Sorry so long
I am asking on behalf of my husband because we would love some advice. So my husband is 36 and looking to switch his career to Airline Pilot and hopes to retire doing this. We have been working through this information/where to go for awhile now. We (when I see “we” I mean him) went to our local regional airport for flight training. He took an admissions flight, fell in love with it and wanted to pursue even further. Instructor said he did great, a little off on the turning but didnt see any problems and zero nervousness from him lol Unfortunately, the cost is heavy to obtain private license all the way up to Commercial. Our local regional is not accredited, therefor paying for any of the licenses and exams, ect. must come out of pocket. This will take my husband a few years to obtain due to working full time currently and then would have to fly after work. We have our obvious bills/expenses so extra money to pay for flight training is pretty difficult. Seemed a bit unreachable mostly financially to be honest…until we found the ATP website.
So first he calls Sallie Mae directly and basically they tell him they can loan him whatever money he needs to cover expenses while he would be away to do the 7 month full time flight training program. Which we loved the idea because cost would be covered with a student loan, possible tuition reimbursement, housing included in tuition and provided, job placement and wouldn’t take years to achieve. From what we understood.
However Sallie Mae said ATP has limits to what they would be willing to release to him per month for expenses/bills and we needed to call them for more information?
So he calls ATP Finance department to get some further advice. My husband lays out our entire situation, basically where is at right now in starting. First They stated that they will only release $2000/month for living expenses. Nothing more. Which that does not cover expenses while he would be away at training. Second,There is NO housing available except for in a couple locations which Atlanta was one of them but I dont remember the other couple he listed, no other information given for housing besides that. Then asked if my husband had any prior experience flying at all. My husband said no I was wanting to enroll and learn.
ATP told him that because he has prior obligations (family, car, house) that ATP would not be really willing to accept his enrollment because it did not indicate success? Stated that ATP would not be comfortable with him taking a $100,000 student loan obligation with no flying experience when he has a family at home? He said that my husband needs to go a local regional and obtain the private pilots license first then come back because they would indicate some responsibility with his current obligations and flying obligations and would more likely look into his Enrollment application at that time.
Can someone please weigh in on this for us? Its confusing. Zero time to Pilot it says on their website. He loved the 7 month program idea and wouldve been happy taking housing where ever to train, and leaving us for 7 months to switch to his forever passionate career was a no brainer. But there is zero further information given except that. We couldve been asking the wrong questions too, not sure. I believe he is the next Maverick and would be a great pilot Anyway, appreciate the time and advice. Thanks!
The reality is this, ever since the pilot shortage started and people caught wind of the idea they could make a whole lot of money flying airplanes, EVERYBODY (and their husbands) suddenly had found a “passion” for flying. The problem is despite the belief that EVERYBODY can be a pilot the fact is not everybody can or should be (and no, one intro flight does not guarantee success). Regardless EVERY is signing up for flight school and 1) the demand is far higher than available slots and 2) failure rates have gone through the roof. With that ATP has been requiring applicants with no flight experience to get some.
While you (and Maverick) may not like it, it’s best for all parties.
Welcome to the forum, a couple of things to point out here:
ATP has been doing this for four decades, they know what makes a successful student and who will have a harder time in training. You state yourself that $2k per month will not be enough to live off during training, that is a huge red flag for somebody that will be overly stressed in a seven month program and who will likely try to work on the side. which is never a recipe for success.
ATP has worked with Sallie Mae for a very long time, I can assure you that Sallie Mae will not loan him “whatever you need”, it just does not work that way. On top of that, ATP works with Sallie Mae to make sure that the loan repayment is something that a new pilot can afford. The payments on “whatever you need” would likely be incredibly high and could lead to default, something that is not good for the pilot, ATP, or Sallie Mae.
ATP makes housing available (for a fee) at certain locations. Students at locations without housing find their own housing through Facebook, Airbnb, etc.
Yes, ATP advertises a seven month program, for those who they think will fit the program well. For other students, they offer the program starting with credit for private. ATP’s policies are clearly laid out on their website, but it does take a minute to read them.
I understand you believe your husband is the next Maverick, but ATP has been training pilots for forty years, they know what leads to success and what can complicate that. Really, you should be thankful that ATP is not willing to just let your husband apply for a $100,000 loan without vetting him and making sure that he is best setup for success. There are plenty of flight schools that operate that way, ATP is not one of them.
As an aside, Maverick took a huge amount of risks and would make a horrible airline pilot.
