Fully Documenting My Journey

Hello friends,

So, I want to do this because I think it will be helpful to students in the future who are in my position, and I don’t see anyone else having done exactly this. I have embarked on this awesome journey that so many of us will travel. With my start date fast approaching (March 19 at JAX), and lots of work still to be done, I want to give some perspective throughout my journey for those who are looking to begin theirs after me.

After being approved for my loan and passing the first class medical all on the same day (yesterday, Jan 9), it’s time to get to work. In this thread, I will update as much as I can my journey from zero time to the airlines, and if I can help even one person prepare in the future, that would be awesome.

How I prepared: The entire process has actually been a few years long already. From first looking at ATP back in 2015 to finally signing up yesterday, hours (weeks) of research went in to what I was getting myself into, what was going to be required of me, and some ways that I could get through it more efficiently. One thing I’ll say about this entire process is that doing prior research is going to be so incredibly important. If you don’t do it, you’re doomed to fail. So, here I am, a day later, and I’ve started my ground school training immediately. So far so good, but it’s only been a few hours. As I progress, I will update this thread, and maybe it will help you. Let’s begin this journey together, it’s gonna be a hell of a ride.

1/11/18: While making consistent progress through the Kings school ground school/test prep course, I realized something that is going to be of vital importance. I’ll use this as a mantra going forward. “Get ahead, stay ahead.” The program is 9 months, but with the right amount of work, especially pre-program, I feel like that time could be cut down by a month or two. Three months to get a private? Not on my watch. 2 months is the goal. Guess we’ll see.

BIG EDIT #1: 2 weeks of 5-8 hour days of studying for the PAR paid off. Getting the program started off right with a 95%.

Piece of advice. On the website, it is recommended to take the IRA and FII within close proximity to each other. Absolutely 100% do this. The FII had pretty much the SAME EXACT questions on them as the IRA did. So, don’t wait to take the FII after the IRA and risk forgetting some of the stuff. It’s a very easy test.


Looking forward to the updates! Congrats on your acceptance into the



Thank you so much for starting this blog. We will be very interested to read your story and hear your experiences as you go through the program.

I know you will be busy, but any updates you that you can provide will be fantastic.


Just curious, what type of prior research would you say is required, lest ye be “doomed to fail”.
I know about the FAA test studying, I took the intro flight, and I’m absorbing the pilot life (pros and cons) via online and youtube videos as much as possible, but is there anything else you’d advise in the meantime for someone else who also wants to be as prepared as possible?

This isn’t required, but you can download the PDF version of the Airman Certification
Standards for Private Pilots.
https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/15 You can read the
instructions on how to use the ACS. The ACS is essentially the study guide
for the practical exam. Any subject is fair game at this point. Have at it.

You’ll receive all of the required books upon selecting a start date, but
the FAA has the same books in PDF versions online. While you’re reading
through the ACS, you will notice a list of references under each topic.
They’re coded. Find the corresponding codes here:

That should keep you busy for a while. It should also keep you organized.
At least you know that you’re studying relevant material.



Big update, PAR complete. 95%

that’s a good score! How similar were the questions from the actual test to the practice questions? Were there some questions you haven’t seen
before? I’m currently studying for it and I’m trying learn the material as I go.


That is a great score. Congratulations!


Almost the exact same as the stuff in King school, the wording on a couple of the questions may have been a little different, but the material is the exact same. Apologies for the late reply, haven’t checked in lately. Their software is awesome. Any other questions feel free to ask. I should add, maybe to just help folks in general, the study strategy that works for me, and may work for you. Obviously, everyone is different. With King school, they obviously give you those 700 questions. I didn’t do much in the way of practice tests, they’re rather useless. I went through all the videos, did all of the questions, then just kept doing all of the questions again and again until I was sure on all of it. Go back and watch the videos if you don’t understand it, unlike Shepard air you have permanent access to the course, which is awesome. Don’t take it for granted, those grades will matter for the checkrides.

As well, add a 97% on the IRA. 5-8 hour study days are paying off so far.

Haha no worries. It’s funny you responded today because I JUST took the private written today and passed with a 97% ! Instrument is next and I just signed up with Sheppard air. I’m right behind u brother :wink: I’ll be putting in 6-8 hour study days for this one.

Oh good stuff. Beat me by one question haha, nice job!!! Forewarning, the instrument is WAY bigger than private. 1200 question bank, with more complex material. Start learning approach plates and all that quickly. It gets mind numbing after a while but the IRA test uses more figures than does the PAR test (at least mine did). Good luck!

