Becoming a pilot is a dream that most people ponder upon at least once in their lifetime. But what is the right age to start flying lessons? Read below for more information.
Becoming a pilot is a dream that most people ponder upon at least once in their lifetime. But what is the right age to start flying lessons?
In the world of aviation, there is no concept of having the “right age” to learn how to fly, but there are certain restrictions in the context of obtaining pilot licenses. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has outlined that the minimum age to obtain a PPL is 17, but candidates who are serious about flying can begin to learn well before that age!
This means that teenagers can begin their flight training in advance and be on their way to obtaining a professional license if they want to build a career in aviation.
There are, however, many considerations to keep in mind when starting flying lessons at a young age. In this guide, we will discuss the pros and cons of learning to fly in the context of young, inexperienced candidates as well as older ones.
MINIMUM AGE REQUIREMENT FOR FLYING AN AIRCRAFT
The field of aviation is very rewarding because it is fuelled by imagination, passion, and dedication. So, it makes sense that flying an aircraft would capture the minds of the young.
In the UK, there is no minimum age to learn to fly. While the CAA has age restrictions when it comes to awarding licenses, there is no restriction on when candidates can start learning!
In fact, there are many flight schools, like Sherburn Aero Club, that also offer discounted rates for enrolling at a young age (below 18).
But not all flight training is related to commercial flying purposes. Flight schools encourage people of all ages to partake in aviation because they can enjoy the thrills of flying aircraft even with a Private Pilot License (PPL).
A PPL is suitable for candidates that want to enjoy the skies without committing to a career in aviation. The minimum age for obtaining a PPL is 17, as per the CAA, but candidates can enrol and start training from the age of 16.
However, in the case of a Commercial Pilot License (CPL), the candidate must be 18 years of age. But just like in the case of PPL, they can begin training at an early age and then get their CPL when they complete their training and are 18 years old.
It is important to note that in either case, the pilot will also need to obtain a valid medical certificate. The CAA has made it mandatory for all PPL holders to have a Class 2 Medical Certificate, while CPL holders require a Class 1 Medical Certificate.
Class 1 medical certificates are quite comprehensive and comprise several rigorous health checks while PPL holders can quickly get a Class 2 medical certificate after a basic workup.
PROS OF STARTING FLYING LESSONS FROM A YOUNG AGE
Now that we have established the minimum age for flying in the UK, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of learning to fly from a young age compared to someone older.
This is an important consideration to keep in mind because there are a lot of factors that go into flight training and age is consistently ranked as a factor that can affect the pilot’s training and their behaviour.
Here are some pros of learning to fly from a young age:
Physical and Mental Benefits
Young people are usually fit, or they can at least easily gain or match the physical requirements necessary to become a pilot. Teenagers and young adults have the advantage of being more inclined towards physical tasks and they have much better stamina than someone in their late 50s.
For example, in the case of obtaining a valid medical license, capable candidates must prove that they are not suffering from any long-term ailment. Since serious types of diseases are usually rare among younger people, they will not likely encounter any problems during their tests. This puts young candidates on a fast track to obtaining their first medical certificate!
Apart from physical prowess, younger people may also be able to learn more efficiently, especially if they are already passionate about aviation. Studies have shown that younger people are better at learning and forming new neural connections due to a still-developing pre-frontal cortex that continues to develop in humans until the age of 25.
Opportunities for career advancement
Perhaps the biggest advantage of starting from a young age is the experience that the candidate can gain. Starting early means that the candidate will have more exposure in aviation and will have significantly more experience if they continue to learn throughout their adult life, thus likely leading them to become very successful pilots.
Younger pilots are more likely to experiment and explore the world of aviation and may even get more opportunities than someone who starts late in their life.
For example, a pilot who obtains their CPL in their early 20s will have a clear career path. A CPL holder usually goes on to become a co-pilot for a large or small commercial airline. After they accumulate more experience and flight hours, they can become captains of major airlines!
It is important to note that most people erroneously believe that the title of captain is always awarded to senior pilots, however, in reality, most captains are in the age bracket of the mid-30s to early-40s.
So, if a candidate begins their aviation journey from a ripe young age, they can easily get on the fast track to becoming a captain for a prestigious commercial airline.
Another tangible benefit of training from a young age is its cost-effectiveness. Flight training is an expensive endeavour that must be carefully considered due to its relatively high cost. However, if a candidate starts young, they can easily plough through the training process and reduce their overall expenses in the long run.
The above two benefits play into this factor as well, younger pilots can learn faster and even get through physical training much more easily which can help them expedite their aviation goals.
Furthermore, since some flight schools, like Sherburn Aero Club, offer a discount for younger candidates, they can reap these financial benefits and get through training at a lower price than someone in their late 20s.
