Real Answers from Real Pilots

Just a Little Research

Hello there!

Before I ask any questions, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Ella, and I am not personally enrolled at ATP and I am nowhere near close to being able to do so. Flying has always captivated me and growing up, my father was an experimental airplane pilot- I practically grew up in the hangar. My first flight ever was in his Kitfox and I’ve been enamored ever since, I’ve just never done anything about it. Currently I’m 16 and in my freshman year (plus some change) of college. I’d like to earn my degree early so I can get on with my training. I know about the age requirements, I’ve been reading these forums for a little while now, but here are my questions for you:

How can I expect to be treated as a female flight student? Will I be amongst the minority in my training?

Can I expect to be able to carry a job at all whilst going through the program? Perhaps 20-25 hours? I have management experience and I’d like to not be completely broke. :slight_smile:

I’ve seen in many places where you have all recommended the 40 hour program rather than the 100 hour program. Between doing the 100 hour and the CFI position, which of the two will give you more hours in the end? How would you describe your experience as an instructor, if applicable?

Of the locations available for me, I’ll likely end up going to the one at PDK or KLZU. I know there are many locations across the country and you may not have experience with either of these two, but would you happen to know anything about which could be the better location?

I know on paper I’d save about $13k, but how much can I actually expect to save if I were to get my private license before I started the program at ATP? (What can I expect to pay for such a thing?)

and finally,

How could you describe the rigor at ATP in terms of learning and expectations? How easy is it to fail checkrides and examinations? I know that it will only give you what you put into it, but I mean in terms of weeding people out… How much of that attitude is to be expected?

I’m purely in the research phase of everything and I know I am fairly young, but I am very much a planner and I like to know what I’m getting in to. I will be able to begin at ATP as early as 20 years old, which in the grand scheme of things, is not far away for me.

Thanks for all you do, guys, and sorry if this is a billion questions.

Hello Ella,

Lots of questions but it’s never to early to start gathering info so let’s dive in:

  1. Yes you will without question be in the minority as a woman. Not just in training but throughout your aviation career (but so what?). We recently had a very long thread on the subject you might find interesting? (Females in Aviation). Many opinions but the bottomline is the biggest issues (if any) seem to come from ignorant passenger comments and nothing more. If my daughter wanted to fly I would encourage her wholeheartedly.

  2. No, No and btw NO! ATP is an accelerated program and as such requires your FULL-TIME and attention. Attempting to work while participating in the program is setting yourself up for disaster. Most people take out additional funds to cover living expenses during training.

  3. Regardless of whether you do the 40 or the 100hr Program you’ll complete both with the same amount of total time. The ONLY difference is the 100hr ME does more of training in the twin than in the single engine aircraft. The only reason to do the 100hr (and have the extra expense) is if you don’t plan to instruct for ATP. ME time is difficult to come by outside of ATP which is why they give you the option. If you instruct for ATP you’ll build more than enough ME time while instructing. Instructing is a great experience and while it’s the most common method most pilots use to build time I also believe it’s the best. There’s nothing better for improving your skills as a pilot than sitting next to someone who’s trying to kill you :slight_smile:

  4. ATP works very hard (and does a great job) of ensuring ALL their locations have the same quality of instruction. Choose a location that’s convenient or just seems attractive to you for whatever reason. There is no “best location”.

  5. No you won’t. Yes the price difference is $13k BUT ATP’s PPL course not only includes the Private training and license but also gets you up to the required 80hrs you’d need to begin the rest of the training. While rates for aircraft and instructors vary the $13k for the PPL AND the additional time is actually very reasonable and competitive not to mention you’d be starting Day 1 receiving ATP level and standard of training and not have to “un-learn” any bad habits.

  6. The training at ATP as I mentioned is accelerated and as such is quite rigorous. It requires hard work and dedication. Listen, I have no way of knowing your level of intelligence or coordination (but you do seem very articulate and mature based on your post) so there’s no way of knowing exactly how well you’ll do or not. What I can say is someone with average intelligence AND a STRONG work ethic will have no problem with the program.

Hope this helps?

Adam

Ella,

Thank you for the introduction, it really helps us to answer your questions.

  1. While you will be in the minority in your training, you can expect to be treated exactly the same as a male flight student. ATP does not discriminate on the basis of gender, or any other factor.

  2. No, you cannot work while in ATP’s program. The program is highly compact and will require every waking moment you have to either be flying, or studying. In addition to this, the schedules are highly variable. If you were to work, your studies would suffer greatly, resulting in failed check rides which will haunt you for the rest of your career. Just a little bit of general life advice, at 16 you can’t possibly have any meaningful management experience, regardless of whatever title you had. Employers know this, I would be cautious throwing that term around unless you can really back it up.

  3. The 40 hour and he 100 hour program nets you the exact same amount of flight time, the 100 hour program simply has 60 hours more multi time, and 60 hours less single engine time. The end results exactly the same, there is absolutely no reason to do the 100 hour program unless you plan on instructing outside of ATP.

  4. I do not have any experience with either of those locations, but I have been to many different ATP locations and I can tell you that they are all very standardized. ATP works very hard to have all of their locations offer the same experience to the students. I would simply pick the one that is most convenient to you and not think twice about it.

  5. I cannot speak to the rates that other flight schools charge, but I can bet you that those other flight schools are quoting you prices based off of the FAA minimums to obtain a license, which very few people do. Even if you did obtain the license at the minimum hours, you will still need a total of 80 hours to enter ATP’s program (this is to meet FAA requirements), so if you base your math off of 80 hours, I bet you aren’t saving much at all, if any.

  6. I went all the way through ATP’s program (except Private, it was structured differently back then) and never failed a check ride. Thirteen years later, I still haven’t failed a check ride. Check rides are what you make of them, study hard, know your material and yo should be fine. There is not attempt by ATP or the FAA to weed out people, we all want the students to succeed, it is up to them if they do.

Keep asking your questions.

Chris

Mentors,

I suppose I will ask more questions, then.

What kind of programs are out there for young aspiring (female or not) pilots?

And what sort of funding options would you recommend for attending ATP? I’ve seen where you’ve mentioned that Wells Fargo or the other main option (I can’t recall what the name is) may not be the best route to take.

And finally, a fun question or two,

What have been your worst and favorite moments throughout your individual aviation careers?

And what do pilots do in the cockpit during longer flights? Do you really sit attentively at the controls the entire time? What goes on behind the scenes?

Thanks, Guys. :slight_smile:

Ella,

The best way to get involved is with the Civil Air Patrol, check out their website for how you can get involved. There is also “Women in Aviation” that I believe offers programs for young people to get involved in.

Most people fund their training through Wells Fargo or Sallie Mae. The interest rates might seem high, but it is important to remember that these are unsecured loans, so the bank is taking a big risk, thus they charge accordingly.

My worst moment was when a child died on my airplane. We did everything we could to get on the ground as soon as possible, but it was simply too late. Even though there was nothing else we could do, it still felt awful. I also knew the First Officer on the Colgan 3407 crash. I will never forget the moment when I realized it was Becky who had died.

On a positive note, one of my favorite flights was having a newly married couple on board from SFO to ORD. Neither of them had ever been on an airplane, so we brought them up to the cockpit and took pictures on the ground, then flew the “Bay Tour” out of SFO, which is a visual departure that gave them an amazing view of San Francisco.

Since I was an active airline pilot, I rode in the cockpit for both legs of my father’s retirement trip (he was a pilot also). It was sad, but also really neat to see him end his career.

Chris

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