Transitioning Military No Flight Experience

I am currently in the US Army and will be transitioning out with 12 years of service by the end of next year. I am 29 married with 3 kids. I have no prior flight experience. It is a career path that I am interested in pursuing but I will not be able to make the move towards that through ATP for at least another year and a half. Locally there is are 2 private flight schools that I can attend to obtain my PPL and CPL. Would you recommend pursuing licensing locally while still enlisted in the military or to wait and go the ATP route once I’m out? Also would you recommend taking 2 years after separation to complete my Bachelors once I transition out or to pursue ATP and finish my degree later?

Hi Matthew!

Welcome to the forums and I myself am prior service (9 years Navy) and I will be 31 a month after I start at ATP. I got my PPL through an accredited university, however I never had intentions of going full airline pilot at the time. I’ve been preparing for this career for the past year and I will repeat the mantra you’ll hear from every other professional pilot here. Every year you’re not an airline pilot is a year wasted of seniority. The sooner you get through your training and to the regionals the better.

There are many routes to get into the airlines but I will tell you that ATP is an accelerated program vs. a mom and pop flight school or even a Part 141 school that will take you years to finish when at ATP you can get your ratings in months (nine from zero time).

In regards to your bachelors I would recommend working on it after you get into the regionals. Especially if you go the ATP route as you will have very little time for college due to the fast pace of the ACPP. I hope this helps and I’m sure others will give you very well informed opinions as well.

Thank you, My biggest concern is financially due to being the sole income for my household with my wife in school as well as paying CS for one of my children so I have to hold some type of income constantly. 9 months is a short time to go from 0 to fully qualified(minus hours).

Hi Matt -

I just transitioned from the Army last summer after 8 years active duty. I’ve been an avid reader of this forum since my transition and will likely pull the trigger on ATP within the next year.

If you are the sole income for your family, it will be a tough transition into a program such as ATP. A wife in school, kids, and CS payments make it all that more complex of a problem. There are a lot of benefits that you likely are receiving right now that will increase your financial needs once you have that coveted DD214 in hand (tricare and BAH come to mind). Tricare is a huge blessing - one I miss sorely! Medical stuff ain’t cheap, especially with a family your size if you have to go onto the marketplace. With your wife in school, is she able to work full-time and to close the gap? That’s a lot of pressure/stress on one person.

Loans are available and you will need to determine if you’re willing to take on the responsibility of the debt.

You’ve got some time. 1 1/2 years until transition will allow you to really develop a solid plan and determine if it’s possible. You will need your family’s support most of all. This decision impacts everyone financially and will require some lean living style for a few years.

Possible? Absolutely. But as the saying goes, poor planning leads to poor performance. Use the search feature on this forum and you’ll find a wealth of information. Good luck!

Andrew McL


As the others have said time is of the essence and sooner is ALWAYS better when it comes to a career in aviation. If you can’t train full-time I understand but if there’s anyway possible you should try. A couple of years can make a huge difference in a pilot’s career.



I would recommend just waiting and doing all of your training with ATP at the same time. I got my private license through a local flight school and it was an absolute disaster. It took way too long and cost way more than I was told. This is a common theme amongst these experiences. Not to mention that not all schools train to the same standards, I found myself having to unlearn a lot of what I thought I knew from the local school.

I would not recommend taking any time off to finish your degree, there will be plenty of time for that while you are flying for the regional airlines.


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Thank you for all the advice. My wife is hesitant with this path due to the financial commitment but she is set to complete her degree prior to my transition so her becoming employed should help her on that front. I am also currently qualified to transition into a high paying job due to courses and education I have received throughout my career. At this point I am trying to do as much research as possible for resources and education I can do prior to starting this journey. I am doing all this to set myself up ahead of my peers to make the process less stressful on my family and myself when the day comes. I am currently looking into a second job to start saving up in order to support my family and my goal of ATP that way the financial stress is lessened.