Career Path Leap of Faith

Hi all,

My name is Kyle and I’ve had a long life passion for airplanes. I had a goal at a young age of 7 to be a fighter pilot, but sadly didn’t follow that path or even try. As years have gone by, I haven’t been able to afford ATP’s cost, nor could I go to an aviation school because I was already enrolled in a different, non aviation school. Now, I am 28 with a recent B.S degree in software engineering making good money at a great company. Over the past 2 years of working at this company, I have saved money and built some equity to the point where I can now get the loan I need for ATP and am taking a leap of faith to make a massive career change.

I have a mortgage, bills, and other people living with me to take care of. I have saved enough to barley make it through the 9 month course with no job, plus my girlfriend will be assisting as well. My point I am trying to make is I am tremendously terrified to leave such stability to go on a bumpy journey. While I am insanely excited about this path, the human nature of fear, to survive, kicks in and scares me about the future.

However, my current career isn’t cutting it and doesn’t make me happy like flying does. I know I will love flying as a career because I knew at the age of 7. I flew for the first time at the age of about 24 (and only twice since) and felt nothing better than being in control of such beauty. I absolutely love airshows, I love staring at planes, I love watching airplanes land at airports, I love looking up at them as they fly by from anywhere (no matter where I am I take a second to stop and glance at a plane in the sky). The point I am trying to make is I have absolutely no doubts in my mind that being a pilot will fully satisfy my needs to constantly be in the air.

I am looking for someone who may have been somewhere close to my situation and offer advice, or just in general, I am looking for some words of wisdom/guidance/encouragement from people in the industry who enjoy planes as much as I do.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.


If you browse this forum you’ll find the vast majority of the pilots have had their reservations, fears, concerns about “taking the leap”. For everyone I know, $80k is a large investment and then factor not working for 9mos and yes things can get down right scary. When I made the decision I was older and it was kind of a “now or never” that pushed me. What I can tell you (and I’ve said this often) is my ONLY regret is I didn’t do it sooner.

If it gives you any comfort at all (and it should) is that we are literally in the best environment this industry has EVER seen, EVER. When I started Regional salaries were below $20k and just getting an interview was a major accomplishment. In truth probably half the pilots I met when I trained at ATP never made it. But things are dramatically different now. Salaries have doubled, there are signing bonuses and tuition reimbursement and best of all the demand for pilots is unprecedented. What that means is provided you do well in training and have no significant blemishes on your record YOU WILL GET HIRED. In fact the different airlines will be fighting over you. Further more the Majors seem to be making the path easier as well by setting up flow-thros and mentoring programs.

Bottomline, while this is still a major life decision and you’re smart to be somewhat apprehensive, it’s ALOT less scary then it was and the results will be based on YOU and your performance vs some random good fortune.



Your feelings of fear and uncertainty is very common. Leaving a stable life behind to pursue a career in aviation can be exciting and frightening at the same time. Not to say that aviation isn’t a stable career, it just takes about 5-10 years to reach the equivalent salary one is used to earning. So, trust me when I say you’re not alone in how you feel. I think it’s actually good you feel that way. I have no doubt that you will use that as motivation to dedicate as much time and energy as you can to be successful.

As you start on this path I recommend that you keep the end goal in mind, but focus on one rating at a time and don’t forget to ENJOY the experience. Don’t let yourself be your own worst enemy. Be proactive, take initiative, and have faith in the process.

Lastly, if you haven’t already, read through the articles in the FAQ section. You’ll find a lot of helpful information in there. Should help put some of your concerns at ease by setting realistic expectations.


1 Like


Welcome to the forums. When you say you have only flown twice, does that mean actually flown the aircraft or just been a passenger on one? If you haven’t actually piloted an airplane, you need to.

I would have more than nine month’s worth of expenses saved up before starting the program as you just never know what might come up and you don’t need that added stress. Keep in mind that many students take out an extra amount per month in the form of a stipend to help cover additional expenses.

I am not sure what to tell you about the fear that you are having, other than that fear is likely what has kept you from flying all along. At some point you will either need to confront the fear and go for it, or just continue to wonder “what if…”


We all have jobs were not happy at, having enough koney to iust get by for 9 months is risky especially if you have people who depend on you. Having a love of planes and airshows are great but career is completely different. Wish you well and hope you reach your goals just be able to look at yourself and truthfully say this is what you want and can deal with the ups and downs.

Wow, it’s great to know that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. I appreciate y’alls feedback.

When I said I’ve flown, I meant physically piloting the aircraft. I have done so three separate times and have never felt more relaxed than when in the pilot seat. I have flown as a passenger commercially dozens of times as well and thoroughly enjoy just being in the air.

I will definitely look at the FAQ for additional info.

I appreciate all of your feedback. I am actually set to start with ATP end of January. No going back now. While nervous, I’m still very excited to pursue my love and passion.


Talk to your wife about the travel bennies. She can come with you on overnights and when you’re not working you can see the World. Usually works pretty well :wink:



That is great that you already have a start date set. Now get cracking on those written exams, it is by far the best thing you can do to get ahead during the program.


Adam, say what about these overnights? :grin:

Chris, already two weeks into my ground school :slightly_smiling_face:


Simple. You have a trip to say San Antonio with a 24hr overnight (or more). You and Mrs Kyle have never been. You check the loads for the flight, lots of open seats, you say “hey honey throw some stuff in a bag we’re going to San Antonio for the night”. Flight’s free, hotel is free, wife posts pics on Instagram of you in the cockpit followed by pics by the pool, the Alamo and you guys having juevos rancheros for breakfast. Kyle’s a rockstar! :slight_smile:



Toronto and Orange County on a work trip, then Venice on days off, first class of course.



1 Like

Yeah budday, sounds pretty sweet too me!