Hi, my name is Cole I am 20 years old and I’ve always wanted to be a pilot but it just seemed a little far fetched. So I went to school to earn a degree in accounting but quickly realized I didn’t want to be stuck at a desk all day punching numbers. I just found this forum and was wondering would it be better for me to earn my PPL before attending ATP? Would it help financially? And should I earn my PPL first to make sure this is the career path I want to go down?
Great question. The only reason I ever recommend getting your PPL first is if you’re not quite certain flying is what you want to do (or you have any talent for it).
It’s a common (but generally incorrect) assumption that getting your PPL first will save you money. While you may actually be able to save a few dollars on the PPL itself, to get credit for it towards ATPs Career Pilot program you’ll also need at least 78hrs which will eat up much, if not all you saved. Further, the fact is training locally is often very inefficient which often ends up costing you more in the long run.
With that in mind if you choose to get your PPL locally, to see if it’s really what you want, keep in mind you really don’t have to go that far. Maybe just take it to your first solo? If you need more then by all means but what I’m saying is if it starts getting expensive or you’re not progressing BUT know it’s what you want, dont be afraid to move on at that point.
I am with Adam on this one. If you are not sure that you want to be a pilot for a career, earning your PPL, or even just getting to your first solo, is a good way to test the waters. If you are sure, then I would not spend any time or money earning your PPL outside of ATP. I got my PPL at a small, local school. It cost way more money than I was quoted and took significantly more time. Most schools will quote the FAA flight time minimums needed to obtain a license, very few of us are that good and most people take significantly more time. So while it looks like it might be cheaper to obtain a PPL outs of ATP, it very rarely is.
I do currently hold a European EASA ATPL CPL IRME MCC/JOC and FI(A). Since I have the US passport in addition to the french one, with a part of my family living in the US, I am more and more willing to work there as a Pilot.
I have been looking on some FAA documents and if I am right, I am eligible for the ATP CTP with my foreign Commercial and IR (delivered by the french CAA). But does this mean I still need to take and pass the different FAA CPL + IRME + CFI tests and then go for the ATP CTP at the end ?
I have contacted a FSDO and I will see what they tell me. Apparently, I might have to take the theoretical exams (CPL IR CFI ATP). Then I will have to determine with the FSDO the amount of « acclimatization flying » that suits me.
What about for scenarios where you still need to work? I definitely would need to be sure this is the path I want to take before quitting or going on a leave if they’d even allow it, from my job. I was considering work on hours toward my PPL slowly to enable me to figure it out for sure and still be able to work a little longer. Since ATP is very accelerated and there’s no way I could keep my job while doing any of the program. I figured maybe getting my PPL somewhere else (ATP is local to me as well as a couple other schools) first would be the better option and then start ATP if that’s what I went with for the rest of my training once I had that license. Does that make sense? Is that even a good idea?
The only reason we ever recommend getting your PPL locally is if you’re not sure this is what you want to do. Yes it would enable you to keep working but that’s part of the problem. Training part-time is inefficient and ineffective. Most spend way too much time and money, don’t progress, get frustrated and either quit, or kick themselves for not starting on the right path from the get go.
As I said in my other response, if you’ve never flown you need to. If after a lesson or 5 you’re still not sure maybe keep going to you solo or even till you get your PPL but understand in all likelihood you’ll be spending extra money and time you shouldn’t be.
If you are not fully sure that you want to fly for a living, then I think getting your PPL first at a local school is a great idea. It will probably take you some time and will not be as cheap as they advertise, but you will be able to decide if you really want to fly for a living or not.
I got my PPL at a different school. When I first started, I really wasn’t thinking about flying professionally so I didn’t consider ATP at the time. So I’ll give my $0.02 on how I was successful in a part-time PPL program for anyone thinking about going that route. As always, YMMV.
In order to maximize your probability of success in a non-accelerated PPL program, you still need to be able to consistently commit to a hard minimum of two training flights/week (about 3 hours each including the ground brief and de-brief) and an additional 4-8 hours/week to self-guided ground study. I’d plan to spend between 10-20 hours/week for the duration depending on where you are at (more hours closer to knowledge test and check ride). Ideally you should schedule 3 flights/week to minimize regression. Also, the probability of a weather or mechanical cancellation is fairly high (unless you live in a dry climate with few overcast and rainy days for weather). When I could get 3 flights/week in, I felt really confident and was able to pick up where I left off from the last lesson and blast through the current lesson. With 2 flights, I’d guess I spent 25% of my time refreshing the previous lesson. At 1 flight/week, probably 50%.