Thank you for the advice, that makes more sense. Regardless of a shortage or none-he still wants to make this career change.
Any more advice specifically on gaining experience from nothing would be much appreciated and helpful. If ATP says not right now until that happens, anything further you could recommend? I guess the “zero time to commercial” threw us off a bit when researching the best possible way (and school) to gain some experience starting from no prior flying experience. That is a concern on ATP’s high failure rates though so we can look into other schools as well. Thank you! We both want the absolute best success for not only my husband, but the airlines, aircrafts, crews, and their passengers as well.
Enjoy flying-we (he) can’t wait to join!
Let’s clarify something. ATP does not have high failure rates. In fact ATP had been training pilots for the airlines for almost 40yrs and have had over 1,100 grads hired in the last 12mos alone.
The problem isn’t ATP or the program, the problem is everyone thinks they can be Maverick and they can’t. While flying isn’t rocket science, it does take a certain amount of intelligence and coordination that not everyone possesses and there’s only so much ATP can do. Further if you or your husband are afraid of ATPs curriculum and pace, what makes you think he’d be successful in airline training?
My recommendation is the same as ATPs. He should pursue his PPL and then assess from there.
Thank You! Its been an interesting start so far
I see and understand your points. I will look at the website through again to see where those polices are laid out-we definitely seemed to have missed that information. On us. He is not starting from any sort of experience whatsoever and was looking to gain experience so he can make a career change from where he is now. Thats what brought us to flight school, our local regional, and ATP.
$2k for our family’s bills/expenses is not enough. Just for him though, yes would be totally fine. To explain- he needs our expenses/bills covered due to having to quit his current full time job/income to go train full time with no income-does make more sense? So a loan is the only foreseeable option.
We are aware it would not be a good idea at all to try and work while attending an accelerated program that from our understanding compresses years of training into months of training. Which is why we also thought awesome if the $100k tuition included ATP specified housing already loped into it. Save us on taking out more of a loan.
The goal is make a career change into a paid commercial Pilot from school without having to sell the house, the car, and groceries for us, a family of 6, in the meantime (7-8 months). Thats just the financial side. He would love it, and wants to do very well for long term success.
Sallie Mae-my apologies for wording so loosely, however we did speak with them directly and that is quote what the women stated to us. But I think she was meaning to say there wasn’t really a limit on their end? I see the idea though and we couldn’t agree more with not wanting to take too much out, unfortunately costs are pretty high for getting into aviation (100k just for training not including housing) and living in general for a family.
If there is any advice you have for him to be able to get through these kinds of hurdles as smoothly as possible, we would greatly appreciate it.
haha Yes true but Maverick also represented love, passion, devotion and skill for aviation and to his career as a fighter pilot…more what I meant for the reference-not the risking lives part lol
I see your point and understand.
No sir No fear here at all. We just took the information on the website as like an “all inclusive” training program. Like “start with us from zero experience and earn all the way up to job placement through our school in the 7 month accelerated program, financing and housing available” kinda thing. That was our interpretation. So we called ATP and surprise they recommended the same due to not any experience and a family here at home. And very limited Financing although Sallie Mae indicated otherwise. Does that make sense?
It was just a little confusing is all because it seemed like we have found a good path to reach his goal but truly thank you for clarifying. Its helps newbies out like him greatly.
We accept your recommendation and will start there, after he gets his 1st class medical certificate of course
I just thought I’d add some thoughts to this conversation after reading through. Both Adam and Chris make valid points and you should take some time to think about the things they have said. Aviation is a very costly career to get into, so unfortunately there’s no way around that. The reason ATP have most likely initially denied your husband is because they see no prior training and lots of at home risk/obligations. Not being able to survive on the $2000 additional that they can offer each month is a big concern for ATP. And as Chris mentioned, it can often lead to students trying to work on the side through the program. I can tell you as a former student/instructor, if you are not ‘all in’ working 24/7 on this program, it won’t take much time to realize how challenging it is. “Integrity with students’ investment” is a big thing for ATP. If they don’t see him as a fit yet, you should take that as a sign to consider their concerns.
