Big Career Change to Pilot at 30, but

Hey guys,

I have a quick questions about becoming a pilot. I really want to begin the training required to become a commercial pilot one day because I love flying, but I don’t want to devote the time and money if it is something out of my grasp. I am 30 years old today, but when I was 17 a girl accused me of doing something sexual that I didn’t do. Long story short, I was scared of the sexual battery charges leveled against me since my attorney said at the end of the day it was my word against hers and the prosecutor was known for trying to “make a name for themselves”. She told me whether I did it or not, it was a coin toss at the end of the day. So I took a plea bargain of a child abuse charge where they withheld adjudication(so not convicted, atleast in florida).

Because I didn’t do it, I have absolutely no problem being honest about what happened on FAA forms and interviews. I just know that sometimes people don’t believe you, or don’t care regardless of how long ago or how honest you are being. That is fine, and I have to accept that is a part of life, I just want to know the truth before I waste the money trying to achieve something that is impossible.

I am currently a successful software engineer and make over six figures at a major company, so I am not hurting for a job or money. I just really like flying and would like to change to this career if possible.

Just so that the question is clear: Is it impossible to be a regional commercial pilot? a slim chance? or totally possible?

2nd question is the same, but for a major airline like AA, Delta, United, etc: Is it impossible to be a legacy commercial pilot? a slim chance? or totally possible?

Oh, side question you guys may ask. The only other things I have ever had on my record was a speeding ticket when I was 16 and again at 28.(both times I was only going 9 or less over, so basically just paid the fine and moved on.)

Thanks in advance for the help!


The speeding tickets are not an issue.

The child abuse one is a completely different story. Were you convicted as a minor or as an adult?


Hey thanks for the response Chris!
It was as an adult.(Was 18 when I took the plea, and it had moved to adult courts by then, though initially it was juvenile)
Side Note: Not sure if this actually matters or not because this could just be a Florida thing, but when I accepted the plea bargain, I pled nolo and had withheld adjudication, so not convicted. Atleast that is what my attorney said. Again this was in florida, so not sure if this is the same everywhere.

Also not sure if this matters, but I have a four year bachelors degree in computer science. This likely changes nothing, but just thought I would mention it since I saw somewhere else that bachelors degrees matter. Though in my case, likely not at all because of my record…


Honestly, I am not sure how this will affect you or if it even has to be reported as the medical asks for “history of non traffic convictions”. I am also not sure how the airlines would ask this question on an interview; if they ask if you have ever been charged or ever convicted, I really do not know, this is un-chartered territory for me. I recommend that you call the recruiting departments of a few regional airlines and ask them directly.


Great idea! Thanks again for the help! I realize that sometimes in life, things just don’t work out. But I atleast like to try. Again, huge help, and thank you!

Oh sorry, last question here:

Does this mean that its pretty much a no for major and legacy airlines though? Or if I can get to a regional, there is a chance at a major or legacy?


I am really not sure about that either. I bet Adam will chime in here in a bit, he has more experience sitting on interview panels.


oh ok awesome! And thanks again!


This is a tough one. Honestly airlines don’t like criminal records as a general rule. If you’re record is clean otherwise and don’t have to register as a sex offender in theory you should be fine. The problem is when it comes down to the actual interview it’s literally a bunch of pilots thinking trying to decide if you’re someone they want to fly with? Get one person on the panel with a 17yo daughter and it could be a really short interview.

There really is no easy answer but I do think you should be able to fly professionally in some capacity but as always the are no guarantees.


Hey Adam thanks for the answer. Like I said, I know that sometimes people just don’t believe you, and that just happens. Glad you were able to give me this info! I am going to do what Chris suggested and email a couple of regional airlines and see what there take is.
It took me alot of years to forgive the person that lied about me, but ultimately I have been able to just move on. However its times like this when it makes me frustrated all over again that it happened. Thanks again for all the help guys! What you guys are doing here is awesome!