I’ve been reading the forum and finally decided to join.
I’ll tell you a bit about me and my story so I can give you guys an idea of my situation.
I’m 38 years old, currently doing law enforcement in NY, married with 2 small children and I know for a fact I have to work for at least another 20 years.
With the environment we’re living and public opinion on law enforcement I decided I wanted to go after my childhood dream and become a pilot.
I’ve done research on schools, cost, training, etc.
I am very interested in ATP career pilot program but I was considering getting my PPL first before committing just to make sure being a pilot is for me, as I know it involves a lot of things and it’s not easy task.
My idea was to do this on my own time while trying to save some money then eventually going into ATP knowing that I’ll be without a job for about 9 months.
I just want to hear some opinions and suggestions so I can have a better understanding of what will be like once I take the first step.
Thank you in advance for all your help and stay safe.
I actually took the plunge and made the career change at 39. I think at least starting your PPL training to make sure this is a good fit is a great idea. My only comment is literally my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. This is an amazing career and I can’t imagine how I did anything else. I’m now 56 and have done pretty well (I’m a Capt at a Major). There are older and younger pilots. I’m ahead career wise compared to others and behind a few. Now that I’m in my last 10yrs I really just wish I had more time. My airline’s getting 787s but I’ll never see the left seat of one. It’s not even being able to fly the plane it’s just having the opportunity to be at the top of the food chain.
I would urge you to not wait too long and get started sooner than later. I’m sure you’d like to be in a better situation financially but the money at the backend ($350+) is probably better than you’re seeing now and every month you delay thanks money you’ll never see.
I always recommend earning your PPL first if you’re not sure. So, if that’s how you feel then you should start there and see how it goes. Remember you will also need 78+ hours total time before enrolling at ATP.
That said, earning your PPL on your own time also has its disadvantages. Time and money should not be taken for granted. If you’re progressing steadily it should take you no longer than 3 months to earn your PPL and cost you no more than $15k and that’s generous. Ideally you should shoot for $10k, but rates vary and you may require extra flight time to finish. It would be in your best interest to discuss these goals with your CFI to set expectations early.
If you want to read candid testimonies of current and former ATP students and CFIs, the Student Experiences section is a good resource. In general flight training at ATP is challenging. Many claim it’s the most challenging thing they’ve accomplished, myself included. But with the right attitude and work ethic, the program delivers exactly what it promises and has been for over 35 years.
So even though I kinda don’t like asking hypothetical questions, I’m going to be a hypocrite and ask you two of them…
Do you think that you would be the same person you are today without that time as a restaurateur? (ie. the same successes in flightschool/airlines)
Also if you were young enough to hold the left seat of the 787, would you bid it? If I remember correctly, aren’t you kinda over the whole international flying thing?
To begin with, thank you for your service as a law enforcement officer, I for one am very appreciative of what you do.
If you are not 100% sure that being a pilot is right for you, then I do recommend doing flight training first, either going all the way to your Private license or at least until your first solo. Keep in mind though that it will not really save you any money. Many flight schools advertise a bargain basement price on obtaining a private license, but they base that off of the FAA minimum hours. The reality is that most people take much more flight time and that either way, you will need 78 hours of flight time to enter ATP (this is to meet certain FAA minimums later in the program). So when you base your Private training off of 78 hours, I bet you will find that you do not actually save any money on it.
I got my private outside of ATP, it was a disaster. It took way longer than it should have and cost much more than I was originally quoted. This is a very familiar theme with local flight schools.
I want to thank all of you who have answered some of my questions and concerns.
As I stated after 12 years of law enforcement in the City of NY I feel like I lost the passion for this job (not disgruntle at all), I don’t hate it but realized that this is not I wanna do for the next 8-10 years.
