Real Answers from Real Pilots

Looking for some direction

I’ve been lurking here for a couple weeks now and while I have a general idea of what I should do it seems wrong.

Currently 21 and working full time while living at home free. I have a new car that is paid off and my only bills are insurance and phone. I have around 30k saved up atm and make around 50k a year after taxes.

I still have not taken an intro flight yet which I do plan on doing once I get my lasik done. But I do love being in the air. I recently had a friend who finished atp and brought up the idea to me to go. He comes from a family of pilots. (His dad and his brother) so I have been asking him lots of questions.

My plan was to go to community college while I work and save up money to hopefully pay for atp in full. Then I would instruct for 2 years or so and join a regional airline. Once I do that I plan to complete my degree online so I can move up to the majors when that time comes.

My friend says it’s all a race to get into the airlines which I do agree with and have seen it said a bunch. He suggests I start atp now and use the money I have atm to pay the interest and live off of. I do see his point but I’m someone who saved up and paid cash for a car because I hate taking in debt. I understand I never started college so I feel that puts me so far behind while trying to afford flight school and going to college.

Just looking to get some more views from other people.

Thank you everyone


You gotta do what’s best for you. You can wait until you have enough to pay with cash. Or you can take out a loan, like most, and get done quicker. Each year that passes by is a year of potential major airline wages lost.

You can earn your degree online while at a regional. So that doesn’t put you that far behind, if at all.


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This question gets asked daily. As Tory said ultimately you need to do what’s best for you but the 2yrs you will lose in seniority will cost you hundreds of thousands in earning potential you’ll never recover.

Again it’s you call but sooner is ALWAYS better.


Appreciate the help Tory and Adam. I had a feeling it would be up to me to make the final call. Debt is just one of the things that terrify me. But I’m looking to stick this one out through thick and thin. Again thank you for the help.


I think your friend is right. Airline captains at the majors can easily make over $300k per year. So a few years of lost wages could really cost you big time in the long run. I understand the desire to not take on debt, but sometimes it can be a food thing if it helps you accomplish your goals.