Of course, there is also the possibility of scholarships and grants that younger candidates will have access to which will allow them to significantly cut down their pilot training costs in the long run.
CONS OF STARTING FLYING LESSONS FROM A YOUNG AGE
For every benefit of starting from a young age, some disadvantages should also be kept in mind before enrolling in a flight programme.
Being a pilot not only requires strict discipline but pilots are also held to a high standard that must be shown on and off the tarmac.
This is why having mental maturity is just as important when starting young in a flight programme. Not only does the candidate need to prove that they have the skills to be a pilot, but they also need to have a certain demeanour.
Candidates that pursue tasks nonchalantly or are “hot-heads” will not be able to survive the duration of any type of flight programme. One could argue that enrolling in flight training from a young age can have a positive impact on the overall behaviour of a young pilot, but in most cases, if the candidate has a history of troubled behaviour, then they will likely not be suitable for flight training.
Stress and Pressure
With age, maturity, and most of all, experience, comes the ability to handle stress and pressure.
Even though aviation is a relatively safe field with minimum risks, pilots are still rigorously trained to handle every single outcome, because at the end of the day, if something goes wrong, the pilot endangers their life as well as the life of every passenger on board.
This is why the CAA has strict guidelines for designing flight programmes that virtually forge great pilots through extensive training. Most capable pilots develop a stoic-like approach by the end of their training which allows them to handle extreme stress and pressure when operating aircraft.
Unfortunately, this ability may not be present in younger candidates. While pilots can train themselves to handle stress better, inexperienced pilots might panic during a high-stress situation which is a huge red flag in the eyes of the CAA, and in extreme cases, may even result in severe casualties.
Just as there are financial benefits to starting young, there are equal disadvantages that can put severe financial pressure on the families of young candidates.
Statistically, older candidates that enter flight training later in life will also have greater financial control and most importantly, life savings to pursue a career in aviation. But in the case of younger candidates, this can be a problem, especially if they can’t secure a scholarship or grant.
For example, on average, the cost for a complete CPL training program can range from £50,000 to £80,000 or more. Also, since candidates will start from a young age, the families may have to wait a few years until they can graduate and obtain a CPL.
But even then, employment, even though likely, is not guaranteed. Fresh pilots will also need to spend some time before they get hired by an airline at which point, they will begin to earn.
BENEFITS OF STARTING FLYING LESSONS FOR OLDER CANDIDATES
Older people who are looking to fly an aircraft may have some advantages in terms of financial stability and may already possess the mental capacity required to become successful commercial or private pilots.
As mentioned, flight training can be an expensive endeavour, but for older and financially stable candidates, the training can be less of a burden.
It is important to keep in mind that pilots need to keep all their focus on their training and education while enrolled in the flight programme. If they lose focus and start to worry about financials, it will eventually impact their performance and may even end up costing them more, especially if they fail.
Another important aspect of starting at a slightly older age is the benefit of hindsight.
Older candidates have a more comprehensive outlook on life and may even be able to better draw out a career path for themselves. Furthermore, a combination of life experiences, maturity, and personal grooming can give older candidates far more advantage in effectively understanding the responsibility and risks of being a successful pilot.
In the end, there is no “right” age when it comes to starting flight lessons and there is no clear evidence that supports that age is a main determining factor when it comes to producing successful pilots. The important thing is to have the right attitude, approach, and passion for aviation, along with a flight school that truly understands your goals!
HOW CAN SHERBURN AERO CLUB HELP NEW CANDIDATES?
Even though we have outlined the pros and cons of starting flying in the context of age, there are quite a lot of variables that go into the success of both commercial and private pilots.
One known variable is the type of flight school that these candidates enrol in. As one can imagine, the importance of enrolling in a capable flight school is crucial. Young candidates don’t just need to train, but they also need educators that can nurture their passion for aviation.
As mentioned above, one of the key determinants for success in any flight programme is passion and determination, and if these qualities are not highlighted and nurtured early in the programme, then the candidate may either lose interest or downright fail flight training.
This is where Sherburn Aero Club comes in. Sherburn has a dedicated and equally passionate staff of instructors that understand the importance of capturing the imagination of young candidates and leading them to excellence instead of just rigidly pushing them through the flight programme.
Sherburn focuses on not just skill but also personal development so that candidates are groomed according to the strictest standards set by the CAA.
WHY CHOOSE SHERBURN AERO CLUB?
With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, Sherburn caters to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.
If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licences, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.
Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.
Sherburn offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.
For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran.
The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation in the long run.
In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.
Call us on 01977 682 674, email us at email@example.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on how you can enrol for flying lessons!