I currently work a full time job Monday through Friday with normal business hours. Flying has always been a dream of mine, but the financial requirements that are required is what holds me back. I know becoming a Airline pilot is very demanding especially the early years during training and building sonority once working at an airline.
After high school, I went the traditional path of going to a four year university and completed my bachelors degree. With hard work I have quickly had success in my early to mid-twenties in corporate America, but I still have that desire to fly. I cannot afford and am not ready to start an accelerated program such as ATP, but what advice could you give me on how I can approach getting my PPL and ratings while work a full time job? I know it will take years to achieve what some do in months.
Also, are there any particular advantages and or disadvantages to becoming a CFI rather than flying Chartered flights to build flight hours? Do the Regional and Major airlines favor one over the other?
I won’t lie, getting your PPL while working full-time is challenging and expensive. Flying skills are built one upon another and to be successful you need consistency. If you can only fly weekends that means under ideal circumstances you’re still only flying once or twice a week which isn’t terrible. The problem is making sure you fly every weekend which can be challenging. Say you fly the first weekend of the month, great. BUT, the next week the weather is lousy, the week after you have “family” obligations etc, now it’s been 3 weeks since you’ve been up and have forgotten everything you learned so when you finally do fly you end up repeating. Very inefficient which becomes VERY expensive. Can it be done? Sure but again definitely not the best way to go. I did it and it took me almost 2yrs.
I’m a strong believer in flight instructing to build time. Many people seek other routes and sure flying right seat in a larger plane wearing a uniform may pay better and seem cooler. Problem is when you’re building time it’s not about pay or cool it’s about gaining experience and skill and there’s simply no better way to hone your skills than sitting next to some new guy who’s trying to kill you. Trust me it makes you sharp! That said it’s your decision and no the airlines don’t really care. That is of course if you were simply slinging gear for the last year and when you show up for training can’t fly an approach. Then they care ALOT.
I understand your predicament, but I have to tell you that by delaying your entry into the airlines, you will severely impact your career. The airlines are completely driven by seniority and every year you delay could end up costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars. That being said, I get where you are coming from. My best advice to you if you chose to go this route is to try and find a local flight school that can work with you and is competent, you also really will need to dedicate every possible spare minute to your training.
The regionals really do not have a preference for how you build your flight time, but don’t think that you will just walk right into a charter job either, those can require a lot of flight time themselves.
I 100% agree with Adam. I currently work a full time job and got my PPL by flying weekends. It is not Ideal. I thought it would just stay as a hobby and now I am considering to make it a career. I wish I did it differently (would of saved cost,time, and stress). Flying just weekends means that you are going to spend more money and LOTS more time on the certificate. If your experience is like mine you will get frustrated as you will have weeks of gaps (weather, maintenance factors) that will put you behind and will actually cause your skills to diminish.
I am so glade that I have my PPL and I can rent a plane and go flying, but I could of spent a lot of that money on other certificates.
Thank you guys for your personal experience and industry knowledge. From what you all are saying is if I truely want to pursue aviation as a career, I need to go into it full time to get the most out of training and career growth.
What do you recommend young pilots to think about and consider when determining if becoming a commercial pilot is a correct fit for them?
Thank you for your time,
I recommend that you read through this forum thoroughly as there is a lot of really good information here. Pay special attention to the “Flying the line” and “schedules” sections as they will give you a great “day in the life” perspective of the job.
I would also recommend, and ATP will insist on, you taking an introductory flight as that is the only real way to truly tell if you will enjoy flying airplanes.
I identify with quite a few things you mentioned (traditional 4-yr degree then corporate america in mid-twenties, now considering a change etc.) I too am trying to get my PPL while working working a pretty demanding schedule full time that requires me to travel quite a fair bit (management consulting). I realized literally within the first two weeks that only flying weekends will take me far longer and more expensive than it should be, so I’ve decided to use vacation time to take half day off once/twice a week to go fly. Even though I’m using vacation time this has led to multiple uber-late nights catching up on projects and studying, so depending on how resilient you are + your other obligations this may or may not work for months on end.
I’m waiting for July due to financial reasons to leave my job and do this full time (hopefully with ATP) so I figured I’ll use the next 7 months towards my PPL. My work is pretty flexible with how I schedule my day (so last minute vacation block offs are fine) as long as projects are going good and clients are happy–without this flexibility I don’t see it being cost-effective to try and do a PPL + my job in a reasonable time and expense. So this might be something you should consider. I’ve decided to prioritized getting my PPL, even if this means taking on less projects and becoming less competitive at work in the meantime.
As the other mentors mentioned, seniority means everything and every year forgone = loss income potential. I’ve built spreadsheets upon spreadsheets (even though it’s already quite a no brainer) on whether I should do flight school full time vs. build hours and ratings over years, and in none of the scenarios I built was it cost-effective to try straddle a full time job and get my ratings if my end-goal is to work for the airlines. This included building in forecasts for loss of income during training, conservative interest rates for financing, and other opportunity costs. Its not exact science and risks are inherent in all this, but the exercise helped me justified the decision to do this full time this year
Not sure if I’ve added any new insights here, but just wanted to share that I feel like I’m in the same boat as you and have thought through it quite a fair bit!
First and foremost you don’t mention if you’ve done any flying or have any flight experience (beyond sitting in the back going on vacation). If not the very first thing you need to go up and take a few lessons. Many people believe they want to fly but trust me until you’ve actually gone up you won’t know for certain if it’s something you even want to consider doing. If you have but still aren’t sure, despite the inefficiency of it, I would recommend doing your training part-time on weekends and when you can until you’re ready to make a decision one way or the other.
Chris and Adam,
I have never done a formal introductory flight. A year ago I did a doors off helicopter tour (which was awesome) in Hawaii while on vacation and played Microsoft flight simulator. Obviously, these experiences do not compare to actually siting in the front of an aircraft and enjoy the sound and smells of flying. Adam and Chris, to you guy’s point it will be best that I do a introductory flights and truely determine what is the best for me.
What is it that I can expect from an introductory flight and or a few lessons?
Check out this link for more on the introductory flight: https://atpflightschool.com/programs/intro-training-flight.html
Basically, an introductory flight is just a way to go up in an airplane and see how you like flying. Do not put too much pressure on yourself, you will not be expected to fly to any sort of standard. Just enjoy the flight.
serving as an introduction to a subject or topic; basic or preliminary.
As Chris you are not expected to know ANYTHING nor have ANY skills or abilities whatsoever. The idea is to get your feet wet and experience the sights, sounds and sensations. Nothing more. So if you come here afterward complaining that you thought you’d be “better” at it or had trouble holding an altitude or heading etc I will yell at you.