Is ATP path ok to use if not wanting career pilot?

I know this may be a silly question as most (if not all) students want to eventually make piloting a career. I have applied and gotten accepted for the student loan, and I was planning on attending the flex program to go through all the training in order to become a safe and capable pilot with a good number of hours under my belt.

My age precludes me from making this a career (50), plus I make a decent living as a physician. I have tried learning on weekends, after hours, etc. After 12 months, I’ve racked up only 20 flight hours, part of it being COVID, part being that I had no CFI near my hometown (2 hour drive every time I wanted to train). I now have an opportunity to work part-time in my specialty near an ATP airport, allowing me 3-4 days of flight training every week.

My question becomes, should I proceed with ATP or go back to an unstructured training to get my certs?


ATP. No question. You’ve already experienced what it can be like trying to learn at your own pace. Why would you continue down that path? 50 doesn’t preclude you from a career, in my opinion. The mandatory retirement age at the airlines is 65. You could have 12-13 years at the airlines if you start now. The thing to consider are your expectations. Your shot at reaching the majors is probably out of the question, but I don’t see why you couldn’t have a successful career at a regional if that’s what you want.



I think it depends on what your goals are. If you just want to get your PPL, then there really is no need to go through the whole program. If you want to get your instrument license and maybe your commercial, then the program makes sense. Certainly ATP is the most efficient program out there.



When I started with ATP I was almost 40 and had zero intention to become an airline pilot. Frankly I (like you) didn’t think it was possible. I enrolled because (again like you) I was frustrated with training weekends etc. It actually took me almost 2yrs to earn my PPL and as I’m now a Capt for a Major airline that wasn’t due to a lack of ability. I was a successful restaurant owner and my goal was to be a well trained pilot and maybe get a part time instructor gig simply because I thought that would be cool. During my training people told me I could in fact fly for the airlines (I thought they were blowing smoke) and I sent my stuff in as a goof. 17yrs later here I am.

The point is there’s really no more efficient route to earning all your ratings. The equipment is top notch and you’ll inevitably be a better pilot than you would be trying to piece this together a weekend at a time.


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