Real Answers from Real Pilots

Flight School Choice

Hello everyone,
My name is Warner, I have a couple of questions about flight school. My first choice of school was ATP, however they do not accept my post 9/11 GI Bill. I tried many options to gain the finances to attend but in the end I can not prove over 60% of my income and my debt to income ratio was to great. I have taken a different approach a decided on a program at Tarrent County College in FortWorth TX, the program is referred to as the “Pipeline” program. Has anyone heard of this or have had any experience with this? My ultimate goal is to work for United Airlines and hopefully be a senior captain flying the 787 Dreamliner. As of now here are the steps I will take to achieve my goal, please let me know if I am doing this correctly. I will conduct ground school at the above referenced school. After i have my MEI i will go to work with ATP to be a flight instructor to finish accruing my 1500 hours. I will then go on to try to get hired on with a small express jet company achieve my 5000 hours to make the leap to UAL.

Thank you very much gentlemen, Warner.

Hello Warner,

Yes it’s unfortunate ATP can’t accept your VA benefits, it’s the primary reason many in the military seek other training. Ok on to your plan. I did some Googling but couldn’t find much regarding Tarrant’s Aviation program other than it’s Part 141 which is what the VA likes. I assume(?) you mean you’ll be doing all you flight training with them and not just the ground school as you said and that’s fine. The problem then however is while ATP does hire outside instructors on occasion, first preference is always given to ATP students so there’s a good possibility you’ll need to look for work elsewhere. While there are other flight schools out there most don’t do the volume of training and it might take you a while longer to get to a Regional. After that it’s a matter of building time, upgrading and then building some turbine PIC. While there are definite hiring minimums there is no magic number (5000hrs or other) that will get you to a Major. It’s a matter of building time, experience, maybe some networking and then some patience. Other than that it seems like you’re on the right path.


Thank you very much for your advice, Adam. Would having great references (Senior Captains) at United help me with the a obtaining a career with them? I know there is a pilot shortage and my chances are already good, I also know my performance as a pilot and experience is very important as well. If you could tell me anything that you would do in my position knowing what you do now, what would it be?

Again thank you very much for your time, I know you are a busy man, I can’t thank you enough, sir.


I have been with United for about ten years now. While I am not involved in the hiring process I can share with you what I know. References from other United pilots certainly help, but it won’t push you over the edge into an interview. The airline is trying very hard to put forth an image of being fair to all applicants. More than anything they will be looking for flight experience and college education. They would like to see several thousand hours of jet time and preferably at least 1,000 hours of Captain jet time. They also heavily weigh things like volunteerism and community involvement.

The good news is that this makes the process fair for everybody, so you should have a fair chance no matter what.


Chris, that was immensely helpful! Thank you very much, sir.


Anytime, my friend. Glad to be of help.



Only advice is work hard, keep your passion and be cordial to EVERYBODY. This is an incredibly small industry and pilot shortage or not, if you’re a good person to fly with you’ll be fine and if you’re not…well word travels fast.