How old is too old

I just ended a few decades as an R&D Engineer and business owner. I’m 45, but have always had a passion for flying. Is 45 too old to start training and moving forward as pilot for private or commercial airlines? I understand that I would likely never fly a 777, but a small jet such as a Gulfstream, Embraer, or Learjet would be perfectly rewarding to me.

Thank you and have a wonderful day.

No, your not too old! I’m 42 and in the Horizon Air Pilot program. I’m at 220 TT I still have a ways to go. Sounds like you have the right expectations! Go for it!, and good luck!


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Congrats Wil!

You are the 1,000,000th person to ask this week if they’re too old! You’re not.

You’re also wrong about never flying a 777. While you’ll prob never be a Trip7 Capt., you could actually be flying right seat in a heavy in less than 10yrs. Really depends on your career choices. The caveat of course is that you start training sooner than later.


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Sir Marcus,

Thank you for the feedback. I have a question is the Horizon flight program more affordable than ATP? Currently ATP estimate is $117k.

Thanks again,
Wil James

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I’m 41, started instrument when I was 40 with ATP. I’m with a regional now and they do seniority if you have the same hire date based on age, I thought for sure I’d be top of class! Surprise to me that out of 35 people I was smack in the middle! Granted some companies hire more on the younger side than others, this should still tell you that you’re not too old!

All the best,


Mr. Visnesky,

Thank you for the information. Is ATP a worthwhile school? Also, are they correct when they say that after 7 months, a student would be eligible to fly cargo planes?

Thank you for all your help,
Wil James

Hello Sir;

My experience was mostly positive. I’d visit the location of your choice and meet with the lead to see if you think you’d work well there,

Personally my first location had a lead that was not a leader at all, I went to a different location and finished there and it was amazing. The location was in northern Va . The one that was great!

7 months is possible if you study hard and are available most of the time. I saw people wanting time off a lot and then upset it took longer ; that was on them!

As for a cargo pilot, depends on what cargo company you’re eyeing up. There is a huge difference between UPS vs a smaller company flying.

After completing the ATP program you have commercial multi engine and CFI CFII MEI instructor ratings

When you finish your ratings you’ll have somewhere in the realm of 250-300 hours

While you can find jobs other than instructing with those hours , it’s few and far between. Usually small cargo ops start accepting apps at 500 hours. Though I did know someone who started at 250 I think they had internal connections.

Hope that helps; and honestly that’s not the route I went so I’m only using general knowledge on the subject . There is probably someone who started at low time cargo that could give more specifics and fact check me !



ATP is a very worthwhile school. I can’t name another school that provides the amount of success that ATP has. ATP has been around for more than 35 years and is only growing. Every month, ATP flies more than 40,000 hours and approximately 1,100 graduates are placed in the airlines.

The 7-month timeframe is a commitment between both you and ATP (theoretically) without external factors that we as humans can’t predict - such as weather, plane maintenance and examiner availability. If you request off every other week or don’t put the commitment into training and require additional training, your program may take a little longer and at additional cost.

At successful completion of ATP, you will have received all the certificates to fly for hire. Below is a screenshot of a breakdown of what you will received upon attendance at ATP.

Finding a job outside of instructing can be tough up to a few hundred hours because of insurance, that is why most individuals teach right out of schooling. There are tons of job listing sites out there that show requirements of what is needed. For an example, here is FedEx Purple Runway program, which shows the requirements: FedEx Purple Runway. After you build some qualifications, you could stay within a company or apply outside to a different cargo company of your choice.

Please let us know if there is anything else we can assist with.


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Hi Brady,

Thank you for the information.

Just so that I understand this clearly, basically I’ll attend a flight school such as ATP for seven months to obtain license to fly. The program cost is approximately $117,000. Do I join the FedEx Purple Runway program after getting my license? Will I make an income while in the Purple Runway program? What is the average starting salary of cargo pilots? I’ve been told that new pilots usually stay with cargo flights for approximately 5 years before having enough flight time/seniority to move up, is this correct?

Thank you again for all the help and guidance,
Wil James


The Horizon program is geared toward one of their partner schools, however you can attend any flight school. They do give you a stipend, once you get your Instrument Rating, where you’ll receive 5,000$ then after your commercial Rating you receive 7500$. Once you get your 1500 hours/ATP/CPT you start class for Horizon Air. Requirements for applying are 1st Class Medical,Private Pilot Certificate, FCC Radio Permit. Good luck to you!



You will need to reach out to FedEx for specifics on their program, but it looks to me like you can join the program while you are in training. The link they post is broken, so…

You will make an income while flying for one of FedEx’s feeder companies. To look at those salaries, check out Mountain Air Cargo on Base the salary on no more than 80 hours per month.

Keep in mind that the passenger regionals are now paying huge bonuses and a greatly increased hourly rate. Plenty of pilots go to FedEx from the passenger regionals as well.

I for one think it is really early for you to be making these kinds of decisions. I understand the desire to be educated, but you will learn much more as you progress through your flight training and talk to pilots that are ahead of you. You might even change your mind and decide that cargo isn’t right for you.

Bottom line, keep your options open sos early in your career.


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