How to Be a Captain in Aviation?

Published: August 02, 2018


Captain is the most respected tittle for every aviator and that make people keep asking how to be a captain and how long does the career takes to be the captain? Today let me share something about this issue.


Captain is the pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft is the person aboard the aircraft who is ultimately responsible for its operation and safety during flight (FAR 91.3). He/She is also the sole manipulator of the flight control during the flight. The captain might deviate from the ATC instruction for any safety reason.


Speaking about pilot in command, there are several flight operations who have a specific requirement for any pilot to be the pilot in command. As we know that the aviation is a wide range topic then the FAA creates a regulation to separate and govern one to another flight operations.


The Flight Operation


Flight Operation PART 91 (Non Common Carriage and general operation in aviation)

Flight Operation PART 121 (Scheduled air carrier, Airline)

Flight Operation PART 135 (On demand air taxi or charter flight)

Flight Operation PART 61 (Commercial Pilot Basic Privilege – Flight instruction, aerial photo, tour flight, towing banner, pipe line control, etc)

Flight Operation PART 125 (Airplanes having a seating capacity of 20 or more passengers or a maximum payload capacity of 6000 pounds)

Flight Operation PART 137 (Agriculture)

Crew Type


When the pilot work on one of the flight specification above there are two types of cockpit crew configuration: a) Single Pilot Operation; b) Multi Pilot Operation. When we do a single pilot operation then the Pilot will automatically called the Pilot in Command or captain. In multi pilot flight operation there is second in command as a copilot.

PILOT IN COMMAND: Jessica Cox Certificate: Sport Pilot License (Restricted to 10,000 Feet) Handicap: Fly with foot


Certificate: Sport Pilot License (Restricted to 10,000 Feet)

Handicap: Fly with foot


Based on the situation above we have F.A.Q as follows:


Based on the picture, could we call the woman pilot as a captain?

If you fly the airplane for week end wedding party with your relatives are you the captain of the flight?

If you are a glider pilot or maybe ultra-light pilot can people call you a captain?

We believe the answer is a BIG YES!


Based on the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) a captain is the pilot in command who qualified and current to fly the aircraft and has a full responsibility to the safety and is the sole manipulator of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated or has privileges.


However, the listed flight operations will require the pilot in command to have specific airmen certificate to be the captain. Hence here I explain what kind of license/certificate do you need to be a pilot in the flight operation perspective:


Sport Pilot License


As sport pilot license holder you could be the pilot in command or captain for any airplane less than 1,320 lbs with maximum 2 soul on board. This is a light airplane category and mostly single engine.



Private Pilot License



As a private pilot license holder you could be the pilot in command or captain for any aircraft based on specific class, rating, and category.

You could be the pilot in command of multi-engine jet airplane such as Boeing 737, Airbus A320, or Citation. What you need is a current private pilot license with multi-engine and instrument rating. Then you will take a type rating for the jet.

A good example of this case is Capt. Morgan Stanley, Hollywood actor who hold Private Pilot and proficient to fly his own jet.



Commercial Pilot License


Now you need the commercial pilot certificate if you want to be the pilot in command or captain for any commercial flight operation which mean that you will receive compensation / being paid for your pilot job. It could be a single pilot operation or with multi pilot operation.

However, to be the pilot in command for air career (Part 121, part 125, or part 135) the operators will ask you to have an Air Transport Certificate unless you are flying for the exception of part 119 such as photo tour, flight tour, towing banner, or flight instruction.



Can I fly with Pilot Outfit and 4 Strips Epaulet?


There is no regulation on this case. You can fly with any clothes you wish to wear as long as it is not compromises safety. If you are fly commercially in single pilot operation then you should dress up like a pilot just like my Instructor John Mowatt,CFII said. Let’s imagine what’s your impression when you go to the doctor and see he wears t-shirt?


Don’t bother with the pilot outfit and the epaulet. As long as you are qualified as CAPTAIN/ PILOT IN COMMAND under any flight regulations, you are the one responsible to the flight safety, and in the sole manipulator of the flight control then you have a right to use 4 strips epaulet to respect your-self.






We call you captain or pilot in command when you are active as a person who has final authority and responsibility to the flight safety and manage the flight control along the trip.


Fly Safe and Make it FUN


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