pilot.

3.  In addition to the above two steps, you must also earn a college degree.  If you are able to earn a college degree while also learning to fly, then, that is a wonderful combination.  I am not sure if there are colleges or universities in Ghana that have aviation degrees, but, I believe that there are such programs in South Africa, in the Middle East (Qatar and other nations), Europe and in the USA.  In the USA, there is a listing of such collegiate aviation programs at which is the website of the University Aviation Association.  They do list some members outside the USA.

To become a "chief pilot" for any company is a big honor and one that requires many years of experience.  However, such goals are reached by taking small steps toward the goal now....starting with the pursuit of your government certificates for being a pilot, your pilot work experience and your college degree.

Best wishes to you in the pursuit of your dream!


David A. NewMyer

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I will be applying in an academy very soon but want to know if it is best for me to go straight and take the Airline Transport Pilot course?Thank you

Dear Nana:

Your decision to take the Airline Transport Pilot course would depend on what kind of program that it is.  Normally, an ATP requires a minimum amount of flight experience to earn (1500 flight hours or more).   So, is this program that you have mentioned a program to take you from zero experience to 1500 hours or is it a different kind of program?  Without this information, I am not sure how to answer your question.

Thank you,

David A. NewMyer

Careers: Flying & Aviation

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David A. NewMyer


Can advise people thinking about beginning and aviation career and espcially those thinking about an aviation university program. Can also help with aviation scholarship questions. I am particularly strong in questions related to starting a flight career, choosing a university flight or aviation management program, aviation internships and aviation scholarships. Also, I can assist with questions about airport management and planning careers and oveall aviation industry employment questions.


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Prepared In addition to aviation education, I work at a major university, I have worked as an airport planner preparing airport system plans, airport master plan and environmental assessment reports for the Chicago area in general and for several individual Illinois airports.

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