Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is age 40 to old to start?

(Jason Francis) #64

So I ran a few scenarios, very conservative, and even some worst case scenarios. Bottom line is that if I could even make it to a major airline FO position for 3-5 years at the end of my career, that wage in today’s numbers would overcome my loss in wages and pension, and cover tuition from ATP. Even if I never get past Capt at a Regional, I still would be able to at least break even, might have to work a little extra that’s all. Make it to a major sooner and it’s just icing on the cake. The main thing is that I would be able to retire from my current career, in which I am burnt out and no longer growing. That part is priceless. I’m going to call ATP Monday and see when the next availability is in Tampa, and then start on my prep for the writtens.

(Sergey Kireyev) #65

Jason, you’d be pleased to find plenty of folks close to your age in your classmate ranks. At 39, I was second oldest for my class start, and have another classmate who is only a couple of years younger. And that’s among six of us who started in September. PIE is a pretty cool airport to fly in and out of as well. Best of luck to you!

(Jason Francis) #66

Thank you Sergey!



Sounds like a plan. Let us know how else we can be of assistance.


(Andrew Wells) #68


I am 37 yo and started flight lessons at a mom and pop part 61 flight school in Wisconsin. I have a few questions, all of them are related to my age ultimately. From all of the previous posts, it sounds like being hired by a Major would be questionable at my age. So I was wondering if the path to becoming a private pilot, is an easier path, than flying for a major airline, and if it is what that would that entail? I was also wondering if airlines will overlook students that trained at part 61 schools? This is the only school locally. They quoted me about $55,000 to go from zero to hero, but I don’t want to waste time and money. Thank you!




Being hired by a Major airline is always questionable. Flying for a Major is the pinnacle of our career and like many professions reaching the top is never guaranteed. At 37 while you’re not young you’re certainly not old either. I started 2yrs after you, am a Capt at a Major and that was when career prospects were nowhere near as good as they are now. The problem is how long is it going to take you to get your licenses and ratings and then build your time? Obviously the longer it takes the older you’ll be, the less years left in your career etc etc. The airlines don’t care where you did your training and there’s nothing wrong with Part 61 schools (ATP is a Part 61 school btw). The problem is most local schools aren’t equipped instructor and airplane wise to provide the consistency you need to get done fast especially if you’re training part-time.

When you say “private pilot” I assume you mean corporate or charter. That encompasses a huge range of flying from single engine prop hops to Global jets that flying around the world. Obviously the better jobs require more experience and getting them is just as competitive as the airlines. Aviation is a great career but there are no guarantees.


(Andrew Wells) #70


Thanks a lot for getting back to me, and so quickly! I read your bio earlier and it’s definitely inspiring and very relatable to my current situation. I worked in restaurants for a while as well, but now I’m a nurse and burnt out. Flying has been a dream for years, just didn’t know how to go about it. The instructors at my school seem to promote and offer consistency which is nice, and for some reason I just figured ATP would be a part 141. Yes, I did mean a corporate pilot and ideally in a global jet—wasn’t sure if that would have a quicker track than working up to captain status for a major. Just being able to fly for a living (and make enough to live) is fine, I don’t necessarily have a burning desire to fly huge jets, a small one will work! Thank you!

(Tory) #71


I actually prefer part 61 schools. They allow for more flexibility and aren’t known to cause students to get stuck in a phase of training like part 141 schools can. The airlines don’t care which one a pilot attends. The ratings are the exact same. They’re just different training footprints.

It would be extremely easy to get hired by a regional airline. I would argue it’s easier than flying for a private, corporate, or charter airline. A regional would certainly come with more job security too. Getting to a major is just as difficult for you as it is for anyone else. At your age, you could make it if you focused on your training. Your objective should be to get to a regional as quick as you can.


(Andrew Wells) #72


Thank you for the information! I Appreciate all your help, it’s great.

Thank you



The airlines do not care one bit about whether someone trained at a part 61 or 141 school. Students take the exact same checkrides at each school and have the exact same FAA licenses. The two different types of schools are simply slightly different paths to the same outcome.

