Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP-RDU: Lifelong Career

(Chris Varghese) #1

Hello Adam & Chris,

Good day and I’m Chris, a Bachelor’s degree holder in Mechanical Engineering, having done project research on UAV & Afterburners. Currently I work as a Consultant in the IT sector and I’m a plane spotter.

Exactly pointing, my love for planes and aspiration to become a Pilot started at the age of 11 and now I’m 28 with the flame burning in me. Currently I reside in Bangalore - India, and will be moving to the United States by mid next year. My spouse is a US citizen living in NC, and I’ll be coming under the Immigrant Visa. I’ve been following all the posts from you both and other aspirants, and I must say it feels great to be a part of the team.

Not as a hobby, but as a life long career. I’ve decided to go with the ATP Flight School in Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU). I would like to start my training in Aug or Oct 2017, and enroll for ‘Airline Career Pilot Program’. I love the Boeing planes, especially the 787 and the 737 followed by the Embraer planes. Though the controls are different, I honestly would love to be in their cockpit during my flying career.

With a timeline of nearly 10 months before my first take off, I need inputs/advice/opinion/mentoring from you all in making my dream a reality.

Pilots inspire me, motivates me and I’m gearing up for the high flying career day by day. And everything is purely on the ‘passion’.

I’m at zero hours now. Need to build the Airline minimums and get into an Airline, and be somebody who could help others achieve their dreams.
I’m determined & emotionally prepared for this.

Please share your thoughts on the career path I’m building up.

Happy flying,


Hello Chris and welcome,

Well you certainly have the passion and that’s a good thing (and a necessity in my opinion). I immediately have two thoughts. First you need to go for an intro flight somewhere. Though I have no doubt that you BELIEVE you want to fly as a life long career, frankly until you actually go up you honestly don’t know for certain. ATP won’t even take your money and enroll you until you do. Second as a foreign student the TSA requires a background check and clearance before you can do any advanced flight training in the US so I suggest you do some research on that. Here’s a link to the TSA’s website to get you started;


(Chris Varghese) #3

Hello Adam,

Thanks for the prompt response. Appreciate that !! I’ll defenitely be taking the intro flight for sure to get the real feel.

Just wondering on, whether I’ll still be considered as a foreign student considering the fact tat I’ll be on an ‘Immigrant Visa?’





I believe that you will still be considered to be a foreign student by the TSA as you will not be a citizen or a permanent legal resident of the US. That being said, call the admissions counselors at ATP and ask them your questions, they are the experts on all such things and can give you a rock solid answer, plus guide you through whatever steps you need to take to train in the US.




If you go to the link I provided you’ll find the following in the FAQ section:

**Who must participate in the Alien Flight Student Program? **
Persons seeking flight training must submit a request if they are not citizens or nationals of the U.S.

Unfortunately 15 years ago some very evil individuals performed heinous acts using airplanes and in addition to taking thousands of lives they made it difficult for any foreign pilot to train in this country.


(Chris Varghese) #6

Hello Chris & Adam,

Thanks a ton for your inputs and shared thoughts. I’ve gone through the links and I believe, I’ll have to register and go through the required process steps mentioned for the background check via the flight school. Also, I would be requiring the funding for the training via associated banks.

Anyway, I’ll be getting the Permanent Resident Status from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and I believe the process will be smooth.

Thanks again for your comments and thoughts.
I’ll keep it live and updated.




Your ability to obtain financing might be affected by the fact that you are not a citizen. The admissions counselor at ATP will be well familiar with situations like yours and will be able to best guide you on all of this.

Thanks for updating us, we like knowing how people are doing as they progress through their training.


(Chris Varghese) #8

Thanks Chris.

I got in touch with the Admission officer from ATP - RDU. He said I’ll have to clear three TSA background checks:

  1. Private
  2. Multi-engine
  3. Instrument

And the time frame mentioned was 3-4 months for this. I’ll be reaching the NC by mid April and will start with the process steps.

Happy flying,



Thanks for the update. I am sure the background checks will go well. Please keep us up to date and feel free to come back with any questions that you may have.


(Chris Varghese) #10

Absolutely… For sure. I’ll keep you posted and be active here…

Thanks a ton…!