The best aviation path


I’ve recently considered becoming becoming a pilot. It seems like something new and different and was always kind of an idea in my mind.

I’ve been really intrigued with ATPs program and would love to pursue it. However, the 9 month program I feel I can’t financially do.

My thought process was to pursue the private pilot license and if I still like the idea of flying afterwards apply for ATPs 6 month program and go forward with it next year.

Is this a stupid idea? I like the idea of testing the water and seeing if it is something truly for me.

If I did this, what are things to consider going from a private pilots license to ATPs 6 month program?


We generally recommend people doing the full 9mos with ATP. The reason is continuity and starting off on the “right foot”. ATP has been training people for the airlines for over 30yrs and has a time tested an proven system. BUT, I completely understand and the ONLY reason I ever suggest people get their Private on their own is if they have doubts if this is really the career for them. If you’re uncertain and have doubts, by all means getting your Private independently is definitely a smaller commitment and smaller investment. I only have 2 caveats. First know that if you do decide to continue with ATP the program requires your Private AND 80hrs of flight time. What that means is you really won’t be saving any money in the long run as that amount of flying will be a comparable cost to ATP’s. Second know that there may be some habits or techniques you may have to unlearn but people are successful either way so I wouldn’t sweat that too much.


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If you are unsure about aviation as a career, I think that your suggested path is a good one. Who knows, you might decide after just a few lessons that you want to fly for a living, or you might decide that you do not want to fly at all.

That being said, this will add more cost to your total training program as nobody trains as efficiently as ATP does.

I got my private through another flight school. While it was not insurmountable, it take some adjusting to learning ATP’s preferred way.


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I agree with everything Adam has said. I actually received my PPL from a
local flight school before attending ATP. It was the right decision for me
because I needed time to assimilate information and develop strong study
habits to be successful in ATP’s program.

Like Adam said, you will have to unlearn some bad habits though.

If I were to go back and do it again I would have tried harder to retain my
Private Pilot knowledge. The biggest hurdle for me was getting through CFI
school because my Private Pilot knowledge was weak.


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Thank you all for the responses! It is very helpful and reassuring. I can definitely understand why having training all under the same roof is beneficial.


When you went through ATP did you go through the 6 month program since you had your PPL or did you do the 9 month?

Thanks for the help!

Well, the program was 6 months from zero time. Since I started with a PPL,
my program was 100 days, but it ended up taking me 5-6 months to complete
because of lack of examiner availability.