Real Answers from Real Pilots

Optimistic but worried

(Jordan Coleman) #1

Hello everyone, my name is Jordan and in need of some answers. I’ve been looking do start this career for awhile, however, I keep pushing it off. Unfortunately, it is because this is a big unknown.
There are so many variables for you not to succeed in this industry. First off, how can you make payments while in school, if you have no job or money? You have to commit full time to this so how are you going to have a job on the side? It seems to me these programs are meant for you to fail. I dont want to mess my life up financially because my instructors are terrible at what they do. I have heard so many stories where the instructors dont care if you pass or not. That’s wrong! What about for people that have other bills, such as a car, insurance, etc? How are we going to pay our Bill’s if we have no job for 9 months? It seems like you suck people in with words that sound good but not practical. I want to do this, I’ve always wanted to but I dont trust the system. I do not want to quit my job with the post office and get screwed because I have terrible teachers and instructors. Because I know you dont care if we pass or not. That is 80k out of my pocket not yours. How can I trust a system that is all about money? How am suppose to survive with no income coming in? I need income. I went to college and worked part time. Here, they say to totally commit. That’s not feasible. Everyone needs money, everyone needs food. I need answers. I’m a smart guy and this doesnt seem smart at all. I need someone to give answers, not crap I want to hear. I want the truth. I want to know if this is the right move for my situation.
I pay about $1,500 in bills. I have a good job with the post office and make decent money, not as much as yall, but good money. I would have to quit that job because it wont work with you guys. So how am I suppose to pay my bills, on top with the tuition and interest that I have to get for this program? I dont have family that will help me out with this. I dont have equity to help. I just have my paychecks. So please tell me how to succeed in this program with no money coming in?

(Seth Ledbetter) #2

The finances aren’t what concerns me. The answer to that will be take out additional money in your loan for 9 months of bills and survival. Through atp they gurantee a CFI job which might require moving again maybe very far away from anything you are familiar with. The concerns for me are finally getting the CFI position but then having to move out of the amazing state of tennessee to accept it. I’ll probably come around and suck it up for careers sake, but.moving away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known just to make “up to 42k a year” sucks quite a bit. Maybe if the cfi pay was a little better you’d have cfis that dream more at night other than just their 1500 hour mark. (obviously they all aren’t like that) but barely getting by sure doesn’t motivate people in their occupation.

(Jordan Coleman) #3

Exactly! I want to fly. That was always my dream. I know I’ll see my family and friends again and I dont mind to move anywhere on the states. I know I can pass the hell out of the exams and be one hell of a pilot but to throw away everything I achieved at this moment scares the living hell out me. In school I’ve always studied on my own and I’m really good at it. But I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. Because even if I do pass, become an instructor, you still have to be worried about becoming ill or getting hurt on or off the job. If it is sever, you wont fly again. Again, if that happens, who the hell is going to pay my bills and whatever tuition left over? There are toooooo many negative variables in this job. I love to fly but the industry scares the hell out of me. I’m head strong but I try not to just throw myself into something that is not a guarantee. I’m not a gambler and this is like playing the lottery.

(not5150) #4

“The concerns for me are finally getting the CFI position but then having to move out of the amazing state of tennessee to accept it. I’ll probably come around and suck it up for careers sake, but.moving away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known just to make “up to 42k a year” sucks quite a bit.”

I just don’t get this line of thinking. I’m sure Tennessee is great, but who is to say any other state won’t be as good or (gasp) maybe even better. I’ve moved several times in my life and saw every new place as full of opportunities. New friends, new restaurants, new cool places to visit. I’m getting into aviation because I like visiting new places and even if it’s in outer Mongolia, that’s fine.

Sure the pay for CFIs could be better, but you’re not staying a CFI forever. Why does 1.5-2 years of slight suffering overweigh 15-20-30+ years of much better pay later? Maybe you’ll even like being a CFI, who knows.

(Jordan Coleman) #5

not5150 I’m not saying that it wouldn’t pay for itself and it wouldn’t be an amazing job. My issue is dropping everything I have achieved now. That is exactly what would happen. My student loans that I’m currently paying on, my car payment, car insurance, cell phone, etc. If I join, how am I suppose to pay for that while I’m in training? My credit would drop drastically if I couldn’t pay them. Of course once I become a CFI, I’ll start bringing in money, but there I have to add more money to the debt for training. Then once training is done, I’ll have to pay for housing. How does a low income person succeed in this program. I dont have anyone to help me. There is also no way to save up 10-20k. I’m not made of money. This is where my issue lies. Am I even financially able to do this? If I could drop all my loans and have nothing, then I wouldn’t be here talking. I’ll be out there doing. But I need pilots to give me good advise and if they say no dont do it. then I wont.

