Real Answers from Real Pilots

Finish ppl or start at zero

Hey, I have 40 hours and have solo’d and cross countried but I never got to finish my ppl because of COVID last year so I haven’t flown for over a year and was wondering if it would be best to finish that ppl at a mom and pop school or just go straight to atp even with 40+ hours and starting from zero, thanks

Hi Tyler,

Welcome! This is totally your call, but my advice would be to start from zero. There’s just something to be said about continuity. Plus, with only 40 hours, a year since your last flight is a long time. I imagine you would need retraining on enough things that, to me, would be worthwhile to just start over completely. You’ll come in with a basic understanding and it will be an easy transition for you. Those 40 hours will always stay will you. That will be 40 less hours to accumulate, post-program, towards your 1500.

Let us know what other questions you have. Again, welcome to the forum.


Thank you for the feedback, would finishing my ppl with let’s say 90 hours look bad on my logbook when I get an interview at the airlines at all? Thanks

Not at all! You have a valid reason for the gap in your training. I doubt anyone will ever question it, especially if you’re successful in the program.


They won’t care how many hours it took you to get your private so I wouldn’t worry about that.
So you have two choices, stop now and start atp at private or continue and come in credit private… I think Tory has the right idea. After so long since you’ve flown, there’s no telling how far back you’d have to start again to refresh what you had before let alone move forward and finish it. The training you did is better coming in to ATP than none at all. Hopefully the learning curve is less steep for you the second time.
Starting credit private, you would need to have at least 70 hours. So best case scenario you don’t need that many refresher hours but you’d still have to pay for at least another 30 (and complete your private) to be eligible to start atp credit private. Worst case scenario, you need another 40 just to get back to where you were, than another 20 to be endorsed for your checkride. So now you’re 100 hours in and still without a private plus all the additional time it took doing it at a mom and pop.
So, I’d cut your losses and start atp at private and be thankful for any advantage you have going in with some prior experience.



With only forty hours, almost all of it over a year ago, I would start all over. The forty hours is not lost, it will count towards your total time and towards your 1,500 hours. With hat much time off, you will likely need to start from darn near scratch anyways.



I’m in agreement with an here. I’m certain you have a great reason for wanting to continue the rest of your training with ATP as there are many. If this is the school you’ve decided gives you the best chance at a successful career in aviation, doesn’t it make sense to start off on the right foot? While it’s usually not an issue, some students have to unlearn some bad habits or learn new procedures. By starting over with ATP it will not only reinforce the skills you have, but correct anything that might need to be before they get too ingrained.

Start from day 1 and be ahead of the curve.


Hi Tyler,

Although the choice is completely up to you, I would also recommend starting back at zero with us. The hours you have now will still contribute towards your 1,500 when time building. This will allow you to have a really solid foundation for your training and most likely allow you to progress through the first part of the program (Private Pilot Stage) a little bit quicker!


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As others have already chimed in, I think starting the ATP program from scratch would be a great idea. My current student started with 43 hours, it was over a year since he had flown, he had already solo’d as well. Our first lesson I was able to break the rust off and today during our maneuvers flight, he admitted to me that I gave him really good techniques to improve his maneuvers that he never was exposed to before; in fact, he was within tolerances after I tweaked them ever-so tiny. Those 40 hours that you have will still count to your 1,500 hours, and give you a tiny advantage.