Real Answers from Real Pilots

Making It Work

(Rodney Phillips) #1

If my question belongs in a different category, I’ll have it moved. The more I research about ATP, the more the bug digs in, the more I want to fly. Like everyone else, I keep running into the issue of $$$ and training time is starting to be a factor.

The way it stands right now, I plan to save some money over the next year, earn my PPL and then enroll at ATP. However, being the sole provider for my family of 4, I can’t afford to quit my job and lose my benefits (and GREAT money) for 9 months and then hope to do much with a CFI position for the subsequent 18 months. I totally understand that other pilots may have been able to do this, or just decided to sacrifice what they could to make it work. It’s just not feasible from my end.

So my question being, is it possible to maintain a 20-25 hour part time job, and spend 3+ days doing the ground/flying? My hope would be to work Monday-Thursday, and spend the remaining days flying and any/all spare time devoted to studying. I understand this may not by the typical approach by most, if not all, aspiring pilots and ATP students. I’m just trying to acquire all possible avenues to chase this dream.




ATP certainly isn’t the only route to the airlines, it’s just the most efficient. That said if it’s not feasible for you it’s not. It is of course possible to train part-time and keep working (of course not with ATP). The biggest caveat is you must be disciplined and consistent. When I got my Private it took me nearly 2 years due to my schedule, weather, the flight school’s schedule etc. ATP works because our students fly nearly every day. If they’re not flying they’re in the sim or ground school or studying. If they’re scheduled to fly in the morning and the weather craps out they’ll fly in the afternoon. The point is it ALWAYS gets done. To be successful you have to try as hard as possible to do the same. If you say you’re going to fly 3 days a week then you MUST fly 3 days a week. That means maybe going flying vs going to your kids ball game or a family dinner. If the weather is bad you need to reschedule for another lesson that same week. As soon as you start saying “it’s ok, I’ll make it up next week” it’ll become 2, then 3 and then you start slipping backwards.

It can be done but it’s not easy. I recommend you try. Find a GOOD local flight school, set up a schedule and start working on your Private. If you’re progressing and the system is working than there you go. Obviously it’s going to take you considerably longer but at least you’re working towards it. Thing is you MUST be honest. If it’s not working and you’re not progressing then you need to cut your loses because it won’t get better and you’ll simply be wasting money.


(Rodney Phillips) #3

Thanks for the reply! Like I said at the end, I’m just looking at every possible avenue right now and weighing my options. I’ve found the best part of ATP (from reviews and the website) was the opportunity to fly nearly every day of the week. I’m not looking to take my sweet time. I don’t have the money to do that.

I completely understand what you mean by being disciplined and consistent. Another aspect I like about ATP; that it requires you to be. I just really wish ATP kept their Tulsa location, then this would be much easier.

(Sergey Kireyev) #4

Rodney, ATP is a 5-days-a-week program and the school management emphasis is being firmly placed on that. ATP built its reputation on training pilots for the airlines quickly and efficiently, and they don’t want you to wash out as much as you don’t want to wash out. But if you start failing evaluations and checkride, or stop progressing in the program they will likely cut you loose. My location now requires students to request days off a week in advance via email. While it is possible to work around your flight schedule (not the other way around), I’d visit the location you intend to go to and talk with the location manager to get candid feedback.
From my experience as a student, unless you are a freelancer with a “work at will” schedule I strongly recommend that you don’t work. To be successful, you have to study and practice constantly, daily. If you want to effectively progress through the program, you also have to be flexible, which means being able to fly on whatever days your instructor and plane can fly, and weather cooperates vs. whenever you can accommodate them. There are phases in the program such as solo cross country that depend on nearly perfect weather to get accomplished and if you can’t fly today because you’re working, you may get delayed for a couple of weeks waiting for the next good day. Then there’ll be crew where you may be gone for two weeks altogether, then CFI school which takes a few weeks again. See where I’m going with this?

(Nick Staley) #5


I am in a nearly identical situation. I found a Part 61 flight school that let me train when I could. I started in May and am now nearly done with my commercial license (I have done my private and instrument rating). I’ve been able to go just as fast as I would have at ATP, but I’ve been able to work full time as well. Granted my wife doesn’t love the fact I go to work 8 hours a day and then go fly for 2 hours 5 times a week and then come home and study for a few hours as well, but she’s supportive of it. My point is going to ATP would have been awesome, but it wasn’t feasible for me. Find what works best for you and run with it!

(Rodney Phillips) #6

Thanks Sergey. As amazing and appealing as ATP sounds, the shear fact that there is no location close to me makes the opportunity nearly implausible. If only the Tulsa location were still opened. Oh well. Right now my current position allows me to work remote on most days, albeit they don’t really like to let us, but the opportunity is there. We’ll see how it goes. This is why I’m always seeking advice from those in the profession like yourself.

Nick, Thanks for the reply. I’ll probably be taking the same route after I save some money so I can do this faster without racking up too too much debt for it.

Thanks everyone for the replies, candid comments and advice. It’s truly appreciated on my end.

(Jon Baker) #7

Hey @Rodney, you’re in Tulsa? We should have lunch some time. I’m in a very similar boat as you, maybe if we connect we could pow wow together, or at least talk aviation! Not sure how to contact outside of the forums, though, to set up a time to meet.

(Rodney Phillips) #8

@jdavidbakr, no I’m in OKC, but Tulsa wouldn’t be a terrible drive to make if it meant I could go to ATP. As it stands right now, I’m saving some money the next few months, and will be going to the same route @nstaley2 is doing and keeping the training close to home. Unless ATP decides to reopen in Tulsa :slight_smile: