Hi forum and mentors,
By now you may have come across my previous posts about changing careers even at my age (yes, 51). I know the “am I too old?” question comes up fairly often. After all, I’m one of them
So, here is my update: I made the decision and will start in Tampa in January. Some find it a crazy move, others find it cool… and I simply think, you get one shot at life. Do things you need to find out! In the worst case, I’ll write a book about it ha ha … kidding!
I gladly share my story and make myself available to others who may be playing with the idea but aren’t quite sure. Background, philosophy, real world aspects… Feel free to comment.
Many thanks to the mentors and their candid responses.
Glad to hear you made the leap!!! I look forward to see you here in Tampa come January!!
Now start knocking out those writtens!!!
I’m a decade and a year your junior, and I applaud you. I’m starting just as soon as this darned medical deferment gets un-defermented (and I get un-demented) and my only regret isn’t starting even sooner. No matter how old you’re only getting older.
I’m 42.5 and have not taken the plunge, but really glad to read your post.
Oliver, I am 50 and started this past August. I shut down a home improvement company I started 10 years ago to become a pilot. We should have more than 10 years that we can fly for the airlines, easy.
You are not alone.
Thanks for your post. 42.5 would give you over 20 years in your new career. Are you thinking of taking the plunge? What are your thoughts? Or what is keeping you from it?
Fantastic. We seem to be on a somewhat parallel trajectory. Similar age, switching from one occupation to another, and I too got my private about 10 years ago.
So, how do you like it so far? What is your experience at ATP and what location are you at?
Until my start in January, I am now busy knocking the writtens out. I’m excited, though all these “testimonies” on youTube, etc. can be somewhat intimidating. Certainly not a walk in the park. Then again, who would expect that anyway? It’s a great new challenge and I am looking forward to it.
Let’s stay in touch and share how we progress through the program if you like.
Thank you for this post. I’m answering that age question at 33 and feeling late to this game. Life is short, do what you love.
I am really enjoying it. It is very fast paced and I would very much encourage you to get your instrument written done ASAP. I am at the Raleigh, NC location. Also, when you start at ATP you are going to do a bunch of time building flights to start. My instructor had me under the foggels from day 1 ( not all of instructors do) and I highly recommend you do that as once your time build is done and your instrument portion starts you will be way ahead and you should strive to stay ahead.
What location will you be at? Are you currently flying? If so what are you flying?
Hi Oliver - and anyone else that wishes to contribute.
Like you and many others, I’m looking to follow my dream and reach for the skies. I’m a 46 year old Brit, though have lived in the US for the last 8 years and have a Green card, so residency is not an issue.
I’m currently toying with the idea of either staying here or going back to the UK (roll the Brexit dice, ha!).
I was in London a few days ago and spent time at some top airline academy’s to get an idea of what the “zero to commercial” process would like in the UK. Apart from taking longer and costing a lot more, they basically told me, “Look, we’d gladly take your money, but we must warn you that the chances of getting a job at the end are very slim. So slim, that we advise you not to proceed.” As you can imagine I was quite taken a back.
So my question to all you guys and girls out there who are starting late like me, and to all the mentors who post messages of encouragement is this. “Who, realistically, is going to hire a 50 year old to fly their planes with only 1500 hours - the bare minimum?”. Is there some kind of recruitment website that someone can point to that shows available jobs for people like Oliver and me. This is all about expectation management. I don’t have any ideas of grandeur that I’ll be flying for the majors or even regionals. Maybe it’ll be a tiny charter company that has 2 planes. I don’t mind what it is, I just need to know that there are bonafide jobs at the end of the tunnel. Also, while I’m here, bearing in mind if I start I’m going to be starting now coming into winter, can someone from ATP recommend the best schools to be at - I am mobile. Many thanks and look forward to hearing from you all.
You clearly haven’t spent any time browsing this forum (which I always find disappointing, particularly in older prospective pilots). If you had you would see this is the most common question we get and it gets asked (and answered) daily. In fact it’s in our FAQ section. This is not an advert for ATP or an attempt to get your money. Where you train is up to you. The US is experiencing a huge pilot shortage particularly at the Regional level. You ask is it “realistic” to get hired with the “bare minimum” 1500hrs but the only reason you even need 1500hrs is because that’s the law now. Before the law was passed you could be hired with as few as 250hrs (I was hired by ExpressJet with 540hrs). Provided you don’t bust a lot of checkrides or have blemishes on your record (felonies, DUIs, etc) you WILL get hired by the Regional of your choice. While 50 is old in pilot years, you’re a better investment for the Regionals since all the 20 somethings are looking to jump ship ASAP. If you have any doubts contact ANY of the Regional recruitment websites. They’re easy to find. There’s a wonderful invention called Google.