I can say that I’ve been on many stressful situations that could probably help me in a career as a pilot. However, I don’t mean by this that they are similar careers or that it’s a given that I can make it as a pilot. All I know is that I do have the drive and the passion for aviation since I was a kid. Just doing research on the topic gets me excited. I’m one of those who used to play flight simulator when I got my first computer and know all models of planes, basically someone who loves aviation but back in the mid-late 90’s living in the Dominican Republic I didn’t have the means to pursue a career as a pilot. I finished high school in ‘99. Moved to NY in ‘03 after doing some college back home, then got an associate degree here in the US and became a cop in ‘08. A lot has changed since then and I first considered doing 20 years, retiring and starting my pilot training. Then, and sorry for the redundancy, I felt this is wasn’t for me anymore. Public opinion, politics and quality of life affected this job enormously and that’s the reason why I decided to give a shot to the pilot career.
On the other hand, having small kids, a mortgage and responsibilities makes it hard to just quit and go to let’s say ATP from the get go not knowing how I’m gonna do as far as training and exams. I do believe in myself since I know me better than anyone else and I’m the type who can be an excellent student as long as I enjoy what I’m studying (that’s why I’m optimistic), but I know I gotta be realistic as well. So, my idea was to get my PPL first just to get a feel (I did a discovery flight years ago and it was great and I’ve never lost the love for planes lol). But, I see how some people think I’d be better off starting from zero at a flying academy?
In my personal case, my wife has a career in the medical/health field so financially she could probably hold things down for 9 months but I want it to make it as short as possible so she doesn’t carry all the load of supporting the house and family.
Also, I can always take a year of unpaid leave to try the pilot training and if it doesn’t work I can always come back to being a police officer and complete my 20 years.
Finally, my idea is to relocate to Florida in the near future and I think I would be happy as a regional pilot since I wouldn’t be pursuing the big big money (although having a loan would probably make me change my mind) and since I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) quality of life could be better in a regional as far as spending time at home.
Again, thank you all for the input and sorry for the long reply just hope by explaining myself I can get different opinions and points of view to make educated choices.
Obviously it’s hard to say and these are things we can only speculate about. I’d like to think all my life experiences had a purpose and were part of the journey bla bla bla but I’m really not sure I effectively convey how much I love my job now! I’m on Reserve this month and we’re really fat on pilots so I wasn’t anticipating getting called at all. Yesterday am my phone rang at 0400 and woke me up. It was scheduling apologizing for the early call and assigning me a trip. I was absolutely giddy! As I get older I’m more aware of the finite amount of time I can fly and honestly it makes me sad so that’s where I’m coming from.
As for the 787, you’re right and in truth I have zero desire to fly long haul but if you read my post it’s more about having the ability to. I hate being told I can’t.
Obviously it’s up to you to decide to get your PPL first or jump into ATP’s program. The nice thing about starting from zero with ATP is that you start learning ATP’s way of training from day one. Everyone that trains elsewhere for their PPL has to unlearn the bad habits that they picked up from their instructor. Not a deal breaker. Just a fact.
You’ve presented us with a couple of scenarios. I can’t say which idea you presented is best. This is a personal decision that you and your family will have to make together. I know you’ve already taken an intro flight, but perhaps taking an intro flight at an ATP training center might help you make your decision? Just call ATP to schedule.
You may be happy at a regional, but you don’t need to figure that out right now. Focus on figuring out how you want to approach your flight training. You can contemplate your quality of life once you’re at a regional.
Here are some more resources that I like to share with everyone in the research phase: https://airlinepilot.life/c/frequently-asked-questions/19
Please keep in mind that in order to make the jump to the majors, you will need to obtain a four year degree. The good news is that you are already half way there and there are many schools that will enable you to complete a degree online while at the regionals.
Yes I know it’s a lot to process and some hard personal decisions to make but slowly as I do my research my goal becomes more clear. I’m actually going to Florida soon so I’m gonna reach out to the ATP academy in Daytona Beach to see if they’re open and scheduling discovery flights. (I will let you all know how it goes).
