Words from the Wise

Hello Aviators,

As an upcoming student, I’m very curious to hear about the opinions and perspectives on aptitude.

I’ve weaved through the forum and I’m so grateful for the abundance of dialogue between students and mentors - its really a great resource.

Throughout the topics, I’ve seen it said numerous of times, study/work hard and you will be successful.

As we all know, this program is accelerated and its not for everybody.

Personally, I’m drawn to the program because of just that.

I’m passionate, driven, self-starting, resourceful and all around hardworking.

Going into training, I’m prepared to be all of those aforementioned (…oh and I know my fair share of humility is yet to come :wink: )

With all this said, I do have a hint of insecurity echoing: What if I simply don’t have the aptitude for this?

Mentors (and students alike): Thinking back on your early days of training, have you ever doubted your abilities? What did that sound like to you? Did you ever have moments were you thought you just weren’t cut out for this?

To make it to the airlines and be successful in the program, Is it truly as simple as putting in the hard work and dedication?

I’ve always had a “learn from others” mentality and I’m just trying to hear out some experiences from others.

Until then, gonna keep climbing and maintaining :slight_smile:



This is a great question and one that I fear few people consider. Many people these days grew up hearing “you can be ANYTHING you want when you grow up!”. While it’s wonderful to be raised in a nurturing environment, the reality is that just ain’t so. Whether we want to admit it or not, people have limitations and the fact is this, not everyone can or should be a pilot. Flying isn’t rocket science or brain surgery but it does require a certain level of intelligence, coordination and the ability to manage stress which not everyone has. Doesn’t mean they’re stupid, awkward or a coward, just means aviation simply isn’t for them.

With that all said, in my experience the single biggest factor in all of this is the ability and WILLINGNESS to put in the effort. I respectfully disagree with your statement/question “Is it truly as simple as putting in the hard work and dedication?” because there’s really nothing simple about that. You asked about experiences so I’ll tell you mine. Flying came pretty easy to me and I did well in training UNTIL I got to the airlines. I found the transition from small piston twin to a jet with a glass cockpit to be the most challenging experience of my entire life. At one point I actually saw my entire dream of being a pilot slipping away after years of hard work. It was at that point I had to dig deeper than I ever had to make certain I didn’t fail and there was nothing simple about it. When an was said and done it all worked out but I’ve seen others who didn’t fair as well. Some maybe didn’t have the required talents but in all honesty that didn’t seem to be the issue. It was a failure to put in the effort.

So do you have what it takes? I don’t know you or your abilities so I’m in no position to say. What I can say (again in my experience but not just as a former ATP instructor, but an instructor at the airlines), is if you have average intelligence and coordination AND don’t get terrified when you’re in the air, IF you’re willing to possibly work harder than you ever have until you’re successful, then you’ll be fine. If not you won’t.




I love that you asked this question too. Yes there is a pilot shortage and hiring is at an all time high, but it’s still a very skilled position that takes years to build. Every though it seems like everyone wants to be an airline pilot right now, not everyone should. The fact that you’re asking this question means you’re already headed in the right direction.

Is flying inherently difficult and set aside for the ultra smart? Absolutely not. It takes an average level of intelligence but an exception work ethic and commitment to a goal. It’s a marathon that takes constant commitment at every turn. You need to be ready to pick yourself up and learn from your mistakes at your first stage check failure or checkride failure. That moment will set the tone for the rest of your training. Do you look within, find the error you made and make sure that doesn’t happen again or do you quit.

Some of your challenges will come from ground knowledge. Will you take extra time and repetition to get it while your friends or family are out enjoying their Friday night. Some of your challenges will come from stick and rudder maneuvers that you just can’t quite perfect. Will you spend the extra time in the sim or chair flying each maneuver to guarantee you get it right in checkride day?

Learning how to fly, both the skills and knowledge is only one part of the equation. The other part is learning what preparation methods work for you. Some learn how to be successful in this career and do it, others don’t and they never make it.

I had my doubts: my first day of ATP, the day of my first solo, day of my solo xc, Private checkride, each subsequent checkride, my first flight with a student, my first type rating, my ATP ride, my SkyWest interview, my first flight in the CRJ, etc. There will be many times you doubt yourself but you remember, “when I doubted myself at x phase, I prepared in this way and I was successful so I’ll do that again”. Each phase you make it through you build confidence in your preparation methods and your abilities.