Real Answers from Real Pilots

Career Change and Questions

I am 30 years old and had my student pilot certificate while in high school. I was going to continue flying in college, but life and finances happened so before I knew it 10 years went by. I am married and have 3 boys ages 5, 3, and 1. I have never lost my love for aviation and think it is funny that I will be the only person that stops to watch any type of aircraft fly overhead. I have a B.S in General Management and Marketing and have spent the last 7 years working as a Production Supervisor in various manufacturing facilities. Everyday I wish I was flying and have decided that I need to make a career change and do something that I am passionate about.

This summer I was going to get my Private Pilot License, but could not pass my medical because I had a rare heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW). This last week I had surgery to fix it and by my EKG reading shows I no longer have a problem.

Question 1) Do you know of any other pilots that have had WPW and is it an issue for them to fly for the airlines after it has been fixed?

Question 2) I have been considering ATP as well as one other flight school. What I like about ATP is being able to accelerate through the training quickly. When you become an instructor for ATP is there any type of housing/relocation help if you have a family?

Question 3) If you relocate to instruct at another facility how feasible is it to be able to instruct at a facility that is closer to your home?

Hello Dustin and Welcome,

  1. Honestly I’m not an aeromedical specialist but I did find an interesting piece online detailing how a pilot with WPW was able to get an Unrestricted First Class Medical which means it is possible ( https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwjI-Jig8sfPAhUDwmMKHdqmDJYQFgggMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.faa.gov%2Fother_visit%2Faviation_industry%2Fdesignees_delegations%2Fdesignee_types%2Fame%2Ffasmb%2Fmedia%2Fwpw.pdf&usg=AFQjCNG27rVK2BRkVHfIxvsL9ax6US54yg&sig2=9MD_o50dESWl6-Vi3rDfeQ ).
    That said again I’m no expert and strongly recommend you consult a local AME as I suspect it probably will require a SODA (Statement of Demonstrated Ability). Provided you can get an Unrestricted First Class Medical yes you can get hired by an airline.

  2. ATP does offer reduced rate housing for it’s instructors but it’s kind of dorm style and would only be available to you, not your family.

  3. I think you’re asking what are the chances of instructing near your home? First off, assuming there’s an ATP near your home ATP will not guarantee you your first choice but they will make an effort to get you there if possible. They generally ask for 3 choices and more times than not you’ll get one of those. The problem is there are obviously busier locations than others but ATP tries to staff each location based on the capacity so every instructor has the best opportunity to build their time quickly. If the location you desire is already properly staffed it wouldn’t be fair to put you there, cutting down on their hours (and yours) just to make you happy.

Good questions.

Adam

Thank you for the information and article link. I plan on meeting with an AME after my follow up appointment in 2 weeks and go from there. At this point I was planning on getting my PPL and written out of the way this fall/winter and than enroll in ATP next summer since the weather would be good and I could do the 100 day course with less weather delays. I am in the Portland, Oregon area so the weather can get pretty wet for awhile. Do you see any pro/cons doing it that way? Are there many people that do the 100 day course because they already have their PPL or do most start the program with zero hours?

Hey Dustin,

Just wanted to add my take on your situation. With regards to getting the PPL now and signing up for ATP with private, there are mixed opinions, I think that there are a few more pros to doing the full program from zero time than cons. First of all, from an instructor’s point of view, I noticed that most of the students that came in with private, struggled initially with the fast pace because the knowledge foundation was rusty and they had to make up for that while trying to take in mountains of new knowledge during instrument, and that often postponed checkrides and caused delays in the program. Also, private is a good phase to get used to the “ATP way” of doing things- the fast pace, the self-study, procedures, checklists etc.
I would say that the amount of zero timers vs. guys that come in with private is more or less split down the middle. Either option is a good option since coming in with private may save you a good amount of money, it will come down to how you will be able to maintain your knowledge and flying skills between getting your PPL and starting ATP.

Dustin,

I have actually known several airline pilots to have had heart issues and then return to flying. Granted, I do not know what their specific issues were, but I have seen guys come back after massive surgeries. Checking with your AME is of course the first step, but if you don’t get an answer you like from him at least check with one more. You can also check out www.myflightsurgeon.com. Dr. Ross has a history of helping people that need special issuances obtain their medical certificates.

Chris

Thank you for the advise.

Thank you for the link. I will check that.

Just to give an update on my status I was approved for a first class medical!! I waited about 4 of being symptom free before getting a medical exam. I had to complete some more testing for the FAA and it took about 3 months for them to review and approve it. During that time I took a ground school for my private pilot and took the written and passed with 100. I am about 17 hours into my private and will solo next week. I am currently at a part 61 school right now where I will complete my private pilot certificate. I am debating about switching to 141 for the instrument and beyond. I was interested in doing the 100 day course at ATP but I see they don’t offer that anymore.

Dustin,

That is great about being approved for your medical, congrats.

I would stay away from any part 141 schools as they have a great deal of regulations that can actually make the process take much longer and be more expensive that part 61 schools, regardless of the claims that 141 schools make.

The 100 day program is now the six month program. This change was made due to FAA examiner delays.

Good luck on the solo, let us know how it goes.

Chris

Dustin,

I agree with Chris but I’m curious why you think you should go to a Part 141 school?

Adam

With 141 vs 61 if I understand correctly I would not need the 50 hours of cross country prior to getting my instrument and the hour requirement for commercial is lower with 141, but than again they always quote the minimum requirements with 141.

Dustin,

As you said the 141 schools ALWAYS quote the minimum, I’d look more closely at the National averages for each rating. The fact is there are many fine 141 schools and the reason they have the “ability” to reduce some hours on some ratings is because they require such strict adherent to each phase of the training. I simply don’t want to spend 8hrs on a subject if I can get the concept in 2.

Adam

Completed my solo last week and it went well. Spent yesterday in the pattern working on touch and goes and today I left the pattern to work on ground reference maneuvers. It felt great to actually be flying. Touch and goes are ok, but it’s so much different once you are away from the airport and controller and on your own. I am looking forward to starting the navigation and cross country phase and hopefully be ready for the checkride by the end of July. Have had some delays with weather these past few weeks. Thanks for all the advice!!

Dustin,

Glad it’s going well. Thanks for the update.

Adam

Dustin,

Congratulations on the solo, that is awesome. Keep up the good work :slight_smile:

Chris

Just thought I would give an update on my training. I passed my private checkride the end of August. Since than I built 47 hours of cross country time and got checked out in the Cessna 152 and piper warrior to be able to fly other planes in case the 172R or 172S were booked or in maintenance. I am about mid way through my instrument training and passed my instrument written last week with a 92%. I ended up just staying with the part 61 flight school I did my private at since it saves me a couple of hours of drive time and I am able to drop my kids off at school and either sim or fly and than pick them up. Had I started this career change earlier I would have gone to ATP, for now this is the best way I am able to get to pursue a career in aviation and make it work with family responsibilities. I enjoy reading your guys’ posts about aviation and look forward to flying for the airlines in the near future!!

Dustin,

Glad you’re progressing. Obviously there are quicker routes but not everyone can take advantage of them so you gotta do what you gotta do. Hang in there and keep chunging along.

Adam

Dustin,

I am glad that it is all working out for you. Thanks for the update and good luck with the rest of your training.

Chris