Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is it worth it to get your PPL at a local flight school first?

Hey guys so I found a flight school that offers your ppl with 50 hours TT for $8,774. ( here’s the link in case you guys wanted to check it out )It’s a $13,000 diffrence between coming with or without your ppl into atp so I would only need to time build 30 hours to make the requirement. Is it a good idea to get your ppl before going to atp or should I just stick to the program? I’m worried that getting my ppl before enrolling into atp will make everything more expensive since it’s not all bundled together. Thanks again everyone.

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I actually got my private outside of ATP and I really strongly recommend against doing it. To begin with, if you get your private in fifty hours, you are a rock star. In my experience, most pilots take around 65-75 hours to get their private, so adjust that school’s price based on that.

Te second concern is learning a bunch of information a wrong, or just different way. ATP teaches you to fly their airplanes, their way which also happens to be very close to how the airlines want pilots to fly. When I was a CFI, I saw some very interesting things coming from students that had done training at other schools. Some if it was benign, some just downright dangerous. I hate to sound like a salesman, we try really hard to avoid that, but I wish I had done my private with ATP.



First as always it’s your choice, you can do whatever you like. Funny thing, we get asked this question often and EVERYBODY seems to gloss over this little tidbit:
*Hours are based on student averages not minimum hours required. Instruction includes flight instruction, ground instruction, and pre/post briefing. Aircraft rental based on block rate.
To that flight schools credit they don’t even bury it in the fine print, it’s right there up front. Virtually no one earns their licenses (particularly their PPL) in the minimum time. This is not a reflection of you or your skills and abilities. It’s simply logistics. The local flight school is there to train the recreational pilot and they do a fine job of it but efficiency is not their forte. Both Chris and I got our PPLs locally and both of us wish we hadn’t. It simply takes too long and costs too much.

The only time I do recommend getting your PPL first is if you’re not 100% sure this is for you and want to start training without a big commitment. BUT, if it’s simply to save a few dollars, what are you saving? As you pointed out the price difference at ATP is $13K with or without the PPL AND 80hrs required. The program quoted (at the FAA mins) is $8774. The school’s hourly rate for a 172 is $115hr. without an instructor. $115hr x 30hrs = $3450. $3450 + $8774 = $12,224. So you’re saving $700 and change. Go over by 7hrs and it’s a wash but even if you don’t you then have to transition to ATP. ATP’s spent over 40yrs putting together a proven program for training pilots for careers in the airlines. The extra 30hrs you get will include time WITH an instructor who will help you hone your skills and if you’re ready start moving you towards your next rating. That, for under $800 (which you may or may not save) is a bargain.