Is this a decent plan or reckless?

Hello again,

I am really thinking hard about switching careers. I think I have a decent plan for making it happen and my wife is on board but some of my friends think the plan is way too risky. If you have a minute, I could use a fresh set of eyes to make sure I am not just blinded by the prospect of it all and that I am actually following a good plan. Thanks.

I am 25 years old, married, and have our first child on the way. I am a police officer in a medium sized city and have been on for 4 years. I make very respectable(for our area and field) $70k which will likely top out at around 90k with a few promotions and 25 years on. The job offers good benefits and pension too, BUT…I don’t really like it anymore. I’ll bet you can correctly assume the downsides, they all have to do with dealing with the worst people and the most messed up situations you can think of and I find my self coming home upset, angry, or dejected at night pretty regularly lately, on top of being just completely wiped almost every night . I just have a hard time seeing how the very occasional exciting incident and moderate satisfaction of catching a bad guy could make this doable for the next 30 years.

As a kid, I wanted to fly but assumed it was only for Active duty military types and I decided against active duty although I did do the National Guard after high school (not flying).

I have just started lessons at my local flight school. I cannot go full time at ATP right now because with a baby on the way, there is no way I’m letting go of our good health insurance with a delivery looming on the horizon. I plan to get my private license locally, flying 2-3 times a week and was told I could get it done in 9 months maybe less depending on other external factors. However, baby is due in 6 so that will slow my progress considerably I would imagine. We had been saving quite a bit for a baby already so I can spend my overtime duty pay to pay for my PPL and saving for living expenses when I go full time.

After the baby is born healthy (God willing) on my good health insurance, then I can quit my job, sell my house and enroll at ATP although an expensive private health insurance policy is going to be a good chunk of change to save up first But I will hopfully put a good dent in it over the next 9-10 months. Coming in with my PPL turns the 9 month 80k ATP program into a 6 month 60k program. There is a school in Indianapolis where my sister in law and her family live…That would help tremendously with cost of living…I know, I know, who wants to invite a family with a young baby to live with them for 6 months? My wife is VERY close with her family and I have no doubt they would say yes. I actually think our dogs will be more of a deal breaker than a new baby. Otherwise, then I will have to spring for an apartment.

I do have about 55k in positive equity in my house after only living there for 2 years (we pay extra to principal with the intention of paying off in 15 years vs 30). I COULD use some of that 55k to make ends meet (cost of living, insurance, etc) until I land an airline job after CFI. I would rather pretend that money doesn’t exist, and then pay off my ATP debt in one fell swoop once I have an airline job. This is one aspect that my friend’s hate about the plan. They say I am “established” in my life and if I do go through with this, they think I should take the 55k from this house to put towards a new one. I see eliminating the debt as more important than “starting over” on a new mortgage. After all, I’m only two years in to the mortgage I have now so I don’t see that as much of a loss in time.

The other things they think are risky are not major concerns for me. One is the job prospects, though I’m not so concerned about that. They also say the pay cut is risky, but I see that I will make my money back. I also feel even if I made a little less but had a better job then I am ahead. They mentioned the family life but I already have the “advantage” of already working weekends, holidays, going to court on my days off, etc. So my kids will have to get used to me missing some things anyway. So family time seems to be an even trade for me.

Does anything in this plan throw red flags for you guys? Specifically, quitting and doing school with a baby, using my equity from the last two years to pay off my debt vs putting towards another house vs using it to cover living expenses for a worst case? My friends think I should go the "slow and steady’ route and not quit/sell the house etc. I’d rather get it done all at once.

Additionally, There is also the possibility my wife could work part time from home with the baby but I am the primary income earner now and we plan on homeschooling so I will for sure be the breadwinner when the kid gets to school age.

Thanks for any one who took the time to read this, I know it’s wordy. Any advise, in favor or against my ideas, are appreciated.


Overall your plan seems solid. Honestly as I was reading your post (and I’m not trying to dis your friends) but do you really care that much what your friends think? (Sad fact of life, many of our friends want us to do well but not TOO well). They say you’re “established in your life”? You’ve done well so far but you’re 25 and have been an officer for 4yrs. While you may be on an established path, that’s far from being set and what if you were? Who’s to say you can’t make a change? This decision is yours and your wife’s and no one else’s. When I made the decision I was considerably more established. I was 39, wife, 3 kids, mortgage and a restaurant. People told my I was absolutely insane. But 18yrs later I have the greatest job on Earth and live on the water in Hawaii. They’re still doing the 9-5 and freezing in the winter. To each their own.

