wikiHow to Become Qualified to Fly a Plane

Two Methods:Self-StudyCertification

If you're thinking about becoming a professional pilot, or just want to know what it takes to become one, here is how to complete a successful flight. You can get instruction by going to a flight school at your local airport or joining a military training program. Note: Many of the details on this page apply to the US only.

Method 1

  1. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 1
    Pick up a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator or Laminar Research's X-Plane. It doesn't have to be the latest version if your computer is older. Flight simulators will help you learn about the instruments and systems found in a typical trainer aircraft as well as make you familiar with maneuvers and procedures you will need to master for your private pilot exam. Thus you will need to spend less time and money on actual flight lessons, which are quite expensive. X-Plane's website truthfully says that if a flight simulator can save you an hour with a controller, it will have effectively paid for itself. Remember that while flight simulators are good for procedures training, they won't give you all of the stick-and-rudder skills to fly a real airplane.
  2. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 2
    Check out weather products such as METARS and TAFs even on days you don't fly. See if conditions match what those products indicate. That way, when you do fly, you'll have a higher confidence in the weather predictions.
  3. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 3
    Raise the nose of the airplane by pulling the control wheel toward you. This will make the airplane climb or stall if you pull back too far. Pitch changes speed, power changes altitude.
  4. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 4
    Use the throttle control to help the airplane climb and control your speed.
  5. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 5
    Push the control wheel away from you and reduce power to descend.
  6. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 6
    Turn the control wheel left to raise the right wing. This will cause the plane to bank resulting in a left turn. You also need to add left rudder (the left peddle) to keep the plane coordinated. Same thing to turn right but use the right controls

Method 2

  1. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 7
    Your instructor, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), will probably charge for time on the ground as well as in the air. This is not just a way for the CFI to generate more income. If used wisely, you will become proficient more quickly than by just flying. For example, if you study your intended flight prior to the flight lesson, you will optimize the time you spend with your CFI by having smarter questions and clearly understanding what you are going to do. Additionally, you should receive a thorough post-flight debrief - even if everything went picture perfect. As you progress in your training these pre and post flight debriefs should get shorter.
  2. Image titled Become Qualified to Fly a Plane Step 8
    Get your Class III Medical. It's relatively simple to pass if you're in good health. No use starting sometime if you have a health condition that will preclude you from flying. has the info to help you determine if you have any health exclusions.


  • A good way to get a pilots license is through (Canada only) the Royal Canadian Air Cadets; in the US it is the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). It is for youth from 12-18. If you work hard you can get a pilot's license completely free!
  • The private pilot certificate costs around $7,000 to $10,000 with ground school and flight time included, so make sure you have enough money and use your budget wisely.
  • Consider purchasing your own headset (for radio/intercom communication) early in your training. CFIs/flight schools may loan or rent you a set, but having your own gives you one less variable to deal with when you fly.
  • Join a support or educational group such as AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) or EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association), as well as any number of internet groups or e-newsletter subscription services. Get a mentor or buddy to share experiences and information.
  • Also, consider getting a sport pilot license. It takes half the time (read that as half the cost) and is a great starting point. You have some additional restrictions, but all the flight time acquired as a sport pilot can be applied to higher certificates (i.e. Private, Commercial, ATP, etc.) and ratings (i.e. instrument rating after you earn private or above). Your state issued driver's license is your medical certificate. Go to (EAA's sport pilot website) for more information (they also have a list of instructors).


  • Adequate aircraft training required.
  • A good flight instructor is a must when learning to fly. Do not attempt to fly without prior knowledge. Never practice new maneuvers or procedures without a CFI on board.
  • Learn to make a no-go decision. Especially when you see bad weather coming into the airport or if the aircraft is unsafe.
  • Don't fly a plane unless you have permission to rent the plane or you own the plane.
  • This article is not enough for you to fly a plane by yourself. You must have training. It is one thing to do it in theory, another thing to do it in practice.
  • Adequate ground school required.
  • A contrary opinion: Avoid using any desktop PC-based "flight simulator" to learn how to fly, as there are significant differences between the reactions of the computer and those of a real airplane, and you will acquire numerous bad habits which will be difficult (and expensive) for your primary flight instructor to cure. For example, as an FAA-certified Flight Instructor, I want you to be listening to the sounds of the wind, and feeling the changes in control feel and seat positioning as the air-speeds and flight attitudes change. I need you to learn trimming to reduce control pressures, and to become smooth on the controls. If you have tried to learn from a computer, I will detect it within five seconds of giving you the controls! You will be abrupt on the controls, uncoordinated, oblivious to cues from the "seat of the pants", and will not utilize trim.

Things You'll Need

  • Ground school
  • Pilot text books
  • FAR/AIM for the current year
  • A good flight instructor

Article Info

Categories: Flight Training