• ‘How do I become a pilot?’ is a question we get asked nearly every day, so we thought we would bring together all the information that we have access to, in order to help you on your journey.

At GoFly Aviation, based in sunny Caloundra in north eastern Australia, we teach students how to fly ‘fixed wing’ aircraft (planes not helicopters). 

Starting out

While you CAN learn to fly at a age younger than 14 years old, there is not much point in learning earlier, as you need to be 15 years old to go solo and 15 to obtain your Pilot Certificate.

A list of Australian Flying Schools can be found on the RAA website and there is sure to be one near where you live. RAA also has informative articles about learning to fly on their website

If you are serious about going all the way through to become a a Commercial Pilot, you must choose between paying for your different licences as you go, at a flight school, and finishing without too much debt, or, going to university for around 3 years and finishing with around a $100,000 VET student loan. 

You can do a Bachelor of Aviation at USQ or at Griffith University’s Nathan Campus (in Brisbane). Eligible undergraduate fee-paying students may defer their tuition fees by taking out a VET Student loan which is part of the Higher Education Loan Program. Payment of the loan is via the taxation system when income reaches a specified level.

There are other Australian aviation scholarships available and some of these can found here. The Jetstar Cadet Program can be found here. Here is the Qantas Cadet Pilot Program.  We have had graduates join both these programs after obtaining their RPC with us. 

If you are 15 years and over and living in the Brisbane or Sunshine Coast region, you can choose to take flying lessons with GoFly, in our beautiful and well-maintained Sling training aircraft, for a set fee of $345/hour with one of our friendly and experienced instructors. There are no hidden costs for ground school, theory briefings, exam marking or landing fees. Our planes and prices are pictured here. 

Included in the cost of GoFly Aviation flying lessons are our exclusive online video briefings. New content is added to GoFly Online each week and these lessons can be watched on any device, including with headsets. Watching these innovative online lessons has been shown to improve the flying skills of beginner pilots and enable them to reach key goals earlier, thus saving money. People who are flying with other flight schools can still subscribe for a monthly fee and access these lessons. 

We also have our own reality shows about people learning to fly at our school. You can find all the episodes of Flight School and Taking Flight here. We also regularly upload GoFly Quick Tips to YouTube, GoFly Online and our website.

Learning to fly might seem expensive, and this is due to the high costs of running such a business. Owners have to cover the cost of the leasing of the aircraft and the hangar, running an office, maintenance and insurance, expensive fuel, as well as the wages for instructors and administration staff plus memberships of peak bodies and marketing.  It all adds up.  Those flight schools which are still in business have found the right balance between keeping training affordable for their students and making a profit so they can continue to pay their bills and operate their businesses.

If you haven’t managed to win the lottery, haven’t got well-off parents or money saved in the bank, you might like to read this blog to find out about ways of paying for your flying tuition or check out our GoFly Finance page. During certain times of the year, we also offer special discounts for full time and part-time courses.

At the bottom of this page we will include short videos from a selection of people talking about how they became a pilot.

Types of flight training taught at GoFly Aviation

  • Recreational Pilot Certificate (the first step, costing approx $8,500 – followed by navigation endorsement, costing approx  $5,000 and then passenger endorsement, costing approx $350 once you have the required 10 hrs of command time)
  • RAA Instructor Rating (IR)

Click here to see the types of low wing sports planes we use for teaching students. 

We no longer offer these licences but you can go to Inspire Aviaton next door to us or Flight Options at Gympie, or one of the Brisbane-based schools:


Further information on each type of licence:

Aviation terms 

  • RPC  – Recreational Pilot Certificate. Allows you to fly a Recreational Light Sport Aircraft up to 600kg.
  • RPL – Recreational Pilot Licence. You are not allowed to be paid for flying but you can take a passenger if you have Passenger Endorsement and this allows you to fly single engine aircraft up to 1500kg
  • PPL  Private Pilot Licence. Allows you to fly for fun and for your own business anywhere in Australia in an aircraft up to 5400kg
  • CPL – Commercial Pilot Licence. You are a professional pilot and may be paid and will have a minimum 200-250 hours training.  Can be VFR or IFR, choose twin or single engine aircraft, but must be rated in a complex aircraft with VP and retractable endorsement
  • ARN – Aviation Reference Number
  • ATP – Airline Transport Pilot Licence – the next step up from a CPL, minimum 1500 hours to your name.  You must have an IFR and multi-engine ratings, most airlines require you to have the theory exams completed before you can apply for an Airline Job
  • BFR – Biennial Flight Review 
  • VFR – Visual Flight Rules. You may only fly when you can actually see where you are going.
  • IFR – Instrument Flight Rules.  You may fly through and above clouds and don’t have to see where you are going as you will be using your aircraft instruments to fly and navigate
  • VP – Variable Pitch
  • Retract – Retractable undercarriage
  • Nav – a navigation lesson or flight

You may also  like to visit our new Aviation Dictionary over at GoFly Online.

