Real Answers from Real Pilots

Austin TX Location vs Other locations

(Laura) #1

Hi Everyone,

I’m planning on starting my training with ATP early next year (Feb/March) and was wondering if any students/CFIs/alumni could chime in about the Austin location and their experience there. E.I. How’s the weather, did you like the smaller location, how hectic is the airspace, are there any unique challenges/benefits to training in Austin, etc.

I’m currently from Minneapolis, MN and will be kind of “starting over” career wise, moving myself and my dog to an entirely new environment after quitting my office job.

I have a bachelor’s degree, my 1st class medical, experience flying various airplanes (small planes and the simulators for an A320 and a 747) and I have a pretty good idea about the life of an airline pilot (my Dad is a retired airline pilot).

My next steps are to schedule my ATP discovery flight, apply for financing, and select a location. I’m currently leaning towards either Austin (my current favorite) or Tampa. Any input would be much appreciated! Thanks guys!



While I have no experience with the Austin location I can tell you ATP strives to deliver a consistent training experience throughout all their locations. Further, even if someone were to chime in and say the Austin was fantastic because of one particular instructor or the instructor/student ratio etc. Know that all these factors are dynamic and chances are they’ll be new instructors there by the time you arrive. In short, choose a location you like and works best for you.


(Sergey Kireyev) #3

I’m sure @Tucker can chime in about Tampa. If you are considering Tampa, check out Daytona as well. I can definitely recommend.

(Tucker) #4

Hey! I’m from Minnesota, just east of the Twin Cities. I moved down to Tampa to go through the program and stuck around to instruct. Like what Adam said, ATP does their best to make sure each location is as similar as possible. All the CFIs go through the same program, training, etc. We all fly the same aircraft (some locations have 172s some have archers, but your instructor will be trained in the plane they are teaching in.) From a perspective of which location is better, you are gonna have a similar experience anywhere you go. I may be a little biased towarda Tampa, but Texas has similar weather and flys the same aircraft. And like we said, your experience in the program will be no different.

I chose Tampa because I visited this location for an intro flight and really liked the area and could see myself living here. When it comes down to it, whatever location works the best for you, that’s the location you should choose. Your training will be nearly the same.



ATP strives very hard to standardize all of their locations. As such, you will find very little variance from one location to the next.

I would caution you against saying that you have experience flying Airbus and Boeing simulators. While I am sure you have a few flights in them with your father, that is nowhere near the same as having actual experience. I took several of those flights myself with my father, while they were fun, they were in no way actual experience.

It sounds like you have everything in order, I would just pick the location that is most convenient for you and go from there.


(Laura) #6

Thank you for all of the replies!

Adam- The fact that ATP strives to provide the same level of training at all of their locations, is great and one of the reasons I chose them. In my research I found that Tampa tends to have heavy thunderstorms in the summer, Arizona gets extremely hot, etc. I was just wondering if I could get more details to help me figure out which location might work best for me. :slight_smile: I’m also starting a bit later than most (I’m 30) so I want to minimize any training delays due to weather, etc.

Sergey- Thanks for the recommendation, I’m looking into that location as well. In other posts I’ve read that Daytona shares airspace with Embry-Riddle. Did you ever experience delays taking off or issues from the amount of air traffic?

Tucker- That’s awesome that you’re from Minnesota too! How do you like the Tampa area and the weather? It looks like a great place. Do you find that you have to cancel a lot of flights in the summer or do you just fly earlier in the day?

Chris- Thanks for the advice! As far as I’m concerned I’m starting from zero time. I’ve manipulated the controls and tried a few take offs and patterns but I was never flying with a CFI. I didn’t mean to claim that I have any real experience, I was just trying to show where I’m coming from. :wink:

What class of airspace are the Austin and Tampa locations?



As you said Tampa has T-storms, Arizona gets hot. EVERY location has weather and challenges and EVERYONE wants a location that will minimize weather delays. If someone could tell you which location is going to have the most favorable weather next year they’re better than 90% of the meteorologists in the world.

The average age for most new starts is actually 33 so you’re still ahead of the game.


(Laura) #8

Haha! Good point Adam. I guess I’ve already minimized weather delays by moving south.

I’m surprised that the average new starts are 33! Is that age for students starting at ATP or for pilots starting with an airline? For some reason I thought most of the other flight students would be fresh out of college. I guess it takes a while for a lot of us to figure out what to do with our lives. Thanks for the info!


Not ATP, national average for flight training. Us old folks drive up the curve :wink:


(Tucker) #10

In the summer I fly more cross country flights in the mornings as later in the day it can get complicated with pop up storms everywhere. In the afternoon I schedual my local training flights because worst comes to worst a storm builds but is gone within an hour. Winter is very nice here, have had maybe 2 weather cancelations in the last 2 weeks, and both were able to be rescheduled later in the day.

(Laura) #11

Adam- Ah that makes sense. lol

Tucker-Thank you for the detail. I feel like I have a better sense of the effects of Tampa’s weather. :slight_smile:

I have my discovery flight scheduled for this coming Monday at the Chicago Location (assuming the weather holds). Then I’ll tour Tampa and Austin sometime over the next month or so. Thanks for all of you help guys!

