Beginning for PPL and financial and school degree

Hi would really appreciate some recommendations from pilots or students.
What would I need exactly to be accepted into ATP?

  1. Are there better schools or ways to get your ppl? I was looking Sheble’s “NORTHTOWN” Aviation – KVGT the school is in Las Vegas. I would be able to afford to pay for that in cash which is about 11.5k. Or would people/pilots recommend a local school since I live in Alaska, and a rookie that’s really interested and wanting to make a career out of it. Feel like with the short days and bad weather it would be hard to get in all the air time.
  2. Financing for ATP do I need a co signer if I decide to just go all in with ATP?
    I’m 20y going to be 21 in couple weeks, I have credit score over 710 atm and 100% on time payment history going onto 3 years.
  3. Read articles that 8 out of 10 students going for commercial eventually end up dropping out to being exhausted from homework and lessons.
  4. As a student how much hours a day did you put in for homework?

Welcome! The mentors will probably be around soon but figured I’d try an help in the mean time. The below link has everything laid out for you whether its starting from Zero or with PPL credit.

-I will say I went the PPL route to give me time to build the funds to self fund ATP and it took me A LONG TIME. The one thing you have to understand with Mom and Pop flight schools vs one like ATP or a 141 like ERAU, UND, etc is they usually have Part Time instructors so you are battling with their schedule (they will take vacation without a care, be only available a few days a week, etc) and then as a PPL student you have the weather to battle (are the minimums there for you and your instructor to go up, are your endorsed minimums there for solo flight) then you have the aircraft availability (my school sold a C172 in the middle of training and then everyone was fighting for slots on the only one left, the planes are down for 100hr and annuals, unforeseen issues as you preflight) and then finally your schedule (I list this last as its the most control you have).

If you do plan the ATP route I suggest you do the extra 3 months otherwise when the money is available your not sitting in a holding pattern to finish your PPL and are put further on the schedule at ATP. Your instructors are all full time building their hours and wanting other to succeed as it probably doesnt look good when you have your 1500 hours and you have 4 students with 10 checkride busts, the planes are maintained and constantly shuffled around to fill spots when others go down for maintenance, and the schedule is everyday so you stay in a constant state of learning.

-I unfortunately can’t answer as I’m self funding and don’t know.

-Adam, Chris and Tory might have more insight but my guess if that is accurate(seems REALLY high) is those students aren’t doing a good job of time management or their school is not doing something the right way but once again those numbers seem really high.

-I once again can’t answer as I’m scheduled for May but with my Pre ATP homework of Intro to Instrument and then Ill be completing my Writtens but I’m averaging 2-3 hours a day right now.

Thanks for the info, so Tom how long were you a student at ATP? Are you recommending ATP to start for my ppl? Did you get a college degree related to aviation?


I updated my response after you added more questions in your original post.

From my personal experience if I could do it again I would have done ATP from Zero as I was ready to self finance in September but didn’t finish my PPL until the beginning of this month.

I will be getting my Bachelors in Management or Finance once I get to the regionals as I am fairly competent in both.

you do need a degree related to aviation to fly for a major airline right? Well if I’d start with atp from zero that means I’d have to get in debt 80k-100k. Than also get in debt for a degree. Does the degree have to be aviation related to fly for a national/major airline?
How long did it take to get you ppl?


No the degree doesn’t have to be in aviation and the Mentors usually suggest something different as a backup in case aviation doesn’t work out for you, theres some unforeseen incident (i.e. another 9/11) where the airlines start scaling back again, etc.

I started my PPL in Oct of 2017, changed schools in Jan 2018 after 5 flights due to me not liking the product the 1st school was providing. I solo’d in May 2018 after 28 hours, did my Solo XC’s and Night flights in Sept/Oct, and Checkride was Feb 4th. There are alot of gaps in my training due to my instructor having Summer, Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation, the Chief Instructor having limited availability (he had a large amount of students) to clear me for my Solo, Solo XC, and Checkride and then the biggest factor you will find is Weather. In the Mid Atlantic last year we have about 15 Winters from Feb to April, and a VERY wet summer creating cancellations which then i had to reschedule when my instructor was available. I finished all said and done around 65 hours (which is pretty common +/-).


