The Beginning of the Rest of My Life


After a long time coming, I have finally got my start date and will be attending ATP-IWA on September 21st! I will be enrolled in the zero-to-hero program. I am both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous. I have never had the need to study during college or high school, so I am trying to learn how to take effective notes and properly study (if you have any tips that helped you, let me know!).

I will be coming into the program without taking the written exams first. I wish I had the time to do it prior, however, I could not hold the program back a couple months as I only have set aside funds and times for this period. Regardless, I am incredibly excited to get started and will be working my butt off to make sure I am successful.

Anybody have any tips at all? Anything you wish you knew prior to going into your first day and into the program? Anything at all?

Thank you to all the mentors and people of this forum. You’ve made this an incredibly educated choice for me to make and I am comfortable taking this challenge!


Congrats on the start date, Gavin!

As a matter of fact I do have a few tips: What does an ATP student need to do to be successful?


Thanks Tory! I have read this a couple times and now that I have my big box of goodies, it makes it that much more valuable!

Don’t forget to have fun. Soak it in. It’s over before you know it.


The title of your post really is appropriate and quite true, this really is the start of something that will be life defining for you.

I was never a big sturdier either and hated taking notes. This probably runs counter to what most will say, but I took almost no notes while in the program. I relied on the study materials that were provided by ATP and found them to be highly effective.

My best advice would be follow your instructor’s lead and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. The program is very well established and things run a certain way for a reason.

Thank you for the update and the kind words. Please keep us in the loop as you go through the program.



Well I usually say bang out some writtens but I won’t :wink:
As Tory said don’t forget to relax and enjoy. It’s easy to get really wrapped up with the pace and intensity. Make sure your family and friends understand what you’re trying to attempt. They need to give you some space while you’re in training. Spend some QT with them now.


Hi Gavin!

A couple things:

  1. Writtens are best when you can get them done ASAP. Sporty’s Private Pilot Test Prep app for the Private Written, Sheppard Air for all the rest. It’ll suck to study, but just get them done.
  2. If you can, get a couple copies of the checklists. You’ll want to memorize most of the emergency checklist (ask your instructor for exactly which checklists to start).
  3. The first flight or two… Have fun!!

Can’t wait to see your First Solo post!


I thought so too! I have already begun to embrace the “pilot life” and grew myself a celebratory 'stache to go with it.

I am really hoping to have a similar experience as that is one of my biggest concerns. I want to make sure my studying is effective and that I retain the information. I fully plan on spending a majority of my time at the facility and just immersing myself as I work through the program.

I am planning on making sure my instructor and I are well connected as I am sure I will have a bunch of questions.

I plan on making this a consistent thing, it’s been a treat to read through everyone else’s experience.


Lol, I wish I could! I have started to go beyond the required watch in Kings School and I downloaded the Sportys Buddy app. My goal is to really knock out the PAR during my private, get some traction and begin studying for the IRA. Once I have completed the studying with the IRA, I plan to take the FII with it to knock out some later tests.

I have warned my whole family that I will be basically gone for 9-10 months. So, they are ready!

Hi Bennett,

That is what I have heard. Despite going in without my writtens done, I am working really hard to get them done as fast as I possibly can while in the program. I know the program was built with the writtens to be completed during, so I am hoping that carries me to success.

I have heard the checklist thing a couple times, I will most definitely include that in my list to ask the instructor on check-in day. How long would you say it took you to memorize the check list?


I don’t think I have the whole emergency checklist memorized, even now! I focused on Engine Fire, Engine Failure, Wing Fire, and Emergency Landing. You should ask your instructor when you start what they want you to start with, though.

Remember: Always use your checklist (regular and emergency)!


The biggest advice I can offer with the flying portion is stay ahead of the plane. If you can ‘master’ the ability to always be one step ahead, you’ll be solid. I struggled with staying ahead during the beginning of my training which showed, especially in instrument flying, but shortly after just spending a few days doing flows and recommendations from my instructor and fellow classmates, I grasped it.

