Real Answers from Real Pilots

Career Change, Certifications, and Jobs

Hello,
. I currently have my private license in glider. I started my PPL a few months ago-- I soloed after 4 flights. I will be receiving my power certificate in about a month. Also, I will be getting my commercial and CFI-g in the next few months. I plan on working out in Boulder CO giving glider rides and instruction and flying power on the side. I should have my commercial power by the end of the summer.
I am thinking of starting the program in August after I work at a glider club for a few months. What I would like to know is how guaranteed is the flight instructor position after the program? Will it be consistent or will I be scraping to get students to fly with me? Also, I will need to take a loan out to pay for the entirety of the program. Will I be swamped with monthly payments while I am flight instructing? I understand the program is intensive, which isn’t a fear of mine. I love flying and could fly all day everyday. I just want to know if I commit to working hard that it will pay off. What I don’t want to happen is to invest in something and not be able to fly at all!

Lynn,

The CFI position is completely guaranteed, as long as you do not fail more than two check rides. You should have plenty of students as an ATP CFI, I wouldn’t worry about that. Your financial position really depends on you, what you spend and what your expectations are. Most ATP CFIs participate in the tuition assistance program, which really helps take the edge off of the loan payments.

If your goal is to be an airline pilot, I would probably leave the glider flying behind and focus on real airplanes. You are simply adding extra cost and time to your training for something that really has no value to the airlines.

Chris

I’ll be entering the program with a PPL. I expect to work hard and to really push myself. Have there been any pilots who have entered the program with experience and still been washed out?

Lynn,

While I have no actual stats I’m quite certain there have been. It’s really more about attitude and work ethic in my opinion. Experience or no, if you show up looking to be spoon-fed or to be “made” into a pilot you’re going to have problems. The program as you’re aware is accelerated and requires a fair amount of self-study. During my time as an instructor at ATP it was never a matter of talent, experience or intelligence but more of a cavalier casual attitude that caused the most issues.

Adam

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Yes, of course. A PPL is a far cry from an instrument ticket or a CFI rating. No program has a 100% success rate.