Am I smart enough to be a pilot

Hi guys,

I have been looking into doing an integrated ATPL. I currently work in a creative industry but want to change careers. I’m worried that my level of maths won’t be good enough to pass an entry exam, or I might struggle with exams.

I can do basic maths but I would struggle to do it in my head. I’ve read so many conflicting opinions on the difficulty of maths and physics as a pilot. Could anyone shed some light on how challenging they found the ATPL course?


Obviously know one knows how “smart” you are or not nor what you’re capable of. What I can tell you is flying isn’t rocket science nor do you need to be a mathematician. I flight instructed to build time and was an instructor at both my airlines as well. What I’ve found is hard work is often more important than actual intelligence. If you can do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division you’ll be fine.

What I do find troubling is your statement “I struggle to do it in my head”. My AME is 86yo and in amazing shape. He does a distance swim every morning as part of his “secrets to a long life”. He invited me to join him. I said thanks, I don’t think I could keep up but I do wish I was a better swimmer. He said “Adam with all due respect that’s not true. If you really wish you were a better swimmer you would do something about it”. He of course was correct.

If you truly aspire to fly but fear your math skills are weak then work on it. It’s not about grasping nebulas concepts of calculus which you actually might not understand. This again are basic skills we’re talking about which you can improve. IF you want to.




There is not nearly as much math involved in aviation as most people see, to think there is. Addition, subtraction, basic multiplication and division are what you will need. Yes, you will need to be able to work these simple math problems in your head. I would not worry too much about it.