Real Answers from Real Pilots

New prospect for ATP/switching careers

Hey ATP Team, say I am new to the forum here and recently joined last week. First I would like to say hi to everyone and I am curious on some questions I have. I am interested in ATP school (Minneapolis location). I was texting with admissions, and sound like to get a tour of the location I just need to call and set up a test flight. I was going to do that this coming week.

To give you a little background on me, Aviation has always been on my mind. I do not have my PPL, but I have flown with my cousin in a 182 multiple times and love it! I have a 4 year college degree in business and work as a Sales Rep for a Window Manufacturer currently over seeing dealers who sell my product lines. I just turned 40 this past Feb. I have no kids and I am not married. What are you thoughts on this question I have. Would I be to late for me to consider switching careers? (Tonight recently, I have read the tread by I believe Adam a few years ago which really lays it out good!) I get starting this late I wont be able to get to the majors flying a 777. However, My ultimate goal would be to get with the majors and fly a 737 or airbus 320. Is this doable?

I understand if I do ATP, time frame will be 1 year to get lics/certified. 2 years to get 1500 hrs as CFI and 2 years at a regional as a FO and 3-5 years at a regional as a Captain. Before I get my total hours to possibly be able to apply at Delta/United/American. (Grant-it no one can predict what will happen with Covid) But Is this fairly accurate time frame I am writing down???

Thanks in advance for everyone’s input!

Chris

Chris,

First no one ever said at starting at 40 you’d never fly a 777. What we did say was you’d never be a 777 Capt. You could make it to widebody FO. IF that’s something you wanted.

As for your time frame its as good as any. If this past year has taught us anything it confirms that nothing is guaranteed and no one can predict the future. On the one hand I believe (as do others) once we return to normal the pilot shortage will be even worse than pre-pandemic. That would mean more and faster movement and you could be at a Major sooner than expected. On the other hand Delta has announced they will emerge a smaller airline and will never return to their past size. What if there’s a new strain of the Zombie Apocalypse and we go back into lockdown? What if you get into an argument with your Regional Chief Pilot and he blackballs you at the Majors? What if you’re a lousy pilot and bust a bunch of checkrides and the best you can do is flying mail? Things can be better, they can be worse and you won’t know until you’re in it and it’s actually happening. This is one of the reasons people often say their pursuing their “dream to be a pilot” (you don’t hear people say their pursuing their dream of being an accountant). Because not everyone is successful.

That all said it is doable and your goals are realistic. It’s just not something you can set your watch on.

Adam

Thanks Adam for your insight here! I guess I never thought about that I still could make FO in a wide body plane. Could be my new ultimate goal (given I started later in life like this). Thanks for your input!

Chris,
Welcome to the forum! Glad to have you here. So far, so good. You have your 4 year degree, found the nearest ATP location and setting up your intro flight. Do you have your first class medical yet? If not, that the next thing to do. You need that to begin flight training at ATP. Glad to hear you already have 182 experience so you know what to expect training in small aircrafts. After you complete your intro flight and tour, have your medical and secure a loan (if needed) then you can reserve your class date.
If you browse the forum a bit, you’ll find you are one of many people switching careers and getting a later start on aviation. However, you still have a good 20 year career ahead of you get started soon. Your timeline is pretty spot on. Like Adam said, may not make a wide body captain but could get there as an FO.

-Hannah

Chris,

Welcome to the forums. Your time line seems pretty reasonable, but keep in mind that things can and do change. At 40 years of age, I think you do have time for a decent career in aviation, as long as you have realistic goals, which it sounds like you do.

Chris

Thank you everyone for your comments, I have been researching a lot of topics on this forum. And this is a really a good wealth of knowledge!. It is awesome to have a support forum like this to do research. I am excited for my intro flight. Another question I have for you guys and girls is where do I go for the medical certification? I have a list of questions for the tour when I do complete that. One last question, I am from WI and grew up in WI. Would you recommend going to an ATP school in Minnesota (cause its close to home -within 3 hrs away from home) or would it be best to transfer to Fort Meyers FL (due to nicer weather year round)?

Chris,
Thank you for your kind words. We do it because we love to help. We were all in your shoes at some point!
So here is the link to find the nearest AME to you. Just enter your zip code and it will pull up a list of doctors who can do FAA medicals:

https://designee.faa.gov/#/designeeLocator

We typically recommend you going wherever is most convenient for you. There will be years in your career ahead where you will have to move to a base to avoid commuting, might as well stay where you want to while you can. No shame in staying near family and friends to support you during your training and time building. If you plan on starting soon, the weather shouldn’t be a huge factor since we’re headed in to spring. If you were starting in late fall or winter, that may be a different case for heading south to Florida. But for now, do the more convenient route that supports you the best.

-Hannah

Chris,

I would simply pick the ATP location that is most helpful for you and not give it much more thought. The program is nine months long, every location will have weather challenges of some sort over that length of time. In the end, it all tends to balance out.

Thanks for your compliments about this website, it is nice to know people find it helpful. Please keep us in the loop as you progress through the program.

Chris

Chris,

ATP strives to standardize all their locations so you can expect the same high level of instruction regardless. Where you choose is entirely a personal decision and none is really better than another. You want to be close to home? Do that. Need a change of scenery? Go further. Always been curious what it would be live in…, go there.

Regardless again know you can be confident you’ll have the exact program throughout the network.

Adam

Just an update here on my status. I have a intro flight and tour set for next week Tuesday April 6th at the ATP Minnesota location. I will keep you guys posted as I am sure I will have a ton of questions. Also I am scheduling my first class medical appointment too. My cousin who’s a pilot mentioned I should get that done right away. I believe I am working on the correct steps here. Will keep everyone posted. Thanks again for the help and support you provide on this forum! It’s outstanding to have and see! A lot of the questions I have are answered in past treads. A person just needs to dig around.

2 Likes

Chris,

Great news! Just keep in mind that we do not have any admissions coordinators or financial advisors at any of our facilities. The introductory flight + tour is an opportunity for you to see the facility and meet some students and instructors - enjoy it! I always tell prospective students that this is really a chance for you to get those ‘first hand experience’ questions answered by those that went through the program. Admissions will follow up with you on Wednesday to see how everything went and cover any additional questions that you may have.

I also recommend getting the medical appointment set up. You can visit the following webpage to locate an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) in your area. http://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator
Additionally, some AMEs require that you pre-register with the FAA, so it is best to go ahead and do that now. Please visit https://medxpress.faa.gov/medxpress to receive your FAA confirmation number.

Hope this helps!

Addison

Chris,

Your cousin is absolutely correct. Tour, then first class medical. As you have flown in small airplanes and liked it, an introductory flight is not necessary, although one could never hurt.

Please let us know what you think of the tour and what you decide to do.

Chris