Syllabus and materials for beginner pilots

The lessons that we teach at GoFly Aviation for obtaining the various pilot certificates, and the theory books and other materials required for study, are outlined on our website here. Once you have begun studying, you will need to become familiar with all these student resources. Other flight schools may teach a slightly different version.

Here is a link to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s website outlining the stages for becoming a pilot 

Online theory, lessons & resources

Becoming a pilot requires both theory on the ground as well as flying practice in the air. 

GoFly Online is our own flying lesson website with videos. You can subscribe by the month or buy the year for just $9.90/m or $99/yr for ab initio or $19.90/m or $199/yr for ab initio, cross country, Passenger, Instructor Rating, RPL and some CPL lesson, plus much more! New content is added regularly. We have also written our own aviation theory books and practice quiz questions to help students pass their RPC exams. All RPC pilots are flying visually, without relying solely on instruments. You may like to look at the Visual Flight Rules Guide


Weather resources:

Bureau of Meteorology  and  BOM for Aviation

Weather warnings

Weather cam

Aus Web Cams

Aus Web Cam at Caloundra

Aus Web Cam at Heck Field

Aviation Exams 

  • After a number of hours of tuition, your instructor will get you to sit your first exam which is your pre-solo exam. This is a multiple choice exam. Passing this exam will allow you to fly the plane by yourself for the first time, which is often one of the most memorable experiences in your life. 
  • The multiple choice radio exam is done at the same time as your pre-solo. It is designed to prove that you have sufficient knowledge to fly the airplane in a ‘pilot in command’ situation.
  •  About half way through your training you will complete the multiple choice question air legislation exam which highlights the rules of the air and who has right away as well as various other aspects relevant to Air Legislation. 
  • BAK stands for Basic Aeronautical Knowledge and this 50 multiple choice question exam covers a wide range of aspects of flying (such as engines, aerodynamics, weather  etc).
  • These exam have Human Factors questions scattered throughout.
  • Over at GoFly Online we have created a series of Easy Books to help you with your theory. They have matching practice exam questions.
  • If you decide to keep going to get your Commercial Pilot Licence there will be a lot more exams!

Flight tests

  • After you have reached a certain level in your flying, you will take your first solo flight, which is scary and exciting for both you and your family. Once completed, there is a great sense of achievement. At the end of your 22-26 hours of flight training you will be assessed by your instructor as being ready for your flight test. The Chief Flight Instructor  will ask you to demonstrate your knowledge of everything you have been taught in your lessons.
  • If  a student goes on to do navigation training they will also have a nav test, and might be asked to plan their route to a nearby town,  cope with an unexpected diversion, and find their way back the the departing airport.

 Aviation careers

  • Charter Pilot  – transporting people (requires Commercial Pilot Licence)
  • Charter Pilot – transporting cargo (requires Commercial Pilot Licence)
  • Commercial Airline Pilot in Australia (requires Commercial Pilot Licence)
  • Commercial Airline Pilot overseas (requires Commercial Pilot Licence)
  • Flying Instructor – (requires Instructor Rating)
  • Fire Spotter Pilot (requires VFR and CPL)
  • Survey Pilot (VFR & CPL)
  • Medical Evacuation Pilot (IF & CPL minimum)
  • Fire Bomber Pilot (VFR & CPL)
  • Crop Sprayer / Agricultural Pilot (VFR CPL)
  • Aerobatic Display Pilot (VFR, PPL / CPL)
  • Airforce Pilot (Military qualification, in-house)

In the coming months we plan to interview a number of employed pilots to show you the path they took for studying and the jobs they have worked in. We shall post these videos on our new website at

Other aviation jobs 

  • Aircraft Technician
  • Aircraft Manufacturing Engineer
  • Airport Operations Manager
  • Air Traffic Controller 
  • Aviation Maintenance Technician
  • Aircrash Investigator

Governing body and membership websites:

Recreational Aviation Australia is the membership body for all Australian Flying Schools with over 170 Flight Training Schools across Australia.

CASA is the Civil Aviation Authority of Australia 

Airservices Australia is an Australian Government owned corporation, responsible for providing safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry within the Australian

Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association of Australia

Australian Federation of Air Pilots

Women in Aviation – Australian Chapter

Aviation websites & social media sites

There are many useful and relevant websites for beginner and established pilots and we will add to this list as we come across them. There are also many forums and Facebook groups where beginner pilots can obtain advice from established pilots, and in these groups there is a real sense of support and a generosity with advice from experienced pilots who share your love of aviation. 