(Sergey Kireyev) #12

Sorry, I missed your question earlier. Daytona does get busy sometimes. We share our airspace with ERAU and Phoenix East. We also get “strays” from FIT, L3, and FlightSafety from time to time on their XC flights. The airspace is a very busy Class C, but I have only encountered two times in two months sitting on the ground and waiting to takeoff when I thought “this is silly”. We have two parallel runways and one crosswind, and when a taxiway construction was impacting the main air carrier runway, it did get congested. That being said, instructors are good at dispersing their training to other nearby airports (we have three Class D airports within 10-20 minute flight distance of DAB) and the experience operating in the busy airspace and dealing with comms and traffic awareness is second to none. You learn quick how to be concise with your comms, and head is always on a swivel looking for traffic (as it should be anywhere). I am glad I am training here, but I’m not exactly impartial.

(Tucker) #13

If you see an instructor named James in Chicago tell him I say hi! I trained with him here in Tampa so he can probably answer some questions you have too!

(Patrick Zenk) #14

Laura, I am also originally from the Twin Cities, but live just south of Austin in San Antonio. I don’t have experience with ATP, But I am also learning to fly airplanes in the Austin /San Antonio area as a former military helicopter pilot who is getting ready to retire at 50. Airspace is very simple in central and south Texas. Weather is very hot from May to September, but comfortable from October thru April. It does get rainy in March and April, and again in the fall, but not the constant heavy thunderstorm build like Florida or the Midwest. The summer heat does create a lot of low level turbulence, but it is tolerable.

Austin is a great area with a lot to do outside of flying. Much more than Arizona or Florida as I have spent a lot of time in those areas as well. Easy to get home as well, with direct flights to MSP from San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. Easy 19 hour drive right up I-35 too.


(Laura) #15

Sergey- Thanks for the detailed info! It sounds like a busy training environment, but one that sets you up for success without too much in the way of training delays. That’s very helpful to know. :slight_smile:

Tucker- My discovery flight was delayed (there were check rides that were pushed back and ATP told me I’d have to reschedule) so I haven’t gone yet. I’ll definitely tell him you say hi if I meet an instructor named James!

Patrick- Thank you for your input! I appreciate the detailed weather and turbulence knowledge. I’m also interested in the fact that it seems to be pretty easy to get home for a visit. Do you find that you have to reschedule very often due to the rain? Congrats on your upcoming retirement! How are you liking the airplanes vs flying helicopters?

(Lisa H) #16

Hi, Laura!

While not a pilot (just a mom of a future one), I do live in the Austin area, Round Rock to be specific, which is just south of Georgetown, where the program is location. Austin is a booming city and has a great energy (lived here for 30+ yrs).
Weather-wise, I’d consider us as having just about every type of weather, but in mild forms and not as often. We have floods, tornadoes, ice storms, hail thunderstorms, and the rare occasion of snow. There is usually at least one or two months where you think you’ll never see sunshine because it has been nonstop rain, ranging from mist to thunderstorms. These months vary year-to-year. In the summer, afternoon thunderstorms are fairly common due to the amount of moisture coming from the gulf. I believe us to be in the perfect spot in TX, as we typically don’t have extremes of any type of weather. But, the humidity and allergies are things that everyone has to get used to.
Good luck on your future endeavors!

(Laura) #17

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your reply! I appreciate the detailed description of the weather. I have definitely decided on Austin.

Update on my journey:
I did my discovery flight on a Saturday earlier this month and had a blast. It was super windy/bumpy but clear out. We even flew over downtown Austin which was a really cool view! I got nauseous but was able to recover and we did a touch and go before landing. I love the aircraft! The plane I flew in was so new the maps were still up to date from the factory! I got to meet several of the instructors and students, including a couple of students that were doing their crew cross country training. Everyone at the training center was really nice and my flight instructor suggested that I come back on Monday to talk to more of the students. I did and they gave me a lot of feedback. Including the fact that almost everyone gets nauseous at first which made me feel better. My aunt lives in Austin and showed me around while I was there. The city is really cool and has a lot going on, similar to Minneapolis. She has even offered for me to stay with her while I complete my training! Now I just have secure funding, wrap up things in MN, and study for my written tests. :grinning:

(VK) #18

Hi Laura,

My name is Vicky and I plan to start in Austin in July–a few more steps to go but I’d love to stay in touch and hear more about your experience once you start!

I live in Georgetown and currently work in downtown Austin–if you’re new to the area I highly recommend checking out Round Rock and the Georgetown Townsquare as well. Georgetown is very affordable and there’s plenty to do/see in Austin (although my idea of this might be skewed since I grew up in the Bay Area and worked in Manhattan for a while). Oh, and for when you need a spot to study, the Georgetown library is really nice and quiet with a great cafe inside and other food options nearby.

I live pretty close to the GT Municipal Airport where the training center is so feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the area.

Best of luck!

(Laura) #19

Hi Vicky,

That’s great that you’re starting in Austin in July, I’d love to stay in touch! I’m not sure when exactly my start date will be as I’ve still got a few logistics to figure out, but I’m aiming for March/April.

I don’t think we can private message on this site, but if you email me at I can give you some more direct ways to contact me.


(Laura) #20

I got my financing squared away and reserved my start date for, no joke, April 1st! I’m so excited!