Real Answers from Real Pilots

Brief Intro and figuring out my start date

Hi, I’ve been active in the forums more or less since October of last year. My name is Vern and I’m 38 with a beautiful wife and 17 month old daughter. My wife was very generous and gifted me with an intro flight at the ATP location here in Centennial, CO. I chose to fly the Seminole and it felt awesome!!! I had a great flight with a fun instructor who allowed me to handle the Seminole on my own for the most part the entire flight, except for one landing that she completed. After we exited the runway on that landing, we taxied back, powered up and I completed the next landing. I hadn’t flown since 2004 but had a really fun time flying and it felt good being back in the cockpit!!

More about me, I’m a paramedic for a living and recently promoted to a Lieutenant with my combo department. I’ve been in medicine for 17 years now and find myself working 90-120 hours a week (we do 24s so it’s easy to get there) but at the same time I’m starting to realize that I’m getting burned out and it’s time to start realistically considering a career change. Fortunately for me I’ve met two friends who are now Captains after recent promotions, one at Skywest and one at Frontier Airlines. They’re both awesome people and one is still an active EMT with one of the departments that I’m working for and the other recently let go of his paramedic (being a Captain and trying to maintain licensure is hard work!). Thanks to both of them and my love for flying they’ve inspired me to seriously considering changing careers.

I applied for the loans through ATP and was only granted a small loan which wouldn’t cover the cost of tuition but was able to secure the finances through refinancing our home which is we should be closing on in early Feb after receiving an approval notification this past week. So the financing is now there and I’m now trying to figure out a start date for flight school as well as managing all of the other details of what is to come. I am hoping to keep my Lt. position for the current time as it is a part time position at a slow department and would allow time to study during the 24 hours a week that I work from Sun night through Mon night. Our loan will allow for supplementing my wife’s income to help us make ends meet and IF I choose to keep the position we’ll be well covered through flight school and into instructor life (which from reading the posts will be needed at least for a little while).

My flying background includes about 100 hours TT now and I left in 2004 having just started my IR in a Piper Arrow (fun a/c to fly!) so I’ll be coming in with my PPL and I recently completed a First Class Medical back in 2014 with no major changes to my health since then (fortunately). Any thoughts or suggestions on my current situation and on choosing a start date? I’ve considered holding off until around September as I’m also a Line Medic for wild land fire hoping to deploy a few times and make some significant money before starting. Thank you all for reading my post and I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Hello Vern and welcome,

There are 2 things that grabbed my attention in your post. The first and biggest is working part-time. I don’t know if you have any flexibility in when that shift falls but ATP requires a fulltime commitment. Weather comes up, Examiner availability and any number of things could present themselves that may require you to be available with little or short notice. Additionally during the Crewing and CFI portions of training you’ll be gone from home. Beyond that once you become an instructor ATP will not allow you to not fly on Mondays and even further down the road I’m certain your friend didn’t work as an EMT as a newhire at an airline. Again I’m not sure if you have any flexibility in your schedule but if not you may have a problem.

Second while 38 certainly isn’t old I really wouldn’t delay your training too much. Pilot’s have a very finite number of years they can fly and while the money you make from now till whenever may seem “significant”, I doubt it equals the $25,000 a month you’ll lose later in your career.

Adam

Vern,

What jumps out at me is you thinking that you are going to be able to work while enrolled at ATP. The program is highly accelerated as it is, it does not allow time for working. Every spare minute needs to be taken up with flying or studying. If you try to work, you are setting yourself up for check ride failures which will cause you big problems when it comes to airline interviews. You really need to find a way to make it work financially to where you can fully dedicate yourself to the program.

Chris

Thank you Adam and Chris for your opinions on the matter. I greatly appreciate them and I will definitely think through if ATP is the best fit of a program vs finding another school given that I am a multi dimensional guy now with my family (including my awesome 17 mo old daughter), etc. and can’t just drop everything to study at ATP despite having financing secured, etc. While ATP may be one way to get to the airlines it’s definitely not the only way.

Vern,

When talking to ATP, or any other flight school, make sure to take a look at “Questions for Any Prospective Flight School” in my “Flying the Line” section of the forum. It is a list of questions that will help make sure that you know what to ask when interviewing various schools.

Chris

Vern,

ATP certainly isn’t the only route and you obviously have to do what works best for you. I’m just saying at 38 I wouldn’t put it off or drag it out too long.

Adam

Thank you Adam and Chris. I appreciate your input. I definitely will review your questions about a potential flight school, Chris and will keep ATP in mind as I’m considering options.

Vern,

Great, let us know how we can help.

Chris

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