Working on PPL, when should I apply?

Hello, all!

I’m Luke, an aviation-crazed 19 year old student pilot from the Dallas area. I’m also a member of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP).

I’m currently working on my private pilot certificate. Right now, I am at a 10-day flight academy event with Civil Air Patrol where I am gaining just over 10 hours, getting 2 hours of ground school each day, taking the FAA Knowledge test in a few days, and soloing for the first time tomorrow!

I can’t wait to get started with ATP, but I don’t know what my next step should be when I return home in a few days. CAP has a few CFIs in the area who I can earn my PPL with (cheaper than a local flight school), and they have a scholarship opportunity which could have my PPL completely paid for. The only problem with the CAP (or local flight school) route is, I currently work 36 hours a week at a place who, although their schedule is pretty flexible, may not be able to accommodate the schedules of volunteer CFIs without cutting my hours.

In my mind, the advantages of starting ATP right now are a scheduled structure, and just getting started with the program which will bring me to my goal of airline pilot.

All of that is to ask: If I start ATP right away, would I need my private pilot license first? Would it be more wise to use CAP (or local school) and try to get that scholarship, or to come into ATP with 10 hours and just get started?

Thanks for the help!


ATP requires one of the following for admission

While a PPL will help, it’s not required. Also know that we always recommend college first.

Btw, neither ATP nor the airlines want “crazed” pilots.


Thanks! Just to be clear, I can enter ATP with 10 hours and finish my PPL at ATP as part of the ACPP?

Haha, I probably should have said “passionate”. I just love flying, and I want to take the best path there.


Yes, again, you need one of the qualifiers and still need approval from ATP admin. Id start the process sooner than later.



Yes, you can get your PPL through ATP, but do know that there will not be a reduction in flight time because of the ten hours you have. Just consider that time extra experience that would give you a bit of a heads up when starting your flight training.



I would just start in ATP with the hours you have (if you are accepted) and use the knowledge/skill you’ve gained and build on it. I’ve known many students who have had 10 hours and few that had more than 20+ and they were successful.



At 19 you’re really going to need to make sure you take a look at the program prerequisites Adam posted above. With the current pilot shortage, admissions are through the roof and typically some work or college experience is preferred.

What are your reasons for not pursuing college? Even though the degree requirements have been dropped at most airlines, it’s still HIGHLY preferred. Without one, you’re rolling the dice on making it to the airline of your choosing.