Intro and a few questions

Hi all,
First off thanks to the mentors who likely volunteer their time and even if they are compensated it undoubtedly is less than deserved.

About me - Almost 39 and like many very seriously considering moving to a career that as as kid I thought I would be by now. I have thoroughly read this board so I will try to keep my questions to some a bit unique to me and not reask:

  1. The zero hour v. PPL start options differ by 3 months in completion. If I am able to finish an accelerated PPL in 4-5 weeks at a large local school would I be better off if completion time is important?
  2. Assuming that I go to the Denver location, I have read that crew XC (1-2 weeks?) and CFI training (few weeks) is accomplished away. What other time away from home could I expect?
  3. Beyond solo requirements necessary for licensing, mostly PPL, how much other solo flying is done?
  4. I have a finance/strategy MBA background and have been trained to climb corporate ladders. For those that come from this background, how do you reconcile the idea that your advancement has very little to do with your performance (assuming you are above threshold good)? This is something that has been gnawing at me a bit.
    5 I understand how things work with CFI assignments if one stays at ATP, regional domiciling etc but my wife is a successful physician and makes more than a senior major captain plus we have 2 kids under 3 so I have much more financial than geographical flexibility. Beyond commuting around a radius (SLC, DFW, …) what else can I do to give myself the best chance at having a say over my location?

I think 5 is a good number of questions to stop at! Thanks in advance for the insights and hope this helps others beyond me as well,
Edit: I have a few hours in PA28s and am lucky enough to have a generous friend with a Mirage so no intro flight necessary!

Hi Scott,

Good questions so let’s get started.

  1. Your call but a few things to consider. First it’s not just the PPL you need for admission to the 6 mos program. It’s your PPL AND 80hrs TT so you need to estimate the time and expense it’ll take to get you to that number. Personally I like the idea of consistency in training. Having 0 time, starting ALL your training with ATP will get you used to ATPs procedures from day 1. There are many fine local flight schools but many have their own take on things. By starting with ATP there’ll never be any “well I was taught”.

  2. That should be your only time away.

  3. None. The only solo flying at ATP is that required for licensing.

  4. That’s all you bud. The airline industry is union based at it’s core and that ain’t gonna change. Not something I personally wrestle with and I think that all the positives far out weigh the need to rise above the herd. That said if you must there are always union, chief pilot and instructor positions that require some corporate ladder climbing skills.

  5. Nothing, nada, niente, nicht. Best you get used to the Socialist “we’re all just cogs in the wheel” airline mentality now. When you complete your training you will be offered a slot at an “available” location which may or may not suit your needs. If it does great, if it doesn’t, sorry. At least you won’t have to worry about finances if you’re forced to instruct at the local flight school. As for the Regionals since money isn’t a consideration only apply to airlines that have commutable bases.



Let’s get to your questions.

  1. I would find it very hard to believe that a local flight school could help you get your PPL in 4-5 weeks. Think about it, ATP is the definition of fast paced and it takes them 12 weeks. This sounds like a promise to get you in the door to me.

  2. That should be it.

  3. Very little, just the requirements for the PPL.

  4. There are opportunities for advancement outside of the seniority system, this includes positions like instructor pilots, ground school instructors, special assignments and various management positions.

  5. Do you mean your location with ATP or with an airline?


Adam, Chris,
Thanks for the (prompt) replies. Definitely a lot to think through and kicking myself that I did not do this 10 years ago when the decision would have been a ton easier.