What will stop me from getting a pilot’s license?

Posted: February 18, 2020 | Author: Jaidyn Crookston | Read Time: 8 minutes

Becoming a helicopter pilot takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but many flight students graduate each year and go on to have successful careers. Becoming a pilot may not be easy, but it is possible with the right attitude and the right training. 

Many potential flight students wonder about what’s required to become a pilot and how to ensure that they’re able to get the best training available. It’s important for a future student to be aware of common problems flight students face and common reasons why they may not complete their training. 

Helicopter pilots flying a chopper

Here are some of the things that may stop a student from completing flight training and becoming a pilot: 

Medical problems: 

If you aren’t able to pass the FAA medical exam, then you won’t be able to become a helicopter pilot. Before being accepted to a flight school, you’ll need to visit a qualified FAA medical examiner. Once you pass the exam you’ll be given a medical certificate. There are some medical conditions that will automatically disqualify you from passing this exam, but many issues can be resolved and worked with over time so that eventually you pass the exam. If you want to be a pilot but think you may not pass this exam, it’s best to call an examiner and talk about your options. 

You’ll have to pass this exam every few years, so if something changes for you medically, it’s possible that your medical certificate will be taken away. If this happens, you’ll have to stop flying until you get the medical problem under control. If it’s a problem that can’t be fixed and is disqualifying, you may not be able to get your medical certificate back. 


helicopter on the groundAs strange as it sounds, you can be too heavy to become a helicopter pilot. Helicopters have weight limits and if these limits are exceeded they won’t be able to fly safely. For example, at SUU Aviation, if you weigh more than 190 pounds you won’t be able to fly anything smaller than an R44. If you weigh over 300 pounds you may not be able to fly a helicopter at all. 

If you’re a heavy person but want to become a pilot, you can start on this path by losing weight until you’re within the accepted weight range. If you have questions about weight limits and how it may affect your training, you can contact a flight school.

Criminal record:

Having a criminal record may stop you from becoming a pilot. If you’ve had a DUI in the past you’ll still be able to train, but it may be difficult to get a job. If you have ever been or are ever charged with domestic violence your career will most likely be ruined. 

No funding:

If you’re not a veteran and are paying out of pocket, flight school can be expensive. Finding funding takes a lot of effort, and a lot of students don’t take this time. However, if you do take the time to find funding, you’ll likely have enough to get through flight school. Ways to find funding include scholarships (private or university), financial aid, and student loans. You can work while you’re a student, but because of the high demand of flight school it isn’t recommended that you work more than part time. 

If you have trouble funding your flight training, talk to your school’s financial office. Many universities offer free financial counseling, which can help you figure out how to get the funding you need. If you’re not attending a university flight school you may have a harder time finding funding because federal financial aid, student loans, and some scholarships won’t be available to you. 

Flight school is an investment. Even though flight training is expensive, it’ll be worth every penny. With your license you’ll be paid to live your dream and fly thousands of feet above the ground. Once you start making money you’ll earn much more than you spent on your education, with the average salary of a helicopter pilot being $95,000 a year, according to salary.com. 

helicopter pilots walking to their helicopter

Wrong flight school:

It’s important to choose a flight school that has your best interests at heart. By doing research and comparing flight schools you’ll be able to choose the one that is best for you. 

The first thing you’ll need to decide when looking at flight schools is whether or not you want to earn a university degree with your pilot’s license. If you want to earn a degree you’ll need to attend a flight school that is attached to a university. If you don’t want a degree you can attend a non-university flight school. While having a degree is not required to become a pilot, it will help you get jobs and will give you more experience. Attending a university flight school will also give you more funding opportunities because as a university student you’ll be eligible for federal financial aid, student loans, and scholarships.  

Make sure you find a flight school that will give you all the certifications needed to work as a pilot. To earn money as a pilot you’ll need private, commercial, and instrument licenses. It’s also good to have a CFI and a CFII license, as well as any advanced training a flight school may offer. Advanced training you can get includes long line, turbine, night vision goggles, and mountain operations. The more advanced training you have, the more marketable you’ll be for future employees and the more likely you are to earn a lot of money as a pilot. 

Wrong attitude:

Because becoming a pilot takes so much work, it’s important to have the right attitude. If you go into flight school expecting things to be easy and expecting to be a pro at flying a giant machine in no time, then you’re likely going to be very disappointed. It takes a lot of practice to fly a helicopter and you need to be aware of this before you begin training. 

It’s important that you study for exams and learn all you can about the laws and procedures of the aviation world. Your instructors are there to help you succeed and you can go to them for help. It’s especially important that you take care of your health, both physically and mentally. Many university flight schools offer free financial and psychological counseling.  If you’re struggling, take advantage of these resources. 

helicopter pilot flying over mountains and lake

How to avoid these problems:

Now that you know why some flight students end up not finishing flight school, you’ll be able to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you. 

The biggest way to avoid these problems is simply by planning ahead. 

Medical problems: Give yourself plenty of time to get your FAA medical exam so that if there are any problems you’ll have time to address and hopefully fix them. You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to renew your license for these same reasons. 

Weight: If you know that you’re too heavy to fly a helicopter you can take action now to lose weight. Once you’ve hit an acceptable weight, make sure you stay there and don’t gain the weight back or you may have to stop in the middle of flight school. 

Criminal record: Even though nobody plans to have a criminal record, you can take extra care not to drink and drive and not to do anything else that will go on your record. 

No funding: You can start looking for funding now, even if you won’t be going to flight school for a while. The sooner you start identifying and applying for scholarships and financial aid, the more likely you are to have funding when school begins. 

Wrong attitude: Go into flight school with the right attitude. Make sure you know what you’re getting into and don’t have super high expectations. You should expect to struggle and have hard days, not to go through flight school quickly with no problems. Flight school is hard and becoming a pilot will be hard, but if you have the right attitude and do your best you’ll be making money as a pilot before you know it. helicopters lined up on the ground

Wrong flight school: Do your research and find the right flight school. Every flight school is different and some will be better for you than others. Once you’ve found the school that will work with you and give you all the training you need, apply quickly because flight schools only have so many spots per year. Once you’ve saved your spot you can start getting ready for flight school by finding housing and taking care of other essentials.

If you’re looking for a flight school that will make it easy to become a pilot, check out SUU Aviation. SUU Aviation takes pride in helping each and every flight student follow their dreams to become a pilot. If you want a school that cares about YOU, then SUU Aviation is the place to be. 

If you have any questions about what may stop you from getting your pilot’s license, contact SUU Aviation. We would be happy to answer any questions you have and tell you a bit more about our program. Don’t let the common problems that have stopped other students stop you; start your path to becoming a pilot today.

Tags: Aviation

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