Private pilot with some Q's


After receiving some suggestions I now am a licensed private pilot with 56.5hrs TT. I took my checkride and passed at 41 hours. Was an amazing experience, as I started March 31st and passed my CR on June 17th and enjoyed every minute of it. Now I am ready to move on and continue my training.

Months ago, I asked and received a lot of info about looking into ATP. I will summarize my situation to paint the picture adding up to my main questions.

First off, I am still active duty military that will be getting out soon. I am 32 and have a family. I chose to get my PPL out of the way to save time and money, as I picked up my PPL for $7100 through a local part 61 school. I’m working my way up to the 80 hours required to start ATP Airline Career Pilot.

Now I have an option, either I continue with my plan to attend ATP assuming I do in fact have my financial aid approved. I don’t really have a for sure co-signer, though I have very good credit and a pretty long credit history. When I talked to an ATP rep they seemed positive I should be able to be approved, but obviously that isn’t forsure with out applying.

Or, I use my GI Bill and attend a Part 141 and have my training paid for, though it could take from 3-4 years before I’d be eligible to fly for a regional with a R-ATP

Pros and Cons the way I see it

ATP Pros-
Much faster program to get me closer to making money as a commercial pilot.
More my speed in terms of training style.
Start making money as a CFI 100 days after starting instrument.
Proven System for training pilots to prepare for Airline piloting.
School near my home (Denver)
Guaranteed CFI Job following Graduation

ATP Cons-
Would have to get a loan $50-70k
Would have to move from Kansas to Colorado
Has the “Pilot Factory” title to some people
Wouldn’t get a degree needed to make it to the majors (Though while I am at a regional I could be working on that with my GI BIll)
May not learn as much, as it could be considered a checkride trainer, not an all out pilot knowledge school.

Part 141 Pros-
Would have no flight training debt (GI Bill)
Would have a BS to qualify for the major requirements
Slower process, might learn more in dept in the professional pilot career
Wouldn’t have to move as there is a good 141 school near by.

Part 141 Cons-
Would take me a lot longer to get my ratings and be hired by an airline
Wouldn’t start making money for roughly 1.5-2 years until I obtained my CFI
Would have to work part time/full time to support my family while I’m going to school
Would possibly work a job that I have no interest, just to get me by :confused:

There is a lot more to this decision that just pointing at one and making a choice. I’m looking for suggestions and just a way for me to ponder my options. They both have pros and cons, and I understand this is a ATP biased forum. However, the fact that I can get my ratings free is intriguing, but the time it will take gives me a bad taste. Because, as soon as I leave the Army, I want to be a pilot. I want my office to be a cockpit!

Thanks guys in advance!


As you said, this forum is biased towards ATP as all of us mentors attended ATP. With that being said, I must disagree with you on a few points. Yes, ATP is a pilot factory and that is a good thing. ATP trains pilots the way that the airlines train them and the airlines certainly do not customize their training syllabuses for individual pilots. ATP has a tried and true method to train pilots and that is a good thing. I disagree that the training ATP gives is just check ride prep. Remember that right after an ATP student finishes their instrument check ride they are put into an airplane and sent out to fly across large portions of the country. The company certainly would not feel comfortable doing this with students that had only been trained to pass a certain check ride. I have flown with entire crews that were ATP graduates, the airlines certainly respect the training that the school provides.

The training is no longer 100 days long, due to FAA examiner shortages the programs now six months long for those entering with their private.

You do bring up some good points for both possible courses. In the end it will be up to you and what works best for you.


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As Chris said you have some good pro’s and con’s but I too take exception to a few of the ATP cons. Not sure who the “some people” are but I assure you they’re no one on the hiring boards of any airlines. As for “may not learn as much” and “checkride trainer” I’ve written at length how that’s all on YOU. ATP will equip you with the tools you need to be successful. If all you seek is the bare minimum so be it and again that’s on you. It’s exactly the same when you get to a an airline. They will hand you your manuals, give you a very broad overview of the systems and you will be expected to get the rest on your own. This is why new pilots with 1500hrs wash out of the airlines. They expect someone to tell them what they need to know and spoon feed it to them. That doesn’t happen at the airlines and it doesn’t happen at ATP and that’s the reason why.