There’s no question it will require some sacrifice but on the plus side you’re young enough that you can have a very long a prosperous career in the airlines. It won’t be tomorrow but senior Capts at Majors earn $400k and the average is about $200k for working half the month. In that note you don’t mention a college degree? If you don’t have one that is something you’ll definitely need to work into your plan. But other than that the plan is definitely double provided again you’re willing to do the work and make the sacrifice.

As for your friends trust me they’ll either get on board or you’ll find some new ones :wink:



Thanks Adam. I do have a degree already. Bachelors in criminal justice…what a waste of time hahaha. I agree, they don’t have the desire to leave and fly so any amount of risk is crazy to them but I was just concerned I was overlooking some glaring error due to my eagerness.

I suppose what they thought was the dumbest was not using the equity from the home sale to go towards another house. I think using it to pay off the school debt right away and/or having less school debt to begin with i.e. help with cost of living while in school, are better ways to use that money than just having a bit smaller mortgage for a new home later on after I’ve got a job that pays well. The cash is more useful to further my goals when i’m cash strapped… Does that make sense or am I way off on that?


As far as your finances go that’s really your decision. We’re pilots not accountants so I can’t comment on what makes more sense fiscally. Even if I could it’s your money and your debt and only you know what your comfort level is. Some are very comfy with tremendous debt and others hide from it like it Covid. If you could hold on to your house and continue to build equity then sure keeping it would be great but if it’s going to feel like an anchor around your neck and add further stress then dump it. It’s a house. There are others.

Your call.

Btw, that Criminal Justice degree and police service could very much come in handy. I have a good friend, flew for the airlines for about 10yrs and really wasn’t crazy about it. Similar background as you and he’s now a pilot with the FBI. Flies around the world flying some awesome equipment making ridiculous money. It’s always good to have options.



Your plan sounds pretty decent and thought out to me.

That aside, at 25 years old, I would in no way say that you are too “established” to make a career move. It will only get harder as you get older, so now is the time. The money in the airlines is certainly significantly better over the long run than it would be not he police force, although it will require some initial sacrifice.

As to the quality of home life, I suspect that you will see your family more as a pilot than you do as a police officer. We work slightly more than half the month and when we are home, we are home with little to no distractions or responsibilities.

What you do with the cash from the house is your call, it might be worth talking to a financial planner to get their input into this.



As a father-to-be myself I am with your friends on this one.

Uprooting your family, selling your house, using the equity from the sale of the home to live off of and pay for flight training and changing careers right before the baby is born, TO ME, isn’t something that either me or my wife would be comfortable with. If I were in your shoes my wife would need to be 100% supportive. I would also like to have at least a year’s worth of savings to assist my family through the transition.

Personally, I think you should keep your job and your house and save until you have enough money to pay for the program, OR, take out a loan to cover whatever portion you can’t.

I am not a fan of using home equity in the way you intend to. First of all you’ll have to pay taxes on the gains so you may actually end up with less than you think, second you’d also be spending what is intended to be an investment on consumable goods and education. While education could also be seen as an investment, it’s also not apples to apples.

At the end of the day it is your decision. I just wanted to throw in my two cents.


Tory, thanks. I think I agree with you about living off the money from a home sale. That was more of an after thought. The primary idea I had, I think as you mentioned, I would save for cost of living or add the difference in with financing. Once you had a job that would pay the bills, would it make sense, at that point, to take the cash from the house(after taxes, good point) and use it to pay off a large chunk of that debt? Or better to put towards a new house?

I want this change badly but don’t want to be blinded by it so I do appreciate your point of view.

Well, the only way I see you being able to tap into your equity is with a home equity line of credit, which doesn’t make sense so no point in going down that road, or to sell your home and buy another home of lesser value. That could work, but that’s completely your call. It’s your life, your family.

I don’t want to tell you what you can and cannot do with your money. I was mainly trying to come from a stability point of view. Again, you are free to make whatever decisions you’d like, contrary to me and your friends, as long as you take responsibility for your choices. Would I use my equity to pay down debt? Depends on how high the interest rate was. Am I able to make ends meet by not tapping into my equity? Personally I wouldn’t touch it unless I had no other choice or if I rolled it into another investment. But that’s me.

