Please verify that I understand my enrollment preparation process

I have been reading quite a bit. Total understatement…I have been reading non-stop for the last 6 days about doing this. I have way too much information in my brain and I have been very busy at work and planning my 2-week vacation starting this weekend, so if you can please read my plan to enrollment and help/provide any feedback, that would be fantastic.

  1. Discovery flight: I actually dismissed the idea of flying when I got too busy in my career, so I have this scheduled for tomorrow. I fly as a passenger a lot, so I know I am not afraid to fly. I do enjoy the excitement of takeoff and landing.

What I have learned from reading: I have looked for discovery flights in my area that offers full 1-hour flight plus 30-minute ground prep. I am bringing a log book to make sure I get this 1-hour entered.

  1. 1st Class Medical: Initially, I had 3rd class scheduled….changed that to 2nd class and an hour ago, I read here that you need 1st class medical for ATP program. I have this scheduled to another doctor as my previous person was only certified to 2nd class.

What I have learned from reading: Best to get this out of the way if serious. Cost varies by location. If over 35 years of age, it will add to the cost as EKG is required. AME certified physicians can be located by searching the FAA website. 1st class is only good for 12 months, but can vary by age. Refer to FAA website.

  1. Private Pilot’s License: I have some time before I can begin the program in January. I am going to work and save up a little bit. There are programs locally that will allow me to obtain my PPL that I feel is good.

What I have learned from reading: Working toward PPL will allow me to understand whether I really want to fly for a living. This will also allow someone to learn at a slower pace to get their basics out of the way as accelerated programs can be overwhelming. Cost should be around $10,000. While part 141 programs save money and have structured layout, extra hours from part 61 will roll over to my needs at later stages. I need 80 flight hours for my PPL to be valid as a shorted program with ATP.

  1. Loans: I have a low 700s credit rating after my divorce. I have a co-signer so hopefully it will work out. I would like to know when I should apply for loans if my expected date of start is still 6 months out. I will also be quitting my job at the end of December to do this, so how much do I really need to take out in loans?

What I have learned from reading: The recommended lenders are Wells Fargo and Sallie Mae. The rates will be 10%+ at least. Loan is structured to go directly to the school. If having difficult time obtaining the full loan, do half from WF and the other half from SM?

  1. Location selection: This is the part that is driving me bonkers. I can go anywhere in the nation as I am no longer attached to my family. Obviously, I am going to remove all locations that does not have the reduced cost housing options. I also want to find a location with fair weather as much as possible. I have narrowed down to AZ or TX locations. I can’t tell whether it is better to select a location with more staff or less staff (CFI).

What I have learned from reading: All ATP locations are properly equipped and staffed. Location selection is really up to the person’s decision.

  1. Expect crap pay and equally bad schedule: I expect this to last 2-3 years until I get stuck as a FO in some regional airline with not so great pay, bad schedules, high amount of debt and possible furloughs as the economy changes. I don’t care. I want to fly and I have skills that I can fall back on if and when the time comes. While I don’t trust the marketing slogan “Pilot Shortage”, but I am very mobile as nothing is tying me down anymore after my bitter and lengthy divorce. I still do wonder if I should do this as I am almost 37 and want to change my life to do something until my golden years. My options are being a therapist, nursing or commercial pilot.

What I have learned from reading: This profession can be a gamble as your regional airline may go out of business and seniority is everything. While the salary of regional pilots are going up, this profession is entirely dependent on the economy as staff salary is one area where airlines can flex their spending when the economy fails.

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It seems like you have a really good understanding of the industry, the risks and rewards. Let us know if you have any questions we can answer.


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Thank you. I am afraid that I missed something as I keep finding little things here and there that makes me feel unprepared. I am totally ready to commit to this and glad to be in the planning stage after years of putting it off.


As Chris said you seem to have this down and I appreciate you taking the time to do some reading and research rather than just asking. Honestly we never mind answering the same questions but for me it always makes me scratch my head a little. The job requires good study and research habits and a fair amount of self study. The fact you’ve taken time and the initiative tells me you’ll do well.

Only other thing is honestly the pilot shortage is not marketing, sales or propaganda. This is legit. I’m in Hawaii and Skywest was out here earlier this week visiting the local flight schools pitching their airline due to the shortage of applicants. Back when I started you needed to do some serious networking just to get an interview. That said as you pointed out things can and do change. Knowing that will benefit you greatly.



If you have a good co-signer you may not have such a high rate. Im in the low sixes. My cosigner does have a really high income though. But good to be ready for a high rate.

I did a lot of research bc i didnt believe the shortage at first either but its real man. I know a lot of people are jumping into the industry but according to the reports i have read it should last another decade. And these awesome mentors definitely confirm it.

Sorry to hear about the divorce, but good luck if you decide to pursue this.

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It feels good to know that the interest rate may not be some ridiculous number.

I think I can trust you guys to know how hot the demand now and the projected number may be like. I guess I was reading some bad advice from other websites and people from 2015 posts.

Thank you.

A couple years ago there was definitely a ton of contradiction. But all recent articles have pointed to a shortage. We are really joining at a good time.