(Peter Banning) #6

Jordan, it seems the biggest problem you’re encountering is your own lack of planning. If this is something you’re seriously considering, you need to put some serious time into crunching these numbers to see how you can make it work. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time worrying.

If you apply for the loan, both Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo build in a $900+ per month living supplement for the duration of the program. Based on what you’ve told us, you’ll need an additional $600 per month to cover your bills, plus food and gas, etc. if that’s not included in your numbers. Based on that loose estimate, it seems you’ll need to have an additional $5-7K saved to cover the rest of your expenses while you’re in the program. Forgive me if this sounds a little harsh, but cry me a river. You’ll either figure out a way to make it work, or you won’t. I’ve got a wife and a young baby at home, and I’ve figured out a way to make it work financially. It has not been easy. If easy is what you’re looking for, you’re headed into the wrong profession.

I would highly suggest you read through the Student Expriences section of this website to dive a little further into what you can expect as a student. There have been numerous people detail their experiences - both positive and negative. I will say your blanket statement and notion that the instructors don’t care is flatly wrong. Perhaps there was a time in the past that some instructors skated by, but to suggest that problem is the standard is simply inaccurate.

There are thousands of ATP graduates throughout the aviation industry. They made it just fine financially and as it relates to the instruction. So far, the only people I’ve seen struggle are the ones who refuse to put in the work and then make excuses for their failures. The people who are working hard and studying are doing exceptionally well.

You get to decide which category you fall into.

Edited to add: I just went back and re-read the original post and saw the comment “I know you don’t care if we pass or not.” That statement is absurd, as an instructor’s pass/fail rate is a direct reflection of the instructor, and those numbers are reported and on file. The instructors I’ve had have even been ultra-competitive about it, to the point of keeping a running total amongst themselves. I would say it’s a point of pride for most that I’ve been around.

Edited to add #2: ATP instructors are also given financial incentives for their students passing exams.

(Jordan Coleman) #7

Well you seem like a smart man but arrogant. sorry truth hurts. Not everyone situation is the same and you are bright so you understand that.
First, you get tax break. 1000s in dollars for kid and wife so dont push the numbers on me bud. Im single so I dont get the extra money. AND yes I know it’s not enough for kids but still.Your life is different than mine. Also, if you are a pilot and you speak that way shows the type of person you really are. I’m not in this for the money.
Dont want get personal. But dont judge me, I’ve done more in my life than you will ever know. I dont quit and I am tough so dont assume you think you know me sir. I wanted an explanation and advice to my concerns and you assume excuses, poor money management, etc by me? No that is far from the truth. Dont talk to me like the others on this site. I’ve read a lot of these questions, comments, answers. So it really shows the type of person you are if you go for those aspects and not giving answer or relatable events that happened to others and what they had to do. “Run-on sentence I know” Instead you go for insults. so please dont reply on my post again. I’m waiting for someone that will actually give me advice. thank you for your input sir. have a good day.

(Jordan Coleman) #8

Also to put this straight. I’m not saying every instructor is like that. My dead uncle was a retired pilot and been a pilot for 37 years. So that’s where I got my info. He was in the grind for years and saw what it is like. You think airlines are top notch? No, every job has it’s BS. So dont BS me

(not5150) #9

Just wow… I’m thinking we’re getting trolled here.

(Peter Banning) #10

I gave you exactly what you were looking for, as per your original post. “Not just what I want to hear.”

My child is 10 months old. I have not received any tax break, and in fact we OWED money to the federal government this past year (2017 tax year), as my child was born in January 2018. I started the program in June. As such, I would suggest taking your own advice as it relates to assuming others’ finances.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you became offended. I haven’t insulted anyone. I have factually stated that your biggest issue to this point is simply a lack of planning.

You know how much money you make. We don’t. You know (or should) how much money you’ll need to survive for 9 months until you can get a job flying. We don’t. The only thing left to do is budget, right? Again, we can’t do that for you. You asked us how you were going to get by… and I have provided that answer. You take a look at the money you make versus the bills you pay and plan a budget that will work for your goals.

