How to Become a Pilot
Timeline to Takeoff
Pilot training is governed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). We are here to help
those new to the world of aviation learn the path to a successful career as an aviator.
Research Your Options
Make sure you understand cost, timelines, and prerequisites needed to become a pilot. A Discovery Flight is a great way to fly with one of our experience instructors and get a feel for flight training. You can also choose to do a program that leads to a career as a pilot.
Private Pilot License
14 to 18 weeks; 40 hours (minimum) national average 75 hours
The Private Pilot License (PPL) is a “License to Learn” and is the starting point for students who have higher aviation goals. No matter what you decide, your Private Pilot License will give you the freedom to set off on flying adventures with your friends and family. The sky’s the limit!! A PPL can take anywhere from 3 to 4 months, depending on your schedule.
8 to 14 weeks; 40 hours
An Instrument Rating is the next logical step. It is essential for anyone who is looking to pursue a career in flying, and will allow you to fly into a wider variety of weather conditions under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), refine your ability to use the flight instruments, and enable you to fully utilize the National Airspace System. This program can take two to three months to complete.
Commercial Pilot Certificate
26 to 52 weeks; 250 hours
With your Commercial Pilot Certificate, you will be allowed to fly day or night, carry passengers or property, and get paid for certain types of operations including piloting corporate jets, local scenic flights, banner towing, agricultural applications, aerial photography and more. Your commercial certificate will not, however, allow you to become an airline pilot. For that, you will need an Airline Transport Certificate (ATP).
Certified Flight Instructor
8 weeks; 80 hours of ground 10-20 hours of flight
With your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certifications, you’ll shift from a student in the left seat and into the right seat as a CFI!
You need 1500 hours to be able to work for an airline and gain your ATP, so becoming certified as a CFI will allow you to get experience in an aircraft and work towards your future career goals.
1 to 2 weeks; 12 hours
This add-on will allow you to fly multi-engine aircraft that are able to fly faster and further than most single-engine aircraft. This rating can be added to both Private and Commercial certificates, although a Commercial add-on is the most common for career track pilots.
Learn about a Multi-Engine Add-On
Now that you’ve graduated from the Aviator Career Program, you can start working as a commercial pilot as either a CFI or flying people for hire.
Work for an Airline
1 to 2 years; 1500 hours
Now that you have 1,500 hours, it’s time to start applying to airlines.
Stories of Success
Patrick NScottsdale, AZ
“From my first interaction with Sierra Charlie, they have been a dream to work with! Luke reached out first after I emailed about the Multi-Engine Add-On, very easy to talk to and very helpful.”
Andrew PScottsdale, AZ
“The instructors are smart, friendly and patient. The students at the school seem happy to be there and are very positive, which is refreshing. And the aircraft (C172’s) are top-notch. That was one of the big selling points for me. Safe, newer and well-taken care of airplanes.”
Melissa BScottsdale, AZ
“After spending a lot of time researching all of the flight schools in Arizona and Texas, I’m so glad I chose Sierra Charlie Aviation. The owner of the flight school, Scott, has an excellent team of experienced flight instructors with an evident passion for flying!”
Garth SChandler, AZ
“Sierra Charlie Aviation is a top notch flight school. Excellent instructors, excellent planes (and plenty of them), and a friendly, professional, supportive culture in which to learn.”
David OScottsdale, AZ
“Unlike other places, their planes are brand new and have the Garmin G1000 cockpit. So if you’re looking for flight lessons or a flight school in Phoenix or Scottsdale, I highly recommend Sierra Charlie Aviation.”
Bricen BScottsdale , AZ
“I started my flight training at Sierra Charlie Aviation in January. […]They have all brand new C172S models with g1000s, a student pilot’s dream. Although the aviator program was rigorous the training I received was impeccable. Witnessing it firsthand, I can agree that the culture is different and it is by far the best school I have ever attended! 10/10”
Alexis PScottsdale, AZ
“Best flight school ever! After doing a few discovery flights at schools throughout the valley, I am so happy I went with Sierra Charlie!”
Madilyn RScottsdale, AZ
“Sierra Charlie Aviation is a 10/10 would recommend flight school! I called them to ask about what career program they had available and as luck would have it they were launching their Aviator Program! Joe, the VP offered a tour same day.”
Daniel FChandler, AZ
“After calling multiple flight schools around the valley and getting bad first impressions I found Sierra Charlie. Right away Luke was professional and friendly and helped me get scheduled for my first lesson. The whole staff helped me feel comfortable all the way through training and my check ride.”