ATP requires one of the following: a PPL, 2yr degree or equivalent work experience. One of those and your First Class Medical and an Intro Flight.

  1. If you look up and to the left you’ll see ATPs logo. That’s because this is ATPs forum and all the mentors on here are former ATP students and instructors who are now airline pilots. That doesn’t mean we recommend ATP because we want you to sign up, it’s because after we all did our research we concluded there was no better route to accomplish our goals. If you really want to make this you career than the best method is to train full-time like the military and the airlines do.

  2. We’re pilots not credit officers at the bank. You’d have to call ATP and speak to the financing people.

  3. Not sure where you got those stats but yes the majority of pilots who train casually or recreationally don’t ever become commercial pilots. That’s definitely not ATPs stats and the people who drop out elsewhere get frustrated, run out of money or simply aren’t good at flying. It’s not the homework and lessons.

  4. Depends on the phase of training but the average was probably 2hrs a day.

In answer to your last question the airlines what a 4yr degree but it need not be in aviation.


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Thank you very much Adam. To make a career out of flying commercially would training be recommended through military or atp?
I have tradeschool experience that’s over two years would that help getting into ATP?
Also the 4 year degree would it come after I’d graduate from flight school or something that’s preferred prior to entering flight school?
Older Arcticle read more than one of these that are similar, sorry for misunderstanding wasn’t talking about ATP students in particular


None of us would recommend military flight training unless your main motivation is to serve your country.

Your tradeschool experience is sufficient.

Depends. Usually we recommend getting a degree first, but the older you get, the less time you’ll have in the industry. In those cases we recommend tackling the degree while at a regional.

If you haven’t already, read through the FAQ section for more detailed explanations.


Thank you very much Tory for the clarification. Did it take a while to complete ATP schooling?



I can guarantee you that no school will be able to provide all of your training for $11.5k, that is just downright impossible. You need to dig deeper on that one.

You will most likely need a co-signer.

I in no way believe the numbers that you are quoting from those articles. Over 80% of ATP’s graduates successfully complete the entire program.

You will spend the vast majority of your day either flying or studying for flying. It is a highly condensed program and there is not time for much more than that.

I took out a loan for the full amount and was able to pay it back while I was a CFI. Things were of course tight, but manageable.



The entire ATP program from zero time to CFII is 9mos. Figure another 1.5 yrs to build the required 1500hrs and you could be at a Regional in just over 2 yrs.

You’d have to call ATP admin and inquire is you work experience is sufficient.


Misunderstood. I meant 11.5k just to get a PPL. Thank you for all the infor Chris, helps a lot. Will talk to ATP admins about financing if needed. Thank you for all the info.

Hey folks I will be traveling from Hawaii to the Seattle Everett location on 3/6/19 to do my flight intro. Super excited I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep because of all the excitement. When I was inquiring for atp flight school my biggest concern
was height and weight. At the time I was 6ft 3in 265 pounds, trying to lose that 15+ pounds was a nightmare! Took me about 3 weeks but I’m now finally weight qualified!! Lol.
My only question, is there anything you folks would recommend bringing or doing before flight intro?

P.S. @Adam having a hard time finding an AME in Hawaii, where do you go to do physicals? Could you please recommend me any that you know of. (Oahu resident)

Aloha Joseph


As always my biggest advice is to relax and just take in the experience. I find people put wayyyyy too much pressure on themselves and think that ATP expects them to be pilots. You’re not a pilot (yet) and no one expects you to be. Relax and enjoy.

As for the AME not sure why you’re having issues, there’s quite a few. Try this:



Just relax and enjoy the flight. Do not expect to be the ace of the base and handle the airplane perfectly. It is called an introductory flight for a reason. Ask whatever questions you have and enjoy the experience.

Make sure to complete the short module that is required prior to the flight that can be fond here:

You shouldn’t need to bring anything to the flight.


Thanks Chris… I believe I finished those training module when they sent me an email when I was inquiring for atp flight school. Is it the same one? looks like it… it was like three or four 30minute videos and about 10+ questions?? Is there somewhere I can
check to see if I did this?

Thanks for your response @Adam