The thrill of flying a plane is something that only a select few ever come to realize; at least, that’s what most people think. Truth be known, if you have enough coordination to drive a manual transmission car (stick shift), then you have enough coordination to fly a small plane. It’s easier than you think! The flexibility you’ll gain in your vacation or business travel schedule is substantial. Imagine flying to Provincetown on Cape Cod for the weekend, or visiting friends in Palm Springs for Thanksgiving. The ability to come and go as you please is a wonderful alternative to rush hour traffic on a weekend or holiday. Getting your initial pilot certificate is also your first step on the road to a professional pilot career.
Earning a pilot certificate requires both ground school and flight courses with a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). The ground school can be done by video, online, or by attending a ground school course at a local flight school. The flight courses are done in an aircraft under the supervision of a CFI. Once you become proficient, the CFI will give you permission to fly solo, which is all by yourself! The Sport Pilot, Recreational Pilot and the Private Pilot certifications require passing a written test, which is what the ground school covers, and a flight test. With some studying and some practice, you too can join the ranks of being a pilot!
Take an Introductory Flight
Not sure if you really want to learn to fly? Take an introductory flight! Many flight schools have an introductory lesson for around $99. The flight consists of you sitting in the pilot seat with a Certificated Flight Instructor in the co-pilot seat. The flight will usually last about 20 minutes and should give you a good feel for flying. Introductory flight offers and discounts are usually available from beapilot.com.
Depending on the kind of license you want to achieve, you can spend as little as $2,800-3500* to acquire your Sport or Recreational Pilot license with 20-35 hours of flight time. The next step up is the Private Pilot License, which generally costs between $4,500 and $6,500*. The good news is, you don’t have to pay for it all at once. Flying lessons are generally a pay-as-you-go scenario.
* Prices vary between flight schools, type of aircraft, region, and number of hours required.
Find a LGBT-Friendly Flight School
Flight school personnel change regularly, which makes it impossible to keep a current database of gay-friendly flight schools. However, you can use the NGPA web site to your advantage: Just ask for help. When looking for a flight school, you can post a question on the NPGA's forum and ask for recommendations from someone in your area. As an NGPA member, you can also search the NGPA CFI Registry to locate NGPA members who are Certified Flight Instructors.
If you have goals of becoming a professional pilot flying in the air transport category, your personal and training requirements become more stringent. Commanding a multi-million dollar aircraft with sometimes more than 400 passengers is a demanding responsibility. Because of this, most airlines require a college degree and a least 1,000 hours of the "right" kind of flight time, meaning a high percentage of flight hours in multi-engine and turbine aircraft. Typical regional airlines hire new pilots with and average of 2,000 hours and the majors typically hire 4,000 hour pilots.
To assist you in your professional aviation career, the NGPA Education Fund offers scholarships to qualified candidates. Although about half of all airline pilots received training in the military, civilian training options are numerous through college degree programs (either a Bachelor's or Associate's) along with flight schools.
There are literally hundreds of these schools across the country serving the needs of future professional pilots. However, they differ greatly in style, substance and cost. Some are run in a formal military style, others are more relaxed. Some are intensive and fast paced, while others let the student set the pace. Also, some are pay-as-you-go and some require you to pay a full program fee up front. Each student has to evaluate his/her own needs and shop wisely to find the right program for them.
We all acknowledge that being gay in the aviation industry can be a challenge. It has traditionally been an industry dominated by a military attitude and often intolerant of diversity. However, that has been changing over the last several years and now diversity in the cockpit is more apparent and continuously increasing. There are many more women, people of color, and openly LGBT aviators at work in the airlines today than ever before!
Just a small percentage of the population fly planes, and even fewer numbers of those aviators belong to the LGBT community. Our membership ranges from college students to career pilots to retired professional pilots and members who simply just love airplanes and want to fly a Cub around the patch. Where do you fall? First and foremost though, we ALL love aviation, and we want you to join the safe place we call home, and our family.
NGPA advocates for the rights of all LGBTQ pilots, provides mentors for pilots, and supports students through scholarships. We also throw some of the best (and gayest!) aviation events ever! We are pilots, flight instructors, students, air traffic controllers, mechanics, spouses, and just about anyone else who really loves aviation.