Real Answers from Real Pilots

Fast Track Program

I have been looking into the Flex Track program that ATP offers, since I currently work full time and also attend online school. I don’t want to over load myself, or set myself up for failure. I would be starting at 0 time and understand that it would take 18 months to complete. The program seems to be flexible for my schedule requiring minimum 15 hours of flight time each month. I guess my questions are first, what does that look like in reality? 15 hours does not seem like a lot, but how long is a typical flight/how many flights would that potentially be each month? (I realize this may not be a straightforward answer) and secondly, what time commitment does this create outside of being at the ATP location? Is ground school mainly completed online or does that require additional time to also be spent at the facility?

Alayna,

While I appreciate your ambition and the Flex Track is designed for people who work, attempting the program while working AND doing online school might be a bit much. Flight training is not easy and requires a considerable amount of study. As far as what it like like I’ll let others who have been through it chime in but is it possible to maybe just work and resume your studies after? You really don’t want to spread yourself too thin and a few too many checkride failure could negatively impact your career prospects.

Adam

Alayna,
The goal is for each flight to be two hours. Long enough to get stuff done but not get too fatigued. So with 15 hours a month that’s roughly 7-8 flights per month, so about two flights a week. The online modules are self paced with deadlines as you progress through the flight training. The additional ground is up to your individual instructor. It’s best to pair that with the flights when you come in for convenience but also correlation. Depending on how well your ground knowledge is, the ground time commitment varies.
How old are you? I ask because if you are relatively young, why don’t you just focus on your online degree and save some money then hit ATP fast track program after you graduate. I think that is the best plan to ensure success in all you do, both your degree and flight training. Sometimes trying to do it all seems like the right plan but both end up suffering.

-Hannah

Adam, that’s what I don’t want to do, is stretch myself too thin. I was considering taking a pause from the online school if necessary. Thanks for your input!

Hannah, I think that is doable for my current schedule/the available free time that I have. I am turning 27 this month, so I have been debating if I should continue/complete my current online schooling before I make a commitment to flight training. I definitely don’t want to try to juggle too much at once if it truly is unrealistic. Thanks for your input and the information about the flight time!

Alayna,
Depending on how much schooling you have left you could finish that. I start the flex track in a couple month just because I couldn’t afford to quit my full time job at this time. That may change before I complete the program. I am starting the program at 35 so, you at 27 have plenty of time. Make the best decision for yourself but just starting on ground school I can tell you that taking online classes would be what I postponed.

Alayna,

I think you will be really pushing it to work, take college classes, and go to flight training. I would recommend postponing the online college as you can always go back and work on that later in life.

Even with taking the Flex Track option, you will still need to be able to dedicate a significant amount of time to training.

Chris

Hi Alayna,

I don’t know how far you are away from finishing online school or what degree it is for, but a 4 year degree is required to fly for the majors so if your online school gives you that degree then it’s still getting you toward the final goal (assuming you didn’t already have a 4 year degree already). Of course it’s not required right away so maybe you can finish that later.

If you were really ambitious maybe you can take a look at some of the written tests. They are good for 24 months and getting those out of the way ahead of flight training would allow you to focus more on training. You don’t have to commit to any program to just do the written tests so it’s kind of cheaper way to dip your toes in the water, so to speak.

Finally remember that 2 hours of flight training isn’t like 2 hours of online school where you log on at the beginning and log off at the end. You have to study and prep for the lesson, get to the airport, preflight the airplane, take the lesson, debrief, then get home.

Alex

I’d like to ask something related to your answer: is there a good way to start studying for the written knowledge tests before enrolling with ATP and getting access to the King Schools material? I won’t be able to start until next year, but I’d love to start studying in the meantime so I’m not cramming it all in the weeks before my start date.

Hi Logan,

The free way to start at least for the private is to study the PHAK available from the FAA that you can download and read for free.

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/phak/

The Airplane Flying Handbook is also free and a good read.

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/airplane_handbook/

And you can take free practice tests with Kings:

https://free-faa-exam.kingschools.com/private-pilot

Finally here is the Instrument Flying Handbook

Beyond that I haven’t done yet so maybe others can chime in, I know Sheppard Air (not free) is highly recommended for Instrument written and beyond.

Alex

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Alex,

For the private written, Sporty’s has a good free study program:
https://www.sportys.com/learn-to-fly/faa-private-pilot-test-prep.html

Chris

Alex,
I used ASA for my private and loved it. It’s very similar to sportys so I’d check both the apps out in the App Store and just see which you prefer. You cant go wrong with either. Also starting to read through the PHAK is a great idea because you have the time now and it provides more detailed background info to the snippets of info you get from written study prep.

Hannah

I did not do the new “flex” program that you are asking about. However, I did complete ATP’s old “Self-Paced” program in 2017. Start to finish it took me 18 months to finish just like ATP had advertised. I worked full time as a police officer for the first 12 months. Being a good husband, a good father to two young boys at the time, a full time police officer, and a part time flight student was tough. Not impossible (obviously) but definitely not easy. Somewhere around the 12 month mark my wife and I reviewed our finances/budget, came up with a plan and I left full time employment and became a part time police officer and more of a full time student (ATP still saw me as self paced, I just showed up more). I never failed a check ride but did struggle with CFI training and ultimately left ATP without my CFI ratings. No hard feelings, no regrets. I say all that to say you “might” be able to do online school at the same time but I wouldn’t suggest it. I would consider my obligations to my family similar to the time you would have to obligate to your online schooling and trying to juggle three commitments is definitely harder than trying to juggle two.

Arthur,

Good insights. Thank you for posting.

Chris