is a person who flies aircraft
for pleasure or as a profession. The first
recorded use of the term was in 1887 as a variation of the French
'aviation', from the latin 'avis', coined 1863 by G. de la Landelle
in "Aviation ou Navigation Aérienne". The term
is sometimes used for a female
The term is often applied to pilots, but is often extended to
include air navigators
, Weapon Systems Officers
, and electronic warfare
Officers. This should
not be confused with the term naval
, which refers crew members in the United States Navy
and Coast Guard
There are also such minor aviation characters as wing-walkers
who take part in aerobatic
The term aviator
(as opposed to "pilot" or other terms)
was used more in the early days of aviation
, before anyone had ever seen an airplane
fly, and it had connotations of bravery and adventure. For example,
at the Dayton Herald
an article of December 18, 1903 described the Wright Brothers
' first airplane thus: "The
weight, including the body of the aviator
, is slightly
over 700 pounds".
To ensure the safety of people in the air as well as on the ground,
it soon became a requirement for an aircraft to be under the
operational control of a properly trained, certified and current
pilot at all times, who is responsible for the safe and legal
completion of the flight. The first certificate was delivered by
the Aero Club de France to Louis
in 1908, followed by Glenn
, Leon Delagrange
absolute authority given to the Pilot in Command
derived from that of a ship’s captain.
In recognition of the aviators' qualifications and
responsibilities, most militaries and many airlines around the
world award aviator badges
pilots as well as other air crews.
2006, just over 6% of certified civilian pilots (both private and
commercial) in the
U.S. were women.
Civilian pilots fly privately for pleasure, charity, or in
pursuance of a business, for non-scheduled commercial air-transport
companies, or for airlines. When flying for an airline, pilots are
usually referred to as airline pilots, with the pilot in command
often referred to as the
In 1926, the
Air Commerce Act
established pilot licensing requirements for
American civil aviation.
and Delta Air Lines
have slashed their pilot pay
scales and benefits in the face of fierce competition from low-cost
carriers. In fact, Southwest Airlines Captains and First
Officers both have higher salaries than their counterparts at
As of May 2004, median annual earnings of
airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers were $129,250.
However, such salaries represent the upper level of airline pay
scales. Salaries at regional
can be considerably less - though, according to the
Bureau of Labor statistics, median annual earnings of commercial
pilots were $212,870, with the middle 50 per cent earning between
$137,170 and $279,390. Pilots making very large salaries are
typically senior airline captains, while pilots making very small
salaries are generally low-seniority first officers. In practice,
most pilots make reasonable average working salaries. A large
variability in salaries can easily skew an average; thus, the use
of median wages to gauge such things as salary. Where large gaps
are seen between a median figure, and a lower-bound figure, this
usually reflects those who do not stay in that particular field.
Viewing this middle ground in context to the upper-bound numbers
can give a burgeoning pilot an idea of what to expect if they are
able to stay with flying as a full-time career. Based upon
voluntary pilot reports, many United States airline pay scales are
listed here: 
. Most airline pilots are unionized, with the
Pilots Association, International
(ALPA) being the largest
pilot labor union in the United States.
In the United States, due to pay cuts, airline bankruptcies and
other industry problems, there are fewer young people who want to
make a career out of flying. First-year pilots at AMR Corporation's outsourced
operation called American Connection
which is flown by
multiple regional partners, would only earn $22,000 a year if they
could pick up and fit into their schedule all the extra flying
allowed under federal FAA rules.
Commercial airline pilots in the United States have a mandatory
retirement age of 65, increased from age 60 in 2007.
countries like Pakistan, Israel, Thailand and several
African nations, there is a strong relationship between the
military and the principal national airlines, and many airline
pilots come from the military; however, that is no longer the case
in the United States and Western Europe.
While the flight
decks of U.S. and European airliners do have ex-military pilots,
many pilots are civilians. Military training and flying, while
rigorous, is fundamentally different in many ways from civilian
piloting. Military pilots are trained to different regulatory
standards than civilian pilots, and while both paths create a safe
pilot, civilian pilots are better versed in civilian regulations.
In many newhire classes of civilian airlines, military pilots
require a few more hours of study than their civilian counterparts.
This, coupled with the increasing popularity of European-style
airline-training schools in the U.S., it seems likely that the
percentage of ex-military pilots flying for the airlines will
continue to decrease.
Military pilots fly under government
contract for the defense of countries. Their tasks involve combat
and non-combat operations, including direct
hostile engagements and support operations. Military pilots undergo
specialized training, often with weapons
One example of a military pilot is a fighter pilot
Military pilots are trained with a different syllabus than civilian
pilots, which is delivered by military instructors. This is due to
the different aircraft, flight goals, flight situations and chains
of responsibility. Many military pilots do transfer over to
civilian-pilot qualification after they leave the military, and
typically their military experience will be used to grant a
civilian pilot's license.
Pilots are required to go through many hours of training, that
differ depending on the country.the first step is acquiring
thePrivate Pilot License
(PPL), or Private Pilot Certificate.
The next step in a pilots progression is eitherInstrument Rating
Rating (MEP) endorsements.
If a professional career or simply professional-level skills are
desired, aCommercial Pilot
(CPL) endorsement would also be required. To be the
captain of an airliner, one must obtain an Airline Transport Pilot
Some countries/carriers require/use a Multi Crew Co-operating
Aviators in space
In human spaceflight
is someone who directly controls the
operation of a spacecraft
within the same craft. This term derives directly from the usage of
the word "pilot" in aviation
, where it is
synonymous with "aviator". Note that on the U.S. Space Shuttle
, the term "pilot" is analogous
to the term "co-pilot
" in aviation, as the
" has ultimate
responsibility for the shuttle.
- Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers
- Line Pilots