Late Life Change


First time poster here and looking for some guidance. I am strongly considering a later-than-I’d-like career change. Currently 41 with a family and blessed with a job that has always paid quite well, but dreams are meant to be chased….

In addition to my corp job, I’m an officer in the Air NG, weekend guy, and RPA pilot. Sadly, the FAA doesn’t recognize “drone” pilot training. I do have my PPL and am considering the ATP PPL-credit course to complete the other necessary training(s) in hopes of landing a regional spot.

I have the necessary funds for both the ACPP and the Direct Track option potentially as well. So while finances are important, I can float things for awhile without requiring a loan. My questions are:

  1. What’s waiting after? I understand the shortage, but 1,500TT is intimidating. I have done my research and see all kinds of opportunities with much less hours, but how realistic is it to land one of those opportunities?

  2. Being military, my family and I are used to being apart. So initially, I’m thinking complete the ACPP portion wherever and then move back home to MI and start to gain hours. I know the CFI route is most common and likely quickest, but outside of banners/jumpers is there a realistic shot of a different route? Not knocking it, I just prefer to learn from those with knowledge above me Does NOT CFI’n with ATP negatively impacts future opportunities around recruiting/exposure to opportunities?

  3. Little on the forum around the Direct Track option. It’s pricey and would be difficult in my situation, but any benefits? Outside the shortened timeline, I’d think the predictability would mean the potential for improved recruiting/piece of mind on the backside to land a regional spot. I also get the whole buying vs. earning argument. Thoughts? Make more sense to do the “100+ ME” option? What doors does that open?

  4. Being in a commuting position to a Spirit base (DTW), the Spirit direct track is certainly enticing. Again though, great marketing, but how many spots? Chances of actually landing one? Ways to improve the likelihood? Is the opportunity off the table if I don’t CFI via ATP?

If you’re still with me, thanks for reading my novel! Appreciate any insights. Blue skies and tailwinds all.


1 Like


Welcome to the forum. Let’s. get to your questions:

  1. The vast majority of pilots flight instruct to get to 1,500 hours. It might not be glamorous, but it is the tried and true path to the airlines. You will see other jobs pop up around the 500 hour mark, but typically those involve flying co-pilot in some sort of business jet, which can translate to not really gaining that much flight experience. Being a CFI is the proven method.

  2. There are other routes, but being a CFI helps to build your skills and knowledge. Towing banners might get the flight time, but it will do little or anything to advance your skills as a pilot. It isn’t just about getting to 1,500 hours, you need to be able to get through airline training as well.

  3. I personally would just do the basic Airline Career Pilot Program. The Direct Tracks expensive, my vote is that you should get paid to build your flight time, not pay to build it.

  4. The Spirit Direct Track is reserved for ATP CFIs. I am not sure how many spots there are, it depends on the needs of the airline at the time. The best way to improve your chances are to do well in the program, be respectful, and remember that every day is an interview.

I hope that helped, let us know what else you have questions about.