Better late than never?

Hi. My first post here. I’m super excited to start my program at ATP in Richmond in a couple of months and coming from zero experience and having my 3 kids who are all home from school the past few weeks, the ground learning and prep has been a little more challenging. I’m coming from having 20+ years of work experience in other industries with an MBA, but have Always wanted to fly. However, I’m close to 45 years old now, and feel like it’s a little late for a career change, although my wife and family all support my decision. Has anyone else here started embarking on their ATP journey this late? I realize that it will take a few years, so I may only have 10-15 years before retirement, but I will finally be doing something I love vs. something that I didn’t, so I feel very motivated.

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Many others your age have started their journey to becoming a professional pilot. Hopefully some share their testimonies. In the meantime, Adam wrote a good piece on age in the FAQ section. Am I too old to be an Airline pilot?



As Tory said, please take a look at the piece I wrote on the subject. The short answer is it’s definitely not too late (I started at 39) but you need to be realistic about your expectations. Chances are you’re never going to be a 777 Capt flying to Incheon but you can have a very nice career.


The benefit of being at your stage in life is that you likely have a work ethic that has had time to mature and also have a highly developed sense of the possible (based on the ability to weigh risk/benefit).

Assuming (and assumptions are necessary when making future plans) that humans slide right back into previous patterns of air travel after this current medical crisis, -and- assuming that you have a profession/skillset to fall back on if this Coronavirus situation replays itself in some form in the future (and puts pilots on the sidelines) - then I think this profession is definitely a viable option as a 2nd career for a select group of people. The up-front cost is not dissimilar from any profession. About 100 grand, several years of “paying dues” (building skills, or “hours” as this profession likes to say), and you’re likely to see 80 grand with an open door (if you go to Detroit, Newark, or JFK/LaGuardia) to more. At 10 years you should be well into six figures. So, doing some basic financial modeling will likely bear this all out if you take the time to do it for yourself. Where it gets tricky is going back to being a little fish in a very big pond; being the old guy learning the ropes from a 33 year old with lightning reflexes and a great grasp on a highly technical “foreign” body of knowledge.

My situation is a little murkier (though maybe others are in my same position). The money and security in my line of work are superb. If a promotion comes through at the end of this month in my current job, if I choose to fly for a living instead, I’ll be walking away from hundreds of thousands of dollars and a chance to be the pinnacle of my peer group.

I wish you the very best of luck and, who knows, maybe you’ll be my instructor at ATP next year in Richmond - it’s a possible location for me because I like the area.


Thanks. I read your other post and it was helpful. I am pretty realistic and not in this for the money. I left a well paying career to pursue my passion and will think it was worth it if I get to fly each day for a living.

Thanks. I was in a similar boat as you, but decided to take the plunge as I felt I would never do it if I didn’t do it now.

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When I said you needed to be realistic about your expectations I wasn’t just talking about money. Many people have certain “bucket list” items they want to check. For some it’s money, others it’s not. Myself I always wanted to fly a 747 and that simply isn’t going to ever happen but I’m fine with that. It’s things like that I’m referring to when I say expectations.


…now or never…you are likely right. Good luck!

I just turned 45 on Saturday. I am working on my PPL and leaving a very profitable career after 18 years. But, I want to fly and cannot imagine myself doing what I am currently doing for another 20 years. Go for it. You only live once.

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Thanks Adam. I understood what you meant and while flying a 747 would be awesome, I understand that I won’t get there. I fully understood the challenges of a late entry when I began, but it’s nice to get some perspective of someone who went through it.

Power to you Seuk,

I am two months away from being 39, I just finished my PPL. I also am married with three kids. After mowing it over in my mind for quite a while I decided to go for it. It is definitely a lot of work, especially once the excitement of a big change wears off. But I know we won’t regret it! I wish you the best.

Hi Seuk, thanks for your post. It caught my eye because I’m in a similar boat with three kids, leaving a well-paying career (I’m a lawyer) and also planning on starting in Richmond in the next few months, so it looks like we will be coming up together! (I haven’t registered my official start date yet as I’m finalizing the logistics of leaving my job in Hong Kong and moving to Richmond, but I’m looking at the beginning of October to start). Let’s keep in touch

Definitely, let’s keep in touch. Good luck with your transition!