I’m sure that these type of questions get asked often, and I apologize if this is better suited for a different section of the forum.
My situation: Like thousands of others, my dream has been and always will be to be a pilot of an airliner.
I have no flying experience but setting up my first lesson next week or shortly after. I’m 24 (turning 25), I have a meteorology degree, and I’m employed by the USAF as a weather officer.
And that’s the problem. I have 2.5 years remaining in service commitment. During that time, I could probably obtain my PPL and possibly even up to my commercial. I’d say that’s doable, although it looks super costly. So what’s the hangup?
I feel somewhat overwhelmed. Is it best to try and fly as much as possible while I finish up my service commitment, then try and land an instructing job when I get out? Or is it better to wait until summer of 2022, when I’m eligible to separate, to dive head-first into a pricey but condensed program like ATP, a flight school, or similar?
Another option is I could talk to my current commander about putting a package in to fly for the Air Force. Financially, it’s enticing, yes. The problem is that tacks on 10 more years of mandatory service, which is 10 years of moving up in seniority gone. At a minimum I would be 35 when hired by an airline which feels like a scary thought.
I feel like the options are many, and I’m not sure what’s the best for me. I’m reaching out here (and elsewhere) in hopes of finding MY path. Any advice appreciated. I’m terribly sorry if threads like this are discouraged but this community seems like a good one to ask this to.
No apologies needed, we are here to answer questions
Flight training is costly. Period. Going through local flight schools often ends up costing just as much (or more) as accelerated programs due to very low estimates and hidden costs.
As for flying for the Air Force, let’s say that you do get a pilot slot and thus incur a ten year commitment. Compare this to going the civilian route. Two years of flight training and time building, then several years (4-6 just a guess) flying for a regional, then hopefully you get to a major. Whereas most military airplane pilots go straight to the majors, so a very small actual difference in time. Now the big risk in going through the Air Force is getting a drone pilot position instead of an airplane position. That experience will do absolutely nothing to get you to the airlines.
Back to the civilian route. Flight training, like any professional training, is expensive, so it isa important to be smart about your choices. I am not a fan of local schools. Most of them are ill equipped to handle a person that actually wants to be a professional pilot and not just a private pilot. The larger schools specialize in producing airline pilots, which is what you should be looking for. Also, I am not a fan of flying while working a job. The demands of a full time job are such that most people are not able to dedicate the necessary amount of time to their flight training to really make progress. I got my PPL at a local school while I was in college. It took way too long, partly because of the school and partly because I was spreading myself too thin between college and flight training. I am a firm believer in steady, focused training.
I know this probably did not answer your question, but I wanted to give you a few things to think about. Please ask more questions as you digest this. Also, please check out the FAQ section as there is some good information there.
Only you can decide what’s best for you but I will say this. First and foremost if you want to fly for the Air Force then do that BUT if you want to be an airline pilot the AirForce is not the way to go (being in the service you should know that).
Second while you might get your PPL before you’re out, training sporadically and part-time is incredible inefficient and in most cases ends up costing much more money.
I say wait, complete all your training, build your time and get hired.