1mo Progress Report for PPL at Local Airport

Hi Folks,
Posting cuz I think this might help others especially if our mentors comment.
Here is my current experience getting the PPL *PRIOR * to possibly joining ATP.

  1. Price: lies! The current place I’m training quotes the cheapest everything on their website, none of which I use (aircraft, the minimum hrs everything takes, an underestimated hourly-CFI rate, among other unexpected price gauges). Find someone who has recent experience to tell you what the costs are!!
  2. Ground School: its allll on you, assuming you do online courses. No teachers, no classes or classmates, no shortcuts. Do the work or else.
    I am studying like crazy amidst a full time job and its a LOT to learn. Especially weather and sectionals. Thoughts from Mentors about studying??
    I’ve just been repeatedly taking practice tests and studying the ones I miss. 5wks in and will take the FAA written by Early March at this pace (Using Sporty’s, I like it mostly! I do want more physical books though).
  3. Instructor: $85/hr. Seems like a lot. Adds up big time. How do we best utilize our CFIs?
  4. Landing- not good at it after 3 hours and 12 touchdowns so far… advice? I feel like aiming at the numbers makes me nervous I’ll undershoot the runway but then I over-flare and bounce.
    Slow flight approach is wobbly and its hard to focus on aligning w the centerline while getting pitch and altitude correct.
  5. Only 10 hrs flight time so far in 5 weeks. (Mostly my job traveling, plus weather). It seems like my CFI is almost ready to turn me solo once I master landing but I feel very underprepared. Thoughts?
  6. Questions- once I have my PPL, how many hours should I practice solo, honing skills, before I talk to ATP about continuing there? Can I realistically keep my job or do I go all in after PPL? I’m in an entirely different industry right now and really don’t wanna quit this job in the next 18mos unless I absolutely have to. But maybe I do!!

***** HOT TAKE- Even if one or two folks respond, please feel free to respond as if no one has yet. It’s super helpful hearing more than a few opinions! Thx!


I hate to say “we told you so” so I won’t but training part-time locally simply doesn’t work.

My advice is cut your losses and start fresh with ATP.



I taught at ATP, Wayman Aviation and as a private contract CFI, so I’ve had full time airline students and part time students.
As a CFI I loved getting every flight hour I could, but I’d tell every part-time student the same thing (especially private).

  1. Don’t bother if you won’t fly at least 3 times per week(4-6hrs).
  2. Don’t bother if you’re paycheck to paycheck and having to delay training to build up your bank.
  3. Don’t show up unprepared (You should already know steps to maneuvers, TO/Landings, etc. In the air a CFI should demonstrate things once, but it is not the place to be teaching).

Any of these will cause you to burn money having to repeat skills constantly due to lack of consistent muscle memory and could cause you to ultimately quit.
My goal as a CFI is to see you succeed, and only flying 2hrs per week is not setting you up for success.

  1. I agree you should always dig into pricing/quality yourself and get opinions from current students.
  2. Ground school is being done this way at many schools. Online/Self study & occasional overview sessions with the CFI. Wayman included big classroom grounds, as did I at ATP one or two days per week.
  3. $85/hr is on the steeper side. Depends on aircraft flying, location and their experience. Being prepared and good at self study is the only way save money here (chair flying helps).
  4. Consistent practice is key. If you do get in a landing rut, sometimes breaking it up and practicing slow flight helps.
  5. For Solo, remember your training, you’ll be fine. But you need to fly more per week!
  6. I used to say people might be able to hold a job while training at ATP…. Since they accelerated the program further and added more studying I 100% do NOT recommend.
  7. I believe it’s 60-80hrs ATP requires to join the credit private program (I couldn’t find the policy at the moment).

Best of luck,
Chris F

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There is always a risk when you try to do your own flight training program a smaller-scale school. I found that out for myself after a few months of starting, my flight school I was at originally closed down and I was stranded for 3 months until I bit the bullet and drove 45 minutes each way to finish my training.

The reason we say “do your research” isn’t because we are bias about ATP, which all of the mentors are because we are where we are because of the success at ATP and hard work we all put in… It’s because ATP offers the equipment, personnel, and materials it takes to be successful in every aspect. When attending ATP, it comes down to you, the student in your success. We can’t hold everyone’s hand and I think it’s very important to realize in the airline world, you need self-accountability and the ability to learn. Before every flight, we sign a dispatch release that basically states, “We are fit to fly” and reviewed the entirety of that flight, self-accountability. Flight school isn’t for everyone and if it was, we wouldn’t have this pilot shortage.

I would STRONGLY recommend looking into a program like ATP or similar where they have reputable resources where you can be successful in one go. I am a big facts guy, I love numbers and more importantly, I love flying:


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This is exactly why we never recommend training with local schools if your goal is to then go on to ATP. My recommendation would be to pause your training and resume it full time with ATP when you are ready to do so. If you continue with this school, just expect more of the same.