A response from everyone would be great!

RM7599

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Here is my story (as boring as it may be) I'm 26 and I just graduated from college in Dec. with a Bachelors degree in Finance and a Minor in Accounting. However, as with most of you, my passion has always been flying. I guess what I want to know from everyone, is whether or not you think I have the cognitive skills to become a professional airline pilot....with the emphasis being, what kind of math skills does this profession require. How much mental math must be done in the cockpit? It has always been my understanding that you have to be a math wizard to make it in this industry....is that the case?? Any examples, or first hand accounts, from any level of pilot would be great, regarding the aforementioned question.
I am a quick learner and have good eye-hand coordination. In college, I took courses in Algebra I, Algebra II, Calculus, and Statistics. I have never had trouble with math, but I simply don't know what an airline pilot or GA pilot is subjected to on a daily basis. I apologize for the length of this post, but, this site, and the people who answer the questions which are posted daily, are truely amazing! I welcome any opinion, good or bad, and I hope that everyone can offer their two cents worth! Thanks for your time!
 

ShawnC

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Well a GA pilot has some mental math that one has to do but overall there really isn't that much you have to do, that is overly taxing. Well flying commerically, don't know I'll let someone that has flown the big iron answer that question for you.
 

RichardFitzwell

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RM7599,

I think you will make a great pilot as long as you enjoy it. I have been laid-off since October so I am working on taking (and passing) my Series 7 and Series 66 tests to become a financial advisor. I'll tell you...it isn't easy.

If you can earn a Bachelors degree in Finance and a Minor in Accounting, you will do fine in aviation math. There isn't as much to it as people think.

R.F.
 

jaybird

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There are several old posts on swithcing careers here. You just need to find them. I have a BS in Aeronautical Science and the highest math course I took was calculus. Physics does play a big roll, but it's pretty basic for the most part. I don't think you'll have any trouble. I've met professional pilots with no college degree. You alredy have that t crossed. Take some lessons see if you like it.
 

bobbysamd

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From one B.S.B.A. to another...

My degree is in Accounting and I took Corp. Fin. and maybe another finance course in college. Being somewhat mathematically challanged, I had the same concerns that you have when I started flying and expressed them to my instructor. My instructor assured me that all I really needed was arithmetic. I didn't believe him, but he was right. None of the math in aviation is terribly overwhelming - and this is coming from someone, again, who had trouble with math in school.

I would say it helps if you understand vector analysis from Geometry because we use vectors to illustrate forces that act on an airplane and to correct for the wind's effect on an airplane in flight. It also helps if you are reasonably conversant in algebra because you have to work through a few basic formulas. You have a terrific math background. You'll do fine.

There are quite a few peformance graphs and charts pilots have to learn to read. You'll do fine with those as well.

Your education will be a major asset to your career. Airline pilots in particular pay a great deal of attention to management's stewardship of their company. Finance, debt securities and equities impact every aspect of big aviation companies. Take a look at the Lorenzo era at Continental and the Icahn era at TWA as examples.

On a side note, I found that my accounting background helped me tremendously in aviation. Accounting helped me greatly with my logbook. Your totals have to balance, which is an accounting axiom. If you think about it, a logbook is really a kind of a combination journal. Another way accounting helped me was in administration. We had this cumbersome paper logbook system at FlightSafety. You normally wouldn't think of flight instructors as being auditors, but I found myself spending countless hours at FSI not flying but with an adding machine at my side auditing these logbooks before stage checks and at other times.

Good luck with your training.
 
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La Rue

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Here is a suggestion.


Go by a local flight school or FBO and ask to see an instructor, if they are free and have a couple of hours to kill buy them lunch (gotta get in good with the teach ya know) :) and tell them you are interested in learning to fly.

Have them answer your questions as you pick their brains, I think that you will see it’s not as hard as you think it is. The math skills necessary to handle everyday GA and entry level commercial type flying such as what I’m doing now, flying a Piper Navajo hauling freight, checks and charter and a Pilatus for private individual is not anything you cannot do in your head or on paper with minimal scribbling.

The hardest thing, really is just memorizing the 5 or 10 formulas you’ll use for use mundane things as temp alt and airspeed problems, figuring your fuel for time and distance formulas and such things I call compass math, reciprocal headings, figuring bearing to the station using an ADF etc…

If you can do algebra and a bit of calculus with little or no problem and you are able to memorize a few formulas as well as do rote math in your head then you’ll have nothing to worry about.