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Congrats to both of you for getting such good scores! Keep up the good work.


Congrats on knocking your stuff out and getting a head start on things, but being on the other end of this, my advice to you is don’t rush yourself and remember it’s not a contest.
You made a comment that you’re goal is to get you ppl in 2 months as opposed to ATPs scheduled 3 months. While it’s a nice goal, don’t let that goal and the worry about timelines interfere with your training or rush you. You are just putting undue pressure on yourself with that. Just be open to the training environment and know that there are going to be ups and downs as you go through the program and everyone experiences it, and we all get through it. I guess I’m just trying to say, focus on nailing down the skills the best you can, not as fast as you can.
Take it from a guy at the end, this is a fun little journey and 100% one of the best decisions I made, but make sure you take the time to slow down and smell the roses from time to time.

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Doing some more thinking about it and bouncing it off some of my classmates here at CFI school, we came up with a few things that we wished we had known about before we started.
Want to clarify this is in no way meant to be discouraging, just lessons learned from our experiences, feel free to reach out, we are here to help you on your journey.

  1. Be prepared for delays beyond your control. You can’t always get a check ride on the date you want and from time to time you will find yourself waiting for a date. It’s not your fault or ATPs fault, just the reality that there are only so many examiners and there are so many flight schools out there. ATP is really good at gauging your progress and doing it’s best to get you set up at the right time, but it’s a big variable.
    Also, and I know that it’s not a happy thing to think about, but you may very well bust a checkride at some point. Exponentially more of us have busted one than haven’t busted one and this will add time as well.
    The weather is a huge cause of delays. There is nothing that we can do about it, low IFR or high xwinds, there are a multitude of ways the weather can cause you to lose a day. It gets a little frustrating but as they say,”it’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground”

  2. How sold are you on Jax as your location? I know it’s a big location and has a ton of students and instructors but there are 40 other locations. If you are open to other locations you can find a smaller location and it will provide you with more one on one time with your instructor. The instructors work like crazy and they have to balance the needs and goals of all of their students and they do an amazing job at it no matter the location you choose. However, depending on your learning style you might benefit from easier access to dedicated time with your instructor. The modules are great for laying the foundation but it’s your CFI that’s going to bring it all together for you.
    Another idea with location is, what kind of experience do you want? Florida and the southern half of the US is great in that the weather is almost always perfect flying weather, but if you choose a more northern location you’ll get to experience a different kind of flying. Actual instrument time and adverse weather just to name a couple. That’s where I went and while it added time to my program, the ability to experience the weather instead of just reading about it was priceless.

  3. Kind of to wrap it all together, ATP like anything else is what you make of it. There will be some amazing times and some times that are more frustrating than others but just go with it, learn and have fun.

Remember the goal isn’t to see how fast you can blast through this, it is to efficiently use your time to become a safe proficient pilot. There is no reward or prize for knocking it out the fastest or with the highest scores. It’s all about becoming the best pilots we can be and helping hose around us to be the best they can be. I would much rather my instructors and classmates say that “John is a good, safe pilot who is always there to help out” than have them say “John did this faster than anyone else and he got the most 100s on his writtens”


Thank you John. VERY well said and most excellent conclusions!


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Good insight, John. The ATP experience is absolutely what you make of it.
Some people have a hard time with this concept.


PS: You must be ready for your MEI if you have time to write a novel :wink:

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Sitting in Vegas waiting on a date for the check ride. It’s a Sunday so I’m trying to keep it chill, waiting in the Frasca this afternoon.
Plus being a “loooooooong time student” having crossed the year mark 2 weeks ago reading his original post brought me back to a year ago and where I was, and the guys here and I were discussing it and thought about the things we wish we’d have known.
For clarification, I went to ATP in Tacoma and we had weather issues plus hitting CFi school right before the holidays, it stretches out fast.
But Western Washington is a gorgeous place to learn how to fly


I understand the struggle. Just giving you a hard time. Maybe you can team
up with Cameron from LVK. He’s a friend from high school. His check ride is
next week, I think. He called me looking for help with the oral portion of
the check ride.


All good points. I’m already scheduled for my start date in JAX. And I certainly get not rushing through it. That’s not what I was planning, but to get through it as quickly as possible with the same amount of knowledge and safety, as you said. Good advice all around though.