Using the GI Bill® Flight Training Benefit | You Earned It!

First, some much needed formalities:

If you qualify for the GI Bill®, Thank you for your service!


FAA regulations Part 141 Flight School = A flight school that has received special certification from the FAA and, as a result the students in that school may get their flying certifications with fewer flight hours than students attending other schools.

Post 9/11 GI Bill® flight benefits = A program within the scope of the GI Bill® that promotes flying education needed to become a professional pilot.


Now, class is in session, folks. Let’s learn a little bit about flight schools that accept the GI Bill® flight training benefits, FAA part 141 flight schools, how they are related to each other and why you should care!

In decades past, there were no jobs available for pilots, even if you were the next Maverick from Top Gun. That rendered the flight training benefit of the post-9/11 GI Bill® completely worthless. People had benefits that they couldn’t use. Thanks Uncle Sam. But now… things have completely flipped. The generation of people who dominated the airline and flight business are about to hit their limit. For example, airline pilots MUST retire at 65. No ands, ifs, or buts. Professional pilot jobs are plentiful and there is no immediate end in sight. In fact, last week, when I was taking part in recurrent airline flight training, the instructor pilot informed us that it is expected that newly hired pilots in the not-too-distant future will be given the phenomenal opportunity to begin their airline career in the right seat (co pilot’s position) of one of our jumbo jets. Seriously? HOW CAN YOU PASS THAT UP? A copilot position in a larger, international airplane is so much more desirable and earns more money than performing copilot duties in domestic service. So for example, instead of flying 10 legs a day from Greenville to Dallas to Detroit, you can fly to Paris and spend 24 hours on the ground visiting the city! I repeat, HOW CAN YOU PASS THAT UP? Because of the current pilot shortage and, thus, rapid pilot advancement, beginning an airline career in any other way but domestic service would be unheard of.

Professional pilots can earn $200,000 or more per year – SERIOUSLY!

First of all, why would any former member of the military, male or female, desire a career as a professional airline pilot? Well, what if I told you that it was a totally realistic expectation to earn $200,000 per year while working an average of only 15 days per month? To sweeten the deal, enjoy that nice benefit package and travel the world free of charge and rarely, if ever, take worries about your job home with you. Not to mention you get to wear that super cool uniform and hat! Just kidding, but people think pilots are the coolest people ever so get ready to become the cool guy in your friend group.

For all of you who have earned post-9/11 GI Bill® flight training benefits, let’s talk about what that actually means. GI Bill® benefits for flying training must be used at a flight school that has been approved by the Veterans Administration. No surprise there. In order for a flight school to gain approval by the Veterans Administration it has to pass the rigorous additional standards placed on flight schools by the FAA which qualify that flight school to be FAA part 141 certified. So that in itself tells you that the flight school is extremely qualified.


Come to USAeroFlight in Greenville, SC with

  • Private Pilot’s license
  • Eligibility for Post 9/11 GI Bill®

for a free, no obligation orientation flight in our Cessna 310. You will be allowed the get the feel of a great twin engine airplane.

Call us to set up your appointment. (limited to first 10 persons)

In short, guys and gals, no part 141 certification means no use of your post 9/11 GI Bill® Benefits. It’s that simple. And not every flight school that is FAA part 141 certified has approval from the VA.

For background purposes, let’s briefly identify what FAA part 141 certification means. Usually when we think of learning to fly, we imagine meeting a certified flight instructor who has an airplane and they teach the various aspects of flight. That process may take weeks or months or even years (though, if you want to learn about why it shouldn’t take years, check out this blog). When the flight instructor thinks the student is ready, they arrange for the student to take his or her flight test. In such a casual learning environment, the FAA requires that the student receive a certain number of hours of flight training for each license or rating that he or she desires. This casual approach to flight training is governed by FAA part 61 rules.


Flight schools that want to give their students the choice to earn flight licenses and ratings with fewer required flight hours and submit themselves to a more rigorous set of rules and inspections by the FAA become part 141 certified. The advantage to the student is a reduced number of flight hours and a reduced cost to achieve the same levels of certification as compared to a student who earns them under part 61 flight rules. Basically, the flight school that goes to the trouble of meeting all of the FAA requirements to be a part 141 school allows the student to earn their ratings faster and with less expense.

The Veterans Administration requires veterans who are using their post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits for flight training to attend a FAA part 141 certified school. Again, no surprise there. The VA wants to pay the least sum of money for the best flight training possible.

