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The Fastest Way for a Student Pilot to Build Flight Hours

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As a student pilot, it will inevitably take many long hours of flight time to achieve your desired career. Working as a professional pilot requires hundreds of hours logged. You will need not only your initial license to fly solo, but also multiple types of licenses and instrument and multi-engine ratings. As any aspiring commercial pilot will confirm, it can be expensive to log these hours by renting a plane to fly regularly. By making flying your regular job, picking up odd jobs here and there and combining your hours with other pilots, you have the opportunity to speed up the process of gaining flight hours exponentially.

Obtain your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) license and/or your Certified Instrument Instructor and Multi-Engine Instructor licenses, and contact your local municipal airport or the company from which you obtained your initial pilot's license. Ask them about coming on as a flight instructor. This will be the best way to log many hours of flying while earning an income and gaining valuable experience to add to your flying resume.

Hire yourself out to tow banners. As a pilot, you can offer your services to local businesses for airline advertising. While your hours may not be consistent with this gig, you will again have the opportunity to log hours and make a bit of cash at the same time.

Fly aerial photographers. Particularly if you live in a touristy area, you can offer to fly professional photographers around scenic locations or landmarks to get aerial shots. If there is competition for this job, offer your services at a discounted rate.

Perform aerial traffic watch. Offer your services to your local radio stations to fly around their traffic reporters.

Share flights with other pilots. If you get to know your fellow pilots, you may find that they are struggling to meet their necessary hours as well. You can save money by splitting the cost of the flight time and flying together.


Sara Davis has been a writer since 2000. Her work has appeared in numerous publications such as "The Chimes" newspaper and "Next Step" magazine. Davis has a Bachelor of Arts in cinema and media arts from Biola University.

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