Real Answers from Real Pilots

Flying through College

Hello,
My name is Mark Armstrong and I’m a second semester freshman undeclared in college. My career goal is to be a Commercial airline pilot. The university I attend right now is one hour and forty minutes away from my home where I fly and train. During high school I completed all of my training for the private pilot certificate. I just have to take my written, practical, and complete the check ride to receive my certificate. I am debating whether to transfer back home to school in order to be more accessible to fly and build my skills throughout college not just in the summer time or when I can come home on weekends but throughout the year and during semesters. My parents fortunately are supportive of any decision I choose. I guess I’m wondering if my thinking is valid and logical and what you think of my situation? Thank you for your time!
Mark Armstrong

Hello Mark,

Before we get to your question I am curious why you never took your PPL checkride? If you had it all done why not bang it out when it’s all fresh? Anyway just curious.

As to your decision obviously it’s entirely up to you. There are arguments for both. Obviously you must have seen some benefit in going to the school you’re at so there’s that to consider. I guess the biggest question is what you’re hoping to accomplish over the next couple of years you’re in school. If it’s simply to build some time and experience I’d save my money. If you think you could put together a solid plan, complete all your remaining training AND be in a position where you simply need to build time to get to an airline that’s something else. The other question is have you considered how you’re going to build that time when your done? I think you need to sit down with the flight school you’re considering, tell them what you’re trying to accomplish and also see if they’ll have an instructor position for you after you’re done so you can continue building time. I am concerned that they let you go without pushing you to take that checkride. If I was your instructor I would’ve pushed you hard. If the answer again is not specific I would probably think about putting the flying on hold, focus and do well in college and the complete your flight training after.

Adam

Thank you very much for the detailed response! The reason I didn’t take my check ride was because I Finished my training a couple of days before starting the first semester and didn’t have the time to take it. My goal in college is to obtain my bachelor’s degree in order to be able to fly for a major carrier one day. I have been looking at the ATP website and I noticed that students who graduate are guaranteed a flight instructor job with the school. Attending ATP really sounds like a good option. Also the structure of training at ATP I think is awesome!

The only other question I have is do you think it’s smart to save as much money as possible with respect to college expenses (example. room/board) in order to save money for all of flight training?

Mark,

ANY opportunity you have to save money is a good. Unless you’re planning on living at home the first few years at a Regional things can be a little tight (although they’re much better than they’ve ever been).

ATP does have an excellent program and as I said, if you don’t have clear plan and exit strategy (ie, how you’re going to build time?) I’d encourage you to take a good look at their program. Even if you manage to complete all your training during the rest of your time in school, the average instructor at the average flight school often has difficulties building hours consistently. ATP instructors don’t (most build their time within 1.5 yrs, many in only one). They also have agreements with many Regionals who offer ATP instructors Tuition Reimbursement once they commit to an airline.

It really is an extraordinary time to get into this industry, you just have to figure out which route is best for Mark.

Adam

ATP I think is great route for me to go after earning my degree. I for sure want to make sure I have a way to build hours and ATP sounds like an awesome opportunity to do that out of training. Thank you very much for your insight!

Glad to help. Let us know how you’re doing.

Adam

Mark,

Like you are planning, I attended ATP after finishing my college degree. I found it easier to focus on one thing at a time, college and then flying. For me this was a successful path to the airlines.

Chris

Ok I understand. I think it’s I’m so eager to get in the air on a regular basis. Thank you for your feedback!