James
 

publisher

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math

97% of the time, I actually hit the city I was aiming form.
94.5 I hit the airport I was aiming at.
93% the acutual runway I was aiming for
100% of the time I lived.
That is all the math you need.
 

TurboS7

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You got the degree and that is the first step. I am sure that all on this board can fill you in a lot better than I. I come from the era of tail-draggers, 25cent sectionals, and 80/87 that cost 25cents per gallon.
 

Rooster

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I've been flying for 17 years and I can't recall ever doing more than simple math. If you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, you should be good to go.
 

PanAm24

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You posted this exact same question on another message board recently and got basically the same replies.

What makes you so insecure about your cognitive abilities?
 

dogg

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MATH DOES NOT PLAY MUCH IF ANY ROLL IN BEING A PROFESSIONAL PILOT. IN THIS DAY OF FLYING THE FMS, IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO HAVE A GOOD HANDLE ON DATA ENTRY, ON GOOD STUDY HABITS, AND UNDERSTANDING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. THE RUDIMENTARY MATH THAT WE USE , SUCH AS FIGURING HOW FAR AROUND A DME ARC WE ARE OR FIGURING 2 TIMES YOUR ALTITUDE = YOUR DME OR 3 TIMES YOUR DME = YOUR ALTITUDE ON A DESCENT PROFILE CAN EASILY BE DONE BY A 3RD GRADER. WHAT IT TAKES IS LOTS OF CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITY AND DOGGED DETERMINATION. GO FOR IT
 

typhoonpilot

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RM7599:

"It has always been my understanding that you have to be a math wizard to make it in this industry....is that the case?? "

Absolutely not, I am the farthest thing from a math wizard and somehow I have made a decent career out of flying. Fortunately, I found a college degree that only required one semester of Calculas and two of Physics. I don't believe I have ever used any of the Calculas and have only used the Physics indirectly in helping to understand something. The most difficult math you will find in aviation is in the book " Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators " which can be found at most General Aviation retail shops. Many airline pilots have read that, not so they could do the formulas, but so they can understand some basic aerodynamic principles.

"I have never had trouble with math, but I simply don't know what an airline pilot or GA pilot is subjected to on a daily basis."

Here are some examples: Avgas weighs 6 lbs. per gallon and you have a 40 gallons. How much does that weigh ? Stepping up to a turbine, jet fuel weighs 6.7 lbs. per gallon and you need to tell the fueler how many gallons to put in each side when the captain just told you we need to add 1000 pounds. The easy method for that was drop the last 0 and add half again for 150 gallons or 75 per side. Somebody already mentioned the 3 miles for each 1000 feet of descent in a jet. That is one that I constantly run through my mind even though I have FMS.

Speaking of FMS, that has taken the need for mental math almost completely out of the cockpit. Those of us who first flew in DC-9s and 727s still run stuff through our mind to double check it, but it really isn't necessary if you want to trust the box. One thing an FMS won't compute is an Equal Time Point ( sometimes known as point of no return ) for long over water legs. The computation of that is now done on the computerized flight plan. It is still good to know how to do it in case you need to double check or compute a different one than the computer thought of.

There is a book, which I have not read, called " Mental Math for Pilots" or something like that which might be worth looking through if you see one in the store.

Hope that helps,

typhoon
 

bobbysamd

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Pilot math concerns

Another point worth mentioning is you will use some sort of flight computer to work up your calculations. Probably an E6-B, which is a circular slide rule affair on one side and sort of plastic covered grid on the reverse for calculating wind triangles (vectors). The E-6B has conversion tables from Fahrenheit to Celsius, knots to miles per hour, and similar goodies, and which is 100% legal gouge for any FAA written! The E-6B has been around forever. You can do tons of every day aviation math computations on an E-6B, such as time and distance calculations, weight and balance calculations, descent calculations and so on. You'll learn all these things in ground school. The E-6B and a simple battery/solar calculator for arithmetic will be all you need. I've seen military pilots use E-6Bs for calculations for their big-time whiz-bang aircraft and saw it depicted in an AF flight training manual I have.

I do advocate pilots getting all the math education they can to help them understand aerodynamics and propulsion principles. However, our original poster has that background in spades and should do fine with his training.
 
