I’m 33 and considering getting out of the mortgage business and starting at ATP. I want to get advice on something.
I initially went to college majoring in aviation at a part 141 school. Due to some fears at the time (job security and unfamiliarity with the SODA process) I quit after obtaining my instrument rating. I have around 120 hours, but haven’t flown regularly in about 14 years. I spoke to admissions and they said my option would be to start with credit for my PPL, but given the time it’s been I wonder if I should:
- Start the program as if I have 0 hours
- Try to regain currency at a local flight school and just redo my instrument at ATP.
I’ve done one flight since I lapsed and the air maneuvers seemed to come back pretty quick, but I would need quite a bit of practice before I could pass a BFR and feel comfortable.
It depends on how you feel. Does the training 14 years ago seem like you never even did it because its all lapsed? Or do you feel rusty but think it will come back relatively quickly? The only way I can relate to this is my foreign language education in college. There was a time I was nearly fluent in Spanish. Since I have rarely used it for the last 8 years, I’d say I’ve lost practically all of it and would have to start from scratch again if I ever wanted to pick it back up.
I think the most efficient route would be to refresh the book knowledge yourself and go to a local flight school to refresh your stick and rudder skills. I imagine it will come back quicker than you think. Muscle memory is a powerful thing. Treat the BFR like a check ride and make sure you start ATP as if you just got your private pilot rating the day before.
Starting the program at credit private, you save $20k compared to zero time. I think you could refresh your flight skills plus take a BFR for a fraction of that cost.
I had an almost 10yr lapse between getting my PPL and starting with ATP. As Hannah said it’s really your decision based on how you feel but as you said it does come back very quickly. Personally I’d do some reading and get my knowledge back up. Then I’d speak with ATP about maybe getting some extra time BEFORE you start the program (with credit for your PPL) to knock the rust off and get all warm and fuzzy with the plane and Instructor you’ll actually be working with (that what I did).
If not and if money’s not an issue you could def start from zero. You can always use the extra hours towards the magic 1500. Totally your call.
Just to be clear with the SODA, you need a First Class medical without any restrictions at all to be eligible for the airlines.
I would recommend going to a local school and brushing up to the point where you can get a BFR. Do not worry about the instrument skills so much as you will go through that training again with ATP either way. I bet the flying comes back to you sooner than you might think.
Thanks everyone for the responses! It seems like there are a few good options so I might check in with a CFI and see if it comes back pretty quick or if I’d need significant time to be as ready as someone who just passed their checkride.
Reg the SODA - I have 20/40 vision in one eye, 20/20 in the other. Would the correct steps be:
- Schedule 1st class with AME
- Have it deferred for vision
- Gather docs from eye doctor
- Get current
- Apply for SODA with FAA
- Complete ride with FAA?
Also, if I decided to do ATP to get current again (the wrap up PPL option or something custom), would a deferred first class work to be admitted?
You need a medical to do flight training beyond your solo and a deferred medical is not a medical.
You need to schedule an appointment with an AME and see if you can obtain a first class medical. If the AME decides to continuing pursuing the SODA process then yes, the process you described is correct. The goal would be to obtain the First Class medical with no limitations or restrictions and a SODA. You’d need to carry both with you for the duration of your career. I wouldn’t pursue any flight training until seeing the AME first.
Cam, did you make a decision on this? I am in almost the exact same situation myself. Have my PPL, considering a career change, haven’t flown in 10+ years and thinking through the options. I’d be curious to hear your decision/thoughts and see if they coincide with mine. The mentor’s on here offer such great feedback. (*Adam. I’ve gone through and found a bunch of old posts you’ve shared about being 10 years out of the game and they have helped tremendously.
Right now I’m still working on putting the pieces together. Before I can sign up for ATP I need to:
- Get 3rd class medical
- Get current at a PPL level
- Get deferred for 1st class
- Take SODA ride
- Get 1st class approved
- Sign up and get start date
In the meantime I’ve been working on securing a HELOC to provide the cash flow to to take care of #2 and either get a house ready to sell or rent out. That piece is almost done. The other big thing has been discussing this with my wife. She rightfully has a lot of reservations about this, as a lot would fall on her with our kids. Plus I’m the primary breadwinner and would be taking a pay cut for what I assume would be 4-5 years. Then throw in the emotions involved in moving again and you can see why that’s an ongoing discussion.
Best of luck to you! This is definitely a challenge at this stage of life but so are most things worth doing.
I have struggled with some vision issues myself, so this is something I am familiar with. I am in no way trying to discourage you, but keep in mind that if you have vision that is 20/40 corrected in one eye, and 20/20 corrected in the other, you may very well be able to get the SODA. BUT, if anything happens to that other eye and your vision slips to even 20/25 corrected, you are done flying, period. I would want to make absolutely sure that my vision was stable at 20/20 in the good eye before proceeding with your plan.
Thanks for the advice! It’s been stable for years now (including prescription strength). One thing my AME suggested was to go ahead and get the 8500-7 done (I think it’s required for the 3rd class anyway since the “bad” eye is due to amblyopia), which should help confirm that my eyes appear to be stable.
It’s a scary prospect for sure, but it seems like there are a ton of things that could happen health wise that lead to being grounded. I’ll just have to focus on my health and keep my fingers crossed that I stay in the clear.
Things continue to move forward. The third class medical is done, and I took my first flight towards getting current (and preparing for a SODA ride) today. The flying itself went great. We did straight and level flight, climbs, descents, steep turns, slow flight, and power on/power off stalls. I didn’t feel like I had great situational awareness as I was too focused on the actual flying, but I’m assuming that will come in time. The takeoff was fine, but I did need help with a last minute gust when landing. I’ll also need some practice with my radio skills.
Overall the instructor seems to think with some solid pattern work he should be able to sign off on a flight review. That seems crazy to me, but I know more will continue to come back. I’m also looking into doing some flights at the same airport ATP operates out of since its busier, and closer to the FSDO.
Final note, I know I’ve gotten larger around the middle, but it seems like the cockpit of the Piper Warrior I was in today was way smaller than the 172s I used to fly.
Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t you say to haven’t flown in approx 14yrs? Seriously bud, cut yourself some slack! These are called “perishable skills” for a reason.
Keep up the progress and keep us posted.
As for the Warrior cockpit it’s actually pretty comparable to the Skyhawk, just sayin’
Fourteen years is a long time off, I would very much expect you to be rusty and need to do some catching up. I bet it comes back to you sooner than you might think though.
Thank you for the update, please keep them coming.