Dear all kindly,
I need help with some information about pilot career. I’m a 49yo male with 0 hour flight time. I will be on my 4th career if I pull the trigger for this one. Currently, Im a travel Operating Room Nurse (RN-BSN), been a nurse for over 10 years . Financially, I am making a good money, but nursing is not my dream job. I want to fly an airplane for the airlines since I was a little, but the life brought me into different routes. I have taken my first class medical exam and passed. I already approved for the student loan for the flight school. I have talked and looked at ATP and Aeroguard in Phoenix. I planed to do a fast track program.
My questions are, how long would it take for me to get into a major airlines as a Captain? What steps would you suggest to take to achieve it the earliest??Remember, Im probably the oldest one to start this career.
I really highly appreciate your advices.
Dear all kindly,
I’m in a very similar boat. Currently a School Nurse (BSN-RN) and have bene a nurse for 6 years. Like you nursing isn’t my first career or my dream job. All I’ve wanted to do was fly but was always told that I couldn’t for a large variety of reasons (eyesight, age etc.). I’m 43 now and hoping to start training after the current school year (though very tempted to start sooner…) I’m looking at ATP in the Denver area with one of the fast track programs as well.
Best of luck to you.
First and foremost becoming a Capt for a Major airline is the pinnacle of our career and there is absolutely zero guarantee that any pilot will achieve this goal, regardless of age. You also don’t mention whether or not you have a degree which would further complicate things.
That all said let’s do perfect world scenario and answer your question. If you start tomorrow training will take you 7mos, then add another 1.5yrs give or take to build the required 1500hrs so you’re 51. Get hired at a Regional, fly as a Regional FO for 2yrs, upgrade to Regional Capt and build some turbine PIC for another 2yrs, now you’re 55 and have 10 yrs left to fly. IF you choose to apply to a Major and IF they hire you (2 BIG ifs) you could possibly upgrade to entry level airplane Capt (say Delta A220) for the last few years of your career. Keep in mind many Major airlines actually have contract language that states if you’re within 2yrs of retirement they don’t have to train you, just pay you.
Bottomline is if it happens that’s great but I would not start this career at your age with the sole definition of success being Major airline Capt. The odds are not in your favor.
They aren’t required to train you? Could you explain this further?
I’ve been doing some reading on AirlinePilotCentral.com and there’s a lot of older pilots on there who discuss their career, and there seems to be a large trend that quite a few of them go to ULCCs/LCCs such as Frontier or Spirit. They often have less competitive hiring minimums (and ATP has a gateway program to be hired with Frontier after reaching 1500). The mentors can chime in as they are much more experienced than myself, but this might also be something to consider.
Training a pilot is very expensive. That’s the reason airlines have “seat locks” that require you to remain in an aircraft you’re trained in for a period of time (usually 2-3yrs) before you can move to another one. In addition the reality is older pilots do sometimes loose some cognitive skills and may have trouble changing to a completely different format. The problem is everything works on seniority and if a pilot is senior enough to hold a open slot, they must be awarded it, even if training that pilot is a “bad investment” for the airline. The solution is to pay the pilot for the aircraft they hold but not train them. Make sense?
Good evening, Erick—
I must concur with Adam on everything that he has said. Not only being a Captain at a major is a pinnacle of a career, it’s never a guarantee. Training issues, industry downturns and overall luck of the draw sometimes have a lot in play as well. You do have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, which would lift some of the eligibility requirements at a major, however there is still no ironclad guarantee you will make it beyond a First Officer position. If financial well-being is your concern, you’re far better off in your travel RN status for the foreseeable future. However if you truly just want to fly for the airlines, then you should be realistic in your expectations as Adam mentioned. After all, if I talked to you today and said that I wanted to enter into a nursing career with a goal of becoming a CNO for a major hospital system, what would you advise?
Thank for the wishes. I hear you there, sometimes life gives you a different route to get what you really want in life.
Best of wishes to you and good luck,
I really appreciate your advice. I will use that as part of my decision making.
Once again, thank you for your help,
Thank you for your post Erick and Russel. Im in the same boat as you guys. 47 years old and an NP in Vegas. Currently looking to change careers as well. I have the same questions you guys do with the biggest one being what is the best path given my age. The Frontier program almost seems to be the best route. Good luck to you guys. Well have to keep each other posted on any information that we come up with.
I’ve been looking at the Frontier program as well and feeling that it would be the best option. Of course I know that nothing is carved in stone and things might change as things progress. Good luck to you, and Erick, I’ll be sure to keep things posted as I move through the program.
I’d be curious as to how successful the Frontier program is. As in, how many ATP placements have there been?
Any mentors or admin know?
Thanks for your response. Did you enroll at ATP? I’m still doing some last minute research but will most likely reserve a class date in the next few weeks. Good luck! We’ll have to keep each other posted on progress.
The Frontier program is relatively new. I am not sure how many placements there have been as of yet, but will ask.
I haven’t enrolled yet. I’m finishing up with my current position (School Nurse) and working on losing some weight (officially down 10lbs this weekend). But am hoping to be enrolled by summer or early fall.
That’s awesome Russ. Good luck to you!
Thanks! Good luck to you as well!
I know of at least two classes of four that have been successfully placed at frontier. So that’s eight total… keep in mind the Covid year and a half put the program on a bit of a pause. I’m sure a third class is in the works or already on their way through as well.