How hard is flight school? Is it hard to become a pilot?

how hard is flight school

There is no simple answer to the question, how hard is flight school? Operating an airplane is not difficult at all. The experience of flying is thrilling.

However, many student pilots struggle to get their first solo flight.

I cannot write the answer to the above question in one sentence or only a few words. You must interpret many factors to concede why and how difficult it is to become a pilot.

Hence I have explained why flight training is hard and which stage of your flight training can be amusing.

How hard is flight school?

The flight school will be challenging if the student pilot does not make an effort during their ground schooling.

Furthermore, the early stage of a pilot’s flight training is pretty straightforward. As you progress into advanced flying procedures and maneuvers, it will get more laborious.

Understand this; people choose to get their pilot license for several reasons:

  • Some people want to become a pilot only for recreation;
  • The other character may decide to go to flight school to operate airliners someday;
  • And some individuals wish to obtain their private pilot license first but fall in love with flying and eventually decide to become commercial pilots.

All the reasons mentioned above for becoming a pilot come with different challenges.


Even though flight training is smooth and pleasant, many potential pilot newcomers drop out.

That is why I decided to discuss this in this post:

  • Why do more student pilots tend to drop out of flight schools?

Is it hard to become a pilot?

Imagine a job that you get quickly, and the pay is good. I don’t know about your country, but getting work that pays well is extremely difficult where I live.

Getting work that pays finely requires time or backbreaking labor to prove that you are worthy of the income.

Being an airline pilot pays well. Most people are aware of that. And on top of that, a pilot can see the world for free.

Do you think you can achieve all that success overnight?

Like other jobs, you must work up to become a commercial airliner pilot. And it may take years for a pilot to reach a position where they will get a handsome salary.

  • Airlines require commercial pilots to have at least 1500 hours before applying in the United States.
  • In countries like India and the Philippines, airlines may hire 250 hours pilots, but they expect pilots to have at least 500 hours.

Yet, you will initially have to work for a minimal salary in India and the Philippines.

It is not hard to fly an airplane. To qualify and become an airline pilot is hard. Operating a commercial jet requires years of flying experience and extensive aeronautical knowledge to become a competent pilot. Pilots need skill and confidence to take the responsibility of conducting safe flights.

Acquiring a commercial pilot license is not difficult at all. Anyone can study the basics and pass their exams to become a commercial pilot.

Acquiring a commercial pilot is only 50% of the actual work. The other 50% is to get flying hours and gain knowledge to qualify as a competent pilot.

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How hard is pilot ground school?

Pilot ground schooling will be hard, depending on the type of license you are willing to get.

Your ground school syllabus will contain more advanced studies if you want a commercial pilot license.

A student pilot willing to work up to the airliner cockpit must study harder.

Sitting inside that airliner cockpit is complex, and knowing diverse aviation subjects is necessary.


Suppose you only want to get a private pilot license. In that case, you can check this article: “How difficult is the private pilot written exam?” for a concise understanding.

Assuming you are willing to acquire a private pilot license to fly with family and friends only during weekends.

Your flight training will be straightforward.

The student pilot needs basic aeronautical knowledge to obtain a private pilot license for safe airplane operations.

Nevertheless, the private pilot ground school has multiple subjects to familiarize with aeronautical topics.

It depends on how quickly the student pilot grasps maneuvering the aircraft during PPL.

You will not have to learn complex maneuvers to obtain only a private pilot license.

In time the pilot will get used to the controls, which are not complicated.

Depending on your effort, you can get the private pilot lesson sooner.

So if you are reading this post because you are confused about going for flight training, I can say go for a discovery flight today.

Once you take the discovery flight, you will recognize whether you can achieve it or not.

Continue reading on page 2.

So, why the flight school dropout rate is high?

Let’s think about the second type of people now:

Students interested in working in an airline someday are the ones who will find flight school harder.

I can guarantee that you will complete the course quickly to obtain a private pilot license.

As you advance toward getting your commercial pilot license, the flight instructor will teach you more intricate maneuvers.

