How To Get Your Pilot’s License! | #AskAbby | Season 2 | Episode 7 | The Mars Generation

Season 2, Episode 7 of The Space and Science Show #AskAbby series

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How Can *You* Become a Pilot?

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In the seventh episode of season two of #AskAbby, please join our founder and aspiring astronaut, Abby ‘Astronaut Abby’ Harrison who is a *newly licensed private pilot,* as she discusses the steps it takes to earn a pilot’s license! Having joined the elite ranks of women who hold pilot licenses (only 7% of pilot licenses are held by women), Abby will discuss everything you need to know to become a pilot yourself, from the different types of flight schools to the examination process in this crash-course episode of the #AskAbby Space and Science Show!

Includes answers to questions including: How do you get a student aviation and aviation medical certificate? What’s the difference between a Part 61 and Part 141 flight school? How do I pick which flight school to attend? What are FAA requirements to become a pilot? What are the minimum age and language requirements? What’s the difference between a sport, private, and commercial pilots license? What does pilot training look like? What is the examination process like? What is a checkride? Should Astronaut Abby now be called “Pilot Abby”? And much more!

Tune in for new releases of The Space and Science Show #AskAbby series and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel here so you don’t miss an episode!


I know that I’m always excited about a 3 day weekend- whether it’s because of a holiday or a snow day! But, it always makes me wonder… what exactly can you do in a 3 day weekend?? You could watch the entirety of The Office, you could have a Harry Potter marathon THREE times over


You could go and get a private pilot’s license! Well, in theory…

A three-day weekend is 72 hours, and a pilot’s license takes on average 60-75 hours of flying time to complete, so if you plan on not doing anything but flying, so no eating, sleeping, drinking…any of that…I guess you could do it.

Today, we’re gonna talk about getting your pilot’s license!


Hello! My name is Abigail Harrison or as I’m more commonly known, Astronaut Abby. and I’m an aspiring astronaut with the goal to be the first astronaut to walk on Mars. Welcome to my show #AskAbby!

Today’s episode is very special because this is the first episode that I’m doing where I can officially say that I’m a pilot! That’s right! I successfuly got my private pilot’s license.

Maybe I should be called “Pilot Abby” instead? Eh, just doesn’t have the same ring to it. (calls off-screen) Hey Tony, change it back!!

Alliterations, ya know? *wink*

Anyways, today I’m going to walk you through the steps of how I became a private pilot and how you can too!

While being a pilot isn’t necessary for all positions to become an astronaut, it is a useful skill, and will definitely boost your resume! For more information on how you can become an astronaut, make sure you go ahead and check the video that I did about exactly that, “How to Become an Astronaut,” which, as usual, is linked below!

All right, let’s get started!

Step One: You have to decide which kind of pilot’s license you want to get.

There are different kinds of pilot licenses, ranging from the least time consuming to most strenuous, such as a sports, a private, or a commercial license. I decided to get a private pilot’s license because I know that I want to, not pursue this as a career, but do more than the occasional hobbyist aviation. So private was perfect for me.

Step Two: Are you eligible?

To be eligible for a pilot’s license, you need to be at least 17 years old and you need to be able to speak, read, and write in English, which is the international language used by flight control towers.

You’ll also need a student aviation certificate and an aviation medical certificate, both of which are issued by the FAA or Federal Aviation Administration.

Step Three: Choosing your flight school and instructor.

Believe it or not, but this should take more time and effort than just a simple Google search. That’s because there are different kinds of flight schools that have different procedures and requirements that may or may not fit with what you’re able to do, so make sure that you spend time doing your research on this because I promise you it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run if you pick the right flight school!

There are two different types of flight schools, or two basic categories that they fall into, which are called Part 61 flight schools and Part 141 flight schools.

The main difference between the two categories of schools is really just flexibility. Part 141 schools are federally mandated by the FAA to follow a specific curriculum and so they have less flexibility for their students. I chose to go to a Part 61 school because as a part-time aviation student but a full-time college student and someone running a non-profit, that flexibility was really important to me.

Fun fact- while the names “61” and “141” may seem like kind of weird and random things to call a flight school, they actually are called that because they refer to the sections of the FAA manual that outlines the requirements those schools are run by.

Now, that you’ve decided what kind of flight school you want to train with, it’s a good idea to either call up or go visit in person the flight schools and ask some questions. These questions could include:
• What kind of aircraft do you train with and how many do you have in your fleet?
• What do I do if there’s inclement weather? Can I reschedule my flights?
• What’s your student-to-teacher ratio?
• What insurance do you have?

And, another question that I would add is really important for women and non-binary people who are looking to get their pilot’s license is:
• How many female instructors does your school have?

This will help to shine a light on how welcoming the school will be to you, as you go through the effortful and time-consuming process of getting a pilot’s license. It’s super important because aviation is still one of the most gender-segregated industries out there, with only 7% of pilots being women. Let’s change that.

Step Four: And no, sadly, we’re still not flying yet.

Before you can take off, you need to do something called “ground school.” Ground school is really just all the book learning involved with flying. It’s things like maintenance, regulation, safety, weather…all those types of things that allow you to be a safe pilot. You can either do ground school in person, with an instructor, or you through an online course–it really just has to do with your personal learning style!

Step Five: Flying! (with an instructor first!) But, before you know it, you’ll be flying solo! Student pilots can actually fly on their own before they get their pilot’s license. There are just a lot more limitations and regulations on them. I loved my first solo flight because it made me a more confident pilot. Knowing that you can trust yourself to handle whatever happens really raises your level of assertiveness in flying.

And finally…

Step Six: Passing your examinations!

Depending on what kind of license you’re getting, you’ll take a different set of exams. But for me with the private pilot’s license, I had to take3 different exams. The first was a written knowledge test by the FAA, the second was a verbal exam testing all things aviation. So basically I had to know everything in this book. Not too much, right, it’s only like 1,100 pages? Blaah. The third is what’s called your check ride. A check ride is a basically just like a driver’s test. A designator pilot examiner from the FAA comes and flies with you for 1-2 hours and evaluates your ability to be a safe pilot.

After that, congratulations! If you pass all your examinations, you’re a pilot! Let’s fly!

All right, folks, that’s all the time we have today for #AskAbby! If you liked this episode, make sure that you go ahead and like and subscribe and share it with all your friends! If you have a question that you’d like to see answered here on AskAbby, you can submit it either on our website, which is linked below, or by tweeting it to me, @astronautabby, with the hashtag #AskAbby.

Also, if you’re starting your pilot’s license or thinking about starting to learn to fly, make sure that you comment down below and let us know how it’s going!

That’s all for now. Farewell fellow travelers of spaceship Earth! And, I’ll see you from the skies!

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