I apologize if these questions and their responses have been discussed elsewhere, I tried to do some searching before posting but didn’t find my exact questions and/or wanted more updated responses.
I’m in the very beginning stages of this journey: just did 2 discovery flights recently at small local schools (they were gifted to me) and am visiting ATP’s location here in Texas soon. I’m pretty serious about going forward with ATP but wanted to clarify some comments I keep hearing from competitor schools (AeroGuard), some ATP alum and reading online. Thank you in advance for your feedback!
Rumor #1: ATP is too “cut-throat,” not supportive and negative: I keep hearing from some that ATP is very cut-throat and creates a culture of stress and fear. I recognize that ATP pilots are being trained for the airlines, and I’m no fan of being babied or infantilized (I’ve dealt with this plenty being a female and on college campuses) - I can take criticism and heat. Still, I imagine there’s a major difference between a student pilot and one that is applying to work for a major airline, we all crawl before we run. Does the large number of students and locations prohibit ATP from truly investing, positively, in its students?
#2: ATP price is not fixed and many accrue additional debt. I’ve met an ATP alum who (so he says) racked up an additional $10-$13k from not passing check flights, needing additional instruction, etc. Additionally, I was told that inspections at ATP are not covered – and students are expected to pay. So what is the actual price? How does this work with the loans? Are there surprise costs that pop up regularly?
#3: What’s the deal with ATP’s flight instructor gigs? I have heard/read that ATP flight instructor pay is based on flight hours, not hourly. How can this possibly work out to build hours and/or make enough to live? Also, I’ve heard that ATP might offer you a job but it could be somewhere in the US that you don’t want to live and/or with terrible weather. Additionally, there’s a lot online about ATP firing flight instructors randomly or for minor issues and without regard to the sacrifices they’ve made. Of course, there’s two sides to every story and I’m regularly shocked by the poor work ethic within my current profession - that said, for something as unique and consequential as flying - I imagine I’ll hit some speed bumps and don’t want to be penalized either in time or money for this. So, what’s the real deal with flight instructing?
It’s important that I mention that I’ve heard/read/seen a great deal of excellent things about ATP - but I want to clear up these rumors before moving forward. Truthfully, I suspect my fears and hesitance is being worsened by other factors. First, I have virtually 0 exposure to the pilot/airline world; I’ve never known a single pilot - which leaves me vulnerable to whatever I can find online. Secondly, my lack of any financial support, substantial savings or family member to sponsor me really makes the debt of all this feel terrifying. Basically, I don’t want to dive into the deep end to only discover I can’t swim.
Thank you, all for your feedback. The honest responses truly helps to quell my worries and keep me moving forward little by little on achieving this dream.