Real Answers from Real Pilots

How can I help my daughter to start her pilot career?

Hello!
My 16yr old daughter wants to be a pilot. She is planning on attending college in 2022. Probably Florida Tech. If we can afford it! But, before she finishes high school, would you recommend her to get a private pilot license? I called ATP and they don’t offer it. Any other recommendation around Orlando/Lake Mary? A safe and affordable school? Or, any other way to get ahead before college? So, she can start flying to get hours and/or to make sure that is what she wants to do?
Thanks!
Happy New Year

Julia,

You don’t mention whether your daughter has any flight experience or has ever been up in a small airplane? While many people believe they want to be pilots and love sitting in the back of a Boeing going on vacation flying a small plane is a VERY different experience. If the answer is no I strongly recommended your daughter takes an Intro flight or lesson. Chances are she’ll love it but there’s also the chance she won’t and it’s far better to find out before she starts mapping out her career.

Beyond that we generally recommend young people finish high school and college first. The airlines don’t require an aviation degree (just a 4yr) so no need to spend a fortune on college. As for getting her Private that’s really her decision but flight training part time frequently ends up being very expensive due to the lack of consistency (there a reason the airlines and the military train their pilots daily). If she’d like to that fine but she must likely won’t build that much time while still in school so she’d be better served waiting and doing all her training after.

There also tons of great info on ATPs website so take a look there.

Hope this helps.

Adam

Julia,
Adam brings up a great point. Start first by getting your daughter an intro flight or discovery flight to make sure she is comfortable in a small plane and really wants to pursue this career and all that it takes. She could do her first flight at any time!
Once she decides this is something she wants to pursue you have options. Either wait until she finishes her 4 year degree and start then. Or she could slowly build her ratings on the side on weekends as she completes college.
This will be more costly with time off between each training session but she could make up some time if she gets her ratings along with her degree. She could solo at 16, get her private at 17 and her commercial at 18 as well as any CFI ratings if she chooses to build her time that way. If she waits until after college, it will be about a nine month process with atp to get all her ratings and then the journey to 1500 hours so in total about two years after college grad she could be qualified for the regionals!
Hope this helps!

-Hannah

Hello!

Thank you very much. Yes, she took a discovery flight a year ago. She loved it! She would like to start before she goes to college. And, continue in college with ratings and everything else required for commercial. I’m just not sure if it’s better to get into college with a private license first, so she can be ahead and build more hours?

The sooner she gets started the better! That’s more time to build hours and chip away at those ratings! The hardest ratings are private and instrument because everything is new and it’s a lot of ground knowledge to obtain so I recommend she try and get those two done before college if she has the time to put in to it now. Then while in college the additional commercial and CFIs won’t seem quite as daunting with the foundation of knowledge she has from her private and instrument stages already.

-Hannah

Julia,

I would actually take a little different approach than Hannah recommended. I recommend that if your daughter is really into flying, go ahead and get the private soon (preferably over the summer), but I would stop there until she is really ready to devote herself full time to flight training. I got my private while I was in college and I have to say, it certainly took away from my college studies. See flight training and college really are two full time jobs, so you can see where the issue comes up. I think that if a student is trying to work on ratings while also working on college classes, something is bound to slip. If it is the college grades that slip, that certainly is not good as many airlines have minimum GPAs and if the flight training slips, it will get more expensive and failed checkrides can be a big deal when applying to the airlines.

I would encourage your daughter yo take AP classless so she can get a head start on college and save you tuition dollars, then focus on college. There will be time for flight training later and if it really is her passion, she will still feel that way in a few years. Flight training is really best done when it is full emersion training, which is exactly how the airlines and the military train pilots.

Chris

Thank you so much to both. It’s really helpful to get different approaches! Any local school you can recommend for the private?
Thanks again

Julia,

I am not familiar with schools in your area, but here is a list of questions I developed for use when comparing various flight schools:

https://airlinepilot.life/t/questions-for-any-prospective-flight-school/117/14

Chris

Thank you very much

Hello!
My name is Nancy and I’m going to start applying for colleges soon this year. I took a discovery flight and I absolutely loved it! My goal is to become an airline pilot I was just wondering do/can student pilots get their BA while getting their licenses simotainiously or do they get it separately. I was planning on going to a flight university so it can be easier.

Nancy,

People do both and have differing opinions on the subject. We generally don’t recommend university aviation programs as they’re usually very expensive and stretch the training out far too long which is inefficient. Further the airlines neither require or even desire an aviation degree and should flying not work out it really doesn’t provide a Plan B.

I recommend you get a degree in something you enjoy and possibly could use and then do your flight training after at an academy like ATP where the training is done consistently on a full-time basis. There’s a reason the airlines and the military train their pilots daily and pilots who don’t often waste alot of time and money.

Ultimately it’s your decision. I recommend you browse this forum as there are many threads on the subject. Do some research and make a decision that’s best for you.

Adam

Thank you so much! Your answer provided much needed insight.

Nancy,

I do not recommend flight training and college at the same time. Both are extensive courses of study in their own rights and will take significant time and energy from you. I think it is best to go to college first, then attend an accelerated flight training program.

I too am not a fan of college aviation programs. They can be very expensive, take a long time, and not provide you with any sort of backup should for any reason you need to leave aviation.

Please take a minute to check out the FAQ section of the website as there is some really good information there that I think you will find helpful.

Chris

Thank you , I will definitely make sure to look at the FAQ to get more understanding on this topic!