How'd You Know?

Hi, my name is Abby. I am 22 years old. Firstly, I would like to say that this forum is awesome, it has answered so many of my questions and alleviated so many of my worries. I had never considered being a pilot as an option until recently. I had bought a discovery flight for my boyfriend for Christmas, but ended up using it on myself to see if this was something I might actually want to do. So I have 30 minutes of flight time under my belt and an associates degree (plan is to do online while at regionals to finish my bachelors), but I can’t get rid of this nagging feeling, so I figured I would come to the forum to see if anyone had any advice on some of my worries.

  1. Since I had never considered this until recently, how did all of you KNOW that you wanted to be a pilot. Was it a hunch/curiosity? Was it an epiphany?
  2. Throwing this much money into something brand new I am worried that I won’t be any good at it and end up wasting time and money, is this a normal concern?
  3. Does skill come with time and confidence? How do I know if I will be good at this? At what point in training do I realize that I might not be very good or should probably quit pursuing it?
    Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated and thank you to all of you who take out time to answer these said questions.
    Abby
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Hey Abby!

I was able to travel a bunch as a kid, so I knew I wanted to travel. I got to fly with a family friend on a discovery flight when I was very young, and have wanted to be a pilot ever since.

Money is always a question. I wouldn’t worry about “not being good at it” - no one’s a great pilot from day 1. All that matters is whether you’re able to learn.

Skill absolutely comes with time, and confidence as well. If anyone feels like they’re a a master from day 1, I know I actually have to pay more attention. We have several evaluations during the private phase (Takeoff/Landing, Solo, Solo XC) where a lead instructor will gauge your skills.

If you want, give Admissions a call and try an Intro Flight with ATP. You’ll get to fly at your local training center, meet some instructors, and get a tour.

Hope this helps!
-B

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Abby,

Great questions and you’ve come to the right place so let’s go:

  1. I think it’s different for everyone. For some it may be an epiphany, others it comes over time, some it’s even by default (I flew with one pilot who said who couldn’t think of anything else to do?). For me it was somewhere in the middle but I started later as a second career. I had always wanted to fly but believed becoming an airline pilot was reserved for Airforce jocks and rich kids (I was neither). I was doing well financially but was miserable and decided that was an unacceptable so I threw caution to the wind and it was the best decision I ever made. I’m reality it’s your decision and your reasons are yours and that’s all that matters.

  2. Abby (and I’m going to try not to get to preachy) these days no it really doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern for many which really shocks me. The majority of people who come on this forum ask about building their resume for Delta and they’ve actually never been up. They assume they’re going to be “awesome pilots” and were “born to fly”. I actually applaud your humility and wish there were more of it. Flying isn’t brain surgery but it does requirea fair amount of intelligence and coordination so no not everyone is successful. The good news is in my experience (and I’ve been flying as long as you’ve been alive it’s really nothing the average person can’t do provided you have the desire and the work ethic. The fact you’re unsure is actually healthy and in most cases will drive you to succeed. If you’re reluctant to make a full commitment at this time I recommend you take a few more lessons, maybe even solo, before you commit.

  3. Again it varies, but the confidence can take a while. What should come somewhat quickly is a certain level of comfort in yourself and your abilities when you get the notion “yea I can do this”. Again a few lessons should help.

Adam

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Thanks,
I too enjoy travel which is a huge reason I want to do this, I like the lifestyle of living in hotels and seeing all kinds of places and people.
I appreciate the advice, I was definitely considering taking another flight just to make sure, so I will be doing that next.
Again, Thanks Bennett.

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Thanks for your response.
Yeah, I have asked for advice from people in my life and they keep trying to tell me that most pilots are from the AirForce and that’s the only way to go about becoming a pilot. I respectfully disagreed with them as I have actually researched it and learned a lot from what the “pilot mentors” on here have said.
I am glad to hear that as long as I am dedicated I should be able to succeed. sighs HUGE RELIEF!
I will be looking forward to the day that I am comfortable in the cockpit!
Thank you for your responses, very very helpful!
Abby

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Welcome, Abby,

  1. Aviation wasn’t something I had always dreamt of pursuing as a career. It just never crossed my mind - not until I met someone in college that was training to earn his private pilot license. That’s when I started looking into it. I didn’t get very far at first because I couldn’t fathom borrowing that much money. So, I focused my attention elsewhere only to realize that I should have pursued flight school immediately after college.

