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College Courses Needed for Aircraft Pilots

by Jen Saunders, studioD

If you want a career that allows you to travel the country and the world, you may want to become an aircraft pilot. Whether you are flying a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to London, or a private commuter plane from Miami to Dallas, you can enjoy adventure around every corner. Although a college degree is not required to become a pilot, there are a number of college courses you can take that will help you fly through flight school by learning skills vital to becoming a pilot of any aircraft type.


As a pilot you will need to be familiar with how weather patterns work, how conditions effect flying an aircraft, and how cold and hot fronts effect air travel. Taking a course in meteorology will give you the knowledge needed to understand these principals. Miami University’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science teaches students about current weather and climate topics, atmospheric properties and an introduction to weather and climate. You don’t need a degree in meteorology to fly an aircraft, but taking a few courses will give you insight into the world of aviation.


According to the math education resource Calcunation, you need to have “top gun math skills” if you want to be a pilot. Pilots use math in all the basic functions of an airplane, including making calculations based on atmospheric conditions that must be closely monitored at all times. Pilots also calculate the aircraft’s distance abilities based on the weight of the fuel, cargo and passengers. If the instrumentation fails, pilots will use math to calculate their flight approach and landing. Being able to use math correctly can make all the difference between life and death in the event of an air emergency. Consider taking a course in calculus or advanced algebra to sharpen your skills.


Pilots must have a good knowledge of physics in order to solve problems related to aerodynamics. In the event of an air emergency in which an engine fails or a malfunction causes the aircraft to fly at an abnormal angle, the pilot must have a good grasp of physics to know how to fly the crippled plane in for a safe landing. The physics required for doing this are presented in “Mathematics and Physics for Aviation Personnel” by Charles Edward Dole. By reading through these pages it will become evident to aspiring pilots that a course or two in physics will help prepare them to become knowledgeable pilots.


A pilot should have good oral and written skills in order to do his job well. According to the U.S. Electronic Code of Federal Regulation (e-CFR61.51) pilots must keep logbooks to track aeronautical experience and to leave data behind that can help improve future air safety regulations. (reference 4) By taking a course in basic English composition, pilots can learn to write clearly and give in-depth accounts of flight data. This course will also arm them with a better vocabulary that is helpful for communication efforts.

About the Author

Jen Saunders is an entrepreneur and veteran journalist who covers a wide range of topics. She made the transition to writing after having spent 12 years in England where she studied and taught English literature.

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