If you’re pondering pursuit of a pilot’s license, you might imagine the bulk of your educational training will involve learning to put the aircraft where you want it to go. While this is certainly true, you might not realize the profound impact other disciplines have on pilot education requirements. In short, an aviator must learn a little about a variety of subjects in order to satisfy the FAA’s established knowledge requirements.
Before I discourage anyone from pursuing flight training, let me stress that you must learn just a little of several disciplines in order to thrive as a pilot. Nobody, including the FAA, expects you to achieve doctorate-level aptitude in any of the requisite fields. Besides, the stuff you’ll need to learn to become a pilot is fun, interesting, and actually has a practical application. While the details of the FAA’s pilot education requirements are spelled out in 14 CFR 61.105 (b), let’s look at a condensed, not-quite-so-dry overview of some of the subject matter you can expect to study and a few of the associated disciplines you’ll delve into.
Lawyer: You’ll spend a fair amount of time learning the Federal Aviation Regulations (often abbreviated as FARs or referred to simply as “regs”) that apply to your type of flying. In fact, one oft-used book in your arsenal will contain the FARs, which you’ll refer to frequently throughout your training. Though the FAA’s wording and format can appear overwhelming, your instructor(s) will help you sort through the legalese. Additionally, several flight training companies have developed plain language versions that make the regs much more understandable.
Air Traffic Controller and DJ: From the get-go, you’ll be talking on the radio A LOT. It’s perfectly normal if you suffer from mic fright, discomfort at knowing your every word is being broadcast, early in your training. Learning the lingo also involves an understandable learning curve. However, you’ll be amazed at just how quickly you can learn to report your position and anticipate the location of other aircraft based on the chatter you hear over the
Weatherman: Flying involves interacting with the elements, and learning to anticipate where and when you can expect certain weather phenomena. Don’t understand how Channel 6’s meteorologist arrives at his forecast? Fret not. Your flight instructor(s) will give you plenty of practice at gradually grasping weather basics.
Physicist, Engineer, and Aerodynamicist: Learning to fly involves understanding how aircraft slip the surly bonds, so you can expect to unravel the marvels of the mystery as you learn the various flight maneuvers. In case you’re worried, this area is much easier than your high school physics course was, plus you’ll be able to anticipate how your bird will react under a variety of circumstances.
As you can see, pilot education requirements incorporate skills from a variety of outside fields. Though these disciplines might at first glance seem unrelated, they all come together as contributing factors in the aviation arena. Flight training affords you the opportunity to learn a bit about each field, and allows you to try on many hats as you go about earning your wings.