I circled back around to the idea not long after I graduated college though. At that point it was nothing more than a curiosity. I didn’t know any pilots at that time. But I did take my first intro flight in 2013 as a first step. It sounds like you’ve done that already, but perhaps another flight may be necessary for you to get a second look?

Anyway, for me all it took was that one flight. I remember it wasn’t even a nice day to fly. The Instructor called me ahead of time and asked if I wanted to reschedule. I told her that as long as it’s legal and safe I want to fly TODAY. I wasn’t there for the views. I was there to learn. After that flight I was HOOKED.

Every pilot I know finds their way into it in their own way though. I think no matter what though, at some point we all fed our curiosity of aviation until we became addicted (for lack of a better word). So my advice to you is to just keep feeding your curiosity for aviation. If it’s meant to be, you’ll know.

  1. Actually I think you are very wise to be asking this question. I would much rather you approach professional aviation from that perspective than from what we’re used to seeing. Too often we read posts about people who have never flown before (other than in the back on the way to some vacation) claiming to have a passion for aviation…:roll_eyes:

If you’re not 100% sure that this is what you want to do professionally, you can do what I did and just start with your PPL at a local school. I did this because I just needed to prove it to myself before I took out such a large loan.

  1. Like most things, yep! Especially aviation. Flying is not intuitive. Everyone experiences their “Ah ha!” moment at different stages of their training. If you’re already asking this question then I have confidence that you will know when you’ve reached your breaking point. I am more concerned for those that never ask themselves this question. You know your limits, Abby, but a good bench mark is you should be able to earn your PPL for $10-$15k in about 3-5months time. Beyond that, you’re either overpaying, not flying enough or you’re just not getting it.

One other thing I want to point out too is that I have actually found the flying part the easier part for people to learn (not easy, easier). It’s the knowledge part that most overlook. So, be sure to give the knowledge portion of training the respect and attention that it deserves.

Tory

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Thanks Tory.
I really appreciate the thorough response. It’s nice knowing that there is this online community that is willing to help others out. I really appreciate it. I hadn’t ever considered aviation as a career choice, but my boyfriend is an avionics tech/A&P mechanic at FWA which is why I have been more immersed in the aviation field recently. This has allowed me to realize that I love planes and love flying, the whole thing just makes me nervous, but it sounds like with more experience and education, the nerves will probably dissipate.
Thanks again
Abby

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We’re happy to help. Let us know if anything else comes to mind.

Tory

All of your concerns are valid and in line with what most of us have experienced, so it’s good to air them out and realize that you’re not alone. To answer your questions though, here are my thoughts:

  1. I have always had fascination with airplanes, but didn’t consider flying for a career until I was well into my late 30s. I’m probably a bit different from a lot of pilots, as I never had those dreams of soaring like a bird or floating or whatever. I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, and the mentally demanding nature of the profession. Above all, flying has kept my interest longer than any other fascination that I’ve ever had.
  2. Spending money on any serious investment should always be a concern. That’s a responsible thing to do. However, it’s an investment into a profession, just like any other. You can throw all of your commitment into a medical degree, and fail out of med school. You can spend money on a prestigious law school, and never pass the bar. Although there are no guarantees, if you don’t stop working towards your goal—whether in aviation or in anything else—your investment will pay off financially and in self-fulfillment. That being said, since you’re still working on college, find another in demand profession you see yourself working a career in, and get a degree in it as a backup. Life has a funny way of changing our goals despite our input sometimes.
  3. Yes. Confidence will come with skill and experience. Those going in thinking they are “natural born fighter pilots” will most likely have that oversized ego shredded. Flight training is consistently humbling at every single stage in your career, but you will come to understand that when an instructor sets a task for you and you perform it to standard, you have what it takes and that becomes your confirmation long before your brain catches up. Stay focused, stay humble, and keep working hard.
    Best of luck!
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Abby,
Welcome to the forum! Happy to have you here and hope we can help you find some clarity!

