My name is Steve and I’ve been on these forums pretty heavily the past few weeks so I’m hoping not to repeat any previously asked questions. But, my situation is a bit unique so I figured I’d get your opinions.
I am currently Active Duty in the Air Force, enlisted, non-pilot. I’m sitting at 18+ years and will retire in October of 2024 (I’ll be 38). I will not be able to start with ATP until much closer to that date, most likely around July of 2024 when I’ll be on “Terminal Leave.” I scheduled and had a Discovery Flight or Intro Flight at the Tucson ATP location last Saturday and had a blast - definitely has me very excited to pursue ATP in the future and aviation as a whole.
Because I am so far out from being able to apply for financing or enrolling in the ACPP, I tentatively plan on pursuing my PPL. I asked the ATP instructor who took me out if he had a recommendation on local schools and he did, he actually referenced one where one of his former students is instructing. I’ve done the research into the school, and with the recommendation from the ATP instructor, I believe it is a reputable place with an adequate number of Aircraft and Instructors.
My question is, when should I start the PPL process? I don’t want to be too far out from when I would start with ATP as I don’t want to lose proficiency but I also don’t want to waste time. I am sure there are huge benefits to having all training conducted by ATP, but because I have so much time until I could actually do that, I’m thinking starting sooner rather than later would be beneficial. Having the PPL prior to enrolling in the ACPP would mean I could do the 5 month, start from PPL option, rather than the full 7 months which would ultimately get me fully certified sooner. But I also see the benefit of having all the training done back-to-back in the 7 month program.
Additionally, I’m looking into medical clearance but am not pursuing that aggressively until I’m much closer to either PPL or ATP training start dates.
Finally, has anyone completed the ACPP in less than the predicted 5/7 months? When I did the Discovery Flight, the instructor indicated that several students were ahead of schedule, some by nearly 20+ days - I would assume that equates to getting appropriate certifications earlier and thus completing the program sooner but was curious if there were any personal experiences where someone did finish early.
I look forward to any of your recommendations or insights!
At 38 time is definitely a consideration but 2mos isn’t going to change your life or career. Further the program timeline is 7mos (or 5 w/PPL) and that’s what you should figure on. Some do finish some but that generally due to good fortune and nothing else. While I understand your desire to finish asap, this is not a race and not something to be rushed. It’s flight training. It’s not easy and has risks and responsibilities. You need to be more concerned with doing well than being done.
As for getting your PPL first that’s your call. Many find the experience expensive and frustrating but that’s totally your call. Know that to get credit for your PPL at ATP you’ll need at least 78hrs of flight time. Also no that unless you plan to continue flying regularly there really not much point as these are perishable skills that if not used are lost. Long short you want to start early enough to finish and build the time, you don’t want to finish too early and forget all your learned. You’re call as only you know your schedule and resources.
Thanks for the reply - yeah my goal isn’t to speed through building hours or training - Really regarding the shortened timeframe, I was just curious if others had finished earlier than 7/5 months - just doing my research and trying to get opinions - I’m tracking on the 78 hour requirement as well.
Let me put it this way, if you knew you couldn’t start ATP’s ACPP program for 1.5 years, would you pursue the PPL or just wait until you could start the ACPP?
The only time I recommend getting your PPL first is if you’re not sure you really want to fly and want to test the waters before committing fully. If that’s not the case I’d do the entire program with ATP.
ATP has been training pilots for the airlines for over 35yrs and has placed over 1200 grads in the last year alone. If I chose them to do my flight training, I don’t know why I wouldn’t want to start day 1 on the right foot?
If you’re all in on wanting to become an airline pilot, I’d wait. A year and a half is a long time to maintain currency and proficiency so that you start at ATP freshly off a private pilot check ride.
Also, primacy is everything when it comes to the foundation of your training. It’s not good to make bad habits that you’ll have to correct later. Best thing you can do once you’re 9 months out:
-Get your financing in order.
-Intro flight/training center tour
-First class medical
-Schedule your start date
-Get as many writtens done as you can.
I’m with the others in this case, waiting to do your training is better suited than starting ‘too soon.’ There are things however in the meantime that I recommend you could do, which I would do no earlier than 6-9 months of a start date and that is the writtens. The reason I say 6–9-month range of starting is because the written exam results do expire after 24 months (2 years).
You will need a FAA First Class medical for enrollment. If you have any medical concerns, you will want to consult an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). Eventually you will have to apply for a medical, but again if you have any medical conditions and unsure of what is approved/disapproved, we recommend consulting first.
Do you have a college degree yet?
I will complete my degree this year. I plan on getting with an AME in the near future. First Class Medical are only good for 1 year correct? I know there are other stipulations to it after that one year but again, not wanting to do anything until an appropriate time. I did complete an Intro flight and did a tour of the training center in Tucson. Everyone there was very helpful - I’m sure I will do another intro flight when it comes time that I can apply for financing. I was told Tucson has about a 6 month wait time for start dates so I will plan ahead with that. I’m already looking into the writtens but did see they are only good for 2 years so not worrying about them much.
I appreciate all your inputs!
Yes the first class medical privileges are only good for one year. I would wait until you’re 9 months out and then you can start the ball rolling on financing, medical and class date. Then start on some written exams.
The best thing you can do between now and then, finish out that degree with a great GPA and save money where you can!