Pilot age

Hi All,
I’m 52 and I was wondering if I’m to old to pursue a career in becoming a pilot. I currently work at Fedex so I’m technically within the industry. Your thoughts?



I recommend you visit our FAQ section as we go into this subject at length as well as search the forum for the many threads on the subject.

Short answer is no you’re not too old to be a pilot but you need to be realistic about your goals. Mandatory retirement for pilots is 65. At 52 if you started TODAY, it would be at least 2-3yrs (if you train full time) to build the time and experience to get to a Regional. Now you’re 54-55 which leaves you about 10yrs to fly. Not terrible but if you’re thinking about flying that beautiful FedEx MD-11 to Tokyo that’s probably not going to happen. In fact with 10yrs to fly you’d probably end up staying at a Regional. Not a bad gig and you’ll top out at about $100k. Could you make it to a Major? Possibly but you’d be starting at the bottom again and likely take a pay cut and have a lousy schedule for the balance of your career.

Up to you if it’s worth it.


Rodney,It is not too late, but you will likely finish your career at a regional airline, which is not a bad place to be. Whether or not it is worth it to you financially is another thing that only you can decide. What I can tell you is that I absolutely love my job and cannot imagine doing anything else.


Thanks a lot for the information, another thing do I have to have a degree to fly regional?



The Regionals do not require a degree.


Hello Rodney. I’m in a similar predicament as you are. I will be turning 51 this September. I was thinking about a career change but reading the replies it’s discouraging that at the end of career will be at regional. Have you gone all in in or not.?Thank you,

Hello Rodney and Young,

I’m 50 and also considering a career change toward becoming an airline pilot. As someone who is older, as with any career change, there are lots of things to consider. I’m evaluating that now and developing my plan. In general, the common themes I’ve come across in all my research (and by the mentors here) is:

  1. Yes it can be done.
  2. Be realistic and if going the airline route know you will likely be at a regional your whole career.
  3. Understand that nothing is given. You must work hard and pay your dues to achieve it.
  4. Before anything else get your 1st Class Medical to make sure it’s even possible and/or get issues addressed.
  5. If you can, complete the training quickly, with minimal or no checkride busts, and with as little debt as possible.
  6. Be realistic that things in aviation can be unpredictable and will NOT go to plan. Be prepared and have a backup plan.
  7. If you decide to go all in and do this, things will get tough but just keep grinding. Don’t give up.



Two things. First if you started now you could possibly spend a few years at a Major (if you chose to). Second if you did spend your entire career at a Regional, aside from the money (which isn’t terrible) why is that discouraging to you?

At 40 I never dreamed I’d be an airline pilot let alone fly for a Major. I simply wanted to get paid to fly airplanes. I’ve been very fortunate and while I am at a Major, if I never would’ve let the Regionals I wife l would’ve been just fine with that. Great flying to great places with great people. Trust me it really ain’t that bad.


Hello Adam. I’m sure it’s a great career as an airline pilot if you love airplanes and airports like myself. I grew up by an air force base as a kid so I saw lots of trainers fly by everyday. At my age I don’t want to grind it out for 10 years and it’s time to retire. The reality is I don’t know at my age weather the grind to get seniority will be an enjoyable experience or not.