General advice for starting out?

Hello everyone,

My name is W and I’m 31 with a BA in anthropology, and after spending a year in a consulting position I’ve decided to make a go for something that I’ve been interested in since I was young; I even had a poster of a 747 cockpit above my bed growing up. Anyway I digress, I am here just looking for some general advice as I am looking into attending ATP.
This past week I did my first discovery flight at a flight school in Colorado Springs where I not only got to control the plane for a majority of the flight, but the flight instructor also let me handle the take off. It was a very eye opening experience, and with the exception of some very rough turbulence of Pike’s Peak, it was an amazing flight and help to solidify my commitment to perusing a career in aviation. In pursuit of that goal in the past week I have updated my prescription which the optometrist assures corrects my vision to 20/20 and I have scheduled my FAA medical for next week(soonest appointment). In addition, I have begun going thru ASA’s private pilot ground school and am about 1/3 of the way through that.
My Primary concerns, as most people seem to express, is regarding financial aid. Though I probably should have waited to ensure that I could pass the physical first, I applied for and was told I needed a cosigner for loans from Wells Fargo and Sallie Mae. I am not going to try and beat a dead horse by asking financial questions when this is the wrong place to do so. Assuming that I am able to get a cosigner for the loans, I have secondary concerns I was hoping someone might be able to comment on.
I live about 1hr and 20mins(per GPS) from the nearest ATP facility up by Denver, I grew up in the middle of nowhere Texas and long commutes are not a new thing for me. Though It has been several years since I’ve done a commute of this length, I do not feel that it is unrealistic; I am wondering if anyone else experienced a similar commute when attending ATP? Would CFI’s at ATP work with you to schedule flights and other educational experiences so that I wouldn’t have to deal with rush hour traffic? I have a very supportive significant other, who is starting a very promising career as a tenured track professor, so I really would prefer the daily commute as opposed to residing closer to the ATP campus. Additionally, my home is paid off so it seems like the more economical choice as well, as gas is less then rent, at least for the time being. I’m sure I have other questions but at the moment I am unable to recall them.

Thanks for the forthcoming responses,


While I stayed in ATP housing for my training I commuted 1.5hrs each way when I instructed and honestly couldn’t imagine having to do that as a student. Instructors will work with you best they can but you need to understand you’re not the only one in training and more important YOU need to be flexible and available for training. If you’re scheduled to fly in the afternoon and the forecast changes and you need to go up early then what? The bigger issue is there will be some very LONG days. Days in ground school, then in the sim, then in the airplane, 1:20 home then homework and study for the next day. There’s only so many hours in the day. While it may be physically possible you need to consider the accelerated nature of the program which will require a tremendous amount of self-study. Not saying it can’t be done (and hopefully others who are currently in the program will give their take) but if you have other options (maybe a crashpad close by for during the week?) you should look into them. You’re investing a great deal of time and money into this and want every possible advantage.


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I have been commuting from Colorado Springs since I began the program a couple weeks ago. My new instructor has done it for the entire time he’s been with ATP to include his time as a student pilot from 0 time. The ATP in Denver is actually located at the Centennial Airport, which is southeast of Denver. Overall, it’s a pretty easy commute, mostly I-25, and you’ll be able to work with your instructor on scheduling to avoid having to drive up during rush hour morning traffic.

Edited to add: I’m not sure which part of the Springs you’ll be coming from, but I’m about a mile south of the COS airport, about as south as you can get in the city, and it takes me almost exactly one hour.

I would actually be commuting from Pueblo, but I live just off the 25 and honestly with the way people drive on the 25 it is probably less then the estimated 1hr 20min unless I hit an accident.

Ah, then I’d bet the 1:20 is probably a safe guess. If you are able to avoid morning rush hour, the biggest issues occur at the bottleneck around Castle Rock where it turns into 2 lanes both directions. This morning there was a wreck that shut the entire northbound side of I-25 down up to Denver, and I had to take some dirt roads to get onto 83. From my experience, the instructors are all very understanding and will do everything they can to accommodate you. I actually rather enjoy the commute usually, as it gives me time to focus my thoughts for the day and mentally prepare a little bit.

Adam and Peter, I appreciate the advice both of you have provided and I look forward to further input.

Sounds like it’s going well for ya, Peter! Would love to connect with you at some point for lunch or something as I’m also in Colorado Springs, up near Woodmen/Powers. Planning to start in approx 6 months at APA!


Cool name.


P.S. I’m debating whether to commute from the springs or get a crash pad as Adam suggested. Might be looking for someone else to help share the cost.

I’m starting Wilmington DE February 4th. I also will have around a 1:15 hour commute. It is what it is. I’m going to push through. Coming in with my private and around 300 hours. Hoping to get it done in 5 months. But honestly if I was coming with zero time it wouldn’t change my approach. So I spend an hour and 15 minutes in the car. Will give me some time to digest the day.


I wouldn’t plan on getting done in 5mos. While it’s possible much depends on DPE availability vs how hard you work and train. The program is 6mos and I would plan on it taking 6mos. If you’re fortunate enough to beat it that’s great but again I wouldn’t count on it.


Sounds good!

I was looking into the housing options myself, as I will also be heading north from the springs. Anyone have any thoughts on the housing?

I’ve now passed the FAA physical, and I was able to get a cosigner for the loan. I am now very excited to start preparing, and will be contacting enrollment tomorrow to setup a start date. My hope is to start in October, but of course that is dependent on admissions. Aside from taking the FAA written exams before starting is there anything else I should study or prepare for?

Congrats on your progress, W. Aside from the written exams, there’s not much else you need to be doing right now. When you receive your official start date, you will be given access to the King School computer based training.


I would really just focus on the writtens. They will keep you plenty busy between now and your start date.

I now have an official start date of october 15th at the Denver location, and I’ll be going up there Saturday to check it out and do an intro flight.

Don I am also going to Wilmington DE hopefully september or October Class.

Nice to hear Mike. Are you coming with your private or starting from zero?

i will be starting from zero. I flew as a flight mechanic in the coast guard for 10 years and work part 91 and 135 for a while but zero pilot time.

Sounds good. If you start in October from zero and I start in February from private we’ll be working on the instrument about the same time.