For all of their high-horsing about the US, Europe has some of the most discriminatory pilot hiring practices I have ever heard of. Barring anything strange or unexpected from happening, you should absolutely be able to be hired by a US regional. The US regionals actually like hiring older pilots as the odds are that they will stay around to finish out their careers instead of jumping ship to a major at the first possibility like a young guy or gal would.
As to ATP locations, the company tries very hard to standardize the locations as much as possible, the student experience is very similar, if not identical, from one location to the next. I would just pick the one that is most convenient for you and not think twice about it.
Hi Adam and Chris - I’ll reply to you both simultaneously.
I have actually spent months looking through this website and visiting my local air schools in Westchester, NY.
I avidly read all the content regarding starting a piloting career at my age.
I wasn’t being critical of the encouragement ATP mentors give, or suggesting that it isn’t genuine.
What I was pointing out that the Academy in the UK (its one of the biggest, most respected, genuinely Global, and I’d rather not name it) literally told me not to bother. This comment from them goes against everything I have read in this forum over the last 6 months. They dismissed the potential pilot shortage by saying just bc there’s a shortage wouldn’t mean the airlines would compromise safety and hire a 50 year old with minimum experience.
So my reason for posting was to get verification and validation from older cadets who have finished their training and have been able to find employment without any major issues. If thats the case, then I would probably proceed down that route and stay in the US rather than move back across the Pond.
While I appreciate your concern and desire to not waste your time and money I would offer you 2 suggestions. First, I’m a Capt at a Major airline, been flying for decades and have participated in hiring at both the Regional and Major levels. BUT if you were to ask me about pilot employment in the UK I would tell you I don’t have a clue and would offer your friends at the Academy in the UK are equally ignorant as to what’s going on in this country. In truth I can’t even believe how insane it’s gotten. To quote a friend of mine who’s in recruitment for a Regional “if they have 1500hrs and a pulse we’ll hire them”.
Second, again, don’t believe them OR me. Simply call the recruiters at Compass, SkyWest, ExpressJet, Envoy, Piedmont, Horizon etc and ask them for yourself. The fact is years ago they wouldn’t even take your call or look at you until you had the mins. Now you’ll start getting solicitations in the mail once you get your medical.
I think we are talking about two different things here, pilot hiring in the US and pilot hiring in the UK. I have to give the UK school credit for giving you an honest opinion and not just taking your money, I have a lot of respect for that.
We are answering your question through a US filter, a country that does not discriminate based on age and where you have an excellent chance of getting hired by a regional.
Thanks again for both your timely responses. You’re right, I wasn’t asking you to opine on the job market in the UK. Thats for me to figure out. I just wanted to be reinforced that the situation here in the US is structurally different, so whilst they might have been right about job prospects in the UK, that has no bearing on the situation here in the US. I appreciate you giving me those websites to look at.
So now onto ATP. I live in Westchester. Can I start now at either Morristown or LI (I’m equidistance from both) and then move South to better weather in the winter at a different ATP school and pick up where I left off?
I would strongly recommend against switching locations mid-program for a few reasons. First of all, there is something to be said for knowing your home airport, airspace, etc. If you change, you will spend valuable flight time familiarizing yourself with such. Furthermore, significant time will be lost just in the simple act of moving, setting up new accommodations, etc.
All of that being said, ATP will not allow you to change locations without an extenuating circumstance, for the very reasons that I listed above. I wouldn’t worry about this too much, sure we get our snow storms in the north-east, but there are plenty of cold, clear days that are absolutely great for flying.
As a native NYer I’d take the drive to MMU over the drive to ISP ANYDAY! While they may be equidistant mileage wise I invite you to take the 2 drives any morning and see. LI is a traffic nightmare especially from Westchester.
Hello, have any of you gone to ATP school while working at a full time job? how hard was atp while having a full time job? Im 36 years old and thinking once I retire from my law enforcement job that I would like to be a pilot.
I can tell you the answer to you’re question is NONE. ATP’s program is modeled after actual airline training. It’s highly accelerated and compresses years of training into months. The training is fulltime and requires ALL your attention and commitment. You wouldn’t even be able to work part time and be successful.