The following responses were contributed by Norman Moore of USAir in response to a questionnaire circulated by The Washington Post. The material is intended to provide students with an idea of what working as a commercial pilot might be like, and some steps the student can take to prepare now for a career in that field.


"This is an action-type business, you're moving, going places, seeing things; you're in control, you make things happen. I like the feeling you get when you put all the power into the airplane and take off. I still get a charge every time I take off.

"{Before you take off} you have to check the airplane over to make sure there are no maintance requirements. You have to get a traffic control flight clearance, and set up and adjust your navigation equipment. All this is done with a checklist to make sure everything gets done.

"You also have to check the weather {at the airports of departure and destination}, check airport facilities, the condition of the runways and controls, and plan your fuel need. All this is done in coordination with a professional weatherman and flight planner.

"Pilots earn about $20,000 for their first year, and the pay increases with experience. Senior pilots who have worked as captain for six or seven years earn as much as $120,000."


"There are a few ways you can go about becoming a pilot. You can go to college then go to the local airport to learn how to fly for about $35 an hour. You need 250 hours to qualify as a commercial pilot, then you can become an instructor and train others to build up your experience.

"You could go to an aviation college to learn all the flying principals, and when you've completed your college education you would qualify as a pilot with limited experience. From there you'd have to obtain more experience by becoming an instructor.

"The other way you could go about it is to go through the military program. You could enroll in ROTC in college, and go to the military pilot training progam as an officer. Then you'd have to sign up for six years, and you'd get to fly sophisticated planes for six years.

"You would need at least 2000 hours {flying} experience to get hired by an airline.

"Either way, you must spend time and effort to qualify yourself. If you go the military route, be prepared to devote 10 years of your life to it {four years of college, six years in military service}. If you go the civilian route, you could qualify to be a commercial pilot in five or six years, but you have to pay for the education yourself. You can also work for low pay to get your experience." *Dunbar High School offers a course in Aerospace science.


"You must be highly self-motivated. And you have to eat, sleep, and drink aviation if you want to be an airline pilot.

"People who can take orders, and be aggressive usually do well in this business. You have to have a bit of an ego to know that you can do it."