I am 17 years old and am interesting in pursuing a career as a pilot. I am not sure what I need to do first, but I do have a flight lesson this Saturday to see if I want to continue with this career plan. To start off, what certificate should I work toward first and where should I go from there? I have read about the recreational pilot's license, as well as some other licenses, and was wondering what I should go for first. Also, any links to study material for any exams I may need to take would be greatly appreciated! All of the information about becoming a pilot seems a bit overwhelming, so I am just looking for a place to start and a basic plan. Thanks!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You must be excited to start, but Saturday is not far away. You will be able to talk face to face to an expert then who will outline everything that you need to know. They don't expect you to turn up knowing everything, so just relax and create your plan after this lesson. $\endgroup$ – Ben Dec 28 '18 at 3:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! It's great that you're planning your first flight and I hope it goes well! Your questions are good ones, but unfortunately they aren't a good fit for this site: this is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum, and we like individual questions that are clear, specific and answerable. Yours is quite broad, and also likely to generate opinions and discussion; the tour can give you more information on how the site works. But feel free to post any specific questions you have, and we have lots of questions already that might be helpful for you. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 28 '18 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ What country are you in? $\endgroup$ – John K Dec 28 '18 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ He selected the "faa-regulations" so that says USA to me. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Dec 28 '18 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ Getting all the way from zero to everything you need to be a commercial pilot working for an airline is a major undertaking, both in terms of money and time. Don't rush it! It's great to have a goal to strive toward, but for now, enjoy that first flight for its own sake, then see where it takes you. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 28 '18 at 21:10

If you're considering going career, skip Sport and Rec; you'll need Private before anything higher, and there's no credit for having anything lower first. But wait until you see how your first few lessons go before getting too far ahead of yourself.


There are many sources of information. https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/media/questions_answers.pdf

Reading the FAR-AIM, available at many flight schools is one good source, as many of the FAA Knowledge Exam questions come from this book. There are online courses you can take, examples:

https://www.sportys.com/pilotshop/learn-to-fly/private-pilot-learn-to-fly-course.html https://www.kingschools.com/

and many flight schools also offer Ground School classes. You will need an instructor signoff to take the knowledge exam.

There are also flying colleges, such as Embry Riddle in FL. https://erau.edu/

I personally (1994, in my 30s) studied with Jeppeson materials and the FAR-AIM. Being a college grad made the studying easy, being an engineer made the math calculation parts easier. Anything I could not figure out, I quizzed my flight instructor on during flying lessons. The knowledge exam questions were available in booklet form then, I made sure I could answer every question, which often meant knowing where to find the information. Some things you just have to memorize, there is no way to work out/derive an answer. The exam was 60 questions out of the 700+ list of questions.

Try to find a way to fly at least twice a week if you can. Once a week you barely advance from lesson to lesson, missing a week for weather or something and it can feel like you went back 3 weeks. Being 17 will probably help with the motor skills for flying, but may hurt you on the learning part, depends on how good of a student you are.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.