What Type of Person Makes a Good Pilot?

When it comes to our personalities, the way in which we think, act and react can make us suited - or not so suited - to particular careers.

It’s the reason why writers and artists are usually more free-thinking, disorganized, and creative, or why doctors are rational and cautious, or how you can tell a cop even when they’re off-duty - they just have a certain quality about them.

So, what about pilots? Is there such a thing as a ‘pilot personality?’

Probably not. However, there are definitely certain qualities that make a good pilot.

Being a pilot takes a whole lot of responsibility. It’s a job that requires intense training and religious adherence to protocol.

So what type of person makes a good pilot?


A pilot responsible for flying an aircraft carrying hundreds of passengers cannot afford to let their mind wander.

Pilots need to be focused and reality-based, with strong attention to detail and a mindset attuned to the present.

Concrete, Practical, Linear Thinkers

Pilots are more likely to be practical and concrete thinkers rather than abstract, philosophical, or theoretical. This is because the job of flying an aircraft relies on reality-based thinking and scientific knowledge rather than a creative thought process.

Making decisions under pressure, and knowing what to do in a critical situation is vital, and there is no room for daydreaming and abstract thinking when so many peoples’ lives are in your hands.

More Analytical than Emotional

Pilots can’t afford to be guided by their emotions. If the aircraft they’re controlling enters turbulence, they can’t afford to have an emotional breakdown where they cave due to the pressure.

This is a job for level-headed individuals who can analyze a situation and rationally select the option that will pose the least risks to passengers and the aircraft.


Training to become a pilot is a long and tough process, and if you’re not a goal-orientated person, you’re likely to struggle with this, as you’ll need to meet numerous milestones before you can become a commercial airline pilot.

You’ll have to undergo many tests and assessments, and each time you pass one stage you’ll be a step closer to your dream job, but this is not a career where you can cut corners or get a fast-track pass, so it’s important that you’re motivated, ambitious, and goal-focused.


If you’re someone who likes things to be perfect, you may be suited to a career such as a pilot, as perfection is something that pilots need to always strive for.

One small mistake - or one bad decision - could have catastrophic consequences when you’re controlling an aircraft.


As a pilot, you’re in control, and some of us love being in control, whereas the rest like to rely on others.

Pilots need to be self-sufficient, as when you’re 35,000 ft up in the air, you’ve only got yourself and your co-pilot to rely on.

This means making decisions by yourself and doing so quickly and under significant pressure. This is not a job where you can mull over your options or discuss with colleagues.

How can I be a better pilot?

Expect to Find Something on Every Pre-Check

You should perform every pre-flight check as though you will find something wrong, this way, you’ll ensure a more thorough flight check, and this is more likely to prevent you from missing something.

If you’re doubting that all systems have been checked, check again - becoming more thorough will make you a better pilot.

Review Your Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) Often

No matter how long you’ve been a pilot, you shouldn’t get complacent with the literature - particularly not the POH.

Understand Aerodynamics

Of course, as a pilot, you’ll have a basic understanding of aerodynamics, but you’ll be a better pilot if you broaden your understanding of the many aerodynamic factors that go into the flight of an airplane.

Fly with an Instructor at Least Once Per Year

It’s easy to develop bad habits through the years, which is why the FAA requires BFR, airline flight checks, and other programs to check up on pilots.

Focusing on pattern work with an instructor can be particularly useful, as that uses every flying skill except navigation.

Ask for Help

Pride can be one of the biggest killers, so it’s always, always better to ask for help if you’re unsure about something.

Focus on Precision

Aim for perfection, not approximation, when controlling the plane. The best pilots strive for perfection in airspeed, altitude, and position.

Always Plan Ahead

Planning ahead ensures you’re always prepared for any scenario, even if you need to take a different approach when you’re actually in the situation.

Land on Shorter Runways

When you’re out with an instructor, practice landing on the shortest runway you can find, as this is far more helpful than practicing on simulations.