Realistic expectations for getting back in the saddle

Hey everyone. I’ll try to keep this as short as possible. I really have the itch to get back in an airplane and I think it’s finally time to pull the trigger. However, I would like some solid advice other than my wife every other day telling me “get back to flying!!”. To have her support is a great start in my book, but I also want some advice from those in the industry.

My background:
I’ve wanted to fly since I was a kid. Got my PPL at 17, went 1 year at Ohio State majoring in Aviation then transferred to FlightSafety in Vero Beach. Started August 2001 and finished with my SEL/MEL Commercial w/ instrument late April 2002. Unfortunatley, 9/11 happened. The furloughs were just beginning and many of them were coming to FSA to get instructor jobs and stay current. I would have stayed, unfortunately (but fortunately) found out my wife was 3 months pregnant with our first child. We had no insurance, my loan did not include my CFI training so I was staring down the barrel of a $60,000 note and no job. We moved back to Ohio and I haven’t sat in an airplane since.

Fast forward 15 years, it’s time. Wife has a great job/career that pays well and is begging/supporting me to get back in an airplane. I’m at 400 hrs total, 55 ME. I’m 37 and would realistically like to be at a Regional in 2 years. I live in North Central Ohio right in the middle of Cleveland and Columbus. Any recommendations on FBO or Schools? Would prefer to do my CFI at a school and get on as an instructor when I’m done, but that also means more money and I’d like to continue working while training. Plan on hitting the books over the winter and get in an airplane in the spring. Any recommendations/thoughts/input?? Thanks in advance!!

TL;DR: 400hr TT, 55ME pilot that hasn’t seen a small aircraft in 15 years. 37 years old and would like to be at a regional at 40. Looking for recommended school/fbo in North Central Ohio.


If I were you first I’d get current (BFR and IPC). I’d then spend some quality time on the internet and visiting small airports in your area. The pilot shortage has been slowly trickling down to virtually every type of flying there is. While your time is low, you have your CPL and your multi. You may very well be able to pass on the CFIs and find a small local charter or cargo gig to build the 1500hrs. If you can’t then you can of course find a school, get trained etc but again I think it’s worth doing some legwork. You could very well luck out, save some time and money and be at a Regional that much sooner.



I am not familiar with any FBOs in your area and I doubt that any of the other mentors are either. I would recommend that you just go out to several different schools, explain where you are at and what your goals are. You will probably have a pretty good feeling of who will be able to help you and who won’t.


Thanks for the insight Adam and Chris! Greatly appreciated.