Real Answers from Real Pilots

Geography

Happy new year everyone, my question today is about geography. I own a home in Massachusetts and am about 2 hours away from ATP’s Hartford, CT location, this location only offers 40 hours ME time and a SE instrument rating.

  1. Is a 2 hour one way commute unrealistic for attending ATP? (FYI this is only about 30 mins more each way than I commute for my career now, so I am already conditioned to being away from home between 6am and 7pm daily)

  2. How limited will my Flight Instructing opportunities be if I continue living in MA?

  3. How badly inhibited is my dream of going to the airlines if I try to stay living in MA? (My wife has a career here and as mentioned earlier, we own a house here)

  4. What are the disadvantages of attending an ATP flight school restricted to the 40 multi program with instrument ratings only in SE aircraft?

I have spent what feels like every moment of my adult life making decisions, sacrafices, and investments that benefit my family and myself for the long term, and have had great success in the process. The irony is that owning a home, with a small child, and married to a woman with a healthy career seems to be what will hold me back from accomplishing this dream… I want to know that it is not impossible under my circumstances to acheive my goal of flying for the airlines. Thank you as always!

Welcome Joe,

Valid questions so let’s go:

  1. I’m not going to lie, a 2hr drive home after a full day of training followed by studying and quizzes is not going to be pleasant. That said it’s entirely up to you. Only you know what you’re capable of? I’m also not aware of your finances but it might be worth it to rent a room nearby and stay during the week? Your call.

  2. I have no clue what airports are nearby you in Mass. Do some Googling and maybe visit some flight schools in your area and see? The good news is with the pilot shortage many flight schools are hiring.

  3. There’s an old saying in the airline business, the BEST thing about working for an airline and the WORST thing about working for an airline is the commute. Pilots have the ability to JS on any other airline for free. I’ve know pilots who commute from the East Coast to the West Coast, Europe, Asia and Australia. It’s really a wonderful benefit that you can literally live anywhere you want. BUT, it’s up to YOU to get to work on time and no one cares about the weather, canceled flights etc. Chris here on the forum has commuted his whole career. Me I’m lazy and never have and never will.

  4. Here’s the problem, the 40hr program was designed for pilots who plan to instruct for ATP. As an ATP instructor you’ll build a good amount of multi time instructing. If you instruct elsewhere you may find yourself short on multi time which is required by most airlines it which case you’d have to purchase the extra time yourself.

Hope this helps.

Adam

  1. You will have Instrument in both SE and ME aircraft.

Joe,

Let’s get right to your questions.

  1. I think that a two hour commute is too much. The program is very intense and will require a large amount of studying, plus flexible and sometimes unusual hours. I think you are setting yourself up for a difficult time in the program if you do this.

  2. You will need to check with the local flight schools in your area, but I would think that the opportunities will be limited in that area. Furthermore, there are not any airlines that are based in that area.

  3. If you stay in MA, you will be setting yourself up to be a commuter for life. While many people do this, it is tough. I have commuted for twelve years and wish that I had moved to a base years ago.

  4. There are no disadvantages at all to doing the 40 hour program. In fact, we all recommend it. The less multi time program provides the exact same ratings and saves you a significant amount of money.

Chris

Joe those are some great questions and valid concerns that I have as well.

I’m looking to attend ATP in Ogden, Utah. I was looking to commute there using the Frontrunner train. It has a station right by me and a station at the Ogden Hinckley Airport where ATP is located. This would be a hour and a half train ride to and a hour and a half train ride back. I planned on studying or sleeping depending on what was needed. Also planned on leaving my truck parked up there at ATP in case I needed it for a late drive back, but to be honest the train has really good schedules, and I probably wouldn’t need the truck, but better safe than sorry. It would save me on drive time and money, allow me to study, and I don’t need to worry about traffic. Anyone ever used the frontrunner to commute to ATP, in Ogden, Utah?

Daniel

Thank you guys for responding, I truly apprecite the feedback.

Chris if you don’t mind my asking, how extensive is your commute? Which state do you live in vs. the state your base is in? Is finding a JS generlly an easy process? Can you JS on a flight that has another pilot jump seating at the same time? How often do you stay “overnight” (provided you arent flying overnight) in the area that your base is located? Are you responsible to pay for your own accomadations?

Sorry for firing the questions away… thank you as always for your answers!

Joe,

No problem at all, I am happy to answer your questions.

