Real Answers from Real Pilots

Path to Airline Pilot

I’m starting from scratch. I have the GI Bill but it’s proving to be of little use for technical schools. I have 4 year old twins, in Hawaii, I would like to be around for. Im 39 years old. What is the best option to get me from nubie to airline pilot that would be around Hawaii a good majority of the time. There is an inner island airline that hires after 500 hrs. What is a realistic time frame to get 500 hours?


Welcome to the forums! Your options if you want to stay in Hawaii are going to be a bit limited. I am not from HI and have only been there a few times, but to my knowledge the majority of the inter island flying is covered by Hawaiian Airlines, which is a major airline and as such has rather stringent hiring requirements. On the regional level there is Mokulele Airlines that does higher new pilots, you can find more information about their hiring here: Hawaiian Airlines could very well be in your future someday, but you will need to build a lot of flight time before then.

The best way to get to 500 hours is to attend an accelerated flight training program and then flight instruct to build the time needed. ATP does not have any Hawaii locations, so you will have to come to the mainland if you are interested in their programs. The nice part about an accelerated program is that you will get finished up quickly and hopefully be able to return to HI soon.

As to the GI benefits, do you have a college degree? If you don’t you might want to consider using the benefits to help get the degree while paying for flight training with your own money or with a loan.

Feel free to ask any more questions that you can think of. I look forward to working with you.


Aloha Apryl and Welcome!

FYI I live in Kailua and fly for Hawaiian. I assume the airline you’re talking about is Mokulele? They have a solid operation although I’m not a good enough swimmer to fly single engine around the islands! :slight_smile: Anyway there are conflicting goals here. The quickest, most efficient route to 500hrs is to do your training at ATP, get all your licenses and ratings in 6mos, then flight instruct for another 5-6 mos with ATP and you’re pau. Problem is you’ll be mainland for almost a year which I don’t think you want or can do. The alternative is to do your training in Hawaii (if you’re on Oahu there are a few flight schools on HNL’s south ramp, few others on the Big Island) and then get hired as an instructor to build the time. Problem is generally local training can take a while so you NEED to be consistent a fly often. For what it’s worth starting next year Hawaiian is going to be hiring like mad to crew the new Neo’s. The sooner you can get yourself in a position to be hired the better.


Thank you so much for replying. That’s very helpful.

Update… I started an accelerated program in CA. I would have been all over ATP, but they won’t accept the GI bill. ;(. The program is 18 months with an aviation degree and a direct hire into a regional. So that brings up another question, Adam. I’m currently commuting every other week between CA and HI. Adam, do you feel it’s worth the huge pay cut to work for Hawaiian? I’m weighing commuting to HI or taking a huge pay cut to go to Hawaiian. (Once I have my hours in) :rainbow:

What’s the name of the school?


Do I think it’s worth the huge pay cut? Well, obviously I do because I’m here and I did. I actually wrestled with it a little but when I was at ExpressJet we lost part of our flying with Continental and I was downgraded. That forced me to take an equal paycut which I hadn’t planned or prepared for and had no idea for how long it would last. Going to Hawaiian I knew it was for 1 year and 1 year only, I was able to prepare for it financially and I also knew in short order I’d be back to where I was and then above it (which I am now). We are currently voting on a new contract which brings us much closer to where we should be (A330 CA tops out at $337.75hr, not too shabby). There’s also no other Major airline that offers the opportunity to fly interisland and be home every night if you so chose. We’re expanding and hiring, upgrades are currently about 5-6yrs which is one of the shortest of any Major anywhere. Most important I love the company culture here. It’s a small airline where everyone knows everyone and you can walk into the Chief Pilot or even the CEO’s office if you have a concern. Finally I start EVERY trip in HNL where it’s VMC 90% of the time, I can do my walkaround in my shirt sleeves, ride my motorcycle to work and there’s no such thing as deicing, EVER!

I guess a better question would be do I STILL think it was worth it and the answer is absolutely, but that’s me. Is it worth it for you? Your call.


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