I just wanted you to take pause for a moment. You are about to bring a human into the world (Congrats btw). I don’t think it’s surprising that your friends are reacting the way they are to your plan. I don’t know them, but I imagine they see your plan as reckless because you are talking about uprooting your family and demoing your family’s foundation (house and career) in pursuit of a new career which will take years to build up to your existing one.

If your baby wasn’t in the picture I think your friends would be rooting you on. If they think like I do though, I think they are more baby first, then career-minded.

Now, I don’t know where your priorities are and it’s not my business anyway, but since you took the time to ask us our opinion that tells me that you are at least questioning your own thought process, which is good. If you end up following through with your original plan, then that’s is the end of the discussion, but if not, then perhaps there is another way that doesn’t involve selling the house/moving?

ATP offers a Flex Track program for those that still need to work. That could be a way for you to provide while also transition to aviation?

Saving for a year could also offset the overall cost?

You haven’t mentioned how your wife feels about your plan?


She is on board with the career change, on board with it being a pay cut for a few years. She said she isn’t too concerned about if the money from the house is used in a different way besides another house either. I’m just trying to think of how I can make it all work.

Well you’ve heard our perspectives. Hopefully we’ve helped? Or at least given you some things to take into consideration?

Having support from your wife speaks for itself. This is your judgment call. Starting now vs later, at your pace vs full-time requires sacrifice either way. Just depends on which sacrifices you and your wife are willing to take and when.



Small side note btw. Remember if you want credit for your PPL you need at least 78hrs of flight time. Small detail but something to keep in mind.


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Adam, Thanks for pointing that out. I think I missed that.

All, perhaps while at my current job waiting for the baby, it would be better to wait on getting my PPL and instead put that money towards the living expenses that we will need while at ATP. Even if it means an extra 3 months of training with no income, not getting my PPL would allow me to save an extra $8-10k for living those 9 months at ATP.

I don’t know, I appreciate your guys’ opinions. I have a lot to think about but at least I have a while to think about it too.


I understand Tory’s points here, but I would disagree. Yes, you would be putting your family through a bit of hardship right now, but the potential career payoffs down the road are immense. Now I hope this comes across the right way, but as a major airline captain, I live in a a world where I can provide my family just about anything I want or they need. We have two nice houses, nice cars, college funds, vacations at the best hotels, etc. The financial squeeze would certainly be there for a few years, but the payoff in hr end could really enable you to offer your family a very nice quality of life.

On the schedule side of things, I work about half the month, but them I am home with them without ever thinking of work. I really respect what police officers do, but I do think you could offer your family a better quality of life, both in terms of financial stability and quality time, as a pilot.



First, thank you for being a first responder. I can’t imagine how tough your job can be and especially so during this last year.
Second, the career you can have as a pilot will be so worth the strain on your family in the short term future… both in quality of life and for financial security. It sounds like you have a great support system too, your wife and friends who “tell it to you straight.” That will be so important in getting you through the first few years that are overwhelmingly the most difficult.
Okay so with all that being said, there are so many different routes to take at this point. If I were you, I wouldn’t bother doing your private right now. Like you said, you’d have to take a sizable break once the baby is born and any progress you could have made will be partially lost. Plus, doing it over nine months with gaps plus the extra hours to get up to the 78 hours needed for starting ATP credit private could very well be more than the 20k break you get for starting with your private (80k vs 60k). Instead, save up as much money as you can. Enjoy the birth of your child and see what you can do about selling your house and maybe even moving in with family. Get all your “ducks in a row” so to speak and then jump in to ATP as set up for success as you possibly could be. You definitely aren’t the first to go through atp with a new baby. It will be tough at times, just make sure you prioritize your sleep so you show up to your flights rested!
Time is of the essence because each month is seniority numbers down the road. BUT, there is more in life that effects your success than rushing things sometimes.



As already stated, it may be better to hold off on the PPL until you are at ATP. It could end up costing you more in the long run just to get your PPL. I took a long time and a lot of money to get mine, but I wasn’t planning on going further until recently. You have the support of the person that matters (your wife), there are plenty of people we call friends that don’t want to see you be more successful than them. Keep focused on your goals and know in the long run you will have a great career that allows you to live comfortably.