I’d also like to mention that (because I don’t think I saw it in this thread), ATP (or any accelerated program) will not make him eligible to be an airline pilot in 7 months. You will get the certificates that you need in that time, but there is a time building phase post program to get from the 250 hours that you finish with to the required 1500 hours to work for an airline. Most people instruct for around 2 years. So, overall, you are looking at 3 years of sacrifice with initially no pay, followed by low pay as an instructor. The reason they advertise 7 months is because those with little to no at home obligations, straight out of a high workload job/college, have the study habits and time to cram as much as they need to be successful. Those are the people that ATP will generally accept with zero time. I’m sure your husband is a hard worker too, but based on ATP’s experience, they can normal pick out those who are more likely to be successful in training. Having a family of 6 at home, I struggle to see how your husband could leave you and fully focus on studying and time building for 3 years. The risk for both your family, ATP, and the loan provider would be huge.
With that being said, your pathway through ATP is not over. He would just need to receive his private certificate elsewhere first and then reapply. The reason that Adam mentioned “high failure rates” is not exclusive to ATP, but to pilot training in general. Lots of people, similar to your husband, have gained an interest in aviation, and unfortunately the success rate in training is low. Most don’t make it past their private certificate. Training is full of challenging hurdles; written tests, medicals, training, checkrides. It’s not like a typical class where you can scrape your way through and be fine. Your training record sticks with you for your entire career. Many start and don’t finish for one reason or another. This is why ATP asks that you try and get your private certificate first, because then it shows that you might have the aptitude to make it all the way through.
Have him get his medical then work on his private and see how it goes. If he can get it done quickly and successfully, then ATP might be an option for him further down the road.
Truly, Thank You!
That makes perfect sense. Chris and Adam too. He obviously can’t guarantee success or aptitude because it is new to him but he still really wants to try-he loved the initial flight he took, and I’m sure typical but actually flew most of the time-per the instructor’s instructions and still loved it and “felt” natural to him lol Which we think is good? I am/was super happy for him too! So forward we went. The financial aspect is difficult with roots set and in hindsight he would’ve started this a long time ago. But still okay, he just needs to prove himself even more. Understandable.
When we talked about flying as a career, we already knew he was going to have to give 1000% from the beginning. Flying for a living is not something neither of us are taking lightly at all. In fact, even with the pilot schedules we figure we need to get used to him being away for periods of time. We come from military background so in our family being away from family/home for your career is considered respectable than risky if that makes sense? But we see and understand the stance on that.
Thank You again!
We both love everything about aviation so far, so medical and PPL first it is
This is a little concerning. I hope I don’t run into the same roadblock. If the sacrifice and demand is too much for full time training, how would I be able to get my PPL in a timely manner paying out of pocket and maybe flying one day a week while working 60 to pay the bills?
Of course, our plan is to cut down on financial obligations during training. Our plan, I know this isn’t an option for most people, is for my wife and son to visit family in China during training allowing us to rent out the house and me to live relatively expense free.
If I have to get a PPL first, I suppose we could do the same thing, but goodbye to the savings I’m building up for the leaner times of low hour work.
I would add that in my time in the program, I only met one student while I was at CFI Academy who was on track to complete the program in 7 months and did so. The rest of us were on a year plus timeline due to various factors. Some of which were in our control and some were out of our control like weather and examiner availability. Zero to hero is not guaranteed to take 7 months and you need to incorporate the possibility of taking a year plus in your budget. But quite honestly I would budget from the time you start training to the time you hit 1500 hrs which could take 3 years. None of the flight instructors I know are swimming in cash from the money they make instructing. It really comes down to what are your husbands plans after he completes the program?
I don’t know where in the US you are located or your work schedule but assuming you’re working a 9-5 this time of the year, there’s not enough light to get a flight lesson in and get to work by 9 or after work hitting traffic to get to the airport. That only leaves weekends open which is too much time in between to develop the skills required to fly and that doesn’t account for weather. If you’re only able to get one flight in a week then it’s practically starting over every other week which is a wallet drain.
The co-ed “housing” ATP assist with is a dorm style two bedroom apartment where each room is shared by two students (4 students per apartment). It’s not meant for families.
The realistic advice I can offer is if your husband really wants to become a pilot then y’all should wait till you can financially afford it. The upfront cost to flight training is one of the contributing factors to the pilot shortage and it’s not an easy fix. I came from a low income family and didn’t have the support to fund flight training. I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was 9 but I didn’t get the opportunity to fly a small plane till I joined a Boy Scouts Aviation Explorer Post in high school. Then I had to wait till I was 29 before I could receive a loan to start training at ATP. It’s not the path I wanted to take but I still reached my goal of earning my required certifications minus the last cert to become an airline pilot.