Pilot Career News (English site)

Australian Aviation news

Aviation Forums

Professional Pilots Rumour Network (PRUNE)

Recreational Flying Forum

Aviation Groups on Facebook (closed groups)

Find the group on Facebook and request to join.

Aviation Careers Mentorship Group

Pilots Lounge Australia Group

Aviation Buy Sell Swap Australia

Pilot Practice Exams

GoFly Graduates Group for our own graduates

Aviation Groups on Facebook (open groups)

Learn to Fly Group

Aviation groups on Twitter

Use our own site as a starting point and take a look at all the world-wide aviation-related people and organisations that we follow

Aviation groups on Instagram

Use our own site as a jumping off point and take a look at all the aviation-related people and organisations that we follow then look at who they themselves follow

Aviation Magazines (hard copy and online)

Australian Aviation Magazine

Australian Flying

Aero Australia Magazine

Flyer Mag (UK)

Sport Pilot Magazine (published by RAA)

AIN Publications (US) 

Ipad news about apps and software for ipads (US)

Aviation Videos 

GoFly Fix

GoFly Aviation YouTube Channel

RAA YouTube Channel

CASA Briefing YouTube channel

Taking Flight TV show

GoFly360 immersive online flying lessons (one year subscription)

Sporty’s Pilot Shop YouTube videos

Aviation Podcasts

The 10 best podcasts

Uncontrolled Airspace available on iTunes

Talking Flight

Aviation Careers Podcast

Airline Pilot Gateway Podcast (USA)

In the pattern podcast

Aviation Software and Apps

Some of the software and apps that pilots like to use include:


OzRunways Pty Ltd is a CASA CAR 175 approved data provider, meaning that Australian pilots can rely on OzRunways EFB or RWY to meet all the requirements for documentation carriage in flight; private and commercial, IFR and VFR.


AvPlan is the leading Australian flight planning application for the Apple iPad and iPhone. It is available from the Apple App Store. They are CASA approved under CASR Part 175.295 so AvPlan EFB can be a legal replacement for paper maps, ERSA, DAP, AIP and AIP SUP. 

Cloud Ahoy

CloudAhoy is a product for post-flight debriefing, for pilots. It is cloud-based, and the debrief is done via a web service – on a desktop or laptop and in any browser on any device, on the iPad, or on the iPhone. CloudAhoy integrates flight data with information from a comprehensive suite of aviation resources, analyzes the flight using a rule-based knowledge engine, and presents the analysis via detail-rich interactive display. CloudAhoy brings technology to post-flight debriefing, adding value to any flight training, and enhancing the experience. It is used by pilots around the world.

Debrief with CloudAhoy is suitable for pilots at all levels and for a variety of scenarios. CloudAhoy debrief can be done for VFR and for IFR, and is effective for review and currency flights. For flight training at any level, CloudAhoy provides an objective look, in a calm environment, at what happened in the cockpit where things happened fast and the pilot is often overloaded with tasks and information. Review on the ground adds significant value to the lesson or review flight.

CloudAhoy also maintains a flights list, with detailed information about each flight. Some of the information is generated automatically by the analyzer – such as the exact times of wheels up and down and a list of manouevres performed during the flight.

Foreflight – flight planning, charts, weather, airport information, flight logging, document management, hazard awareness, and more.

FlightAware is the world’s largest flight tracking data company and provides over 10,000 aircraft operators and service companies as well as over 12,000,000 passengers with global flight tracking solutions. FlightAware leverages data from air traffic control systems in over 55 countries.

Flightradar24 is a global flight tracking service that provides you with real-time information about thousands of aircraft around the world. Our service is currently available online and for your iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) or Android device.

Aviation stores

Flight shop (Australian)

Oz Pilot  (Australian)

Skyshop (Australian)

Sportys Pilot Shop (US)



Aviation Job Sites

Air Services Australia

Civil Aviation Safety Authority


Indeed job website

Sigma Aviation Services

Adzuna job website

SEEK employment website

Aviation Job Search


Pilot Career Centre (Asia)

Longreach China

China Aviation Recruitment

Aviation Movies

Top Gun,  The AviatorFlightMemphis BellePearl HarbourThose Magnificent Men in Their Flying MachinesTora Tora Tora IMDb’s 100 best aviation films

Aviation Pathways

The following video shows the path Lachie Smart (the youngest person to fly a single engine aircraft around the world in 2016) took to become a pilot. You can see more interviews with pilots over at GoFly OnlineVE

If you still have further questions, you can email us at or make an appointment to drop in to chat to one of our friendly instructors seven days per week.

We wish you all the best in your aviation career!

The GoFly Team