Flying hours before ATP

Hey guys,

Excited about the prospect of pursuing a career in aviation. Recently took a tour of an ATP campus, and was impressed and pleased with the facility and staff. Overall, I think it’s a great program, and I’m very interested.

I’m working on “checking the boxes,” towards admission and I’ve just completed the “meet with an AME,” for a 1st class medical-stage. I was informed by the AME that this process will likely take a couple months as I will need to go for some testing.

For what it’s worth, he personally declared me “fit to fly,” following the general physical, but without getting too far into it, I’ll likely need a psych eval for an adolescent condition from years past pending whatever the FAA comes back with in order to get the official medical, which I know can take several months.

So, to pass the time while waiting to obtain the 1st class medical (optimistically assuming the FAA says “yes”), I thought it might be worthwhile to go to the local aviation club and spend some hours flying with a CFI.

I’ve been over there a few times, get along with the folks, and the rates are decent from what I understand ($93/hr C172, CFI $60/hr).

Now I don’t think I’ll be able to hit the 75hr + PPL requirement ATP requires for starting with credit… but my thinking is even though I won’t be able to solo until I have the medical, at least I’d be able to get 20-40 hours of training in over the next few months. Ultimately, bringing me closer to the 1500-hour requirement for airline transport pilots, and reducing time on the back-end of the ATP program with CFI instruction.

However, I know that 30 hours of flying will cost about $6,000 and I’m wondering if this would be better saved and used to pay the eventual Sallie Mae loan. So…I suppose a cost-benefit analysis would be useful here? I don’t know, what would YOU do?

Alternatively, or in addition to taking some flight lessons in the interim, I’ve heard it’s a good idea to take all of the written tests before arriving at ATP. I think I can manage to study and take the written tests in addition to a bit of flying, but just wanted to confirm that this would be a good use of time?

I’ve really put a lot here and probably glossed over some info essential to getting an answer, so please let me know if I can provide any additional information.

Also, any comments or feedback of any sort would be highly appreciated.




It’s your life, your money and your decision but I would not spend $600 let alone $6k until I had that medical in my hand. Further even if you do get it building those hours without the ability to solo or earn your PPL really doesn’t serve much purpose.

If you want to be optimistic and start working on your Knowledge exams that’s something that would give you a leg up, not waste much money and will make you that much more knowledgeable.

Your call,



I agree with Adam. Focus on the written exams. What you decide to do with your money is up to you.



I would not spend any money at all on flight training until you have your first class medical certificate. Even though the AME thinks it will be approved, that does not mean that it will be.I would work on the written exams, but not much more than that until you have the medical in hand.


Thanks for all the info guys. I really appreciate the feedback. I’m going to take the unanimous advice of holding off on flight instruction of any sort until the medical is in-hand, and focus instead on taking all of the written exams.


Anytime. Let us know how else we can help you.


I have a ton of hours to include glider hours. I’ve been in law enforcement for the past 11 years in Hawaii and it is not what I want to do forever. I’ve always loved aviation since I was young. I did everything from CAP to flight school as an adult. The flight school I was with ended up losing instructors just as fast as losing students (Only the owners children ever completed anything). I was put on the run around many times. I have a lot of hours and cannot say I have accomplished anything. I want to attend ATP and do what I’ve always dreamed about doing, FLYING!

Most of my flying was done in a C177 (Not Ideal for training).

  • Kaohu

Hey Kaohu,
I’m also from Hawaii attending ATP at PAE location in Washington State (start date October 2019). I originally wanted to stay in Hawaii and attend a local flight school. I believe it was George’s Aviation that I was inquiring back in February 2019, and they told me they weren’t accepting any more students due to a merge they were going through with another company. Long story short, had couple people in Hawaii recommend me ATP Flight School for getting in and getting out quickly with all my training. Some hiccups during my private phase due to bad weather here in Washington, but don’t regret the choice of choosing ATP Flight School!
I only wish there was an ATP Flight School location in Hawaii!! [ Hope your reading this Admin :wink: ]
Good luck with your decision!

Joe, are you on instrument yet. Curious how your checkride went

Passed the private Checkride last week Monday 2/10/20. Starting instrument phase today!!
Are you at CFI school ? If not come in and do some more josh ground lessons!! :wink:

I’ve been trying to lug him across the country over to the east coast to do those ground lessons, but he won’t budge… :frowning:

No. Not at CFi. On a hiatus due to a medical issue, don’t really wanna disclose it here. Kinda sucks but it is what it is

Feel free to text me though! 2063105865

I was flying with TRFS when they were at HNL then they moved JRF. When they made the move, their scheduling changed. Now I believe they are down to just one instructor. I have a ton of block time left there and they won’t refund me. So I think I am just going to let my son utilize those funds until they are exhausted. My son just reached the age to start flying!! Although he can’t solo until he’s 16. I agree with you 100%, I wish ATP would consider opening a school here in Hawaii or even doing a partnership. It would really open doors for young aviators out here.