Hello current and future pilots,
Why am I so fearful of washing out? I haven’t even started! I’m about to embark on a career change, go into debt, join a class of individuals half my age, give up good income for a few years only with the hope of at least making it to the regionals.
I loved my admissions flight but know there’s a heck of a lot more to it. Thankfully, at least, I live next door to ATP Morristown so training will be close to home for the most part.
What are the characteristics of a successful trainee? Or, what are the warning signs of someone who’s at risk for washing out? Is the passion for flying sufficient to stay motivated through even the most difficult days of study?
I’ve been scouring this forum and other websites for assurance and see a lot more on the side of encouragement which is great but, not so much about the realities of the older individual making it through the rigors of ATP and airline training. Maybe I haven’t searched the forum hard enough?
Currently, as an accountant, one of my traits other than hating Excel, is to not like surprises or take unnecessary risks. My non-accountant side wants to make the leap and appears to be winning; am just looking for a reason(s) to push me over the edge I guess. Anyway, I hope one day to be on the inside and be sharing my successful experience to the outside.
Hey Rob. I’m not sure how old you are, but I am a current student at ATP Morristown. I am 39, and left a good career working at a hospital to follow my dream of being a pilot. I was afraid of washing out from day 1. As with everyone, I took out a huge loan and my wife is currently footing all the bills. (Thank goodness we could make it work.) I am at the airport almost every day. I started in January, and have studied extremely hard to get to where I am at. (PPL and Instrument checkrides passed, Commercial coming up.) There is a group of students who are there daily studying, helping one another.
I will admit, the program is tough! I have been out of school for over 15 years, so getting back in to studying was quite the challenge for me. I believe my passion and enjoyment of being in the air is keeping me motivated to study hard and continue on this path. Sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith.
Thanks, I admire your courage for making that leap. I met with Sebastian who took me on my admissions flight and explained things are pretty structured so I suppose I’d have some guided pace to follow. Are you at the airport constantly or do you have time to decompress? Thanks.
P.s. good luck on your next checkride.
I decompress as often as I can. If I’m not flying late I leave by 6 pm. So I’m probably there from 9-6 every day unless I have flights outside of that timeframe. I try to do all of my studying at school to be able to relax at home. Sebastian is actually my instructor! Smart kid.
It is very normal to have these thoughts, I think all of us did at some point. I was not a career changer, but I was a 22 year old kid thinking: “what have I done? I just took out a huge loan with no obvious way of paying it back”. Of course it all worked out in the end.
Tory wrote a great post on what it takes for an ATP student to be successful, check it out: What does an ATP student need to do to be successful?
I actually believe you’re fear (or concern) is a good thing. It’s the overconfident youngins who haven’t left the ground yet but are wondering if they’ll look better in Delta double breasted or United single that make me shake my head.
I started at 39 and owned a couple of pretty successful restaurants. Keep in mind this was at a time when the industry was nowhere near how it is now and you were very fortunate just to get an interview, let alone hired. Thing was I hated was I was doing and made the decision I at least had to try.
I won’t lie, ATP was VERY challenging and newhire training at the Regionals was worse. I believe the single greatest characteristic that made me successful was failure was literally not an option. I had sold my business, had no job to fall back on and a family to support. If that isn’t motivation enough I don’t know what is? (Forget love of flying, how about love of eating and having a roof over your head).
You’re extremely fortunate in the fact if you are successful in training (unless you’ve got some skeletons in your closet) you will get hired at the very least by a Regional and those salaries are 3 times what they were when Chris and I started.
While there are no guarantees of you’re willing to put in the work you’ll be a successful. ATP will provide you with the tools you need. The rest is on you.
Thanks Bill, not sure if one gets to select their instructor but it would be great if I can pick him. I appreciated his clarity and the experience seemed natural during my admissions flight with him.
Thanks Chris, the article was on point and addresses a lot of my concerns. I’ll certainly look into taking the writtens beforehand as well.
That’s a fair, and more realistic, point on motivation. I suppose I’d have a job to fall back on but Ms. Sallie Mae would be pissed and be running offense looking for payback before I could make it to the grocery to get food for the table. So, agreed. Failure is not an option.
You did mention something about skeletons - I’m assuming you mean a clean background check? My closet is bare (I hope) but, would there be incidents not covered by other background checks obtained for employment, firearms ID, or CBP Global Entry that would hinder one’s ability to make it to the airlines? I’m curious but wasn’t overly concerned enough to look for this topic in the forum.
I was mainly referring to any criminal record (particularly drug or alcohol related. Neither the airlines nor the FAA are fond of either). Understand flying the public is a huge responsibility. Additionally you’ll be given airport access beyond that of the public so know they will be a very thorough background check. If there’s going to be something that trips you up I’m certain you already know about it.
Thanks for the clarification, makes perfect sense. No skeletons.
I’m so grateful for your post as I just began researching which school to attend being 38 myself and I have heard ATP isn’t what it used to be regarding their reputation but I think it just depends on the location. I definitely feel the same as you and it’s scary to think about a career change.
Hi Barron, good luck in your search. The various forums can drown you with all the criticisms but I tune out the Debbie Downers until I experience it for myself. I’ve almost always found the gripe didn’t live up to the hype. Who knows, maybe it’s just my personality. My limited Morristown ATP experience has been professional. Am just doing the budget now and making sure my support system is in place so that my leap will be feasible.
I would encourage you all to check out the “Student Experiences” section of this forum. We in no way edit those posts, what you see is what you get,
Barron & Rob,
Please visit the Student Experiences section on the forum, there are handfuls of firsthand experiences from current and previous students. The other best option at fingertips is get a tour of a nearby facility to you and schedule an Admission Flight to get your firsthand experiences as a “Day 1” student.