Real Answers from Real Pilots

Zero Time, 36 Years Old, Baby on the Way

Hi, I’m Rafe and I’ve been considering a career as pilot but I’ve got some reservation and just general concerns about…well everything!

I turn 36 in December, my wife is 16 weeks pregnant, and I’m just worried about the timing. Obviously because of my age I’d like to do the shorter accelerated program but I wouldn’t be available to start until likely a month after the baby is born.

Am I going to be getting in over my head? This is our first child and we realize it will be hard but are hoping some hardships early on will make up for the pay in the long run.

I would have to apply for a loan which I know I would be approved for and we are lucky to have family close to one of the flight schools so our living expenses wouldn’t be crazy.

I would be banking on joining a cadet program of some sort that has bonuses that would help pay back the loan. How do they work? Do you interview for one after you have graduated the program? What is the application/acceptance process like?

I called ATP recruiting last week and the guy I spoke with mentioned the accelerated program was 7 days a week! That can’t be right is it? I don’t mind being available 7 days a week but I worry about having a new baby and a wife that’s supporting us with her job and me going to school 7 days a week.

Are there any other out of pocket expensive to the school that isn’t covered through the loan?

For the most part I’m just curious what I can expect and any tips for someone like me…a little older than most students.

Thanks for reading and any help given. My wife and I will likely call the recruiters again tomorrow and have a list of questions. Just thought I’d say hi and introduce myself.

Raffaele,

Yes the 7 days a week can be right. While you probably won’t actually be training 7 days a week, at least not in the beginning, you will need to be available as you’re schedule can change based on weather and other factors (ie, you can’t fly Fri due to storms so you’ll need to fly Sunday).

That aside this is something you’re really going to need to discuss with your wife. The program compresses what usually takes years into just 7mos. While that’s a good thing it does requirea tremendous amount of focus and discipline. That also means for 7mos ATP will me your life and very little else. If you’re not actually in school you’ll need to be studying or getting some sleep. None of that is conducive to having a new baby at home. You’re really looking at being an absentee father for 7mos (and it won’t be much better instructing after). If you’re not then you risk not being successful in your training which is also not a good thing. If you have the support of your wife AND she has the support of family then maybe, if not this might not work.

As for the cadet programs many will allow you to interview with as little as 500hrs. If you’re successful you may have access to Tuition Reimbursement but the job offers are conditional on your remaining an ATP instructor and not suffering any incidents.

Adam

Rafe,

Welcome to the forum. We are not here to be salesman, we give honest advice. With that in mind, I am going to tell you that going to ATP’s program (or any flight training program), while having a newborn is awful timing. I see a combination of struggling in the program and marital problems in your future. Having babies is tough, incredibly tough. They are little terrorists that keep you up all night and cause extreme fatigue. I have a four month old baby at home, this is my fourth child. I have never been so tired in my life. I actually look forward to going to work so I can sleep.

If you start flight training with such a young baby, you will not be getting sufficient sleep for your training and studying, or you will be and not helping your wife in any way, hence the marital problems.

I do agree that some hardships now will lead to some great potential for you to provide well for your family down the road, but I would give serious thought to delaying your training until the baby is about one year old and is sleeping through the night and not nursing.

I am not trying to be negative here, I just want you to have very realistic expectations of what flight training and newborns require of you.

Chris

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Obviously what you guys are saying isn’t really what I wanted to hear, but I came here to get these real life experiences and suggestions and I appreciate you being truthful.

In the current market place has anything changed as far as time to becoming a Captain for a regional? I’m seeing that it’s two years before accruing the necessary 1500 hours and another twoish years flying as a FO for a regional. Obviously because of my age I’d like to get started as soon as possible and putting off training another year and a half also sounds hard.

No, I would say upgrades to captain are still running at a few years, of course there are no guarantees.

Raffaele,

The key words in your question are “in the current market”. We were in the middle of the greatest pilot shortage in history when this microscopic virus appeared and threw the biggest wrench in history into the works and things came to a grinding halt. As Chris said there are no guarantees.

As for the rest obviously you obviously can do as you like, it’s your life, your family and your relationship. While you might not have gotten the answers you were hoping for, let be honest, you asked because you have some concerns yourself. The personal stuff is all yours. We would simply be remiss if we didn’t stress the fact the program is tough. Many people struggle under ideal circumstances. It’s not inexpensive and how you perform can and will have an impact on your future.

Your call.

Adam

Raffaele,
I think there are two ways you could successfully get through flight training and time building in your scenario.

Plan A: Move in with your family nearby for the 7 months of training. You would use it more as a “crash pad” because most your time would be spent studying, flying or in the sim at the training center. You would simply sleep there to ensure proper rest. You can still spend time at home with your wife and newborn but at least you would have the environment that’s conducive to the handle the stressors of short an intense 7 month program. It would take a huge sacrifice for not only your local family but on your wife as well. Maybe someone in your family could lend a more consistent hand to your wife in the meantime to help her get through the days with a newborn. It would be a consistent village type effort to help you be successful but it could work.

Plan B: Wait a year until your child is no longer a newborn and in need of such intense commitment around the clock. It will still be difficult to manage with a wife and small child but wouldn’t be out of the question. I know waiting a year at your age is not what you’d prefer, but in the big picture of your life… one year isn’t going to matter a whole lot if it means preserving a stable loving environment in your marriage and in your household.

You mention it being about 6 years to think about… that can be overwhelming and daunting. Instead focus on how you can get through the 7 month fast track program as successfully as possible. After that, you can work on adjusting your life to meet the needs of a new CFI. You’ll be making an income again (even if it’s small) and you qualify for cadet programs with tuition reimbursement. The hours at the training center can be long but once you’re home, you’re home. It’s not the same as a student who needs to be constantly studying to stay ahead even after hours. Plus you have control of your schedule.

-Hannah

If I waited a year and a half to start is there anything I can do in the meantime to help besides reading some books or watching training videos? I am a complete newb. So I know at least doing some reading and studying would help once I join the program, but are there any other programs, schools, or online curriculum that I could do that would accelerate me once I did start the program? Thanks again for all the advice so far.

Raffaele,

While I usually don’t recommend it, you could find a local flight school and bang out your Private license. The problem is training part time can be expensive and is very inefficient due to the lack of daily reinforcement. That however would shorten the program down to 5mos and more important would get you some flight time and experience.

Adam

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I am going to agree with Adam on this one. Given your pending situation, this might make sense for you.

Being a new dad myself Id go with what Hannah said (option B). In the mean time knockout your written exams, FOI, BGI and AGI or even ADX if possible because the first year is intense for new dads.

Please please be with your wife and kid and dont get AIDS ( Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome)

All the best!

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Hey Rafe!

I started September 13th last year and my son was born September 11, just two days prior. I also have a 3 and 2 year old boy.

We moved in with my mother in law while I’m in training to save some cost and have a little help with the boys. My wife works from home and just completed week 2 back at work.

It’s definitely possible if everyone is on the same page. You can do your studying at the training center if the house is too crazy for you to focus. The sims are open 24/7 so long as no one is on a scheduled event, for those sleepless nights you have have ahead, if that helps!

Hope that information helps! Congratulations on the baby and pursuing your dream!

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