Building flight hours

I would like to know the fastest way to build to to reach 1500 hours… I didn’t started flight school yet I just want to know before I dive into this career I love airplanes every thing about it ever since I was a kid .

Also am 21 with high school diploma. I would like to work for the regional and take online classes to get a major is that possible ?

One more thing I have $750,000 laying around do u think I should just buy a 30k airplane to build time ??

Thanks for ur help in advance.


The one thing you don’t mention is if you have any flight experience at all? While you may “love airplanes every thing about it” until you’ve actually sat in a small plane with your hands on the controls you honestly don’t know.

As far as building time, it’s not just 1500hrs total time but there are other requirements as well (night, instrument, multi engine) so your $30k airplane might not allow you to fulfill them all. More important when it comes to getting hired it’s not just the QUANTITY of time the airlines want it’s the QUALITY and frankly you buzzing around in your own plane for 1500hrs isn’t going to impress anyone. Flight instructors are forced to multi task and demonstrate their skills on a daily basis. Those are the kinds of hours airlines want. It’s not a race it’s about becoming the most skilled and qualified pilot you can become.


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I understand thanks Adam I’m glad ur the one to reply to me and ur right flighting around in my own airplane won’t teach me a lot I’ll probably take the cfi route

And I never fly a plane before I scheduled a flight tour with heritage flight Academy tomorrow got cancel because or rain so my first flight will be Wednesday

Great, let us know how it goes.


PS: and you might want to start working on your grammar. Believe it or not that stuff counts.


I’m curious as to how much time would be recommended as a CFI if you had the majority of your 1500 hours in a personal aircraft?

Myself, as well as a couple of my friends, have been flying for years in GA aircraft. All 3 of us are thinking about flying for the Regionals for our last 10 years or so. I’ll use myself as an example:

1350TT ASEL (personal aircraft for 1250hrs)
PPL w/ Instrument

I was initially thinking of applying to ATP for the 6 month program which would put me over the 1500 hours at completion. If more time is needed before I would be considered for a FO Position, I would certainly like to factor that into my decision.



I recommend CFI time more for the experience than anything else. If you’ve got the required time, I certainly wouldn’t delay my entry.

Training with ATP would indeed get over the 1500hrs as well as getting you the required ME rating and Comm Pilot license (you would be repeating your IFR stuff but that will only make you a better instrument pilot). The fact is the Regionals need bodies and as long as you have the hours and required licenses and ratings (barring any other blemishes on your record) you could go straight from ATP to a Regional. If you have any doubts or questions, I’d contact the Regional(s) of your choice and ask them directly.



I personally feel that CFI time is the best possible time one can build, but I would not let it stop me from applying to the regionals. With the amount of flight time you have, coupled with the fact that you have your instrument, I would find a local school that could help you get your commercial multi and then just fly the next 150 hours to get to the magic 1,500. With the hiring environment the way it is, there really is no reason to get your CFIs at all. You might find that it is easier and less expensive to get your commercial single, then your commercial multi, you would need to talk to the school about that one.


Thanks for your quick response Adam and Chris! I’ve been debating between both options.

It would be interesting, if not slightly entertaining, to debate the differences between CFI experience and personal flying, but this is probably not the forum to do it. :smile:

I am curious if you have the opportunity during the interview to elaborate on your flying experience and how what you’ve learned can be applied to your new career. Or is the interview focused more on verifying your knowledge, ratings, and time? In other words, do you have the opportunity to sell yourself?

As always, thanks for your insight.

  • Rob


You can feel free to debate anything you like on this forum, although most everybody on here went the CFI route.

An airline interview will focus on everything you mentioned. Typically there are “tell me about a time…” Type questions that will allow you to elaborate on your flying experiences.


Any idea what this is about?

My guess is a typo. The 1,500 hour rule is a FAA requirement.


Well it says “accepting applications” with the following mins. I take that as IF you’ve got 1300hrs than send your stuff in and we’ll interview you and give you a class date a few months away so you can reach 1500hrs. Further you can’t take the ATP written without completing the ATP-CTP course which virtually nobody does since it’s costly and if you get hired the Regional will do it for you. Really doesn’t make sense since if you’ve got your ATP written it means you took the ATP-CTP so why wouldn’t you have your ATP?


Gotcha. Thanks for the response.

Hello Adam,

I have my CPL (ASEL/AMEL; instrument). I don’t have the funds to obtain my CFI nor am I interested in getting it to be honest. I can’t seem to find a company regardless of what it is (banner towing, aerial survey, skydiving) that will take me with 250 hours. What is your recommendation? How do the airlines expect us to build 1500 hours if some of us aren’t able to go the CFI route.

Thank you,



The vast majority of pilots go the CFI route, it is the tried and true path. My recommendation is to either get your CFIs, or find out what kind of flight time banner towers, etc are looking for and then try to find a way to obtain the hours.


Do you recommend getting an airport job? Or maybe even the army?


Being quite frank, how you build your hours isn’t the airline’s problem. There’s also an old saying, “where there’s a will there’s a way”. As Chris pointed the majority of pilots flight instruct but as you said “you’re not interested in getting” your CFI. If you haven’t been successful finding other flying jobs my recommendation is to LOOK HARDER.

There’s currently a pilot shortage in this country and there are many jobs to be found. You may have expand your area and it may mean relocating, or getting more creative in your search, but if you truly aspire to fly for the airlines you’ll do what you need to do.

As for the military ask any pilot who’s currently serving if they think building flight time is a good reason to join up and they will tell you no.


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I appreciate you’re advice Adam and Chris. I will be patient and try looking harder, I’ve been looking everywhere even if it means relocating but most of them are interested in me once I get 500 hours. Worst case I’ll get an airport job with my degree and try to get my CFI or build my hours with my savings from the paycheck.
I don’t want to give up on my dream so I hope that hard work and patience will lead me to build my hours.


Some of my students have had success finding low time jobs doing aerial photography.



With 250 hours? And if you know any of the companies can you please give me the company name. I’ve tried the well known ones like air choice one, ravn alaska, etc.