As for the finances something you really need to enter into the equation is earning potential. Listen, I get it, $53K is a lot of money and free definitely sounds better. BUT, you have to remember you have a finite number of years to fly. Senior Capts at Majors are making over $350k per year. If you can get to an airline just 1 year sooner (it will probably be longer but let’s be conservative) that’s $300k you never would have made. Start factoring your income increase being a year senior over a career and that $53k becomes almost meaningless.

Just some food for thought.


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Chris and Adam,

Thanks for the prompt replies.

Chris I believe it was you that helped me not worry as much about the cost and compared it to the earning potential.

I’m not at all concerned about the cost factor. I don’t think I explained my thought on the subject well enough. Let me reiterate. I’m comparing this to the fact I can use my GI Bill to cover the complete cost for the same training. Which at the end would only mean it took me longer to achieve the same results. I’m just using those two talking points as apart of my debate.

I personally like the concept of face paced learning. I put myself through that style of learning with my PPL, and between getting a 93 on my written, and passing my practical relatively easy. Was due in part to my focus and self study to make sure I knew my material.

Adam, you make very good points. My comparison for those who claim ATP is a "check ride trainer"or I may not learn as much are the CFI’s I’ve talked to coming out of a 141 school. I love studying everything aviation. I have no issue learning, and continuing to learn.

I will say that, going from 100 days to 6 months, does kinda hurt my financial situation more so than before. Mainly, because now I have to account for another 2.5 months to support myself and the family. Just something I have to consider. My plan has been if I go with ATP, which until today, I was banking on only being unemployed for 100 days, which turned to 180 now. Assuming, I do still go with ATP, my plan if I can make it work, would be to start college once I became a CFI and use my GI Bill as opposed to going 141.

I have a lot to think about, and I’m still leaning toward ATP because I want to be in the airlines asap. However, I have to consider other options as well.




You are smart to evaluate all of your options to the fullest extent possible. Feel free to ask us any other questions that you think of.

So, I find myself in a similar situation. I have some time left in the military (thinking about jumping into 6 months of unemployment, military seems like my safe zone) but you can use the time now to plan for those living expenses. I intend to send my wife, daughter and dog to live with her family during those 6 months of training so I can live with a roommate that is with ATP paying less for rent. As far as bills go, I am going to save up 6 months worth of living expenses during My last year and a half in. One of the options I thuoght about doing was saving up as many leave days as possible and selling them back. That money can really add up, and if you are able to sell at least 20 leave days, that should give you at least an extra few thousand. It may be tempting to take leave as well, but you may want to reconsider using that leave and selling it, and just sticking it out for an extra month. Also, if you drive you vehicle from your duty station back to your home of record, they should pay you per diem, and such. I don’t know if we get DLA when we transfer out of the military back home, but if we do, that’s an extra couple thousand. Oh, and apparently at ATP you are able to use the GI bill for examiner fees which is a little something at least. Good luck with your planning, and I’m curious to know what you ultimately decide doing.

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I’m currently in the CFI academy at ATP in Mesa, AZ. I started in June at ATP and began training for my instrument rating and have completed instrument, commercial multi-engine, commercial single engine. I’ll be complete with my CFI ratings probably shortly after the first of the year. I don’t regret my decision at all!

ATP has been exactly as advertised and what I’ve expected. I’m going to say that it’s not a place for everyone. For reasons that I’m glad I obtained my PPL prior to going to ATP. If you have more than a year before you discharge I highly recommend getting your PPL and 80hrs total time before attending ATP. I say this because ATP being structured the way it is you’re very limited on what you can do as a pilot during the program. Which is totally fine for someone who only cares to make flying only about thier career. For those like me who enjoy flying in a more fun and general way is just as important.

As far as using GI bill for examiners I hadn’t seen where this applies. As far as using it for ATP rating I’m aware of that but if airlines are the ultimate goal it’s obtained through the airline and I think many corporate companies are the same. I’m going to use my GI bill for college once I start instructing. One size shoe doesn’t fit all, but I’m content with my decision.



Also, the Army paid for me to move back to my home of record in Colorado but I had to pay to move to Arizona.

Awesome! Thanks for the follow up Tyler! I didn’t even see the date you wrote the post! I’m glad it Is working out! Did you end up doing national guard to keep somewhat of a monthly paycheck coming in?

I chose to be done with the military so I didn’t pursue the guard. I had a nice little savings set up and put my wife to work to get me through the program. In the end it will all work out.

ATP is the way to go if professional pilot is the ultimate goal. ATP is partnered with Arizona State University and all I can say is no thank you to Part 141 training!