I have been discovering the forum and for the most part every one of my questions and/or concerns have been fielded in other threads and posts. Kudos to the mentors here! You have set a really positive tone for these pages!
I have been considering a huge change and am not looking for anyone to encourage, or sell me the idea of starting training with ATP (I’m fairly stoked about the whole concept on my own), but rather to possibly enlighten me on any areas that I may not have considered that may prove to be roadblocks or major pitfalls if I choose to take this “Leap of faith”.
Some background on my situation and current mindset. I am currently 35 years old. I have lived/worked in Volusia county for my entire adult life. Live about mid-way between the Daytona Beach and Jacksonville Locations (Closer to Daytona). Currently work a full-time job in Ocala so commuting is not really a problem. Started an education at Embry-Riddle in Daytona out of high school and quickly found it was out of my financial league for a flying education. Before that had spent some time in a Tomahawk trainer small plane at a local FBO pumping gas.
After 30 credits I began working full-time and left Embry-Riddle. Since then have really just been making ends over several fields gaining experience in training, customer service, metal working, machining, production, field service at a satellite company, etc. Nothing has ever fit the bill (or fully paid the bills.) After several years in customer service and eventually making manager, the company was purchased by a major Tel-com and left me (and about 2000 of my co-workers) out of a job. Back to the job hunt.
That was fine actually because I had been looking for a change anyhow. When I began investigating joining the Navy people thought I was nuts this late in life. Well I was, and I did. I landed a good job in Ocala at an aeronautical defense contractor in 2016 as an electronics assembler. It’s a good company, and if I stay another 10-15 years I’ll do fine financially. In Feb. 2017, I joined the Navy reserves to gain an education in electronics and will be (finally) coming home in a few weeks as a Petty Officer, with decent career prospects at my current employer, and possibly in the electronics field overall (not to mention an additional 30+ credits from Navy A school to secure an associates degree).
I’m still at a point where I want to fly after all these years. I’m in a position to get a PPL on my own dime, but the more I look into it, I don’t see it as an income earner, and frankly unsustainable to continue on a recreational basis. Herein lies my ultimate decision. I’m 6’3, 200 lbs, pretty slim as it is, and the C152’s are not an option due to weight limits and safety. That’s cool, however it puts additional cost on a PPL if I go it solo.
My wife and I own our home with a really great mortgage for the area. We have 3 children. Both of our credit ratings are over 750 at this point so I’m fairly confident that financing would not be an issue (you never know though). We have lived on an income of less than what I’m seeing as possible as a CFI, if I were to reach that point. I’m looking at the stipend that can be built into the loan, and considering my reserve pay, we could be in a position to handle the time I would need to be out of work due to school at ATP. I feel fairly comfortable knowing that the training is fast paced, as the Navy was as well, and I excelled in that environment. Time away from home has stunk but not so bad as to strain things.
My primary concerns are that I would be putting the family at a perilous position debt-wise when repayment begins, and if it is ultimately realistic that a CFI position would be offered and tuition reimbursement can be secured with enough headroom to repay as well as be at an income earning capacity after 9 months. I will have the G-I bill to pad the exams portions, and possibly type rating (I’m aware it won’t cover any of the school itself.) We hold close to zero debt now outside of our car (roughly 6k), and prior school loan that is in good standing, and enough consumer credit available to fully cover the cost of school.
In selling this to my wife, I would need to fully understand more potential pitfalls that may be out there to better formulate my backup strategy if things go south be it for health, or whatever. I do have a clean bill on health at the time so there’s that. Security clearance secured in the military and no issues legally to contend with. With current schooling/work experience, obtaining another job outside of aviation will likely be attainable.
From everything I have gathered, regional airlines seem like the most likely career path after training while pursuing a 4yr and I think I would be okay with that as long as earnings potential and the ability to repay a steep loan is there.
In closing I am really just interested in doing something that I love, and this is first time I can see the potential to start down the path. If you have read this far I really appreciate it! I’m laying a ton of info out in hopes that if anyone sees any potential red flags you can offer your guidance before I create a huge burden for my family that I can’t recover from. I’m inspired by the stories I read here and hope I can be another one to contribute from the other side!