Structured program vs. learn as you go?

Hello everyone,

Happy to have found this forum. I am in the mist of a career change at age 37. I decided to pursue becoming ATP. I took my first two lessons and felt incredible. I was able to take off on my second lesson.

My question is, and based on your experiences, what’s the difference between a structured program like ATP’s and joining a local flight club and advancing my ratings as I go. My goal is to become ATP.

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Alex Afandi


If you read through this forum you’ll see countless tales of whoa regarding pilots attempting to train on their own vs a structured program like ATPs. If you read my bio you’ll see it took me 2yrs and wayyyy to much money to simply earn my Private license. When I decided to make my career change I understood at the pace I was going at it literally would never happen. Unfortunately this is a very common story.

If you look at the 2 agencies that produce the most successful pilots (the military and the airlines) you’ll see one thing in common. They both train their pilots daily. Flying is not innate and to advance you need consistency or you’ll simply back slide which wastes time and money. The fact is your local flight school or club simply doesn’t have the resources (airplanes and instructors) for you to accomplish your goals.

ATP was created over 30 years ago by airline pilots to train airline pilots. They pioneered the “Airline Career Pilot” program and have had almost 700 students get hired at airlines in the last 12mos alone. That’s probably more than your local flight school has produced ever. Not downing your local school it’s simply not what they do.

Bottomline if you want to be a professional you should train like one. Factor in your age and you really shouldn’t be taking your time if you’re serious.




Ditto what Adam said. I, too, am 37 and decided to make the switch, and no offense, but let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger. Seniority is everything in the Airline industry, so the sooner you get to the airlines the sooner off you’ll start building seniority, and the better off you’ll be down the road.

You certainly could go to a local school or flying club, but as Adam said, I bet you’ll find it may cost you more money in the long run, and certainly would take a lot longer. Hence, the reason I chose ATP, their proven track record, and the ability to get it done for a fixed cost in one of the shortest amounts of time possible.


I see that you just joined the forum three hours ago, so you probably have not had time to check out the FAQ section just yet. Please do so as many of your questions are answered there.

As to your question, I got my private at a small, pay as you go school. It was a disaster. It took me many months longer than advertised and cost significantly more. The school lacked structure, even though it promoted itself as a 141 school. They only had two airplanes, one of which always seemed to be down for maintenance. Combine this with an instructor that did not want to work weekends, and the writing was all over the wall. I did eventually finish my PPL there, then went onto ATP where the program ran exactly as advertised.


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Totally agree!!