Swiss Cheese Plan

First of all, thank you to everyone on this board that is active trying daily to help people like myself get the answers we need. I have done at least 100 searches and found most of my answers, but my plan still has a few holes in it. Hopefully I can fill those in and put this thing into action.

A little about myself. I am 32, will be 33 next month. I currently work in the NASCAR industry as a fabricator, I have won championships in all 3 of the top levels of racing since joining the industry in 2014. Unfortunately the sport is trying its best to remove fabrication from the industry. With that being said, I am actively looking to find my next “dream job” and flight has always been it. I should have chased it when I was 18 coming out of high school, but I never flew until my honeymoon and absolutely became addicted to it. I constantly look for excuses to have to fly now.

Currently my wife and I live pretty much paycheck to paycheck, there really isn’t enough room in the budget (we’re already as bare as we can be), and she stays at home with our 2 kids. That being said, I am having to be creative how I go about doing a transition from current career, to becoming an airline pilot. My Uncle was a pilot for Delta for 18 years and told me to do it, and not to let anything that I can control to stand in my way, from reading various responses on here, I feel most would support his assessment.

I do however have to maintain my mortgage and other bills especially during the first 7 months. I read where Addison suggested using the housing allotment combined with the $800 stipend for some of the bills we all have, and that makes great sense. But I also want to know, I have seen others suggest getting all of the writtens out of the way before day 1, and I really like that idea and don’t mind trying to find the extra cash here and there to do it, my question though is will that change my timeline or my schooling any while enrolled? Also, if I pass all of my writtens, how long are those results good for? For example, do I need to have my Private hours totaled within say 6 months of passing the PPL written?

Thanks once again for everyone that gives back on this board, you guys have no idea how beneficial it has been to read replies and try to get things lined up. Even some of the answers we don’t want to see has been good to read to have a realistic view and outlook on what I am about to try and take on.

Hi Elliot!

Thanks for the question.

Completing the written tests is a good idea if you have the time to do it. It’s not required, but every student that has done this would agree that it’s a good idea.

The test results are valid for 24 calendar months. So, as long as you don’t take the tests too early you should be well within that limit.


Hi Elliott,

Welcome! I too started aviation as a second career and trying to balance budgets with a spouse and two kids at home. It can be done but does require sacrifices to achieve your end goals.

Getting as many written exams complete before enrolling gets the pressure of trying to balance flight training with studying for your written off your back. In my opinion, I don’t think it will significantly reduce your overall timeline. Unfortunately stuff that’s out of your control can effect that timeline such as maintenance delays, weather, and DPE availability. However, the more time you have focused on training and being prepared for your checkride, the better the chances of passing the checkride the first time. This will help in completing the program on-time. Scores for written exams provide 24 months to complete your checkride for each respective certification so you have some time before they lose their validity. Strive for as high a score as possible on the writtens because any subject you miss on the exam is required to covered in your checkride.

Best of luck!

@Tory Thank you for your response. I still have a fair amount to figure out and get lined up financially, so I think I will wait until I have a slightly better understanding of how that will work before I take my written. But I do believe I will do them ahead of time as I’ve now found multiple stories of people doing it and it making the schooling more enjoyable and removing a little of the pressure load.

@AShabbir Thank you for your response as well. I read your story and background in my searches and between you and @Adam i feel like I can definitely do this, provided I can get the loan and funding for the school. I work a lot, but Adam put me to shame with his restaurant schedule. Right now we’re working 11-12 hour days with the season starting next month. But that should stop soon and that’s when I hope to have a better outlook on funding myself, and also to start cramming for the writtens to get them out of the way.

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I think your best bet financially is to take out the loan to cover all the extra expenses you need for those seven months plus admissions. That way your sole focus can be on training and your family is still taken care of financially speaking. Once you finish the program and start instructing, get yourself set up with a tuition reimbursement program at the regional of your choosing. That way, you don’t have the added burden of the loan on top of your financial situation. You’re not deferring payments, the airline is actually paying your loan each month. CFI pay isn’t great but you will be making an income again.
Let us know if there is anything else we can help you with!

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