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ILLINI

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I agree with everyone else...

I can't tell you how much I friggin' hate math! So far i've made it to the 135 freight/charter aviation business and haven't had any problems with math. Some mathmagicians have done all the hard work and developed all sorts of charts and graphs that are easy to read and do most of the math for you. As long as you can read these simple charts and graphs, memorize a few formulas even a chimp could learn, and do some very basic arithmatic you will do fine. The assumption that you must be very good in math in order to be a pilot is completely fase! Don't buy into that.... go learn to fly!!!
 

dew pylot

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math....what's math?

i am currently a third year student in a flight program and i have rarely ever come across math that is very hard. as a matter of fact, i failed calculus in HS and am only required to take a basic college math class in college (got a c). as for the graphs and charts and all the x/c planning, the math is easily done with a calculator....which i think you know how to use since your background is math.....bottom line is if you LOVE flying, go for it.....good luck with your decision....

dew
 

starchkr

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Math?!?!?!?!

Who needs math?!?!?!?

Get a really nice calculator that can store formulas and stuff, and bam, you are a whiz at math in the aviation industry. It's that simple. Never make it harder than it really is!
 

RM7599

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Well, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that math wizardry is not the most vital part of becoming a succesful pilot. Ok, now the hard part.....where to do my training? I truely appreciate the great responses from everyone. Maybe one day I will have the privelage of being your first officer:)........since you have the jump on me and all! Take care and look out, I may be in your airspace before long.
 

bobbysamd

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Where to learn to fly

That's a question about which I could write more and more or say more with less. I'll choose the second choice.

You can learn to fly at a big flight school in someplace like Florida, a medium-sized flight school, or a small flight school. You can learn to fly at your local airport at an FBO (fixed based operator), or from an instructor(s) with their own airplanes. You can learn to fly at an airline-sponsered flight school such as Comair or Mesa. You can choose any one of these options and get to an airline eventually.

Your major consideration is finding a way to fly that will provide the best quality training and value for the price. I'd begin by going to your local airport and look for flight instruction. Talk to people there, in particular instructors. Find out how they learned to fly. Then, go to the store and buy an aviation magazine(s). You'll run across tons of ads for flight schools. Also, look in the yellow pages. Call or send away for information. Most sizeable schools have web sites. Another suggestion is if you know any professional pilots who've achieved the goal you're after, ask them. Get their input. Post a query on the board about specific schools and, guaranteed, you'll receive a cross-section of opinions. At that point, you can visit schools if you choose that route and be able to make a good decision.

Good luck with your decision.
 
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JOHN LA HAYE

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DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT. THE MATHMATICS THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT ARE USUALLY THE PERFORMANCE NUMBERS FOR ANY PARTICULAR AIRCRAFT.
THEY WILL COME TO YOU IN THE FORM OF GRAPHS AND CHARTS. AT TIMES SOME INTERPOLATION IS REQUIRED.

IN THE COCKPIT MENTAL GYMNASTICS IS NOT REQUIRED. REMEMBER TO THINK AHEAD OF THE AIRPLANE, PLAN THE FLIGHT AND THINK ABOUT WHAT THE GOAL IS. FLYING IS STILL SOMEWHAT OF AN ART FORM AS WELL AS A SCIENTIFIC SKILL.

FLYING REQUIRES PRACTICE AND TIME. SIMILAR TO LEARNING TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT. ALTHOUGH MUSIC IS MATHMATICAL YOU DO NOT NEED ALGEBRA TO PLAY A GUITAR.

IV'E BEEN FLYING FOR 16 YEARS, WENT TO MED SCHOOL FIRST.
I BELIEVED THAT I SHOULD SPEND MY WORKING LIFE DOING SOMETHING THAT I LOVE INSTEAD OF COUNTING THE CASH AT THE END OF THE DAY. I AM NOT GOING TO GET RICH DOING THIS
BUT WHEN I PUT THE GEAR DOWN FOR THE LAST TIME I DON'T THINK I WILL REGRET ANY OF THE TIME I HAVE DEDICATED TO FLIGHT.

GOOD LUCK
 

Simon Says

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My rule on math...........if you cant figure it out on the Heading indicator/Altimeter you dont need to be doing it in the flight deck. By the way made it through to trigonometry with a low C, tried Calc, and failed twice. LOL. That is why I am finishing up my degree at ERAU Online.
 
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