After to reading some of the comments I see that getting my PPL first wouldn’t save me money or time as I thought it would, so I’m inclining more towards starting from zero at a flying academy. Besides, even if I can find a school to get for my PPL for 10K, I don’t have the extra cash so most likely I would be getting a loan if I want to get started ASAP. With that being said, financially it doesn’t look like the best option as I could end up with 2 loans.
Lastly, I have read that the good flying academies will reimburse you in case you can’t complete the program so it makes me feel somehow better knowing that if things don’t workout I won’t be stuck with a loan for something I didn’t finish.
I’ll continue my research and I’ll try to talk to other students from different academies so I can have a better general idea in order to take the next steps.
ATP will reimburse you for the portion of your training you do not complete, ie hours not flown, but they will not fully reimburse you if you do not complete training. There is not a single flight school in the country that will make that kind of guarantee, I think you are a bit mistaken on that.
Make sure to call ahead and schedule your introductory flight before you head down to Florida.
So yes I’m confused on that part…
Let’s say I start training with ATP and I can’t complete the program due to not being proficient, then in that case I’m terminated from the program and won’t get reimbursed? Is that how it works?
Also, I called ATP today to schedule an intro flight and the person I spoke to asked if I was interested in the career pilot program and I said yes. Then, she said the intro flight is not just a fly for fun flight, it’s more like an interview to determine my acceptance into the program. Is that correct?
I asked if I did an intro flight did I have to make a decision right away and she replied that the intro flight it’s to determine if I’m accepted and that I have to answer a series of question over the phone in order to be able to schedule it.
Not sure if that’s procedure or if things have changed.
Please advice on that.
Thanks for your help,
If you withdrew or washed out, the balance of your flight hours would be refunded. Chris simply didn’t want you to have the impression you’d get all you money back, loan paid and your done. Doesn’t work that way.
As for the Intro flight it gives you the opportunity to meet ATP and the training environment. It also gives ATP the opportunity to meet you. The reality is not every one can or should be a pilot. It’s not rocket science but it does require a fair amount of intelligence and coordination. No one is expecting you to show up with any pilot skills. They do however expect you to show up dressed like a grown up, speak coherently, be able to follow basic instructions and most important don’t freak out. So long as you can do that you’ll be fine. The person on the phone was basically giving you the disclaimer that ATP can decline training if it’s clear you might not be instructable. Make sense?
Ok that makes sense and I called again and spoke to a different person. Eric, and he was extremely helpful and nice. I scheduled my demo flight and asked some of the questions I had, so I’m good to go for the end of the month. Just hope the weather is good on that day.
As far as attire, I was thinking a pair of khakis with a polo? Similar to what I see the wear and casual shoes not sneakers. Would that be fine?
Randy relax and enjoy it. I have no doubt you’ll be fine.
I am glad that you got to speak with Eric today, he has been with ATP for a very long time and is a great resource.
Don’t expect to show up and be a professional pilot for your introductory flight, it is just a chance for you to get to see the school and ask your questions first hand. Relax and enjoy the experience, don’t put oo much pressure on yourself to perform in a certain manner.
As for clothes, a polo and khakis will be fine. I personally feel that business loafers are the only acceptable footwear unless one is actually working out, but that is just me
Oh I’m glad to hear that I got to speak to him too, he sounds like a young guy but he mentioned he was with ATP back when 9/11 happened so I figured that yeah he’s been there for a while.
Also, thanks for the advice and I’ll post to let everyone know how it went.
Chris is very knowledgeable and a tremendous resource EXCEPT when it comes to footwear. Go ahead and ask him about his socks!
I decided to cancel my demo flight (sadly ) because unfortunately after speaking to Kirk from ATP financing department, I found out I won’t be able to get a loan due to a “blemish“ on my credit which is too recent.
I appreciate everyone’s help and input and maybe it wasn’t for me so I’ll try to stay positive.
Stay safe everybody.
I am sorry to hear that. Hang in there and re-apply whenever Kirk recommend to. HE is the expert on all such things.