Real Answers from Real Pilots

Changing Paths

Hello. In the very near future I will be transitioning from 20 years active duty in the Air Force and am looking at stepping into the commercial pilot world. I have been flying as a Flight Engineer, however, it is not recognized by the FAA for civilian purposes, without the actual education/training. So, several questions with my first post (hopefully no limit for newbies!). First, at my age (40), is this too much of a transition? What is the advantage of a school like ATP versus an institution such as Embry-Riddle? Currrently flying GIV’s and GV’s in the AF, does ATP offer placement assistance with corporate flight departments? Lastly, (for now),…well, i got distracted with a phone call from work, so i forgot my last question. But that should give you guys enough material. I appreciate any feedback. Tschuss!

Follow up to my question: Do the majors require an Undergrad at minimum or is the 1500 hours and Fast Track ATP training sufficient?

Robert,

Welcome to the forums and thanks for your questions!

From my understanding, even though you have experience as a Flight Engineer, you will be starting your training completely from scratch. The advantage to a fast paced school like ATP is that you can get all of your ratings in nine months and be airline ready in two years, whereas a school like Embry Riddle will take at least five years, if not longer. At your age, time is of the essence and a few extra years in training can make a big difference in your career. The FAA imposes a mandatory retirement age of 65, so you want to get to the airlines as quickly as possible.

ATP is specifically geared towards training airline pilots and thus their focus is on placing pilots in the airlines. That being said, your certifications will of course make you eligible to work for a corporate flight department just like they will an airline.

The majors absolutely require a four year degree and many thousand hours of flight time. If the majors are your goal, I would plan on getting a degree and spending several years flying for the regionals first.

Keep your questions coming.

Chris

Robert,

I have many friends who fly corporate and fortunately things are starting to open. A few years ago corporate gigs often paid much more than the Majors so the jobs were few and far between. Recently however (due to the shortage) the salaries have shot up and many corporate pilots have jumped ship so if that’s you’re goal you should be fine. Keep in mind many corporate flight departments want a degree as well.

Adam

Adam/Chris,

Thank you for the feedback! So, correct me if im wrong, but what i’m gathering is: without a degree, an institution such as Embry-Riddle, which would provide both the degree and flight training, might be more beneficial in the long run than doing the flight training with ATP, despite the cost difference? Fortunately for me, i have the GI BIll to assist with the expense, however, it would be silly, not to shop for the best deal and getting the most for my education buck, especially at my age… i dont have much time left!

DC,

I think you misheard what I said about Embry Riddle. I think they are a great school, but will end up taking you considerably more time than ATP would, several years more in fact.

I would go to a fast track school like ATP, get your licenses, build flight time, get hired at a regional, and then work on your degree online. I would not spend time working on a degree first as that will really slow you down.

You will be able to use the GI Bill for examiner’s fees (about $7,000) but not for tuition with ATP. You will of course be able to use your GI Bill for your college expenses, which is a far more efficient way to use them than on flight training.

Chris

DC,

I would never say anything bad about Riddle. They’re a fine institution and have been around a long time delivering a solid product. That said ER will take you 5yrs min to be hirable vs ATPs 2. That’s 3yrs of not building seniority, not upgrading to Capt and that much longer getting to a Major and making real money. Your call?

Adam

DC,

I agree with Chris and Adam that your best bet is to start flight training as quick as you can and then worry about a degree when you are already building flight time/seniority. I also agree that Riddle is a great school (in fact, I personally attend it online), but it does not justify postponing your career for 3 extra years.

Yarden

Gentlemen, thank you for the solid input. It’s a bit daunting leaving what i’ve known for 20 years in uniform and changing paths while ensuring a solid foundation / stability for the family. Fortunately for me, my wife is ready to put her college degree to use, and itching to get back to working after following me around the world. I still have a year active duty, still in Germany, so definitely will do my research in the time i have left. The thing about ATP, is their location availability, which is definitely a plus when it comes to the wife deciding where to go. So we’re leaning on Dallas. Awesome advice. Thanks!