35, Married with a one year old, feeling stuck!

Hey, my name’s Martin. I’m 35, just bought a house a few months ago, married with a one year old.

Out of college in 2010, I ended up teaching English in China, where I met my wife. In 2019, we moved back to my home in the U.S. I went into truck driving and now have a nice walking distance local job that pays the mortgage and bills but nothing else and I’m working 60 hours a week.

And I’ve been getting more and more interested in aviation.

Of course, I need to setup a discovery flight or two or three (just waiting for the crazy snow storms to clear up).

I have a ton of questions, but here’s a few I suppose for the front end of the process.

Figuring out how to go from just paying the bills to no income is scary, but that’s a whole different thing.

I guess the question popping to mind right now is about cadet/flow through programs with the regionals and majors. How do those work? How and when do we apply and can we/should I apply to more than one or all? What advantage does ATP Flight School’s connection get us?

Thanks for all the content the mentors post like schedules and their journeys. Also great to have an idea what to expect when trying to make a huge decision.


I also met my wife in China, where we taught English at a university for 6 years until returning home last year, so I can understand the shock of coming back home and feeling stuck. Sounds like you left just before the fun started :wink:. I can’t tell you what’s right for you, but I can say that taking an intro flight will be one of the best decisions you can make. Either you hate it (unlikely) and you’re out a couple hundred bucks, or you discover your new career path.

The advice I’ve gotten about the flows and cadet programs and all that is to just not worry about it until you’re through the program, or at least pretty far in. ATP has all kinds of agreements with dozens of airlines and cargo carriers and corporate outfits, but no need to think about that until you actually are a pilot.

Anyway, you won’t regret taking that discovery flight, no matter if it’s at ATP or wherever, but at ATP you can do a free one if you apply for a Sallie Mae loan first, and you don’t have to actually accept the loan after. Food for thought.



Many people recently have taken an interest in commercial aviation (thinking it has something to do with the fact you can’t turn on the TV without hearing about the shortage or how much you can make but I digress). I think if you spend some QT browsing this forum and the FAQ section you’ll find many answers to your questions as well a others you didn’t even know you had. That’s said let’s answer yours:

Cadet/Flows: how they work is they’re really an attempt to “lock you in” asap. While this may sound like a great idea (and it’s not completely a bad one), while you can get accepted fairly early, personally I feel that’s a huge mistake. First of the industry changes by the day and what sounds like a great deal today, might not be tomorrow. Also many pilots chase the flows and there are often other/better opportunities available. ATP pioneered the airline partnerships decades ago, long before the shortage and their grads have always had a leg up. Will it help you? ATP has a direct entry program with Spirit and Frontier that could show you to completely bypass the Regionals. This is unprecedented in our industry. That said if you can’t fly it’s all moot. Long short you need to learn to fly first and worry about that.



The best thing you can do is keep your options open! Focus on doing well in the program, because checkride pass rates control your future. Then once your workload is lightened you can start applying to cadet programs. ATP has more exclusive partnership programs than any other flight school in the country. You can apply to as many as you’d like as they serve as a great opportunity to get to know the airline better! Just don’t sign any of the offer letters until you’re ready to commit to the contract! Once you do, you’ll have access to tuition reimbursement to help you start paying off the loan.


Thanks. That’s great insight to the cadet programs. Exactly what I was wondering (when to start thinking about those).