Real Answers from Real Pilots

One last training question/NON ATP

While I know ATP is a great option for me it’s just not doable. However here is where I stand.

So I’ve gone back and forth over this, but I’m looking for a little bit more input. I had a discovery flight last week with an independent CFI who will charge me 120 hr/wet for training in a cesna 150 along with 40 bucks an hour for her instructing. I’ve figured to get a ppl with her would be around 9k if I knock it out in around 60 hrs. I’d also be paying for an online ground school, and all exam fees, plus or minus a little more. And while I’ve read mom and pop training is great, I have concerns about there being little structure from the training. However, I feel somewhat obligated to give her my business since she did that discovery flight for free.

My other option is to go to a local 141 school in my area for my PPL, pay their package rate of 12k which includes 44hrs of flight time, 130 or so hrs of instruction, ground school, exam books, etc. I’d still also be out exam fees. However, this school is owned and operated by former AF pilots who also train NATO pilots. I’d be training here out of a Grumman AA5, and possibly receive better instruction, but I don’t know that for sure.

After the PPL I will be using my GI bill for all other ratings at a community college here in the DFW area so this will mainly be my biggest cost for training. What are your opinions and thoughts? Thanks again for everyone here and maybe one day I can actually be flying for a regional soon.


That’s a tough one but here are a few thoughts. First you owe the instructor nothing. You went fur an intro flight that’s it. When I go to Costco and get a sample of beef jerky am I obligated to buy it. Of course not (but many do which is why they do the sampling but I digress). Personally I’ve never been a fan of 144 schools. While it’s true they generally have more structure, that translate to everyone getting the exact same boiler plate training. Different people learn differently and have different needs and that often means you’ll spend extra time on something you don’t need extra time in and less where you do. Further while it’s small and a really neat plane, I’m not certain it’s the best trainer? I flew one years ago and I really liked it but there were a series of accidents that have the plane a bad rep. Well they were well founded or not I cannot say, but no one can question the stability of a Cessna.

Obviously it’s your call. There are pros and cons to each. I would go with the school with the most planes and Instructors. The reason most people are unsuccessful training locally is they can’t fly consistently due to lack of resources. A single plane with a single Instructor is a recipe for failure.


Thank you for the reply Adam. I always enjoy your input. A few weeks back I was on the way home from a TDY in Guam and landed at Hickman about the same time a Hawaiian jet did and thought of you.

Like you said, the part 141 would probably be the best option as they offer more than one plane to train out of with multiple instructors. Availability won’t be an issue as I live in the middle of nowhere unless you’re here training for the AF to be a pilot. Like you said, going with a place that has more than one aircraft I guess is the right decision with all other things being equal.

Also, what’s the best prep for PPL written and ground school? So many different opinions from Kings, Sportys, Gleim, MikeZeroA. I’ve got the ASA book, just need to find a ground school apparently if I go the independent route.


I’ve always been a fan of the Kings but they’re all pretty good.



Just a small point here, but NATO does not have pilots. NATO member states do, but there is no such thing as a “NATO pilot”.

Neither of y9our options sound great to me. I would avoid flying a Grumman airplane and would want to find a school that had a decent sized fleet. Furthermore, very few people obtain their PPL in 44 hours, it just doesn’t happen. I was not that good and I bet you will not be either, so that cost is going to go up.


Chris you are correct about the pilots, I should have clarified or stated it was a Euro/NATO training program.

Regarding the other, I doubt I would receive my PPL in 44 hrs either. However, those are the two options I currently have available in my area as there are just 0 CFIs available here at SPS/KCWC. Again, making it through the PPL will and has always been my biggest obstacle.

There are dozens of ways to get your flight training done. There’s a common saying in sorting schools, “there’s quick, good and cheap, but you can only pick two.” Meaning you may find a way that is cheap and good but it won’t be quick. Or cheap and quick but not good. When it comes to creating the foundation of your future career you definitely want it to be good. Plus with every day you linger in training, it will cost you more to stay proficient.
You’ve come to a forum with mentors who all are alumni of ATP’s program. We chose ATP because it is both good and quick. It’s not cheap because your paying for quality and a set timeline and hours to reach the goal. At local schools with independent CFIs, the more time it takes you to get your ratings, the more money they make. Just something to think about… You say ATP isn’t doable for you, why not?

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