Preparing for the airlines requires dedication and an understanding of many theories about flying an airplane. A commercial pilot trainee learns all relevant aeronautical matters to conduct safe flights with passengers.

Many student pilots quit when they realize how much they need to study to achieve their aspirations.

how hard is flight school
Photo Credit: Aline.Volpatto

The reasons why the flight school dropout rate is high are because:

Student pilots cannot take the stress of overwhelming lengthy ground school syllabi.

Without a structured syllabus in flight schools, student pilots will lose track of ground classes. They even find themselves having to repeat their flight training lessons.

As a result, the students lose interest.

Thus the dropout rate is high due to individual students’ turnabouts. Likewise, a flight school plays a significant role in students’ weariness.

Another reason you may lose interest in flying is because of your flight instructor.

The only time I blame student pilots is when they fail their check-ride. Failure to pass the oral and check-ride solely depends on the pilot.

Neither the flight school nor the flight instructor plays a role in a check-ride anymore.

Related: Why do student pilots quit?

So if you are dedicated and intrigued to taking some flying lessons, do not stop yourself.

In the 21st century, it is yet more accessible to start your online private pilot ground school from the comfort of your room.

You can check the Online pilot courses here >>> Pilot lessons online.

How hard is a commercial pilot ground school?

Cruising with hundreds of passengers in a million-dollar airplane comes with responsibilities. You, as a student, have to prepare for all the duties.

Although, as an airline’s newbie pilot, you must endure many different situations.

There is no certainty that you will not have an emergency during the flight.

You will have to face the consequences if you are not well prepared for the job.

So YES, you must prepare a lot to become a commercial pilot. If you intend to make a living by flying an airplane, prepare yourself like the elites.

You desire to be part of a sophisticated people’s club, so you must do the intricate work.

To avoid confusion, I will clarify some more:

Ground schooling for a commercial pilot license is not grueling. The subjects are the same as private pilot license ground schooling with little more details.

The real deal is when commercial pilot prepares themself for the airline.

Working in an airline has many privileges. It would be best if you put a lot of effort and time into gaining all the opportunities.

Despite being airline interviews difficult, it is not rocket science. It is easy for guys who have a passion for aviation.

Finally, the third type of person starts flying as a hobby and cannot give up the joy of flying anymore.

These people start flying for fun and continue their flight school to love flying.

Flying is very enjoyable, and many students who have no affair in the aviation industry get captivated by the joy of flying and begin dreaming of working as an airline pilot.

Preparing themselves as a commercial pilot and studying for the airline is equally painful.

But passionate people put effort into doing something they love. Combining hard work and passion, they equip themselves without any complications.

As a result, they quickly got into the airlines instead of complaining about how hard flight school was.

Truly flight school is not hard at all. It all depends on the person taking the training and individual progress.

Now comes the age aspects of flight training:

Adopting new lessons and habits as you grow older becomes more challenging.

That’s why it is better to start training as early as possible. A student can obtain their private pilot license at the age of 17.

By the age of 18, anyone can obtain a commercial pilot license.

Considering working in an airline to make a living, why shall you wait until you are 40?

Age is not a factor if someone wants to start flying as a hobby. It would help if you had good medical health to obtain a medical certificate and start flying.

Flying for simple recreation will require a private pilot license, which is not hard at all.

I have mentioned that getting a private pilot license at any age is easy. It is similar to getting a driving license, except you fly an airplane now.

Difficulties in flight training due to the cost:

Getting a pilot license by renting an aircraft, paying for a flight instructor, and operating an airplane is expensive.

Many people have full-time jobs to support their flight training expenses.

Working full-time, as well as continuing flight training, can cause difficulties.

Taking the pilot training course will be slightly more comfortable if you have the money to support your training without needing a full-time job.

But if you want something badly, you must go for it regardless of the challenges. Because what I learned from my experience is everyone must try before giving up on dreams.

Are all the hurdles for flight school worth it?

I believe it is worth it.

There is a saying:

Once you have tasted flight,

you will forever walk the earth

with your eyes turned skywards,

for there you have been, and there

you will always long to return.

