Considering starting this journey + vision question

Hello everyone!

I just graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from UC Irvine (yesterday actually) and am strongly considering starting this journey to becoming an airline pilot now that I have the time to fully dedicate my life to this. I don’t want to stagnate sitting behind a desk in a regular job. That has always been something I’ve thought about throughout my years studying engineering.

I’ve always been interested in learning how to fly and it seems like such a badass job. The first step I’m going to take is going to my optometrist to get an updated check on my vision since I’m wearing contacts. Are there any certain vision minimums I must meet before being able to fly? Do the airlines have different vision requirements or is it standard across the board?


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Graduated with a BS in aerospace engineering in may. Started atp in Tampa last Monday. Do it!


Did you get your PPL from a flight school? I’m thinking of getting it first from a flight school and then going to ATP to get instrument and the rest of the ratings.


For the airlines you will need to have vision that is corrected to 20/20, glasses or contacts will be fine.


I have 20/30 vision, does that mean on every flight I have to were my glasses

Yes, that is what Chris just said above.

I did do my Private separate while I was in college. For me, I had to do something to get my mind out of the classroom. I would recommend doing the atp program from zero time as compared to getting your Private elsewhere, as I’m sure the mentors will agree. Also, the common reply to any similar situation is make sure you go fly a small plane on an intro flight to make sure it is something you want to do before diving in and spending s small fortune.

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Yes, every single flight.

I also did my private separate while I was in college. For a whole host of reasons I would not recommend doing this. Stay focused on one thing at a time.

Yeah I’m now done with college and am completely able to focus 100% of my energy and time to doing something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ll definitely go up on a discovery flight to test it out.

Is it better to start out with ATP with zero experience? Or would you recommend going to a local school and getting my privates before going to ATP to do the rest of my certifications.

The reason I ask is because there is a 13K difference listed on their website between coming in with no experience and having a PPL already, and I know I can get my PPL for less than 13K.

I believe that it is far better to go all the way through with ATP. That way your training is consistent all the way through, it saves you having to transition from your old school to a new school. Plus, ATP is just so much more efficient at training pilots than most other schools, especially small ones.

Don’t forget that you need 80 hours to enroll at atp as a credit for private student. Although you can get your license in way less hours you will still have to pay to build up to the 80 hour mark, therefore the costs will be higher. If I was going back to start over, I would have done atp from zero as I would have saved so much time, and that time is worth a lot of money to me.


The only reason I ever recommend getting your PPL first is if you have any doubts about your desire and or abilities. Otherwise as the others have said consistency and quality of instruction are hugely important. While you may BELIEVE you can save a lot of money we all have (or know of) horror stories how that simply isn’t the case. Ultimately it’s your decision, but we will say we told you so :slight_smile:


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Just a little follow up to the glasses questions. Do you have to wear your glasses for the entire flight duration? Or just for some necessary moments? I have a 20/30 vision as well and don’t wear glasses at all as I have no problem seeing at all.


If you need to wear glasses your Medical Certificate will be issued with a restriction saying “holder must wear corrective lenses”. Of course there are not any glasses police checking up on you, but I would ask you this: you say you have no problem seeing at all, but have you ever tried to find another jet headed towards you visually while you have a 1,000 mph closure rate? The difference between 20/30 and 20/20 might become readily apparent to you.


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Thanks Chris for the clarification!

This forum is a great place to learn something new everyday. :slightly_smiling_face:

I will also say I had not been to the eye doctor in 2 years, had a 3rd class medical, and thought my eyes were just fine. Before I got my first class I got an eye exam and when they showed me what my vision looked like corrected I was shocked, I didn’t realize how much I couldn’t see from a distance. Got glasses, got my first class, and now have to fly with glasses. I got a pair of prescription sunglasses and regular glasses which seemed to make the most sense.


To add to the PPL price discussion, the extra hours during the private stage are there to help you build the time needed for your commercial later, and it also allows you more time to build on the new skills you’re learning for the first time. I would also say you won’t have any “bad habits” to break if you start at ATP from zero time. Yes it’s more expensive, but you also have more time when you get your private. If your plan is to complete the entire ACPP, this is the route to go. I just completed my PPL checkride this morning, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the instruction and time received.

As a side note, I recently encountered an unexpected personal situation that ATP corporate has been very helpful and understanding with. This is a great company!

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That’s awesome! Yeah after more thinking I feel that I am ready to go all in with just ATP. It makes the most sense since it is one cohesive program and it has a proven success rate for people who know how to put their nose to the grindstone, and I feel it’s a good fit.