Suggestions for best pathway towards pilot career

Good Evening Everyone,

I am 30 years old. I have a bachelors degree in chemistry and some graduate school time. I am currently working a retail job as a manager(yuck). I was in the Marines as a c130 Crewmaster (loadmaster and flight mechanic rolled into one). My father was a pilot in the military and TSA as well as owning his own v-tail bonanza. I have flown with him in the bonanza. I have flight experience and like it.

I am taking a course at my small municipal airport for an endorsement to get my private pilots license. I do not have any hours logged. I am scheduled to get my 1st class medical this Friday 7/15.

My questions are, from your experiences and knowledge what are the best routes to doing this. My father and I had originally looked at getting a small Cessna for me to log the hours in and get my ratings. We are now looking at the airline academy’s and schools that have fast tracks to commercial careers. 1 way you get your own plane to and the other you get a foot in the door with the big boys.

bonus question, could i look into getting a job as a loadmaster for the airlines while i complete my hours either direction? i live about an hour from DFW international.

any information is appreciated thank you!


Full disclosure, if you look up and to the left you’ll clearly see the ATP website. This is ATPs forum and ALL the mentors on here are successful grads who are now airline pilots. We’re not salesmen but do we receive any incentive to get you to sign to. What it does mean is we were all where you were at some point, trying to decide the best route and we decided that was ATP. In short we’re all a little biased.

Now to your questions. Many people think getting their own plane is a great way to go but you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. who’s going to train you? Is dad a CFI, CFII, MEI? If not you’ll need to find one who’s willing to train which is harder than it might sound. Most instructors aren’t comfy instructing in someone else’s plane. Also are you willing to get insurance to cover them if something goes wrong.

  2. will the inexpensive airplane you plan to buy be IFR certified? It’ll need to be so you can do your instrument training and these days that means GPS with a moving map

  3. how you going to get your ME rating and time? To get your ATP cert and therefore to fly for an airline, you’ll need your multi engine rating and some time.

  4. how are you going to build your time? If you’re answer is flying around in your Cessna getting $200 cheeseburgers I’ll caution. Getting hired these days is easy, passing newhire training is not. The FAA 1500hr requirement is to allow you to build time AND experience. It’s but just about the quantity, it’s about the quality which is really hard to get joyriding. How do you build quality time? Flight instruction is the most common and one of the best. There’s nothing better to keep you sharp and on your toes than sitting next to some newbie who’s trying to kill you.

  5. finally, how long is this adventure of yours going to take? Airline pilots have a finite amount of years to fly. Senior Capts earn $350k+. That means every year you delay can cost you big time. Further EVERYTHING at the airlines is based on seniority. Sooner is always better.

By reading the above I’m sure I’ve conveyed my opinion on the subject. Obviously the decision is yours but keep this in mind. ATP has been training pilots for the airlines for over 35yrs and have had almost 1200 grads hired in the last 12mos alone. I’ve been flying for the airlines for 17yrs and have yet to meet a single pilot who bought their own plane and trained in it. Your call.

As for your bonus question you can do what you like if you’re training on your own but loading planes has nothing to do with flying them. It won’t give you a leg up or any advantage when it comes to getting hired. If you decided to train and then instruct for ATP you wouldn’t be able to work any other job.



Welcome to the forum, let’s get to your questions. At 30, you are not old, but you are not young either. Buying your own airplane to fly is probably the most expensive, time consuming and east efficient path you can take to the airlines. You need to focus solely on flight training, not owning an airplane. I am a big fan of accelerated, airline focused training. ATP has been doing this for decades and has produced more airline pilots than any other flight school. They train to airline standards using airline policies. You will not find this at your local flight school.



If you want best look no further. No one comes close to ATP’s caliber. ATP’s Company History / ATP Flight School

I think learning to fly in your own plane shouldn’t even be considered if you are in search of the best path to becoming an airline pilot. If you want to become an airline pilot, why not train like one?


Thank you all for the replies! buying your own plane and teaching yourself is definitely the outlier and yall made that clear.

My current question is how to actually talk to anyone at ATP. Everything i click on the website seems to direct me to a free PDF or to the loan application site. not really worried about the loan as i have perfect credit and some of my GI bill left.


You can call Admin during normal business hours at 904-595-7950 and someone will be there to assist you.



A quick phone call will get you started in the right direction. As an aside, ATP is not able to except GI Bill benefits.