Hey! Thanks for letting me join. So I’m 21 and currently work for cal fire, and have for the last two years. I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I can remember but I’ve been fully aware that its something I’ll have to pay 100% myself with no help. I live in Sacramento, CA. ATP Flight school seems to be the most convenient, but is there anyone who’s attended ATP and would say the price is worth it? Do you feel that you had a bit more of an understanding of things compared to other students at different schools or people you worked with who attended another school? Just trying to go about this the right way, I do wanna end up flying commercial. But I’m having trouble understanding the differences in regards to certificates that individuals must have to either fly for commercial, or cargo, and even flying for a private company? Do they all need to obtain the same licenses and what not? Since I get laid off in the winter I’m completely free, and flying would be best done during that time, are most schools kind of “fly when you pay” and not so much of a semester or yearly type class? Like I could come in and complete a certain part of my requirements and maybe they won’t see me for another 2-3 months, is that okay? Thanks for the help in advance.
I would recommend you look at the timelines on the ATP website, that’ll help you understand how the training pipeline works. There are other pathways to become a Commercial Airline Pilot, including entering ATP with your Private Pilot’s License already (which can be much more costly if you choose the wrong school with too few planes, not enough instructors, or which drag it out in some other way milking you dry). There are also expensive university programs that might be a better fit for some people’s situations. ATP isn’t really a drop-in/drop-out program…it’s 2 years pretty much full time, about 14 months or so of it you earn money as a flight instructor. This entire website is searchable using the search (magnifying glass icon) up top and I was able to answer most of my questions using that. Good luck on your journey!
All of the mentors on here are graduates of the program and there are a plethora of student testimonies in the Student Experiences section. I also suggest reading through the FAQ section while you’re at it.
As for your question about ratings, for the most part yes. Most professional pilots have the same ratings until you start getting into the aircraft specific type ratings. If you know what your end goal is, then you’ll know what ratings you’ll need.
If you want to attend ATP, it’s a 9 month program. So, you won’t be able to do it during the winter. If you want to piece your ratings together then you could certainly do one rating at a time at a local flight school. I just don’t recommend that. It can get costly. Also, if your goal is to be an airline pilot, train like one.
Everyone on this forum would say ATP is worth it! If you look up to the left you’ll see this is ATP’s forum and all the mentors (and many of the posters) are successful ATP grads and former instructors. We were all where you were at one point. Did our research and determined ATP was the best route for us.
As far as the rest of the questions including the process I recommend you check out the FAQ section where we cover these questions.
Thank you guys, I like the responses. I’m gonna have to figure something out so I can be able to attend full time. I know I’m passionate about following through with this, and I definitely understand the risks and what not, in regards to not finishing, but still have completed some certificates, because it’s a ton of money and no job will ever care about my licenses in aviation, let alone how many hours I’ve spent flying all the way to my debt that they definitely won’t consider when figuring out my pay. So with that I’m just trying to figure out the best route and the cheapest route I possibly go without excluding quality, what I mean is I don’t wanna make it more expensive than it has to be. Ive considered a loan, which I’m also fine with because I see the reward pilots get in the end, with that kind of salary i wouldn’t mind putting $70k debt on my shoulders. I’m in a Facebook group which I originally joined to ask these kinds of questions but they turned me away, I expected it to be commercial airline pilots but most of them seem to be working for a private company or personal individual as their work history includes “captain on a Gulfstream” or whatever. Most if not all seem to be flying a little jet, but they talk about making a ton of money doing it. So my confusion is, what is the difference in ones license or certificates compared to a individual like yourselves, who fly for a major airline? I would love to fly commercial but I keep an open mind to any route because I just wanna fly, I’ve even considered going towards an air tanker for cal fire, which I could always ask them about but so far it seems they hire fire protection agencies for that, but from my understanding you need A LOT of experience to be hired by one of them as some of the maneuvers I’ve seen them make looked beyond dangerous.
Thank you all for the help, I’ll check out the FAQ
The license to fly corporate (gulf streams, etc) are exactly the same as those to fly for the airlines.
If you’re talking to pilots that fly private jets I would take any advice they give with a grain of salt. Their starting pay is significantly higher than airline pilot pay. You might also want to check out www.airlinepilotcentral.com to get a more realistic sense of what most first year pilots make.
Their starting pay might be higher, but the pay towards the end of their careers rarely comes close to matching what airline pilots make.
@Chris. Right. Crucial detail I meant to include.