Real Answers from Real Pilots

I’ve reached my DA

(Michael Taft) #1

As the titles says I’ve reached my “Decision Altitude” for applying to ATP at RIC. I’m looking at a year out from now for a start date to get finances in order and training a replacement at my current job.

What’s the earliest I should get on my 1st class medical, financing, and establishing my start date within this year time frame? I’m also pushing to get my CAX, FOI, FIA, and FII written out of the way before I attend. I know there is courseware and materials provided after the start date is established. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

(Tory) #2


When you’re ready to pull the trigger, schedule your 1st class medical and apply for the loan. Most AMEs are booked about a month out. Give yourself at least 1-2 months to apply for the loan as most applicants aren’t approved immediately, even with a co-signer.




I would start everything about six months prior to the start date, that should be plenty of time to cover the writtens and allow for the medical, etc.


(Tom Poirier) #4

Hi Michael-

I’m in the same boat as yourself, but have been able to get everything ATP related into place in about a month. Since I’m selling my house and moving first, it’ll take me a bit longer to be ready. That being said, I expect to start in October or November (only one spot left at my chosen location!)

(Michael Taft) #5

@ Tory and Chris

Thanks for the recommendations. I may give myself a bit more lead time if the school has limited availability as Tom has pointed out. My last two AME appointments were scheduled within the week. My AME is near KIAD so I’m surprised how quickly they get me in. My credit is pretty high, but I’ll still go with your recommended application time for financing. I may start the application a month before the 6 month threshold.

@ Tom

I thought about moving, but I might as well pay for housing and let my wife stay in our current house. I’d only be 2 hours and 40 minutes away from home, so worse case scenario I wont be too far from home in an emergency.

(Tom Poirier) #6

For me, a move was a smart choice, since I’d rather not be trying to get VFR time in all winter long!

(M) #7

FWIW I reached my DA in May, pulled the trigger and I start at RIC this month. I am in a different boat with a military wife, moving has been a pain. We were able to work it out so I’ll only be an hour away from her while at ATP. Do whatever is best for you and your wife, especially since only one will be able to pay the mortgage, etc. I took all the writtens before with Sheppard.

(Michael Taft) #8

Glad I’m not the only one in similar situation. Mortgage on a single income is a killer for sure. Hopefully I’ll see you as a CFI in a year when I get there.

(M) #9

Yes will look out for you. Best of luck!

(Michael Taft) #10

Just an update.

I’ve secured full financing for my training at ATP. My medical is scheduled and will be completed in the next couple weeks. I have no medical issues and 20/15 vision, so I’m not worried.

Once that is complete I’m locking down my start date. Then it’s hammering out the written’s and modules before going full throttle at Richmond ATP. I’m just itching to get back in the cockpit! :grin:

The intro flight in the Seminole had me sold (plus all the great comments about ATP). We had NASCAR going on at Richmond Speedway so I got to watch all the drivers fly in to the Jet Center. Never seen so much money sitting on one tarmac! :money_mouth_face:

I truly look forward to being up in the airways with y’all soon.



That is great news! Thanks for the update, please keep them coming as you go through the program.


(Michael Taft) #12

New update!!!

Got my start date established for August 5th, 2019. Time to prepare and knock out the CAX, FIA, FII, and FIO. Will fly here and there to keep the rust off until then. I know it’s nine months out, but the preparations will be worth it! Plus that’s nine months of excitement to build up! :smile:

(Tucker) #13

Get those writtens out of the way and you will be thankful that you did! The next 9 months will “fly” by!!!

(Michael Taft) #14

Thanks Tucker!

This year has definitely flown by. Feels like time is getting closer to breaking that sound barrier every year that goes by. I want to be as prepared as possible knowledge-wise so when I hit the tarmac I can apply it all to the yoke and pedals. Besides the writtens and the modules, is there anything else I can do to get a lead on things? Can fit a lot into 9 months. I’m already private w/ Instrument.

(Tucker) #15

I just want to make sure what you meant. You already have you Instruemt Ratining correct?

(Michael Taft) #16

That is correct.

(Tucker) #17

Well make sure you are up to date on your instrument and private knowledge. You won’t have to take those checkrides again obviously, but get to the level you were at when you did take them. Writtens, modules, archer supplement, etc. Read the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, just learn as much as you can. As you get closer you can start to focus on on your studies but for now relax and review. 9 months will go by fast.

(Michael Taft) #18

Thanks for the advice Tucker. I’ll do just that.

(Michael Taft) #19

Just an update,

Just completed my CAX exam and passed with a 95. Could have gotten 97, but who’s counting right?

Used Sheppard Air, and given I ran through those questions (944 to be exact?) I gotta say the training strategy works.

On to the last three. Less than 7 months to soak up as much information as possible.


Good job, keep going on those writtens, you will be glad that you did.