Train to fly commercial from scratch at 43 - is it even possible?

Hello all
I know this question has been asked many many times in various ways by others but I’d really appreciate just an honest answer to my own circumstances.
I’m 43, I live in Scotland and I’ve worked as a firefighter for nearly 24 years. I have a great life, a great family and a good work / life balance and I am very apprecaitive of all I have in this world…but…I want to fly. I can remember vividly aged 15 standing staring at the British Airways poster for their sponsored pilot training scheme so often in the careers room window of my school but by the time I left school and able to apply the Gulf War had forced them to temporarily suspend the scheme. I applied to the fire service, was successful, got married, had kids, etc, etc, and life went on, but now here I am again, so many years later still looking out to the sky, still being reminded all the time that what I always wanted to do I never managed to achieve. My dream has lived on inside all of those years and so many times I’ve wanted to do this but financial restraints and other family commitments have hindered me. In truth I’ve always wanted to fly, always wanted to fly a commercial airliner, I imagine I always will and I’m at a time of my life where this really possibly is the last chance I can realistically look at this with any possibility of it becoming a reality. I could work where I am until I’m 65 but that’s a whole 22 years away!..if I trained in the next few years, I could be flying at what, 46? and have nearly 20 years doing what I always wanted to. My question is simply this - is it even feasible at 43 to even consider this change and, if it is, what is the best way for me to do this? - would any airline entertain such an old trainee under one of their schemes, where do I even start here? As far as I’m aware I am only here once in this world and life is too short not to take a chance and reach for what you want and so I’d really appreciate your comments and advice.
Thanks, Alan


If you were living in the US I would tell you that it is definitely not too late, but that you need to hurry up and attend flight training as soon as possible.

Living in the UK and wanting to go through one of the airline pilot training schemes further complicates things. In short, I don’t know the answer to those questions as I my only experience with European aviation is flying in and out of the countries.

If you are desiring to fund your own training and do it in the US you can check out what ATP offers at www. If you are wanting to train in the UK you will need to check with the airlines and flight schools over there.

Let us know which direction you are looking in, then hopefully we can help you further.



As Chris said, here in the US you’d be fine. But unfortunately I too am not that familiar with things in the UK? What I do know is many pilots from Europe come to the US to train due to the expense and length of training. The internet is a great resource and I’m certain there are other forums that would have more information for your region. I’d do some more Googling.


Thanks to you both for your comments, they’re very helpful. Neither of you have said I’m too old so this is most definitely a positive. Yes I would agree that the UK does seem to be a long and expensive option perhaps and realistically looking at a sponsored scheme may not be viable due to the value for money I may offer to an airline by being a little older.
Probably two options exist, one is to apply for a scheme such as the British Airways future pilot scheme where the financial risk is all mine (although this scheme is currently on hold at present) or look to self fund and train in the US where weather would be more on my side for training more regularly and also I believe it’s a little less expensive. I think from previous reading I’d have to convert front a FAA licence to a CAA one?


You aren’t too old for a US pilot, but we really can’t speak to the hiring situation in the UK. If you wanted to train in the US, with ATP, you would need to complete the International Airline Career Pilot Program From there you can convert your ratings with the EASA Conversion Program: You need to check with the British Aviation Authorities to see what exact licenses you will need.

We are happy to help you here, but since your goal seems to be to fly for an airline in the UK I would strongly suggest that you find some resources on that side of the ocean to ask questions to. We are all American pilots flying for US airlines, so our knowledge is pretty well limited to that aspect of aviation. Again, we are happy to help, but please double check our answers.


38 here left my job as a firefighter for this dream so never too late.