Taking the Leap! Best route to take

Hi Everyone,

So glad to see an active forum where I can interact with students and pilots in a career that always seemed unattainable…

About me:
My names Nathaniel. I’m 31 living in Wisconsin. Current profession is as a sr. business development manager for a staffing and recruitment company (I know it’s thrilling). Like many, I’m not feeling fulfilled or happy. Each day chips at the soul. Finances are not the best nor the worst (12k in savings due to home renovations). I have a wife, a house, two dogs and an approved loan from Sallie Mae.

Took two discovery flights and Im 100% in.

What are the benefits or limitations that would come from getting my PPL before entering ATP flight? Same question for starting from zero.

If I decide to earn my PPL this summer, do you recommend I fly a plane that has the digital flight display or analog gauges?

Do recommend a towered or non-towered airport (would fly to a towered airport each time)? This facility at the non towered airport offers a cost upfront package for $12500 which includes 50 hours, books, online course, ground school, check ride, FAA knowledge tests.

What do you think?

Thank you!!


I got my PPL before starting ATP and I would not recommend doing so. Most schools are simply not set up to handle students in an expeditious manner. The school took twice a s long as it was supposed to, mostly because of maintenance issues with their very small fleet and a lack of instructor availability.

I would not spend extra money for a glass panel airplane. If anything, I think it is better to learn on an airplane with analog gauges as that is the foundation of flying. The fancy stuff can come later.

It does not matter if the field is towered or not, are long as you get experience at both types of fields.

Very few people get their PPL in 50 hours, the national average is 75 hours according to the FAA. This quoting of unrealistically low hours is one of the things that many smaller schools do that drives me nuts and sadly it is very common in the industry.

To enter ATP with credit private you will need 78 hours, so make sure to factor that into your equations.


Thank you, Chris.

I’m quitting my job by the end of the year so the speed of earning my PPL is not of concern. Really I just want to have a solid foundation and experience before quitting my job to fly planes for a living. All in all, it will be less to finance so I’m happy to say I’ve started training earlier this week!

I’ll be flying a DA20 at a towered airport and loving it so far.

Thanks for the topics of consideration as you did help make my final decision.

I’ve got to say, is it typical for pilots to mumble over the radio? Lol it’s hard to understand when listening to LiveATC.

Actually it’s not typical at all. I would argue it’s more you not understanding vs them mumbling. Once you begin to understand it will make sense.



It is not typical, but it does happen and it is a huge pet peeve of mine. I just had a conversation with my FO and him speaking so low on the radio that nobody, including myself, could understand him.



Once and a while you come across someone who does mumble. I’m not sure if the mumbling has to do with confidence or mic quality, but after some time it is distinguishable - or just the nature of how someone talks in general.



Live ATC is great, but it doesn’t always sound as clear listening through a web browser than actively on frequency. However, some pilots are harder to hear than others. Clear communication is absolutely key to an airplane’s safety.