34 year old in the Navy

Hello, I am 34 years old, an Aviation Structural Mechanic in the Navy. I have been in the navy for about 13 years now and can say I have a very good knowledge base in the aviation industry. While I enjoy being an Aviation Mechanic/NDI Inspector/Aviation Safety Specialist, being a pilot has always been a dream. I am coming up on my contract expiration and am at a point in my life where I want to pursue my dream of being a pilot. I know I have procrastinated far too long and am finally putting my foot down and making the switch. Before anyone says it, no, I do not want to remain in the military any longer for retirement purposes. My question is, at my age, what can I do to get the best leg up on being efficient at achieving all of my ratings in time requirements. I have roughly about 1 year left on contract and want to plan and be as ready as I can be come time. My goal is to have at least $60k in savings so I can focus purely on school and flight training, utilizing my Post 9/11 where I can, and utilizing my current background as a fallback/secondary income once all training is completed. I am hoping there is at least one person on here with a similar story that can provide some useful information/tips on where to start now to plan for the imminent future.

Very Respectfully,

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Welcome to the forum. If your plan is to attend ATP, the best thing you can possibly do to get ahead is to take all of your FAA written exams:

As for training itself, do you intend on working while training?



Thank you for your service, I can see that you’re eager to get started. The good news is, you’re at the average age of those learning to fly today. The average age for flight training in 2022 is 35 years old.

Like Chris said, once you are about 6-9 months out from starting your training and have an enrollment date set…that’s when I would start the written exams. Getting the writtens completed by day 1 can take a load of stress off your back and allow focus on the actual flying.


I am about to retire from the Air Force after 20 years, one thing I’d recommend you look into is SkillBridge. I don’t know where you’re located but for SkillBridge, I’d recommend looking into BreakTurn, formerly SkyBridge. This could allow you to use your SkillBridge time (last 180 days of your career, with Command approval) to “work” as a student pilot and potentially knock our your private while still being paid by the Navy. I unfortunately found out about it a bit late or I would definitely pursue it. BreakTurn works with a number of flight schools to get you started on training sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, ATP doesn’t currently work with them or SkillBridge in general, but that is something I’m continuing to discuss with ATP’s representatives and hopefully one day they’ll see the value in it! I’d also recommend joining RTAG nation on Facebook as they have a ton of info for vets on using GI Bill or VA benefits to finance portions of flight training.
Personally, I’ll be starting at ATP in July when I’m on terminal leave as I’ve found it to be the best for me and my situation.
Good luck!