Want to join a flying school in SA to obtain your pilot’s licence? We learn about pilot licence requirements as well as some of the specific dynamics that surround the aviation space, from etiquette for pilot uniforms and airmanship, to what is required from a pilot, co-pilot and captain. All so you can soon take to the skies and fly with confidence.

Types of pilots

By definition, a pilot is a person who is qualified in airmanship, or simply put, someone who is skilled in operating the controls of an aircraft. There are predominantly three types of pilots in the aviation space:

  • Private pilots: A private pilot holds a private pilot licence (PPL) and may fly private aircraft with passengers for recreational purposes only.
  • Commercial pilots: A commercial pilot holds both a PPL and a commercial pilot licence (CPL) and may fly aircraft that carry passengers or cargo for commercial purposes.
  • Airline Transport pilots: A commercial pilot who has also obtained an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) – for the sake of taking command of multi-crew commercial aircraft.

The aircrew

As a commercial pilot, you will in all likelihood encounter the following key staff members in your line of duty:

  • Aircrew: The aircrew or flight crew comprise the staff that is needed to operate an aircraft while in flight. The composition of the aircrew will be subject to the type of aircraft, as well as the purpose and duration of the flight.
  • Co-pilot: Also referred to as the first officer (FO), the co-pilot is the second pilot of an aircraft.
  • The second and third officer: A second officer (SO) and third officer (TO) are pilots who rank lower than the FO and who predominantly act as relief pilots during longer flights of large commercial aircraft.
  • Captain: Also known as the “pilot in command” or “PIC”, the captain is the pilot who is in charge of the aircraft and who is responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft, during a flight.
  • Cabin crew: The cabin crew consists of all the support staff who is responsible for ensuring the safety and comfort of passengers aboard commercial flights. This includes flight attendants, stewards/stewardesses and air hosts/hostesses.

Considering the evolution of aircraft technology over the years, most modern aircrews only comprise a captain, co-pilot and basic cabin crew.

Uniform etiquette

It is compulsory for the aircrew of a commercial airline to wear uniform and you can recognise the rank or status of a staff member by his or her uniform. This is because each crew member’s uniform is decorated with insignia that represents his or her duties on board. A captain for example, will typically have four stripes on the shoulder epaulets and arms of the blazer.

Training requirements for becoming a pilot

To enrol for pilot training, you simply need to meet the following requirements:

  • Older than 17.
  • Fully proficient in English (speak, read and write).
  • Pass the compulsory medical examination by an approved aviation medical examiner.

There are no subject requisites for pilot training, but it would be to your own advantage if you have working knowledge of mathematics and science as well.

While in our flight training environment if you wear the following to show your level of expertise;

  • 1 stripe epaulette, you went solo
  • 2 stripe epaulette, you obtained your ppl
  • 3 stripe epaulette, you obtained your cpl
  • 4 stripe epaulette you obtained your atpl

Click here to contact Blue Chip Flight School for more information on becoming a pilot, earning your stripe epaulettes and obtaining your pilots licence.