Finally, just be yourself. Enjoy your time at ATP, you’ll make remarkable flights and memories, meet amazing people who eventually will become your friend(s), and have stories to once tell family and friends back home. It’s a quick program and when you realize it, you’ll be halfway through it looking back at all those challenging, but rewarding times. Best of luck to you Gavin!


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9/27/20 - Week One/Fundamentals Complete:

Wanted to give an end of first week update!

With every update I have read on this forum, it is truly all the same sentiment… It is like drinking from a fire hose. However, you immediately feel invited when you are at the facility. I have already met some people who have given me helpful information and even gone through a couple practice quizzes with the PAR. I am definitely struggling with all the information and trying to figure out what to prioritize to ensure I put my best foot forward and retain all the information. Any tips you guys have in this regard would be extremely helpful.

An initial tip when you start (in regards to the information). There is a “Private Pilot” progress bar that when you click on it, takes you to a bunch of ATP created videos. A lot of people have shared with me to make sure I do not forget to do those. It is apparently pretty common to forget those videos and just focus on the other portions of the program. These videos are required to be completed before certain stages of the license you are working on. So, make sure you do them!

Onto the flight portion:

I feel like I am grasping concepts pretty easy in regards to how the plane moves throughout the sky. After the 4.0 hours of fundamentals, I definitely started building a comfort in the plane and in the air. Some things I definitely need to build upon are my sight picture, taxiing, and learning how to balance all the different checklists/making sure I remain cognizant of my airspeed/altitude when I am climbing/descending. I start maneuvers AATD tomorrow and excited to get started into some more advance processes. My last flight, I started to take over the communications a little bit and my instructor told me I did quite well.

Overall, despite being extremely overwhelmed. I am still excited to keep going… Coming from a non-aviation related field and having zero connections to aviation in my family, I am still feeling incredibly motivated to learn all of this information. When you understand what you are reading, it’s actually quite fun to start building connections from your reading to the plane.

Thanks guys!



Thank you for the update and the tips. Please keep them coming.


10/14/2020 - One Month Down! Start of Solo Prep

I just had and passed my TOLs Eval! I was nervous coming into this Eval as the days leading up to it, I was still struggling with my flair and my approach wasn’t looking too good either. However, just as everyone says, one day it will just click and that day was today! I had my first landing that I would consider a “greaser” and the rest were not too shabby either, compared to what I was doing before. The rest of the week is looking calm with a ground tomorrow and the basic instrument flight on Friday. I will have my first solo prep flight on Tuesday.

Other than that, I had been working extremely hard to study for my PAR test and actually got really confident that I decided to take it earlier than the program suggested. I was shooting for above a 90%, however, I really stumped myself on a couple of questions and didn’t quite make my goal. Finishing out the test with an 87%. One thing I didn’t realize was how much I enjoyed speaking with ATC. This may be a unique opinion but I really do enjoy being apart of the puzzle they are putting together with us.

All-in-all, it does certainly calm down. I am, for lack of better words, at ease with all the new topics coming in, the flying techniques, and staying ahead of the airplane as suggested by @Brady. So, it does ease up a little bit if anyone reading this coming in is a little worried about that part.

Lastly, I look into this last month and see where I could improve myself and hopefully reflect on it next month as a success: My studying definitely has to pick up a little bit more – I got really lax after I passed my test and now I am a little intimidated by all the books and struggling to conquer it right now. I need to keep a more stabilized approach and not make such drastic corrections, patterns can be a little bit tighter, and I want to continue to make sure my landings stay consistent with what I saw today.

Thanks guys! Looking forward to more posts and future successes!



Nice job. TOL can be a bear so kudos. Keep up the good work and just wait, there are some really awesome controllers out there.


Hopefully one day, after the pandemic, you will get a chance to do a tower tour. I enjoyed bringing my students up there. Fun to see them working in action.

Congrats on passing your TOL!



Congratulations on passing the TOL. Your comment about slacking off a bit reminded me of some famous words once said by General George Patton: "I don’t want any messages saying 'I’m holding my position: “We’re not holding a thing. We’re advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy.” The enemy in this case is the knowledge that you still need to gain. You have not time to slack, if you are not studying, you should be. Keep that mentality and you will do well.

Thanks for the update, please keep them coming.


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