Real Answers from Real Pilots

Advice For New ATP Students (especially rusty pilots)

First I’ll start with my background so everyone knows where I am coming from. I earned my private pilot certificate back in 1992 (way way way back, lol) and about a year and a half later earned my instrument rating. I had a great time for about 7 years, building up to about 340 hours before having to give it up due to an expanding family and the responsibilities that go with it. Fast forward to this year (with no other flight time between then and this year), I had a nice 30 year medical tech career and it was time for a change. I decided to follow this dream I had since I was a kid to be a professional pilot because now the opportunities are ripe where they weren’t when I was younger. After doing research and visits, I decided ATP was the way to go. I signed on and went with the 100 hour multi program with private pilot credit. I was required before starting the program to get a 1st class FAA medical, I needed to be private pilot current (complete a BFR), and to complete a 62 part Intro to Instrument self study course on the student intranet (you are required to go through the instrument training regardless being instrument rated, which I like). Even though Ive been out of aviation for almost 20 years, I was able to complete my BFR in just 3 hours of flight time and one hour of ground instruction (I was told you generally need 1 hour of flight training per year since the last year you flew an airplane). All this being said…I have to urgingly say to everyone considering this pathway is to be fully prepared and proficient with your knowledge and skills as a private pilot. Passing your BFR and having your 5 to 10 flight hours for the past year or so is not enough to be ready for what is about to hit you when you enter this program. Do not be surprised your Private Multiengine checkride is scheduled just two weeks after starting the program and before you even had one hour in the Seminole! I guess what I am trying to say is if you have been out of flying for an extended period of time and then enrolled into an accelerated program such as this, you must must must make sure you’re prepared and all of the rust is knocked off. Yes, I have read many times how intensive the training is and how you must dedicate your life to this to succeed, but it wasn’t until I started that I truly began to appreciate what that meant. Just because you have some experience, don’t think this is going to be easy. BE PREPARED. So to finish this story, with about 6.5 hours in the Seminole and hours of studying, I passed the oral part but failed the checkride. In the post briefing, the examiner said I was rusty and just needed some more time, maybe another couple of hours of flying. A week later (last evening), I went up with the same exmaner and I passed. I am now a Private Pilot Single Engine Land, AND MULTIENGINE LAND, instrument rated pilot. I’m sitting here this morning, happy, excited, and getting 50 text messages from family and friends congratulating me. I’m so grateful to ATP and especially to my flight instructor (Jonathan of the Morristown location) for his patience and hard work in helping me get through this beginning phase. More hard work ahead, but I am excited for it and will have fun doing it. I highly recommend this program, but again my advice (and cant say it enough), BE PREPARED!!!

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David,

That is some very good advice, especially for people who have taken some time off from flying like you did. I would say to those people that they should get several hours of flight time before starting the program, not just enough to get their BFR.

Thanks for sharing your advice.

Chris

By the way, I was given a day off today to celebrate, but I am told this will be the last time that will happen…LOL

Congrats and nice job David!

Yea we try and warn everyone that the program is intense but people often don’t realize. The good news is you’ll be that much better prepared when you get to a Regional. You’re checkride will also be scheduled before you’ve ever flown a jet. :slight_smile:

Adam

Hi Chris,

ATP advertises going from zero time to airline pilot but you’re saying we should have several hours of flight time before starting the program?
Also being prepared is largely emphasized in this post, how should one prepare?

Thank you!

And Congratulations David!

Chattelle,

So you get your medical, get your loan, study for your writtens and then go up and find you’re terrified, get air sick or simply don’t enjoy the experience. Perhaps a few hours first would be a good idea?

Adam

Chantelle,

Read David’s post, he was coming in as a private pilot with some rather old experience. He needed a refresher if he was to receive credit for private. I emphasized more time in his case, not across the board.

For somebody coming in without credit for private the best way to prepare is to knock the writtens out early.

Chris

Adam, yes, of course, I agree with you. A few hours like what you get from the introductory flight is a good idea but I didn’t think several hours before the program would be feasible for me.

