I’m strongly considering switching to a career in aviation but I still have some student loans I need to pay off from my current profession. I was wondering, would it be advisable to pay off those loans over the next 9-12 months while working towards a PPL, then join an ATP program with the PPL credit (assuming I have the requisite 78 flight hours)? Or would it be better to get just a few flight lessons in (to make sure I really want to switch careers), pay off the loans, then do the zero-time program? I’m pretty sure I’d like to have a PPL no matter what I decide to do, but I’m wondering what makes better sense in terms of training for the ATP cert. and being fiscally responsible. Any advice is welcome, thanks.
I’m going to assume you’ve decided to do your training with ATP because you’ve seen their record of success. The fact is ATP has had over 1200 pilots hired by the airlines in the last 12 months alone. If you believe ATP is the best school for you, why would you want to begin your PPL training (the foundation of all your training) with some other program?
There’s a concept you’ll learn about called the Law of Primacy which says what we learn first stays with us the longest. Why not start day one on the right path? Honestly it’s never made sense to me. Now if you’re unsure and feel you need to take a few lessons (or maybe solo) then by all means but most people find earning their PPLs locally takes far too much time and money.
Thanks for the response Adam. I’ve spent some more time doing research and it seems like it will be better financially to just knock all the flight training in one go rather than piecemeal. I’m going to take a few lessons, make sure that’s what I really want to do, then decide. If it’s a go, after I pay off my current debt, I’ll guess I will take on more to complete the training.
I’ve seen that it is suggested that I take all the written exams prior to starting flight training and that they are valid for 24 months. Is it encouraged to take the CFI exams before starting as well (including the ground instructor exams) or do many students find that they ‘forget’ the information before they start using it? Thanks.
You absolutely will forget all the information you used to pass the FAA, Knowledge exams. The reason is because you won’t actually learn it till later.
People wrestle with this concept but the reality is the FAA Knowledge exams, while a requirement, really don’t follow any curriculum and the questions are somewhat random in their phrasing. This is why we recommend (if you can) you complete as many of the exams as possible. It’s simply a box you need to check and if you wait till you’re in training it’ll be nothing more than a distraction. You will of course learn the material (it’s important) but will do so when you’re in training and it has some context. This is why the recommended method for studying is simply rote memorization (learning the questions and the answers) and getting it out of the way.
As for which exams to take there are 6 required. The Ground Instructor exams are optional but helpful if you want to earn your Gold Seal as an instructor (something that looks good are your resume).
Thanks for the information Adam. It’s certainly a very different way of doing things than in academia. From what I’ve read, there’s also a lot more mandated training to keep pilots current once they’ve got their certs which is good.