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How to Become a Charter Pilot

1. Build Flight Hours

It is important to log as many flight hours as possible. But how many flight hours do you need? Commercial airlines prefer a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time. However, most charter companies prefer about 3,000 flight hours.

2. Become a Flight Instructor

Flight instructors get paid to fly! In addition, they get to log their flight time as PIC (Pilot-In-Command). Because flying can be expensive, this is one of the most economical ways to accumulate flight time. Furthermore, being an instructor is an excellent way to increase your knowledge and flight skills.

3. Choose a Flight Path

Commercial airlines generally do not require new pilots to have as many hours as charter companies. Also, most charter companies prefer that new hires already have their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate — because this is a requirement for commercial airlines, you might want to start with a commercial airline to increase your flight time and get your ATP.

4. Know What Flight Departments are Looking For

In addition to building your flight hours, customer service experience is also extremely important. Unlike commercial airline pilots, charter pilots work closely with their customers. They are responsible for coordinating ground transportation, catering and other special requests their customers might have. Charter companies realize this and look for potential pilots who have a strong customer service background. Excellent customer service can turn a one-time customer into a customer for life.

Once you obtain your commercial pilot license with 250 hours of flight time, there are a few other paths to consider for building your flight hours:

  • Skydiving Flights – Pilots can quickly earn hours flying a variety of aircraft for skydivers. The more experience you have, the better chance of flying a turbine-powered aircraft, such as a King Air, Beech 99, or a Cessna Caravan.

  • Towing – You can learn to become a tow pilot for sailplanes.

  • Scenic Flights – There are many scenic tour operators in the Western United States which provide opportunities for you to get paid to build your time.

Several of our pilots at Keystone Aviation have pursued their career opportunities through the above avenues.

So now that you know the steps to start building your pilot resume, get out there and fly!

DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, editors and publishers. While care has been taken in the compilation of this article to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. Keystone Aviation will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

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