Out of Area Student - Is this realistic?

I currently live about 2 1/2 hours from the nearest ATP school. I am 26 and married. Would it be realistic to buy a small condo near the school and commute back on the weekends? (Stay near ATP Monday- Friday, commute back home Friday evening and come back Sunday)

I am trying to plan ahead and want a realistic expectation of how long I will be at ATP from start to finish.
I want to eventually be at the major airlines (like everyone else!) The city I currently live in has a decent sized airport. Would I be faced with this issue again after I get my license?


Short answer is no. Longer answer is you MAY(?) on occasion find yourself with a light weekend or 2 when you can slip home but I 100% guarantee you it will not be every weekend or even often. ATP is a FULL-TIME commitment and you need to be available to fly sometimes with short notice.

Now if you want to go to another flight school that will allow you to train at your own pace and take years to complete your training that’s an option and it’s fine. BUT, if you want to take advantage of ATPs accelerated training and be done in just 7mos it comes at a price which is sacrifice.

As for if/when you get to a Major, AFTER you finish your training and AFTER you build your time instructing and AFTER you get hired and build time and experience at a Regional, when you get to a Regional you will need to build seniority as a it improves so will your schedule. That said I’ve been at my Major 9yrs and I still can’t hold weekends off.


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Hi Sarah,

Finding a place closer the the airport is a good idea. The program is 7 months. Realistically, you may not be able to commute home every weekend. It depends on your progress in the program, weather, aircraft and instructor availability. Any one of those factors could require a lesson or two to be conducted on the weekends. Something to consider.

Another thing that you should be thinking about is when you become an instructor (if you plan to be one). Instructors have a busier schedule than the students. They spend a lot more time at the airport, which makes a drive home…not impossible, maybe less advantageous?

When I was a CFI I moved into an apartment 10 minutes from the airport. My commute before that was only 45 minutes. Shortening my commute was a good decision for me. Not only was it less stressful, but it kept me more engaged.

I’m not saying that you can’t commute 2.5 hours each way, but I don’t think that is a sustainable commute and it will definitely require more effort to make that drive if you decide to teach for ATP.


Thank you Tory. My initial plan was to become a flight instructor after finishing with ATP. I looked at the career path guideline and it said that most students typically stay on as an instructor for 3 years. From your experience is this pretty spot on or is there a way to get your hours/time in and move on to regionals in less than 3 years?
Also to clarify is it 7 months to get your private pilots license, instrument ratings, and commercial license and then 3 additional years as an instructor?


Actually 3yrs is well over the average. It’s actually about half of that. You’ll complete the program with approx 250hrs. To fly for a Regional you need 1500hrs. The typical ATP instructor flies about 75hrs mos. 1500-250=1250/75= 16.6mos or about 1.5yrs.