Getting a corporate job is not as easy as one might think and the jobs are not always that desirable as they involve a large amount of being on call and pay that in many cases significantly lags airline pay. I would recommend focusing on getting to a regional airline and hoping for the best with a major. I just met a brand new hire at my airline who is 59, so the sky is the limit.


(Andrew Wells) #74


Thanks much for providing your insight! And wow, 59 years old, I’m curious why an airline would want to do that, but that’s awesome for that guy! One last question, is there a thread in this site or an outside site that discusses income of regional airline captains? Good chance I’d be happy just captaining for a regional, as long as I can feed my family. Thank you!!

(Tory) #75


Chris wrote an article on pilot pay:

And APC shows each airline’s pay scale with a calculator on the bottom of each airline’s page:
When using the calculator, slide the pay rate bar to the desired number, leave the credit time at 75 (that’s a common minimum guarantee for airlines), use the bid period scale to derive monthly, annually, etc. pay, leave the percentage scale at 1 for estimated gross, or slide it down to account for estimated net.


(Andrew Wells) #76

Thank you!

(Josh Wellbrock) #77

Hi Adam!

Reading your story is inspiring and gives me hope I can pull off something similar! About me. I’m 40 and currently in the automotive world and I feel I’m being led on to believe another 25 years of this is feasible. My body tells me otherwise! Secondly, EVERYTIME I walk outside of this building, my head is to the sky scanning for aircraft to watch make vapor trails and imagine their destination. I have a few hours in a trainer and loved every minute. I’m also a desktop pilot with a seemingly realistic simulator setup. My problem is I make higher than industry standard pay being an employee of 19 years with the same company. I’m also married for 15 years and have 2 kids. One in private school (8th grade) and one just about to start college. My question for you is (and excuse me if I’ve missed it in your bio) did you have the burden of carrying a family on your journey to ATP status? If so, how did you make it work? This is something I have to find a way to accomplish. Any input from you or anyone you know with a similar situation would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!



I was fortunate in that my wife earned a decent salary. There is no question it (I) put a strain on the entire family economically and everyone had to tighten their belts. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. As I’ve said for me I really didn’t feel like I had a choice as I was quite miserable but honestly to this day I believe my wife still feels it was a selfish move. Then of course she jumps on a flight to Europe and is less bothered about it.


(Steve Kittel) #79

Josh, I’m in the same boat…I’m 50 and am taking the plunge after 20+ years in IT… I have no illusions about getting to the majors or anything. My wife is on board and we are going to make it work. It take budgeting and being a realist. I have a cash flow spreadsheet for the entire year to ensure it’ll work out. I’d rather make less money and be happy with what I’m doing for a living that sit and regret what could have been. If it’s something you really want, make a plan and figure a way…because time keeps ticking away. And yes, there are times I think it’s selfish to give up a lucrative salary to chase my dream, but I’ve been working since I was 17 and raising and supporting the family for over 30 years…perhaps it is my time now :slight_smile:



Whatever you decide, make sure that you are financially prepared to take a large pay cut for some time. One of the worst things that can affect a student pilot is financial pressures.


(Josh Wellbrock) #81


Thank you for adding even more inspiration to my inbox! I have so many questions but I don’t want to be a burden. Like, how did you bring it up to your wife? Did she reject the idea at first? How about any children you support? Those a just a few haha! I am married to the best thing to ever happen to me but she FEARS change. I’m a routine guy myself but I know I’ll go to my grave with regret for not at least trying. How’s you adventure so far? I’ll stop there and give you a chance to catch up. Thanks again!

(Sam Johnson) #82

Does anyone know which airlines are hiring pilots in their 50’s?
My brother in law is 57 and has asked for guidance.

(Josh Wellbrock) #83


Thank you for your reply and your honesty in every post you make here! That’s also the vibe I get whenever I mention it to my wife. Like Steve said, I also have been working since 17 in automotive and raising a family since 24. I feel there has to be a time for me (before 65!). Did I mention she also dislikes flying? Yeah, I know. Do you know much about what’s available for a part-time pilot so that maybe I can have my cake and eat it too? I can afford the PPL no problem. There is a flight school here in Cincinnati that doubles as an AA training/recruitment center. AA is the end goal for me as I believe CVG has a hub here. Thanks for all of your input and time!