Career Change at 35 / Domicile Selection

Hi all,
I’m 35 years old and have been flying recreationally since I got my PPL when I was 22. I’ve had a few false starts on my instrument rating but have enough hours and should be able to complete my instrument check ride in the next month. I’ve logged about 350 hours total time with most in a C182 my dad and I share (with a good amount of X-country time). I’m currently assessing whether it would be feasible to change careers and commit full-time to the remainder the ratings (commercial, multi-engine, CFI, CFII, etc.) en route to ATP cert but am unsure the best path? I’m thinking regionals and then majors or maybe corporate.

Also, I live in the Detroit metro am wondering how easy it would be to get DTW as my home base (with either Endeavor or SkyWest initially and then Delta or Spirit eventually) or if this is completely up to chance. My wife would probably not go for relocation and I’d really like to avoid commuting if possible.

Thanks all!


The best route is what works best for you. If you’re serious about doing this for a living then there’s no question completing all the rest of your training in just 5mos, and then having ALL ATPs airline partnerships is without question the best route. That said not everyone can take 5mos off completely and then live on Instructor salary until they hit 1500hrs. But if you can you should.

My understanding is DTW is a mid seniority base for a few airlines. Getting there has absolutely nothing to do with chance. It’s based on seniority and once you have enough you can go where you like. Until then you’d simply have to commute like most pilots do.



ATP has two entry points, zero flight time and credit for PPL. Just know that if you get your instrument and still want to go to ATP, you will do the instrument training agin, minus the checkride and that there will not be a change to the course fee.

There are no guarantees, but I do not see getting DTW as being too difficult. It is all driven by seniority and who hires you, but there is generally not a huge crush of demand for people wanting to enjoy Michigan winters.



First step is calling admissions to determine if ATP is an option. Can’t say it is but I met a new pilot at my home airport FBO Charter who started at ATP in Commercial with 600 hours and finished a year ago.



Just because you’ve had a few false starts on your instrument rating in your personal training is not the end of the world. Everyone runs into hiccups here and there, it is bound to happen. We can’t say which would be the best route for you because ultimately it comes down to you, the pilot. However, with your circumstances, if you want the benefit of ATP’s partnerships and access to airlines, it’s not to late to start Credit Private in ATP’s program full-time. I’m not sure the distance between you and Willow Run Airport (YIP), but that would be ATP’s closest training facility based on a quick assessment if you live in Michigan.

Looking at ATP’s Airline Domiciles Map, there are quiet a few bases in Michigan. If you’re curious about Skywest and Endeavor, I would reach out to a recruiter for both and see what they say about seniority and base holding. In fact, if you attended ATP’s program you could apply for both SkyWest Cadet Program and Endeavor Air Program.