Real Answers from Real Pilots

Flight Training Questions


(Jeremy) #1

Greetings,

Like many individuals who want to become an airline pilot, my interest and passion for flight began at a very early age. I graduated college three months ago with a degree in business, a little over two months into my office job, i continue to wish i flew for a living. Because of this i am giving ATP flight school serious consideration, as it offers the fastest track that i am aware of to the airlines. The first question i have relates to housing. My girlfriend and i have been dating for nearly four years now and we plan to move in together in the near future. I am assuming that the housing that can be included in ATP’s cost would not allow for a significant other to live with a student. With a Part-time job being out of the question due to training, is there any way that one could take out additional loan money to supplement rent and other living expenses? Also, as far as flight instructing goes, ATP’s website advertises an earning potential of $42,000 a year with flying 100 hours a month. Realistically, how many hours can one expect to fly per month as a flight instructor? Lastly, when it comes to being an airline pilot, In an average week how nights do you spend on the road?

Thank you in advance for your time


#2

Hi Jeremy and Welcome!

As you said, many people have aspirations to fly. You’ve got some good questions, let’s see if we can help.

You’re correct you’re girlfriend would not be able to stay in ATP’s housing (it’s dorm style and you’d be sharing a room), but you could (and most people do) take out their loan for a higher amount to cover expenses. Exactly how much above the tuition costs you could exceed would of course depend on your credit. You could contact ATP Financial people for more detailed info.

The 100 hrs quoted is actually pretty realistic as an average. The actual amount can vary by location, number of instructors and time of year. It’s been a while since I instructed but I was in TTN (Trenton NJ) which was one of the quieter locations and we didn’t offer the Fast Track Career Program at the time. I still averaged about 80hrs a month.

As to your last question that’s a tough one. There are many variables. The airline you fly for, the aircraft you’re on, your seniority etc. When I first started at a Regional I flew for ExpressJet there were 4,3,2 and 1 day trips. The day trips have you home every night but were very popular so in the beginning I couldn’t get them because I was so junior. As you gain seniority you gain control over your trips. Now I fly for Hawaiian Airlines and it depends on the airplane. I used to be on the 717 flying Interisland where there are no overnights so I was home every night. I transitioned to the A330 which travels worldwide so I’m gone at least 1 night each trip but it can be up to 4. Again based on seniority (which I don’t have) I usually get 3 and 4 day trips since the senior guys grab the 2 days. It’s the same at other airlines as well with the shorter range aircraft generally offering shorter trips and visa versa. Make sense?

Great questions, keep them coming.

Adam


(Jeremy) #3

Adam,

Thank you very much for getting back to me so quickly! You definitely helped to answer those questions. A few more that i have of you are, is it possible to take a few of your written exams before starting at ATP to help reduce the work load that students have? And one that i think relates particularly to you, being that you are now an airline pilot and have successfully made the transition from another career, what makes the transition, the time studying, and the money spent on flight training worth it? I supposed the reason i am asking is because for me, in order to pull the trigger and finally follow through with my dreams, it will require a leap of faith. Just trying to gain some prospective from someone who has already done this! (If you have already answered something similar to this just direct me where to read)

Again, thank you for your time!


#4

My Pleasure Jeremy,

Not only can you take the written exams prior to starting, I think it’s a brilliant idea (which is why that’s what I did :grin:). Unfortunately most of the written test have little to do with reality, nor do they coincide with your training so yea, I say bang them out and get them out of the way. Just keep in mind the exams expire after 2 years (which is plenty of time) but if you’re not planning on starting your training soon you might want to wait. Also when you’re studying many of the data bases (test questions) repeat themselves for different rating (ie, Instrument Pilot Airplane and Instrument Instructor, same test) so make sure and take those in pairs.

As for your second question, I kinda think you answered it for yourself. What makes it worth it is having the opportunity to fulfill your dream! Personally I believe that’s the secret of life, getting paid to do something you love (or at least like a lot). Hopefully you’re going to live a long long time and unless your last name is Dupont or Vanderbilt, you’re probably going to spend a good portion of it working. I’ve had jobs I’ve hated and the thought of doing that FOREVER can literally suck the life out of you. Now when I got started things weren’t bad in the airline industry. The good news for you is we are literally at the best time in history to get hired. There’s a genuine pilot shortage due to airline expansion, HUGE amount of retirements and less people in training. While no one can guarantee you’ll get a job (flying isn’t rocket science but it does require a level of intelligence and skill, frankly not everyone can do it), IF you can complete your training and earn all your licenses and ratings, AND you can conduct yourself appropriately during an interview, the odds are definitely in your favor.

That said to some degree it is a leap of faith. As I said there are no guarantees and only you know what’s best for you. For my part it all worked out very well so of course I’m glad I did it. BUT, I can honestly say had it not I’d still be happy I tried. Not to get preachy but I can tell you as you get older the things that haunt you aren’t the things you did or failed at, it’s the things you never tried. But that’s me, again only you know you.

Adam

Adam


(Jeremy) #5

Adam,

You have helped tremendously in answering my questions, thank you so much for all of your help!


#6

Again my pleasure.

Feel free to ask any and all!