If the idea of big earnings and half your days off sounds good, let’s talk about a couple of additional points that are important to know if you are thinking of using your GI Bill® benefits to learn to fly.

The purpose of the GI Bill® for flight training is to allow a veteran to have an aviation career. Therefore, the first level of pilot certification, the private pilot license, is not covered by the GI Bill®. Bummer.
The logic is that if the private pilot license was included, many veterans would simply become a private pilot for recreation and the main purpose of affording a career would never happen. Thinking realistically, that would actually probably happen a lot. A private pilot course at USAeroFlight in Greenville South Carolina, which is a part 141 certified flight school, will cost about $8,900. This cost of course will vary a bit depending upon student aptitude etc.

The GI Bill® benefits for flying will not only pay for flight instruction after the Private Pilot License and aircraft rental, but will also assist in living expenses for those students who choose to attend a flight school that is not located in their home city.

So, what I’m saying is not only will they pay for your flight training and your ability to get a killer job, BUT they will help pay for you to live somewhere to get said flight training. SWEET. DEAL.

To summarize the flight training paid for by GI Bill®:

Is it possible to obtain a Private Pilot License from a 141 school with fewer flight hours than from a part 61 flight school? YES

  • Will the GI Bill® pay for a Private Pilot License? NO
  • Will the GI Bill® pay for an Instrument Rating YES
  • Will the GI Bill® pay for a Commercial License YES
  • Will the GI Bill® pay for the Flight Instructor’s License YES

To summarize the path (Requirements) to be an Airline Pilot:

Private Pilot’s License
Instrument Flight Rating
Commercial Pilot’s License
Multi Engine Rating
1500 hours of flight

Here is a common path to becoming an airline pilot:

  1. Obtain a Private Pilot’s License (The VA will not pay for this but you can find financing for this first step)
  2. Obtain an Instrument Flight Rating
  3. Obtain a Commercial Pilot’s License
  4. Obtain a Multi Engine Rating (flight in an airplane with more than one engine, like a Cessna 310)
  5. Obtain Flight Instructor’s License
  6. Become a flight instructor for the school where one learned to fly.
  7. Teach and earn from teaching until one has flown the minimum, 1500 flight hours.

It is possible that someone with no flying experience at all could be qualified to be an airline pilot in 2 years or less.

How do you find a flight school that is GI Bill® certified? You can Google and find them for sure. If you read my blog finding the best flight school, you will notice that USAeroFlight in Greenville, S.C. has every feature that I thought was important.

Lastly, add the following requirement to your list of criteria for choosing a flight school.

The school has to care as much about your success as they do about taking your money. There are some schools that look upon the VA as a cash cow. They make great promises and do anything to get the business of a flight student who will be using GI Bill® Benefits because it is sure income. BUT, the degree to which these schools actually care about the welfare and success of their students varies greatly.


I chose to rent airplanes, maintain my general aviation currency and the currency of my Private Pilot daughter, Casey, at USAeroFlight. They had all of the check marks in all of the right boxes but more importantly the owners and staff are genuinely nice. They work hard for your success and care about their students.

Not everyone is a prodigy when it comes to flight training, but almost everyone can be successful with the right training from instructors and staff who have a great attitude. Instructors and staff who respect the individual abilities of people to learn and work hard to make the process fun always get my vote. The instructors and staff at USAeroFlight are without question some of the nicest, most qualified people in the business. When I purchased my airplane recently I had not flown a light twin engine airplane in 35 years. Even though I have over 20,000 hours of multi engine flight time, it is all in much bigger, faster jets. I engaged Brett Zukowski, and Tom Burke to bring me up to speed and be safety pilots for me while I became acquainted with N69HB (My Cessna’s tail number). They were actually a lot of fun as flying companions and instructors. When I go to the airport, I would prefer to have either one of those guys to fly with me than to go alone. Considering that most people look forward to jettisoning their instructors, that is a high compliment indeed.

As a current or recent member of the Armed Forces the United States a grateful nation offers you the benefit of flight training. I highly recommend considering using your GI Bill® benefits to lead you to a career that has been great for me.

Written By Steve Fowler

Steve is a professional pilot and flies the Airbus 330 for a legacy airline. His career has included recreational civilian flying during college and flying as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force.

Steve is also a professional blogger for Blogging Specialists.

By the way, I made the massive mistake of never using my GI Bill® benefits. That was totally dumb on my part. Thankfully it worked out anyway.

He owns and flies his Cessna 310 with his Private Pilot daughter, Casey.