Thanks, Chris 🙂
Chris (’23) is an aeronautical science major who has recently completed the last rating in his degree, the multi-engine add-on for his Commercial Pilot Certificate. He has over 200 hours of flight time and was accepted to the Delta Propel program in Fall 2022.
Is a private pilot’s certificate required before you attend ERAU, and should I do any other ratings before I come?
A private pilot certificate is not required to attend, but it is highly recommended. Completing your private pilot certificate before attending will reduce the length of training and save you money. If you want to be eligible for the restricted ATP, which you can get at 1000 hours instead of 1500 hours for a regular ATP, you must complete 60 credit hours in aviation courses and complete your instrument rating and commercial certificate at the affiliated part 141 training center, so doing your instrument outside of Riddle would make you ineligible for the restricted ATP. Riddle has a restricted ATP FAQ here.
How does flight training work at ERAU?
Firstly, you will register for the flight block. These are called 95S for private, 95I for instrument, 95C for commercial, and 95M for multi. At Riddle, we have Cessna 172 Skyhawk (single engine) and Diamond DA-42 (multi-engine) aircraft. An instructor will contact you to introduce themselves at the beginning of the term (or whenever one becomes available) to introduce themselves and make sure that you are ready to get scheduled. The instructor will start scheduling you for your flight block or other times that you say you are available and they have availability too. Finally, you show up to the flight operations or sim building and have the activity!
Before flights, you need to do a risk assessment, weight and balance, flight planning, check the notices to air missions (NOTAMs) and the special use airspace, and preflight the aircraft. I usually like showing up an hour before the flight activity’s start time to give me enough time to do everything. Sims and orals do not require you to do anything immediately before them (but study the material for orals and procedures for sims), so you can show up 10 minutes before the start time. After the activity is over, you debrief and add the flight/sim to your logbook.
What are the pilot pathway programs (Delta Propel, United Aviate, etc) like?
These pathways try to streamline the process for pilots coming from Riddle to get to the airlines. Many of them require you to instruct at Riddle or one of their partner schools until you reach the applicable minimums for the R-ATP or ATP and then fly for one of their regional partners until you reach a certain number of hours there.
When can students start flying?
This depends on how many students are accepted and how many instructors there are. You could start as soon as the first semester at Riddle or there could be a wait and you start at the beginning of the second semester or somewhere in between. When you have a block and an instructor is available, they will assign you to that instructor and the instructor will begin to schedule you.
What is the coursework like? How much time do you spend doing homework per week?
The coursework is definitely manageable. Depending on the class and assignments, there can be anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours of homework per week per class.
What things do I need before I begin my flight training at ERAU?
The biggest thing is to get a first or second-class FAA medical. Making sure you can hold a medical will save you a lot of money and you’ll need one before your first flight course begins. You do not want to get to your solo, having spent thousands of dollars, and realize that you are not eligible for a medical. Other things that are needed are a headset (I’d recommend a noise-canceling headset to help preserve your hearing), and an iPad (required for Foreflight, which Riddle has a discount for). Riddle has all these things listed here.
Do you have to stay over the summer or winter break for flight training at ERAU?
No, winter break and Summer A and B terms are optional. However, if you are in the middle of a flight course, staying over breaks will help you retain proficiency and can lower the cost of training by reducing the number of repeat activities you need.
Are flight activities included in tuition? How do I pay for them?
Flight activities are not included in tuition and draw from a separate flight account associated with your Riddle student number. Your instructor should go over how to pay with you after your first activity. After a flight activity is complete, it will show up on the ETA homepage with a button to pay for the activity. To view your flight account’s balance, go to ERNIE and click the “My Accounts” tab. It will show up as a negative number, but that is because it is credited to your account. Flight activities are a pay-as-you-go model instead of a flat fee. Riddle also has a flight FAQ found here.
Flight training at ERAU is unique, but it’s good to have another perspective! I was a flight student very briefly before I switched to aerospace engineering- I found out that flying simply wasn’t what I wanted to do as a career path. I’ve written a few times about flight activities- one about my experience observing a flight, commercial checkride preparations (also with Chris), and one of a random flying trip I went on here. Hopefully, this post answered some of your questions, and I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!