Becoming an airline pilot with a less than perfect record?

I have seen a few discussions on this topic already, but it is important to me to have a good understanding.

I have a less than perfect record. I have a Class C misdemeanor which is a paraphernalia charge, and while minor and not possession of drugs, it is certainly considered a drug charge.

I own accept that made a mistake, and I make no excuses. I paid my fines, and made the changes I needed to. I do not use any drugs, and I only drink a beer every once in a while, takes me a month to go through a sixer.

It has been a passion of mine forever to become an airline pilot as my dad served as a helo pilot in the Marine Corps. during and post Vietnam. The private cost to entry and stiff competition for jobs as a pilot that used to exist were always deterrents. It is different today and the shortage of qualified pilots has changed things on the competition side, but the cost has remained a barrier and even become more so after 2012.

Question is; even with all this and my willingness to train, and learn, is it still just a pipe dream to get on with an airline with a blemished past? It sucks, because I know there are tons of candidates out there taking advantage of the market, as I would like to, who have totally clean records, who didn’t make any mistakes.

Even with the demand for pilots; would I be taking on this large financial commitment, (assuming I can quality for an FAA medical even for the same reason),with little to no chance of landing employment post accruing qualified flight time hours?

I am the one who made mistakes, and if it costs me this opportunity, that is on me. I would just like to know if there is even a chance that someone like me could get one with an airline?

Let me know your thoughts.

Thank you in advance.


This has actually become quite a common question these days. You can find a thorough write up on the subject in our FAQ section.

Short answer, which is also just my opinion, if you carry yourself the way that you write and this is your only offense you should be fine.

You don’t mention your age, but the more time that you can put between you and the event the better chance you have at convincing a hiring panel that you truly have changed for the better.


1 Like


Thank you for the reply. I’ll check out that page. I appreciate the input from an industry professional, opinion or not.

I am 35 now, could with an approved FAA Medical I could start at ATP as soon as October. The commitment does not scare me if I can actually fly.

Thank you again,



I honestly am not sure. There was a time when your record would be an automatic no for the airlines, but times have changed and you might be able to get into an airline. I would recommend calling the recruiting departments of several regional airlines and asking them directly.


Thank you for your response. I will do just that, to see if it would be worth the large investment without being able to fly.\

Thank you again,