Another "am I too old" question. Seeking advice

Hello all! Let me start off by saying how much I am enjoying reading all the questions that are being asked. I am learning a lot and I appreciate all the mentors taking time out of their day to provide such detailed answers. With that said here is my scenario…

I am currently 40 years old and a Battalion Chief with a major fire department in Las Vegas. I have 20 years on and have some options for retirement. I need to do my best to “earn” 25 years so my monthly pension is not penalized since I will be leaving before I am 50. I can buy 2 years of service so I would only need to physically work for 3 more years, putting me at 43 years old.
I am also currently 13 classes away from my bachelor’s degree. Which I should be able to complete in one year, putting me at 41 or 42. Once that is completed my plan is to start the Flex Track program through ATP. My understanding is that the program is approximately 18 months. Once I complete that, it should put me very near retirement time at age 43. At that point I should be available to hopefully be hired as a CFI.

In reading others posts, it seems like I may still have a chance to be hired with a major, but I am a realist and would be completely happy to stay at the regional level. I am lucky enough to have started my first career young and do not want to pass up the opportunity to fly as a second career.

I would appreciate any thoughts and/or advice you may have with my plan.

I forgot to mention I do have my PPL.

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Welcome to the forums and thank you for the detailed introduction. It seems like you have a great understanding of your career prospects.

Assuming you finish ATP at the age of 43, then take two years to get to a regional, that makes you 45. Let’s say five years at a regional, maybe ten. Yes, I absolutely think you have a pretty good chance of getting hired on at a major airline. Of course this comes with he usual caveats of your mileage may vary, that you need to keep your various records clean and that much will depend not he state of the industry. That being said, I like your plan and think it could work well for you.

Let us know how else we can help you.



Welcome, Nick,

I don’t see anything wrong with your plan or projections. You have done well with your research. Now it’s a matter of taking steps towards your goal. It sounds like you have already browsed through our FAQ section, but for good measure, have you taken an intro flight? Or do you have any flying experience at the controls? We ask everyone this question. You need to be sure that this truly is a good fit before investing tens of thousands. Intro flights are the perfect answer to that question.


I can’t believe I left out that very important detail I have my PPL.

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Well then there you go. Let us know how else we can help.


What’s your Total Time?


My only thoughts are you seem to have done you homework and have a very clear understanding of how this all works. It’s a solid plan and the only real variables are the industry and the economy which you obviously have no control of.

If and when you have any specific questions feel free but otherwise you should be good to go.


I’m low…only 80 hours.

That’s okay! Just checking. You need a minimum of 78+ with a PPL to meet the enrollment requirement :+1:t3:


Hi Nick,

I just started this past week and I’m 42. If you have your PPL like I do then you will be starting on the credit private track. If you look here and choose the credit for private pilot option you can see the timeline is 12 months instead of 18.

The only other requirement for credit private in addition to the 78hrs Tory mentioned is that you need 8 hours of PIC cross country. Also you will want to make sure you can get a first class medical, do it within 6 months of your start date. You only need the first class medical to start the program and you won’t need to get another first class until you apply for the airlines.

Good luck with your plan and early congrats on retirement!


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Alex, thanks so much for the reply and information. I didn’t know about the cross country time, which I have, so I’m good there. Only being a week in it may be hard to say, but are you happy with your ATP experience thus far?

Hi Nick,

So far so good, I actually did 7 events in my first 7 days which is not typical but my instructor has some scheduling conflicts next week so he was working hard to get all his students slightly ahead. I think one of the more challenging things for you may be to match your schedule with your instructor’s and have available equipment at the same time. Being flexible (to the extent possible) will help get you through the program a lot quicker. As you know already, if you have gaps in your flying, skills and knowledge can slip away quickly, especially since we aren’t getting any younger :older_man:

I am in a relatively small location so I think I’ve already met most of the instructors and students. Everyone is really nice and I really like how structured the ATP program is so I always know what’s next and prepare for it. That’s not a style everyone enjoys but if you like structure ATP is a good place for you imho.


Alex, thanks for the reply. I too am a little concerned with making my schedule work, but I also think that I have more availability than the standard Mon-Fri 9-5 type job. The Las Vegas location is opening by end of month. I look forward to going there to tour and ask these types of questions.

Glad to hear your experience is going well. Good luck going forward!