  1. I was unhappy with my job and looking for a way to pivot. I wanted a job that would get me out of a desk, traveling, flexible schedule, one I would enjoy doing and that would financially take care of me. Luckily I grew up in a family of pilots so I soon realized that an airline pilot would check all those boxes. However, I never had any interest in flying before and don’t want to do it simply for the quality of life. So I rented an airplane and flew with my dad, 17 hours before i caught the bug. I couldn’t stop thinking about the next time we could go fly and wanted to learn everything I could… after that I knew I was ready to make the leap. I quit my job, moved back home and started ATP a month later.
  2. Totally a normal concern! I couldn’t imagine ever being able to land an airplane by myself when I first started. It seemed so out of reach. To be a good pilot you need to be able to study but it’s not necessarily hard concepts like brain surgery, it’s just not common knowledge. As for getting the feel of flying the airplane, some students have it naturally, others it’s a learned skill. I grew up driving boats so to me, the flying part came easier but it’s something that will come with time. Not to knock the boys or anything, but girls tend to have better attention to detail and are gentle with the flight controls so the aircraft control seems to be easier for them in the earlier stages.
  3. Confidence comes with time and practice. If I were you, I’d rent an airplane with a CFI and get a mini first instruction. 2 hrs maybe just working on turns, climbs, descents and maintaining level flight… maybe all you need is to see and feel that you can fly the airplane on your own. Sometimes you just need to have a little victory to build that confidence to tackle more. At the end of the day, you’ll never fully know if you have what it takes until you start. After research and exploring it with rental flights there’s a point it’s more of a gut feeling. It will feel very overwhelming but ATPs program is a natural progression. Solo feels completely out of reach until you finish solo prep and have that solo eval and do 10 unassisted landings… then you’re like wow, I can do this. I can land by myself safely and consistently. Then it’s on to solo XC, and then private Checkride. Just focus on one rating at a time, the program will prepare you for what’s to come and sooner or later you’ll like back and think, dang I’m a pilot!
    -Hannah
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Welcome, Welcome Abby!

Career and lifelong change can be worrisome, your questions are beyond valid and it sounds like you’ve done some research on your end.

  1. I realized I wanted to be a pilot because I always had to stop by my hometown airport whenever a jet was landing, I always had to go to the airshows and get plane rides; I also have been fortunate to cross 16 countries off my list of visiting. I worked a desk job for 2.5 years when I acquired my Private Pilot License. Everyday it was nice I was jealous of everyone flying and I was inside dealing with money. I looked at my manager one day and said: “Hey boss, I’m sorry to do this, but I’m leaving to go fulfill my dream of being a commercial pilot.” When I stepped into ATP day 1, I was beyond excited to start my new journey, one year later to my start date, I’m now instructing at ATP.

  2. Don’t fear about not growing, no one is ‘good’ at the thing they’re attempting (first time) unless they’re Tom Brady’s kid throwing football or David Beckham’s son kicking a soccer ball. I think most of the most challenging part of flying is the landing, myself during the beginning of my career tended to transition way too high resulting in a float down the runway or a nice aircraft carrier landing on that long asphalt-paved runway. As you continue to practice the skill everything becomes easier, the knowledge and finesse will come. ATP offers you everything to flying, we have simulators that allows you to practice configuration and maneuver flows, videos of DPEs and instructors walking you through everything, students also studying like you and of course - John and Martha from King Ground School.

  3. Confidence can take some time to build, but when you start in something new you always have to build confidence. Skill will come with practice, make the mistakes and learn from them…if you are always ‘perfect’ then there is no room for growth. I think the biggest confidence booster is what Hannah mentioned, the Solo XC phase, it’s a change in atmosphere! You’re in the plane for the first time away from your instructor going to an airport at least 50nm away, you’re in charge for the duration…gives you the opportunity to really use the skills you build.

Brady

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Abby,

Welcome to the forum. Those are some great questions, let’s get to them.

  1. I decided to become a pilot one day when I was sitting in business class in college. The teacher was going on and on about something and I decided that I just could not see myself doing that for a living. I had exposure to the airlines throughs family and knew that it provided a good lifestyle and could be an enjoyable job. Now when I started flight training I still had some uncertainty and doubt of my own abilities. It took time for those things to go away, but as I got better, they did so.