Chris, thank you for clarifying that for me. :slight_smile:

I recommend if you are starting this program with private pilot credit, you should definitely be as proficient and as knowledgeable as if your are taking your private pilot practical exam the next day. This will allow you to maintain the schedule that is expected of you to and also not needing any extra (and costly) time to knock off the rust and bring you up to speed to the level you should be at. When you go do your BFR, explain to your flight instructor what your plans are and what is expected of you so that he or she can put together a quick program to get you prepared.
Also, I have seen this come up frequently here about having a job or other commitments while attending ATP. I have to say I don’t see how it is possible and expect to do as well as you need to do ( enough to pass the written, oral and practical exams). Between the enormous amount of material you have to absorb, the flying time, your time with your instructor, commuting, eating, and a bit of sleep, there is not any time to work nor deal with the stress of work. While in this program, THIS is your job (without pay of course). If you try to work, your setting yourself up for a costly failure. When I joined this program, I decided to comply with all the advice given and I am grateful I did. After attending this program for 3 1/2 weeks now, I totally understand why all that advice was given. I want to go further that its important that you tell your family and friends that you are no longer available like you were before. Explain to everyone what’s involved and help them understand this and save yourself from the stress of everyone getting angry at you (because they cant rely on you anymore) while you’re fully immersed in the program. Get yourself ready for the most rewarding and fun experience of your life. I’m here to explain all of this because I want to see everyone succeed in this incredible and challenging and rewarding program. Any questions???

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David,

Thank you for your insights, seriously. We’ve been trying to give people this advice for a while and for whatever reason people just don’t get the message. Everyone is in a hurry and wants to get done ASAP (as did I) but they don’t seem to appreciate by accelerating the training you’ve got to step up your game. This is also the reason some struggle when they do get hired by a Regional and wash out. While there are many vocations that require hard work and study, aviation also includes a physical component most do not.

Bottomline is its tough and frankly not everyone can handle it. To quote Pasteur “chance favors the prepared mind”.

Adam

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Thank you Adam…and there one more thing I’d like to add. View the practical test standards as the bare minimum of what’s needed to pass, or ‘bottom of the class’ or ‘just squeaking by’. Don’t make it your goal, but instead use it to help you understand what you need to exceed. Make your own standards far better. The reason why I say that is, in just 5 or 6 months, you will be in your flight instructor’s seat with your students looking up to you to gauge or measure their own skills. Also, I’m sure during your training with the airlines, the standards are higher…when your instructor there (with the airliner) looks over at the altimeter and its at 14,980 ft (which is within practical test standards) when he or she asked for 15,000ft, he or she is going to wonder why the deviation or at least why isn’t it corrected.

Well…my day off is over and its back to training, reading, chair flying, tests…etc etc…Good luck to everyone and please listen to the experts here, they know what they are talking about and they are giving you their secrets to their success. The people that are supporting your training want you to succeed and fulfill your dreams. And by the way, have fun while doing it!

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David,

I like what you said about striving to do better than the standards. I just took a check ride at work, I honestly have no idea what the standards are, I just strive to do it perfectly. Now let’s be clear that I am far from perfect, but I always keep perfection as the goal.

Chris

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Thanks for the insight. I am 52 and about the same place you were when you started your new career. My last 60 hours have been in the past year so I am not as rusty but the previous 250 are 10 years old. I figure you are similar in age and have about 10 years left of flying. Are you at all concerned about the regionals looking at your age and passing. I figure all I want is to fly regionals for 10 years to fufill my passions and will be happy with the regionals and the money. Anyone one with insight I would be happy to hear from .

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Russell,

While there are no guarantees that anyone gets a job, I can promise they won’t pass on you because of your age. Your age is actually a plus. Every 20-30yo is going to jump ship the minute they can. Training a pilot cost tens of thousands of dollars. When it comes to the young guys that’s really not a very good return on that investment if they’re gone in 5. But you, you’re going to spend your career there and therefore they’ll get their money’s worth. Make sense?

Adam

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Thanks Adam! That’s what I figured based on the current environment but just needed to hear it from someone in the industry. ATP here I come!