Leonardo da Vinci

Like Leanardo da Vinci said a long time ago, I want to go flying up there every time I look at the sky.

My opinion is flight school is not a hurdle. All pilots consider it a privilege to be able to fly an airplane.

So once you start flying and get a grip on your aircraft’s stick, you will recognize what you missed out on to this day.

Flying is fun and one of the best experiences you will have.


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  1. It was interesting when you said that the difficulty of pilot ground schooling will depend on which type of license we want to pursue. My husband wants to get a private license next year so he can start flying recreationally. I’m glad to hear that flight school probably won’t be too difficult for him!

  2. It’s good to know that it will be hard if you don’t put in any effort. My brother was telling me a couple of days ago about how he wanted to learn how to fly because it’s always been his dream since he was younger. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to him if he does start taking flying lessons.

    1. He certainly can start flying. However, like anything else in life, patience, dedication, and effort will make someone successful. Does your brother think otherwise? I hope not.

  3. Flight School is not as hard as it sounds like. Absolutely it requires some level of efforts to learn skills required to flight a plane. A good aviation academy helps new pilots as well as experienced pilots to hone their skills so that they can excel in their field. They offer same information here, one must check them also.

    1. Let’s get realistic, to learn flying and get a private pilot license is not hard at all. The purpose of a private pilot license is only to fly for recreation.

      To fly commercially, one must acquire a commercial pilot license. As a commercial pilot, you need to understand multiple subjects and various advanced topics relevant to aeronautics. Thus need to study harder.

      Hence, flight school and actual flying is not hard, but the responsibility as a commercial pilot is big.

  4. They say, “There is no free lunch out there.” – So is it difficult to fly?” It will depend on how dearly you would like to fly. As compared to the elation of flying as such, studying is hard work, and some people would need guidance in understanding certain principles, but come-on, really, it’s not that difficult.
    I currently live in Pretoria, and do offer both group – as well as one-on-one tuition to anyone in need of such.

  5. I’m a little discouraged. I’ve always loved to fly since I was 3 and I went on my first plane from Sacramento to Portland. It’s not about the money to me sure the money is nice but whenever I fly I feel so free like anything is possible like it’s something I feel deep down like I was meant to do. But I struggle every day with adhd I was middle of my class in high school and I didn’t finish college they always told me I would have to work twice as hard just to get to where everyone else was. I want to fly it’s my dream to fly for Delta but this scares me on what if I can’t make it and drop out like thousands have 😞

    1. Having ADHD is troublesome. However, you mentioned you need to work twice as others to achieve anything. I say, on the condition that you are passionate about flying, you can work hard towards your aviation goals.
      I recommend first going for an orientation flight in a flight school. Observe how it feels to fly an airplane and figure out whether ADHD affects your flight training or not.
      Lastly, if you really think ADHD is stopping you from becoming a commercial pilot for airlines, then try flying gliders. ADHD can’t stop you from flying gliders and having fun in the air. Many people choose to fly gliders as it is similar to flying airplanes yet requires fewer skills.
      Don’t give up unless you try.

    2. I’m sorry to say, if you take meds for ADHD, you are basically eliminated from flying commercially. There are ways around it, but it requires you to go off the meds for months, and get a stringent re-evaluation.

  6. At 49 what are the hurdles or possibilities that present themselves or is it just not something that should happen. I have been a business owner my entire life and upon leaving the entrepreneurship and learning to become a commercial pilot is something that interests me not only for the benefits but for the excitement and love of flying. Is it something I should or could attempt or are there too many hurdles or obstacles to overcome. Thanks

  7. Hlo ma’am!
    Ma’am can u please tell me what is the total cost or fees for becoming a pilot!..?

  8. Thanks for this information. I’ll work hard to become a comercial pilot when I get to aviation school because flying has being my dream

  9. I am in middle school and I am not sure what I want to do but if I have a chocie this is probobly my #1 so thanks for the intel

  10. Would I be able to obtain a commercial pilot license after completing a diploma of aviation through flight school with integrated training?

    1. There are multiple ways to obtain a commercial pilot license, and integrated training is one way to get it.

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