I just became a pilot after spending $80,000 on flight school. Here’s what the intense training program was like.

  • A 32-year-old commercial pilot (who asked to remain anonymous) shared what training was like.
  • They went through instruction during the pandemic and recently were hired.
  • They say demand is higher than ever for pilots but standards for training remain stringent.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with a 32-year-old commercial pilot from Wayne, NJ, about training to be a pilot during the pandemic. They’ve asked to remain anonymous, but Insider has verified their identity and employment. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I’m a 32-year-old commercial pilot and recently landed a job as a first officer with a regional airline in the US. Despite the US pilot shortage, the airlines are not skimping when it comes to safety – and my time in training is a testament to that.

Pilots in cockpit
“I don’t see myself being anything other than a pilot,” one 32-year-old commercial pilot said (not pictured). Shutterstock.com

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started my career in the Marines working with F-18’s. That’s what really lit the fuse for me. During that time I was not a pilot but helped support the F-18 squadron. Thanks to the Marines GI Bill and some financial aid from my parents, I was able to afford flight school.

The first thing you do when determining whether to go to flight school is a discovery flight


They take you up in the plane and show you how it works and to see if you’re comfortable in the air and on the controls. If you decide you want to move forward, you pay out of pocket – per flight, or for the whole program.

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