Does ATP make sense in my case

A bit about me…

I’m a 42 year old private pilot, considering a career change. I realize my age is close to the point where staying at a regional my whole career might be a possibility and I’m ok with that. I started flying in 1998 with the intent of becoming an airline pilot way back then but, for various reasons, it didn’t happen. I just recently got current after a 16 year break from flying, and while I have a pretty good career in software, the flying (for a living) bug has never left.

My question is this, with 150 hours total time, does it make sense for me to pay the hefty price and still attend ATP with credit for my PPL, or could I save quite a bit by finishing up my commercial, instrument, etc. at a local flight school? I realize this is an ATP sponsored forum, but I also realize my circumstances might be a bit unique (or maybe not?). I’ve got well above the 80 hours needed to start at ATP with credit for my PPL and worry about paying way more than I need to before I can start earning money as an instructor.

Thanks for any advice offered. This has been a great forum to peruse while thinking about a pretty serious career move.



Yes this is ATPs forum but we are not salesmen and receive no incentive if you sign up or not, we’re simply happy customers. As for you question I honestly believe that ATP makes more sense in your case than most if not all.

Let me start by saying I was in very similar shoes to yours a few years back (I was 39 with my Private and about 100hrs). I wanted to become a professional pilot (get paid. Not an airline pilot because I didn’t believe that was possible) and was researching schools and routes how best to accomplish my goal. I don’t know your experience but based on mine going to my local flight school was not an option. Training part-time while working and playing husband and father it took me 2yrs to get my Private. At that rate (and cost) I never would have completed my training. I did my homework checked out schools and determined time was the single biggest challenge I had at my age (and that was LONG before the 1500hr Rule which will delay you further). While the price of ATP sounds huge if you break down the hours it’s definitely not out of line. More important IF you aspire to fly for an airline it’s really a no brainer. You could be at a Regional in 2 yrs giving you a legitimate shot at a Major before 50. Delay it another year or 2 (or who knows how many?) and you won’t. Pay and seniority alone will more than cover any additional cost (if in fact there is any). To fly for any airline you’ll need 1500hrs TT. No disrespect but I’m not sure I’d call those 70 extra hours you have “well above” anything.

Totally your call of course but seriously you’re 42. If you want to do this you’ve got to jump in with both feet. I started at 39 and I’m a Capt at a Major. I’m here because I didn’t waste any more time.


Thanks for the reply Adam. I appreciate your candor. Definitely things I need to consider. With regard to the 70 extra hours, I guess I was thinking those hours might make a bit of difference in relation to the 250 or so I’ll need to start making money instead of spending it, but point taken. Thanks again.