Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is age 40 to old to start?

(Jason Francis) #44

Got it, thank you. 10-15 years as a regional Capt wouldn’t be too shabby either. Probably could end up with a great base and schedule. Either way it’s still more salary than I make now. Just need to make sure the process to get there doesn’t cost more than it’s worth.

All that being said, where else in the aviation industry (besides pilot) do people with my education and background go? And, no offense to others, but flight attendant would not be of interest to me.



With your timeline, I do not see you making it to the majors, there really is just not enough time left.

In regards to your education, the airlines have all sorts of positions that are non flying positions, whatever your skills are now, there is probably a position available in that.


(Norm Utech) #46

Hi guys…this is my fist post, I just joined today. Thanks for all of this awesome information.
So I am a 45 year old High School teacher, former USAF C-130 pilot and a CFII (asst chief) at a 141 flight school. I have over 2500 total hrs with 550 in military aircraft. I just signed up for Airline Applications and am just starting to think about switching careers. How realistic is it to jump right into the majors because I make about 93k right now as a teacher after 21 years and was just wondering realistically if this career change might be something that could work for me. What are the chances of a major taking a look at me and, realizing I may take a small pay cut to start with, could I be making what I make teaching soon after?

Thanks so much for any help.



Of course it would not hurt to apply to the majors, but realistically I think that your total time is too low, your military time way too low and your recency of experience too far back. To get to a major, I think that you will need to fly for a regional for a few years before you are competitive.


(Norm Utech) #48

thanks chris…what do you mean my recency of experience is too far back? The total time is as of now and the military time as of 2008. Just wondering what you meant by too far back…again, thx.


When was the last time you flew a turbine powered airplane?



As Chris said you could and should apply to the Majors as it can’t hurt. That said while I hate to rain on your parade, while you meet the mins you’re FAR from competitive. There are literally thousands of Regional Capts out there with double your total time, 6-8 times your turbine time (and theirs isn’t 10yrs old), 15-20yrs younger and years of airline experience. While I’d never say never I don’t see you getting a call without a few years at a Regional.


(Norm Utech) #51

2008 was my last turbine time…and yep i get it!! regionals def not out of the question i would just need to decide on the pay cut for a few years…thanks guys!!!

(Jason Francis) #52

Thank you for the info Chris and Adam. I trust your judgement completely, especially before the sales pitch of a school or regional recruiter, but I must say I’m confused. In my research, I found numerous regional sites touting flow to their major, well before the 10-15 year time frame I’m speaking of. Are they totally full of it, or am I missing something here? I can attach a graphic from Envoy’s website for reference. Better yet I added a link.



I might have read your post incorrectly. Let’s clarify; at what age do you intend to start training? Will it be with ATP or a different company?


(Jason Francis) #54

I could start as early as spring 2019 with ATP, at age 44. My other option was to build some more cash savings to be totally debt free and avoid a loan, which would of course put me back an equal amount of time in eventual seniority. The math equation in regards to cost and benefit is what I am struggling with. That equation becomes easier to solve with a legitimate shot at a major, even as a junior FO. The timeline shown in the Envoy link shows a much faster timeline than what I am seeing in this thread, which of course could be a sales pitch. Just trying to drill down into the truth.



One thing is certain, we will not sales pitch you on this website. I might have mis understood your timeline, let’s work through it together.

You will start at age 44, but let’s say 45 just to be fair. 45, plus two years of going through ATP and instructing makes you 47. Average time at the regionals is 5-10 years, so let’s go with ten to be on the safe side, that makes you 57. I am going to be honest, that is old for a major airline. Now if you go to one of the regionals that has a guaranteed flow through, the major will have to take you (other factors aside) and cannot discriminate based on age. But if you are simply applying to an airline through the normal application process, I think it will be a tough sell. Now if you get hired after only five years at a regional, then that is a different story. We can’t guarantee how long it will take or if you will ever make it to the majors.

The problem is that you are trying to turn this into a mathematical equation, but you don’t know all of the variables and can’t possibly know them all in advance. I get where you are coming from, but there is just no way to guarantee anything.

As far as airlines with flow throughs, those are great, as long as the major wants the agreement and as long as they are hiring. I have personally seen a flow through agreement cancelled and thousands of pilots affected by it. I am not saying that flow through agreements do not work, just saying I would not count on one.


(Jason Francis) #56

The “sales pitch” phrase I used was in reference to the airline’s website, not here. I truly appreciate the honesty you guys provide here on this site. It really helps cut through the noise. Just want to clarify that.

Chris, that breakdown really helps. You make a great point, I’m trying to do math with unknown variables. Thank you for the insight!



That is exactly what I meant by “sales pitch” as well.

I certainly do appreciate that you are doing your research. At some point though, it just comes down to taking that leap of faith.


(Jason Francis) #58

Agreed. Paralysis by analysis comes to mind for me right now. Thanks again for all the help. Having you guys so active with your posts here is a huge benefit.

(Edward Kibirige) #59

Hi Jason,
I’m not an airline pilot yet and hope to be one (so I’ll let Adam and the other qualified guys speak on tthat topic) but I have done some financial advising. The way you’ve described your situation, if you only need to work a year or two to be able to do ATP or any other pilot school debt- free, Do That! Because as you yourself said, your pension will only grow as you continue to work and at this age, you don’t want to wipe out your savings it take on high debt that you know you can avoid. ( I think Dave Ramsey would concur). I’m assuming you have a family so that’s a consideration for guys our age when you think about pension and debt.


Glad we can help, let us know what else we can do for you.

(Jason Francis) #61

Excellent insight, thank you! We dont have kids, so that does open a lot of freedom. However, it’s funny that you mention Dave Ramsey because we follow his debt free theories and prefer to remain debt free. I listen to his show almost every day.

My concern is that in the process of saving to remain debt free, I lose potential seniority at the airlines. The math I was discussing with Chris will either be paid on the front end or the back end. Trying to figure out which will be better. I will make some spreadsheets soon and attempt a clearer picture.



If you look closely at that Envoy chart you posted you’ll notice it’s very “loosely” written. “Upgrade to Capt” is show anywhere from 2-7yrs and that flow is showing anywhere from 6-13yrs. That’s a pretty generous spread. Further there are all kinds of fine print in those flows not the least of which is they can be cancelled.

We’re not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, we’re simply trying to offer realistic career expectations rather than pie in the sky when the planets align optimisms.

I do have to say I completely disagree with Edward’s financial assessment. Two years can be a lifetime seniority wise at the airlines. While the shortage is forecast to continue things can and often do change rapidly. One day can determine when you upgrade and yes possibly flow. At your age you need to get moving.


(Jason Francis) #63

Understood, thank you Adam.