Bottom line is this…if you can commit to consistent training and study, you can knock out the PPL in 50-60 hours, ~16-20 weeks part-time. The hard truth is that if you can’t commit to this schedule, the likelihood of success and making it to the checkride is not great. When you are spending $200/hour or more for flight time with an instructor, recycling lessons gets expensive really fast. There are several stories of 100 hour student pilots who started and stopped along the way and still don’t have the certificate. Anecdotally, I have met many more people out in the public who have started their PPL training and never finished than certificated pilots.
I agree with the Mentors. If you aren’t sure you want to be a pilot (whether professional or recreational), take a discovery flight and a few lessons from a local school. You’ll know pretty quickly if you got the bug or feel that flying is for the birds.
I also received my Private Pilot License outside of ATP, it took me 13-months to complete and one heck of a journey. When I started, I purchased the Sporty’s Cessna kit (or called something along that), which was around $400 at the time? I didn’t know what I was doing, I got a catalog from the instructor, looked for a discount code and purchased the kit they recommended to me. I was trying to conduct my training as a pay per lesson, which I realized was a horrible idea and later found out after a few hours and time gap of training. I was doing one lesson (tried two) a week, if possible, but as we can expect weather and plane maintenance is reality and “perfect” days are never to be guaranteed for.
During a part of my training as I was approaching solo time, the unfortunate happened… the school closed the location where I was initially training and consolidated to their ‘main’ location. This was heartbreaking as I did not know what to do, it took me nearly 3 months to figure out a gameplan and compose money to afford the driving cost, plane and instructor fee. At the time I think an hour with both plane and instructor had cost me around $213/hr., this was the discount rate that my instructor gave me because of the trouble. The written cost for a test is $175, if you somehow fail (score below 70%), that’s another $175 plus whatever the instructor signing you off charges for ground knowledge. Things can add up quickly if progress is not made in training.
Fortunately for me I was able to complete my license in 40 hours, but not everyone can do it… and to be honest I was not ready, and I struggled through the checkride. I learned from my mistakes and after all my training at ATP, I am thankful for everything I’ve learned and experiences I have gotten. It has made me a safer and better pilot.
All I have to say is if you’re unsure, I recommend getting yourself an introductory flight and maybe checking out a local school. If you want to make the commitment and believe this is something that you want to do, give ATP a chance and schedule a Tour/Admissions Flight. Get the opportunity to speak with some instructors and students, learn a bit of the firsthand experience what it is like as a student.
If you do decide to go part-time training locally, I recommend finding a few months’ worth of training that you can fly two or three times a week on top of ground studying. Delays in training can end up costing you more money, but that is the gamble doing it outside of ATP. Really do your research before you pull the parking brake off, that’s all I recommend. Please let us know if there is anything we may help you with, that’s why we’re here.
Mike thank you I just saw this response! Thank you! We’ve been doing a lot of talking and thinking, researching and have decided when it’s time for me to start I will do my PPL as part of the ATP program. It makes the most sense. I also habe paid for my intro flight, we are actually both going to do one because why not haha. He wants to potentially do it down the line as well. Just need to schedule! There are several schools around so I am hoping I can get a few flights in to be 100% and also just keeping doing something I (hopefully) enjoy while we take a bit of time to save up some money to offset me not working/ hopefully take out less of a loan.
Hi Brady thank you I just saw this response! I don’t think I’m going to attempt to do the PPL part time. It just makes sense to do the whole program with ATP. we’ve been doing a lot of talking and researching. Just need to put aside some money for me not working during school and to pay for the program. Also I have paid for an intro flight just need to call and schedule it! I am hoping to do several flights around locally while I wait to be able to start the program, assuming I still want to make the career change after trying. I’m very excited to be hopefully starting this journey soon.
Sorry for the delayed response. I think this is a solid gameplan as you’re focusing on the current and future realization of consistency with your training. Being able to consistently train with proficiency will only help you in the long run and the results will be better success. Branching out to get firsthand experiences at schools is very important, you want to make sure that you will fit in well and enjoy the training environment. Chris created a great list of questions that you could ask a prospected flight school: