An airplane pilot is the main operator of an airplane or helicopter. They plan flights carefully before departure and ensure the proper functioning of the airplane by making a thorough inspection of the systems, controls, and instruments of the aircraft. Other job duties include verifying proper loading of cargo and baggage, knowing destination weather conditions and aviation weather forecasters, choosing the route, speed and altitude that will give the safest and fastest flight, and others.

To be an airplane pilot, one must have an FAA issued commercial pilot’s license and instrument rating. For helicopter pilots, a commercial pilot’s certificate and helicopter rating are required. To qualify for such licenses, applicants must be at least 18 years old and have at least 250 hours of flight experience. Aspiring pilots must also pass a meticulous physical examination to ensure he or she is in general good health, good hearing, and has 20/20 aided or unaided vision. They must also complete a written exam that tests one’s knowledge on FAA regulations, principles of safe flight, navigation techniques, and other important aspects of flying.

Airplane pilots generally receive high salaries but these may vary according to one’s position and airline. It may also vary according to the number of flight hours and the type and maximum speed of the aircraft one flies. Those who take international and night flights often have additional pay and sometimes added benefits. In 2002, airplane pilots earned around $109,580. Commercial pilots had a median of $47,970.