Real Answers from Real Pilots

Training Options

Hi, my name is Michael and I’m 34, married, and have 3 young kids. Ever since I was young, when people asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was a pilot. I’ve been fascinated with planes as a kid, and when I lived in So Cal, I would sometimes hang out at LAX to watch planes. The desire to potentially pursue a flying career has increased recently and I’ve been researching around about flight training. I have taken an intro discovery flight at Long Beach, and I loved it! So there’s no question whether I’ve been behind a plane or not. I’m hesitant to dive right into a 141 school because I’d rather not go into debt and I have my wife and kids to take care of. There is an ATP school in Denver, but my understanding is there is no guarantee where I can end up, is that correct? What’s more feasible to me is going to a Part 61 school. I currently live in Colorado Springs and Springs Aviation is my top option (

Here are some questions I have and I would love to know your thoughts?

Are there people who are in my life stage and did ATP school? If so, then what was their lifestyle? When the spouse went to ATP school, did the other spouse take on a full time job?

If I do the Part 61 school route, what should be my first steps? Just start flying as much as I can with an instructor? What are the next steps? I understand it this takes more time, and maybe money. Anything else I’m not aware of?

Also, if you have any other thoughts that would be helpful for me, then shoot away! I understand there’s a lot in the beginning stages of a flying career, so the more information, the better for me! And if you have any questions, then let me know.

Thanks for taking the time to respond!

Hello Michael,

Good questions so let’s talk about them.

  1. Yes. There are people exactly where you are and others nowhere near where you are. Some are older, some younger, some with families, some without and every one of them handled THEIR situation THEIR way. When I started I sold my business and my wife kept working and it was fine (tight, but fine). I was fortunate in that she made a really good salary, our house was paid and my children were a little older, but that was me. Everybody’s situation is different, for some it’s no struggle at all, others it requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice. Not trying to be vague but really YOU need to figure out what works best for you.

  2. You seem to have some confusion regarding the whole Part 61/141 thing. While yes most local schools are Part 61 there are full time academies (like ATP) that are also Part 61. Furthermore there are some small local 141 schools. The Parts really pertain more to the curriculum than the size of the school or commitment level. Just FYI. First step in either case is to start training. You should tell them your goals and see if they can accommodate you? I took a really quick look at the website you provided and immediately saw a few issues. First off they have only 5 airplanes, more important they’re all different except for 2. When you’re starting out consistency is key. Assuming you start training in a 172 if one is out for maintenance you better hope the other isn’t OR no one else wants the same slot you do. If you start in any of the others again there’s only 1. Problem #2 they have no twins. If you want to be an airline pilot you MUST earn your ME rating and build time in it. They don’t have any.

Listen, I’m not trying to be a salesman and I honestly understand not everyone can take time off from life to train. BUT if you’re serious about making this a career you need to be serious about your training. I’m not trying to dis Springs Aviation. They look like a very nice local flight school and a great place to earn you Private but there’s a reason why on their website they have pictures of the 10 people who earned their Privates and solo’d and ATP’s website shows over 300 in the last 12 mos who are AIRLINE PILOTS. Senior airline Capts are currently earning over $300k a year. Every year you delay that’s $300k you won’t be earning. Isn’t it better to suck it up now to reap the rewards later? Again I’m not trying to sell or convince you it’s simply that I was there. I wasted 2yrs (and ALOT of money) working on my Private and that 2 less years I’ll be an airline pilot that I’ll never get back.

Give it some thought.



At 34 your not old, but you are way behind the curve for getting into the airline industry. If you are going to make the move, I would do it quickly.

I think you might have some confusion going about part 61 and 141 schools. ATP is a part 61 school, but it really doesn’t matter which type of school you go to. Nobody, including the airlines, is ever going to ask which route you went. At the ned of both programs you take the exact same FAA check ride and get the exact same FAA license. I got my private through a part 141 school and it was an absolute nightmare of red tape and delays. Part 61 gives the school and your CFI the ability to customize the lessons to your needs and really ads up working out much better for you.


Thanks Adam and Chris for your input and thoughts!