Small ATP locations

Hey everyone!

I am currently on the verge of beginning flight school and have to make some decisions about where to attend. I have searched for this question through different forums yet cant seem to find precisely what I am looking for. 

I am located just outside of Pittsburgh, PA and ATP at KAGC was my first choice as its close to home. I also had looked into and did a discovery flight at Epic Flight Academy in New Smyrna Beach, FL. My issue with that is obviously the task of moving on top of everything else. However, my issue with going to ATP in Pittsburgh are weather, as well as, it is a new ATP location that only has 3 planes, 4 instructors, 1 simulator for i believe 20 students. Compared to Epic, having 30 planes, 70 instructors, multiple simulators etc etc.

So my question is, would you still recommend the ATP program at a small location VS. A larger flight school if both options were on the table?


First and foremost, full disclosure, if you look up to the left you’ll clearly see the ATP logo. This is ATPs forum and all the mentors are ATP grads who went on to successful careers in aviation. We’re not salesmen but at one point we were all where you are now, did our research and concluded ATP was the best route and still do.

Second I’m not sure if you’re kidding but if you want to compare Epic’s resources to ATP, choosing one small new location isn’t really comparing apples to apples now is it? But since you like numbers let’s compare ATP to Epic:
Epic 30 airplanes / ATP 520 airplanes
Epic “multiple” sims / ATP 160 sims
Epic 70 instructors / ATP over 200
Epic 3 locations / ATP 81 locations

The one number you don’t mention (and perhaps the most important) is success stories. ATP placed over 1,000 grads at the airlines in the last 12mos alone and literally tens of thousands over their 35+ year history. The fact is that ATP pioneered the Career Pilot program, and its only since the pilot shortage that every other flight school in the country jumped on the bandwagon.

ATP prides itself with delivering the same level of instruction and resources at all its locations and the plane/instructor/student ratio throughout (ie, if the KAGC location needed more planes, sims and instructors, they’d provide them). That said if the size and weather are a concern of yours, why wouldn’t you consider choosing a larger ATP location in a state with more favorable weather (ATP has 10 in FL including their large original flagship JAX)?


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Hey Adam!

Thank you for the quick response. I understood I was walking into a minefield with a question like that lol.
To answer your question, it really comes down to brass tax at the end of the day. ATP being about 10k more expensive than Epic or many other flight schools was the motivation to explore other options. That being said, to move to a new location and pay considerably more than I do now for rent could be offset by the lower priced school versus moving to still attend ATP. However, I definitely comprehend all the points you touched on. While I’ve been digging and researching, the biggest topics that would consistently come up concerning the search for your flight school are always Weather, planes, instructor availability, etc etc.

With that, my follow-up questions would be. Has anyone been in this type of situation? Being that it’s a smaller location and questionable weather, how often has that stifled your ability to go up if at all? I understand it’s not ATP’s job to lie to me and say they have no issues making time, however, I also know they are in fact a business that would like me to pay them. Just trying to sift through the BS before I make a quick decision.


As I said, ATP created this program over 35yrs ago and the 7mos takes into account “usual” weather delays and conditions. In fact ATP recently adjusted their time projections for certain locations where the 7mos timeline won’t work and in fact won’t even offer the course from zero at some of the worse.

As for “brass tacks”, while $10k is nothing to sneeze at, aside from ATPs relationships with virtually every airline in the country, ATP also recently announced a Direct Entry partnership with Spirit and Frontier which would allow you to bypass the Regionals. The starting pay and salary projections would make the $10k moot.


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