  2. This is a very normal concern. But I would ask you, would you not have those same concerns if you were starting med school, or law school? It is a huge investment and it is normal to be worried about it. I think that concern is healthy and will drive you to do better in the program.

  3. Confidence in the cockpit takes time, at least it certainly did for me. You could always take another lesson or two and see how comfortable you are, but please do not expect yourself to be an Amelia Earhart after two lessons. These things take time.

  4. The old thought that most pilots come from Air Force is outdated and was never really true. The vast majority of airline pilots are civilians.

Chris

I am glad you are finding this forum helpful. Please ask any questions you may think of.

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Sergey, Hannah, Brady, and Chris,
Thank you, thank you for following up with your answers as well, I really like getting everyone’s individual perspective on my questions! I really appreciate the advice, I will probably be following up with Hannah’s advice and renting a plane just for some extra time in the sky to really get a feel for things.
Again Thank you!

I actually have another question.
So I live like 5mins from FWA, but there is no ATP here. There is one in Chicago and Indy. As of right now I have been struggling to get a cosigner, and my boyfriend said if all else fails he would sign for me, but he wants me staying at our house in Fort Wayne and drive to school everyday. This is around a 1hr 45min commute to ATP in Indy. Personally I would like to go to a different city and stay in the student housing, but I feel like if he cosigns I have to consider his feelings on this as well. He doesn’t want me to pay an extra 7200 dollars when we have a perfectly good house I can stay.
Basically I have read that you guys say commuting too much can be detrimental to my education, but I just wanted to see if any of you had some advice for this.
Thanks!
Abby

Abby,

Totally your call but 1hr is the absolute max I would consider driving. There will be some long days but that’s not everyday so you should be fine.

Worst case you could always start and see how it goes. Try the commute and if it really is a burden you’ll be in a better position to speak with your bf.

Adam

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Abby,

I know a student that commutes around 2 hours one-way daily for lesson. That’s 4 hours of driving that could be used for studying or resting, there is a chance that one day you will experience fatigue and be exhausted - then having to drive home on top which is dangerous. The 4 hours that you’re missing out can be detrimental not only to the studying, but to your safety…there will be long days at ATP, especially if weather is not cooperative that day. The student I know only sleeps around 5 hours MAX, they function on that, maybe you can? Maybe you can’t?

Brady

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Abby,

I think 1:45 is way too long to be driving each way. I am going to disagree with Adam on this, I do not think that you should even start out not his as I do not think the consequences of the drive will be obvious until it is too late and you have either fallen behind in the program or failed a check ride that you should have otherwise passed. I would try to be within thirty minutes of the airport.

Of course this is something that you two will need to work out, but I do not think it is at all in your best interest to start out with that kind of drive.

Chris

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Abby,

My apologies and Chris is right. I misread your post as 1 to a 45min drive. It’s still your call but that’s alot of driving.

If your bf is supportive, which it sounds like he is, you need to talk to him. You really want to set yourself up for success.

Adam

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Chris, Adam, Brady,
Thank you guys again, I will definitely have to have a talk and figure some more of the logistics out. Thanks!

Abby,
Do you have any family or friends you could stay with during the week that live closer to the training center? Or maybe reach out to the atp location and see if there are students there that would be open to sharing a crash pad so you can save some money and return home on the weekends to see your husband?
Let us know if we can help out in any way!

-Hannah

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Hi Abby,

There is sometimes a false sense of economy for long distance commuters. I did a quick Google Maps search for FWA to the ATP school at Indy and it showed 132 miles. Of course you don’t live at the airport so let’s round that down to a 250 mile round trip. If your car gets 25mpg you are spending $30-$35 a day just on gas, multiplied by the 20 days a month that you should expect to be there, and you are spending 5-6k on gas alone, not counting additional maintenance, insurance, tires, etc. Suddenly $7200 doesn’t sound so expensive, considering it also saves you hundreds of hours of driving.

Also do consider that our early morning block flights start at 6am (in the summer at least), and you are supposed to get there 30mins to 1hr early to preflight, which would have you leaving the house at 3am? Granted you can request not to be scheduled for the early flights but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate and early morning is the only time to fly.

Anyway, just some things to think about,

Alex

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