Thank you for your service as a police officer. It’s a tough job and not the right fit for everyone.

I am not a full time pilot, but I am a dad of 3, have changed careers, and have owned/flown a variety of nice planes over the years (most recently a C310, but am considering a Meridian partnership). I got my instrument and multi at ATP, and have numerous friends in the aviation community. I’m also 46, so I feel like I offer a different perspective.

Generally speaking, if you are going to make a career change, sooner is better. I would not do so before the baby is born for the reasons you identified, but also consider the likelihood/timing of additional children. That is going to be a consideration for both cash flow and insurance, and the more kids you have, the more stress there will be on those left at home when you are away (especially when the kids are young). Once you make the change, fly a variety of types of planes and different situations whenever possible, and accumulate hours as quickly as you can in the quest for 1500. After that, your options improve significantly.

On the financial side, I think it would help to run an excel sheet on the net present value (NPV, a defined formula in excel) of your current career vs changing to a pro pilot career. Make some assumptions about cash outflow, positions, hours, and pay each year, and you will be able to see how quickly you can recoup your investment plus how much more money you will make long term. The longer you wait to change careers, the less the difference. Also, you can throw in some “bad years” like 2020 to stress test it, but you’ll probably find you still come out ahead.

Ultimately, happiness is an incredibly important part of life, and our happiness affects those close to us much more than we realize. If you don’t see yourself as a career cop, move on as quickly as you can, assuming to move is made in a way that is good for you and your family. One of my partners left his computer programming job (making heaps of cash), cashed out his 401k, did some additional schooling, and changed careers with a 6-month old at home. He will tell you it was hard, but the best decision he ever made.

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As someone closer to the last 1/3 of this career than than the beginning, you’ll never be more free to make a change than now.
BTW, not an accountant, but you should be able to avoid capital gains tax on those house profits as long as you have been a resident in the house for 2 out of the last 5 years, your good to go up to $500K for married couples. Also, don’t confuse equity with capital gains. Money you paid into the house is never taxable.
You mentioned the National Guard, have you considered joining an Air National Guard unit either in your state or somewhere you’d be willing to move? They would look favorably on your prior service and if selected, they will send you directly to flight school for their aircraft type. Then when you finish that, you usually do an active duty period with the guard unit to get all your qualifications and experience built up. Eventually you transition back to 1 weekend a month/ 2 weeks a year (very flexible in ANG units) and your free to start working for an airline.
Bonus, your pay cut while on AD from now would be minimal, and you’d likely avoid the time in the regional airlines, all while earning points towards an eventual reserve retirement.
So in essence you’d likely be having the govt pay for your flight training, medical insurance the whole time, a guaranteed job for the following two years, and likely right to a major if joining the airlines.
Key is to pursue ANG units that aren’t on TOP GUN, like C130’s or Tankers or possibly C17’s, they seem to have the most spots available to people off the street vice just hiring previously Active duty members.
Best of luck,

Hobie, That’s great advice. I had considered the Air Guard and was thinking about talking to a recruiter soon. I just know it’s extremely competitive and wanted to have another plan too.

Regardless of if it works out to fly with ANG, you could continue to serve with either ANG or Reserves. Based on your career selection it seems you are service oriented and it would get you reasonable medical insurance while getting points toward retirement. (Look up Tricare Reserve Select) You already have initial training, so it should not delay your plan too much and if you do it before ATP are covered under USERRA with current employer.


I would encourage you to do ALOT of research before you entertain going into the ANG. While I’ve never served I fly and work with many who have and none of them recommend that as a route to the airlines. If your desire is to serve you country, then by all means but if it’s simply to get to the airlines it’s far from efficient.

From what I’ve been told the initial process for enlistment, pilot screening, selection etc is about 18mos. IF you successfully get a pilot slot, the flight training is another 6mos to a year and the average ANG pilot flies about 300hrs a year. That means under ideal circumstances you’re looking at 5yrs to a Regional vs 2.5 the civilian route. If things get moving like CV19 in those 5yrs you could actually be looking at a Major vs starting at a Regional.

I have nothing but respect for those who serve but again if you goal is simply to be an airline pilot it’s not the best route.