Real Answers from Real Pilots

How Old Is Too Old to become a Commercial Airline pilot?

Hello I am 52 years old and looking for a worthwhile career change . I love flying and have always wanted to become a Commercial Airline Pilot but at this point in my life I am not sure if I am too old to become a pilot . Would you please give me your advice & comments on this topic


I personally think the ship has sailed for you, but only you can determine that. Please check out the FAQ section as your question is addressed in depth there.



You’re not too old, the question is would it be with the financial sacrifice? If you started training TODAY, you could be at a Regional airline in 2-2.5yrs. putting you at 54-55. Mandatory retirement is 65. That gives you about 10yrs of flying for your career. The training will cost you about $90k total. You won’t be working during training and for the year to year and a half you’ll be instructing to build time you’ll be making $30-40k. First year at a Regional is $50k with bonuses and after 2-3yrs you could upgrade and make in somewhere in the $80-90k range.

What I’m saying is it’s probably not the greatest return on your investment. However, if the idea of spending 10 years seeing the country, flying a really cool jet with some nice people sounds like a blast (and I can tell you it is) then it’s worth it. If however you need to make $300k as a Capt flying a 787 to Narita for it to satisfy your dream then it’s not because that’s not going to happen.

Your call.


1 Like

I’m in the same situation. Use the search feature at the top-right and type “too old”…there are several forum posts with pros-cons and other considerations for seasoned citizens. A common issue for most is going from $100K+ per year in a profession where you are at or near the top, to making less than nothing (paying $85K with no income to show for it) for a year and then $30K or so as a flight instructor followed by (as Adam said) $50K or so for a while as you are a junior First Officer at a regional. Then there’s the age limit for airlines of 65. There are other flying jobs after that, but you’ll have to research those to see if they offer what you need with regard to lifestyle and earnings. Good luck. As Adam said, the answer is not “No, you are too old to fly.”, it’s “Sure, you can fly, but…”.