Real Answers from Real Pilots

Training Question?

So I’ve had my PPL since 2010 and hold a four year degree in a non related field. I want to be an airline pilot and want to know my best route.

I have two options that work for me.

  1. start flying with a private school at a local airport with their Part 61 program while I work my current job and pay as I go.

2)Enroll at Mankato State and seek out a second degree in aviation with their part 141 program. I already have some of the coursework done including my generals, its just a bit far and would turn my life upside down for two years, but if it gave me a leg up in getting hired at an airline it would be worth it. They have bridge programs with airlines that they flaunt and the ability to get a restricted ATP at 1,000 hours by going through their program.

It should be noted that I would prefer not to ever be a CFI. Id rather find some sort of small flying job, but I’m guessing being a CFI will not be avoidable.

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Honestly I’m not in love with either of you options.

  1. most people find training at their local flight school to be inefficient and frustrating. The average flight school simply doesn’t have the resources (airplanes and instructors) to accommodate a student who wants to earn all their licenses and ratings. In many cases it becomes a long drawn out process that wastes alot of time and money.

  2. while I’m sure Mankato has a good program they’re not exactly a household name so I don’t see any airlines being particularly impressed. Airlines don’t require or even prefer an aviation degree so it seems again a waste of time and money (particularly if it’s far). While the reduction in hours is nice, it does require a 4yr degree to get down to the 1,000hrs. A 2yr degree will only get you to 1,250 and it’s still going to take you 2yrs just to get your licenses and ratings. After that you’ll still need to build your time.

As for flight instructing I’d say most people aren’t terribly gung-ho on the idea. Thing is there are far more instructor jobs out there than there are any other low time pilot jobs. Flight Instructing also hones your skills and as such the hours built are quality hours not just numbers. There are other ways to go but they’re again harder to find.

This is ATPs forum and all the mentors are successful ATP grads and professional pilots. We’re not salesman, we were simply all in the same place you were and decided ATP was the best route for us. If encourage you to do a little research about the program.


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Mankato State? You referring to Minnesota State in Mankato, they have the Aviation program. I knew a couple of pilots that flew at Republic a couple years ago that went to that Flight Program. Good program. Yeah they have good partnerships.

As far as spending the extra dough for the tuition, Id say don’t do it just for the Flight program though. Especially since you state its going to be a stretch and turn your life upside down for two years or so. OUCH! $60,000 just in flight fees (Instrument and Commercial only) and that’s the 4 classes that are labs. Plus tack on Tuition just for those 4 classes as well as the others needed as Pre-reqs. Ouch for sure. Especially since you already have a degree. Hardly any of the pilots I knew at the airline had “Aviation” degrees.

How far are you form the ATP location there in Minnesota. You can get the rest of your ratings and “NOT” instruct there, but you’ll still have to find a company to hire you to fly to build up to that 1,500 mark.

I agree that instructing can really only hon your skills, teaching has always allowed me to learn even more and further refine my knowledge to a much higher level.

Just for your reference: 2020-2021 Flight Lab Course Fees-Fall 2020 through Summer 2021.xlsx (


I would suggest a larger PT61 flight school that has an Airline Program (Comm SE/ME, Instrument). Could go all the way through CFI,CFII,MEI.

I worked at ATP, Wayman Aviation, and was an Independent CFI. I believe you should look for a Wayman Aviation type Flight School. A place that has a structure, track record, and is moderately priced.

An issue non-cfis usually have when they get to airline interview and sim is IFR skills/knowledge. This is a reason I’d advise getting the CFI, CFII. This will allow more flying opportunities and can be some of the best reinforcement for keeping skills and knowledge sharp.

Don’t do 141. You already have a degree. Honestly my recruiters favorite part of the interview was talking about my Criminal Justice degree and stories of tackling shoplifters. You checked that box, focus on the Certs.

Chris F


I am not a fan of aviation degree programs, especially if you already have a four year degree. I am also not a fan of small, local flight schools as they are generally not prepared to handle a student that is seeking to become a professional pilot. I got my private at a local school and it was a disaster, delay after delay led to my training taking much longer than it should have. I would strongly encourage you to look into a school that handles a large number of students and can do so in an accelerated manner.


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