Advice on my situation?

I am asking for some life advice on the pursuit of being a pilot in my particular situation. I am an equipment operator for the road and bridge department of the county I live in. I sought a career in this field as I love to operating. I had a senior operator at my work tell me not to waste my time with this career and become a pilot instead. A few weeks later I found myself doing my first discovery flight at ATP. I fell in love with flying- I felt so free but more importantly to me, it felt like I was operating on a whole ‘nother level.

I reached out to mutual friends who were pilots and decided with their advice to get my first class physical to make sure I could even pursue this as a career. I had something come up in my physical that caused it to get deferred to the FAA. Talking with my AME and others, I am guessing I will hear back on a full answer in March, and am guessing the FAA will approve me (who knows though).

About a month ago, I tore a ligament in my thumb which required surgery. I won’t be able to return to work until mid-March with this injury, unfortunately. I am assuming the same with flying planes with the fine motor skills required to operate. With this, I was wondering if I should find side work if my short term disability insurance company allows me or if I should get ahead on the written tests required to become a pilot (though I have read someone has to approve you to take them). Looking at atp’s website, maybe it is possible to do these before you start the program?

Then another question remains though: what do I do when I am able to fly / return to work? Should I get my private pilots on the side while still working to save money and make sure I still actually want to be a pilot? Should I hop into ATP full time and not waste time at this current job? Something else to throw into the equation is that I am getting married in July and will be taking 1.5-3 weeks off at that time. Do i really want to jump into ATP full time when I will be planning for this wedding in the months to come and have to bow out for possibly a few weeks? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to wait until i get married so I could hop on her health insurance while in full time school? Not sure what the FAA will tell me but thought it would be wise these things for the time being.


Before I get to your questions, the overall tone I’m hearing is you’re not 100% certain you’re ready to dive in, and that’s fine. It’s a huge change and it requires a huge commitment in time and money. With that in mind to answer one of your questions, despite what many people think, getting your PPL locally will not save you money. In many cases people end paying more due to the inefficient nature of part-time training. Factor in to get credit for your PPL ATP also requires at least 78hrs of flight time so again the cost should not be a consideration. That said if you’re not sure you’re ready to dive in with both feet, earning your PPL (or at least soloing) might be what you need to help make up your mind. Moving on…

Yes you can take all the required writtens prior to starting the program and yes it’s a good idea. Just keep in mind the tests expire in 24mos if you don’t take the associated practical exam so again if you’re not sure you might want to wait.

Congrats on your upcoming wedding but I would absolutely not start the the program to well after the wedding. As you point out your not going to be able to start for a few months because of your injury. You definitely don’t want to get started and then take 3 weeks off. Bad idea.

If it were me I wouldn’t do a thing till you get your medical. Then once you’re healed maybe start taking some lessons and then if you’re certain dive into ATP.


Sorry to hear about your thumb. I’m sure the time off has provided a lot of time to think about your career and what you want your future to look like. I think you shouldn’t pursue anything further until you get your medical. Since it has to go through the FAA and they aren’t known for their efficiency, it could take some time. You can’t start at atp until you have the first class medical. Plus I don’t think it would be wise to start training anywhere else if you’re medical isn’t certain. Getting that first class medical is a prerequisite for being an airline pilot. In the time you’re waiting for it, take a few more intro flights. You can start on the PAR if you’d like but I wouldn’t proceed too far in to the writtens just because of the two year clock on those.

Welcome, Matthew!

It sounds like the aviation bug bit you!

Unfortunately, without that medical there’s really not a lot that I would recommend doing. There’s no rush to get ahead this early on anyway.

Let your thumb heal. Enjoy your engagement and your wedding. Hopefully your medical shows up at some point before July. When it does, that’s when I would start looking more seriously at starting training.

By that point, if you’re still eager to get ahead, you have the option of taking the written tests. There’s more info on that in the FAQ section.



Welcome to the forum. I would not do anything until you have your medical in hand from the FAA. There is just too much uncertainty with not having the medical to dedicate any time or resources to it. That being said, I see no reason why you could not work a job and study for your writtens. Most people do both, I was a full time college student when I took my writtens.

It sounds to me like you are not 100% sure that you want to be a pilot. If this is the case, then I would recommend doing some flight training outside of ATP first. You could go as far as your first solo, or all the way to obtaining your PPL. You will not save any money by obtaining your PPL outside of ATP.

I would not start ATP knowing that you will be taking 1.5 - 3 weeks off for a wedding, that is simply too much time to be away from flight training. I would wait until after the wedding.