I live in Michigan and Virginia, commuting out of SBN and ORF, I work in Newark, New Jersey. I find the SBN-EWR commute to be very easy, there is no competition for the jumpseat and things tend to be on time. ORF-EWR can be much more difficult as there are a lot of pilots that commute on that route, thus introducing competition. It is easy to look up and list for the jumpseat in our reservation system.

There is usually only one jumpseat available in the cockpit. If there are empty seats in the back, we can take extra jumpseaters.

I stay overnight in EWR about four times per month. As I am based there, it is my responsibility to pay for my accommodations there. I have a crashpad there as hotels can get expensive.

I hope this helps, let us know what other questions you have.

Chris

Thanks Chris this surely is helpful, I can somewhat relate to your scenario being just about 190 miles north of EWR myself. Last question on geography, can/will United change your base? Could it potentially be moved from the east coast to somewhere much further away? I ask because I envision the somewhat short hop from ORF to EWR as “not too bad.” I suppose the trip from SBN is a bit more cumbersome.

On a side note, I just read your “4 day trip” post, a day late and a dollar shorton my end, but very insightful!

Joe,

I have some pretty good seniority behind me, so it is highly unlikely that I would ever have to leave EWR. That being said, stranger things have happened. As you probably know, I came from the Continental side, in our past we had closed bases in LAX, IAD, DEN, ELP, and GSO, just to name a few. In those cases, obviously pilots had to move or start commuting.

If I did leave EWR, it would likely be for ORD as that is within driving distance of SBN. My children live in ORF and EWR is the perfect half way point between SBN and ORF. Plus, it is the only place I can currently hold a Captain position in.

I am glad you found that post helpful.

What city do you live in now? Would you want to stay there while working for the airlines?

Chris

I live about an hour south of BOS and 15 minutes north of PVD. For at least the foreseeable future (5-10 years?) I am “strapped” to this location, mostly due to my financial situation and my wife’s career is here. Between the two of us we make a very good salary, but that also comes with some big bills, most noteably our mortgage. Although it would be a short term step backwards financially, I could leave my current place of work and attend ATP (would need a student loan) and my wife’s salary would take care of most things plus we have savings. After completing ATP, I would have to start flight instructing for less than half the salary than I make now (but that’s ok, and it really isn’t all about the money for me because if it was I’d be an idiot to leave my current job in the first place.) So with all that being said, I (we) are going to be very dependent on my wife’s salary for the upcoming 3-4 years or so, and relocating would force her to leave her place of employment too which just can’t happen based on what I said above about the bills and such. So in other words the only way for me to have the financial means to attend ATP, flight instruct, and God willing get hired at a Regional airline is to stay living here, because moving means no more income at all.

1 Like

Joe,

That all makes sense. There are a ton of flights from BOS to the NYC area airports and you might even be able to be based in BOS. You will find that PVD is a far more difficult commute.

Chris

Do you work for major airline or a regional airline? How long did it take you to become captain in both of the regional airline and the major airlines?

Fady,

Check out the “Biographies” section as it will have answers to all of your questions.

Chris

Thanks for replying, I understand that I’m too young but I’m going to need to pick my classes for high school any specific classes do I need to take? I was also wondering how does ATP flight school is different from other flight schools? I searched up atp flight schools and I found one in Long Beach with is around 26m drive from where I live. If I’m going to become a pilot do you think I’ll need to rent an apartment closer? Also I wasn’t planning to get a degree I wanted to go straight to flight school and when I started to fly for the regionals I can obtain a bachelors degree online? What’s the downside to obtain a bachelors degree online? Thanks in advance and sorry cause I have too many questions I’m just eager to understand more about aviation.

https://www.airlinepilot.life/c/pilot-coach-biographies

Thanks a lot and my parents want me to become a doctor and I want to become a pilot I’m trying to convince but they say no I know you guys don’t like to convince people to become pilots but can you give some facts so I can tell them maybe to convince them

Fady,

You are correct, I’m not here to convince anyone of anything and I certainly don’t want to get between you and your parents as I’m sure they only want what’s best for you. I’m going to take a shot here and “assume” by your handle you were born in 2004 which makes you 13-14? If I’m correct the best thing you can do at this point is do well in school. Pilot training wise there’s not much you should do till after college which is 8-9 years from now. Again do well in school and then after you graduate and are an adult you can do as you choose.

Adam