Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is 46 too old to go for a flying career?

Hello,
I am 46 years old and I have been working towards my private pilots license for several years now. I have had to stop and start so many times due to finances. I know that that is not the way to do it. I should have saved up and done it all at once. Anyway, I have over 200 hours and I have taken the written exam and passed it twice. I have to take it again since another two years has passed. Also, I soloed four years ago. I don’t know if I should head for the fast track program? First I do not know if I would qualify for a loan that big and also, I do not know if I would be starting from “zero time” or not since I have a lot of training experience and time. Thank you for any advice! I’m feeling very discouraged but flying for a career is my dream! Is it too late?

Susan,

I think your post speaks for itself. Is 46 too old? Not really BUT is 46 and spending years and years not progressing obviously will not work. Clearly training on your own locally is not getting you anywhere and at this rate you’ll hit mandatory retirement before you have your 1500hrs and your Commercial. Not sure what you’ve been paying an hour but even if it was cheap you had to have dropped $20k+ on those 200hrs and still don’t have your Private (if it wasn’t the number is double). With that amount of flight time you should be close to your Commercial and after “several” yrs you should be a Capt at a Regional or even an FO at a Major. The question is how long do you want to keep throwing money at this?

You’ve already spent wayyyy too much time and money but it’s your time and money so only you can decide if it’s wasted? If not and you just want to go buzz around every now and then like you have been that’s fine. This is your life and you can do as you like but at 46 IF you truly want to do this as a career you need to get serious NOW. You’ve already limited how far you can get in the airlines.

As for training with ATP it’s simple, you either have your Private license and can start with credit for it or you don’t and you don’t. Now if you think you’re ready and can take a checkride soon then by all means but that’s not what I’m hearing. If not then you need to suck it up and start from zero. The pro is you’ll be that much closer to 1500hrs when you complete your training and can get to a Regional that much faster.

Adam

Susan,

Not too old, but as Adam said, you need to speed it up. I would start from zero at ATP. You need a change of pace. It’s been long enough. You could have had 2 years at a regional by now.

Tory

Thank you both so much, Adam and Tory! I totally agree that I need to speed it up and I would have done the fast track long ago if I could afford it. What do you all suggest if I can’t qualify for that amount of a loan and I do not have a cosigner. How in the world can I do the fast track program when I can’t afford it? It’s so hard when I have so much drive and so much passion for it yet I can’t seem to make it happen! Feeling so discouraged. Thanks again!!! Susan

Susan,

That’s really tough and unfortunately the finances do often get in the way. The sad part is, as you already know, you’ve invested so most already and have nothing to show for it. Honestly if I were you I’d try and find a co-signer unless perhaps a home loan if you have but the most important thing is to stop throwing money into this as you have. Even if your credit isn’t great there’s a good chance if you were able to save a comparable amount too what you’ve already spent you could borrow the rest.

Adam

I hate to say it but there’s not much else you can do unless you want to ask a relative for a loan.

Tory

Susan,

I will be honest, 200 hours is a lot of time to have not yet obtained a license. A lot. I would recommend getting with an instructor and having an honest evaluation of where you are in your abilities to fly. It concerns me that you have spent so much time and flying without obtaining a license.

Chris

Thank you all for your feedback and advice. Frustrated. Maybe one day I’ll at least get my PPL for goodness sake! You would think…:slightly_frowning_face: