Timing Is Everything

Hey guys!

Thanks for doing what you do on here! It is great seeing people be so eager to help others! I have a few things that I have been pondering, and I would love to have your input on the situation. It involves rising ATP prices/inflation, and timing in general as far as when to get started.

So, I graduated from Purdue this last August with a degree in Computer Engineering Technology. Being a Purdue student, I am lucky enough to be able to attend their major aviation job fairs (another great source for the job search). Anyway, I was working on my Sport Pilot License at the time I attended the job fair (my last year of college) and decided I would speak to many regional pilot recruiters. All had great things to say about ATP (regardless of what you sometimes see online) – that’s actually how I really heard about the program. They also said they would love to hire me due to my unique background (non-aviation background/degree) had I also had my hours and licenses.

That was when it sort of clicked for me – I had a good degree to “fall back on” if I absolutely had to, was able to pay off a lot of the student loans I took out (have $15K left), and am able to finance my Private now with my job I got out of school.

Here is where the tricky part begins. Ever since I started working after college (with the intent of saving $ and obtaining my private first) the ATP prices have increased. I don’t mind, as training materials are now included as well as 10 more hours of multi. However, there is also inflation to take into account, along with potential rise in interest rates as time goes on (they increased 1.5% while I was in college).

So I find myself at this crossroad. I am lucky to have my degree, but I always wanted to fly. Working in tech is great – but my gut tells me everyday that I know what I TRULY have to do (fly). Also, working in automation/software/robotics has shown me that “pilotless aircraft” will probably not be a thing anytime soon in my career (if ever) due to the crazy amount of hiccups and constant issues with making these systems work together, time after time with no mistakes.

I’m starting to re-evaluate the original “two year plan” I had going into my tech job. Yes, I’m going to finish up with my Private out of pocket over the next couple of months. I obtained my 1st class medical, and am quite healthy. However, my lease is up this upcoming September. At that point, I would have worked at my job for a year. As I said, the original plan was to work for two years. The second year would be used primarily to pay off most if not all of my original loan (the remaining $15K, as well as save up more money for a down payment on an ATP loan). But at this point, I’m considering just going all in come this September, as NOW seems to be the time to get started, and a lot of time spent saving money could be less effective than I originally thought due to annual rises in prices as I mentioned.


I am concerned that if I continue to wait another year and save money, I could potentially be paying in less obvious “opportunity costs”. Such as, another price increase within that second year saving $, interest rate increases, or of course another year not flying, building seniority, and getting in while the time is right.

Thank you so much for your time – I know the post is long but I’m sure there are many guys and gals in a similar situation!

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Welcome to the forum and thank you for the detailed background information as it really helps us better understand where you are coming from.

As you know, aviation is strictly seniority based, those who get there first will have longer careers, more career advancement and of course earn more. One additional year spent as a captain as opposed to being a first officer can be a $100,000 difference in earnings.

I understand the desire to pay off debt, but the sooner you can start, the better overall career you will have. Since you are already well into your PPL, I would recommend finishing that where you are, then evaluating your fast-track options.

How close are you to finishing the private?



I think you answered your own question. Sure it would be nice to have the loan paid off prior but that extra year could literally cost you 100 times the $15k over the length of your career. Factor in quality of life that comes with greater seniority and the answer should be clear.



I don’t think it’s tricky at all. It’s a fact of life. There are too many unknown variables to account for to know what life will look like based on the decisions that we make. Worry less about the things you can’t control. Embrace them. Follow your passion.



@Tory, well put…

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