If you would like to contact me personally, I’d be happy to give you a rundown of exactly what we had to do in order to make it work financially. Let me know, and I’ll drop my email here.

(Jordan Coleman) #11

No I totally get what you are saying. Yes planning is a must. Financial situation is mine and mine alone. But I’m asking you now. I have a good job with the post office. I make enough to be happy. I have enough to pay my bills and then some. My life is going great. I’m asking you if had my situation would you drop everything? Only thing I’m looking into right now is to do what I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid was to fly. But you and I know, we all dont get what we want. So if you were in my shoes, what would you do. Stay where I am at and live life good. Or follow my dream? This is where my dilemma lies.

(Jordan Coleman) #12

I hope you now understand where I am coming from. haha and no not trolling. Just very very curious and possibly stubborn

(Robert K) #13

I believe Peter is right. You have to make sacrifices if you want to do this career. It isn’t easy and as a current student the instructors do care if you pass or fail. I had a great job that paid a lot of money and I have a family with two kids. I somehow managed and took the leap to do this job that I have a huge passion for. If this is what you truly want to do then you will figure it out. You will make it happen no matter what.

Also if you haven’t taken a flight yet I would highly suggest you do that before you decide to do this. Some people are just not cut out to be pilots.

Good luck in your decision.

(Jordan Coleman) #14

Awesome thank you for your input. Yes I have done a test ride, not with ATP. But that’s all I wanted to know. So do you regret any of it? Are you happier than you were before? It is a passion. But I dont wany my “wants” overcome my “needs.”

(Jordan Coleman) #15

If you wouldn’t mind. I would like your email or whatever you will give me. I’m sorry if I sound belligerent, I see it as passion. But again sorry if I said anything insulting. I’m a fighter and fight for what I want. So again sorry and thank you for the advice

(Robert K) #16

No regrets. The loan is substantial, but the end result is what I’m looking at. I was in a job that I could have lived comfortably until I retired, but I looked at my life and asked myself a simple question, “Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life?”. The answer was no. I wanted something more and I then looked into flight schools and read almost every single post in this forum. There are so many people in the same situation that they made an FAQ section targeted at these same questions that keep getting asked.

I decided that to make myself happy and be satisfied with my life by doing something that I wanted to do since I was a child. I thought my only regret would be that I didn’t even try to do what I wanted to do. To be at retirement age and then thinking that I should have tried to be a pilot.

In the end it’s a personal decision. How bad do you want it? I personally wanted it bad and did what I had to do to make it happen.

Good luck again.

(Jordan Coleman) #17

Thank you for your feedback. I do want to do this. I’m going to wait, save up, and pay most of my bills off. But this is what I want to do. It’s just not the time yet. I just didnt want to mess up my life for a maybe. Thank you again and good luck with the new adventure and career.

(Zachary Porter) #18

While my bills are most likely not as high as your’s since you have children, I have made it work with the $800 for rent and $800 for living expenses. I have a $343 car payment, plus food (my gf pays $700 for rent plus utilities, so I get the food, she is in medical school, so she can’t work either), gas and credit card, plus our pet’s health plan. Generally I am at right about $400 leftover or so each month. My initial loan for ATP was for $99k, however I took out $105k for emergency expenses/checkride costs. I also had $5500 in stock from my previous job. Like others have said, it’s all about planning it out.

Hopefully that at least gives you a ball-park idea. If you’re partner can work, that will help things. In the grand scheme of things, if you decide to do it and make it through, this loan is going to be a minor speed bump.



“Optimistic but worried”? I just read your post and didn’t hear one ounce of optimism. Let me be VERY clear here, this forum is for people with interests in a aviation career to pose questions about training, the industry and the job itself. None of us are salesman for ATP nor do we have any motivation to convince you to enroll. There are basically 2 reviews you’ll find when you Google ATP. They’re generally very positive or very negative. The negative ones generally are people who failed the program. The positives are from people who were not only successful (like myself) but have gone on to careers as airline pilots. There are fewer positives simply because those that were/are successful are busy flying airplanes vs those who are sitting on the couch blaming ATP for THEIR failure. You see the reality is, despite what mommy and daddy told you, not everyone with a “passion” gets to do whatever they want to do. While it’s not rocket science, flying airplanes does require some level of intelligence and coordination. It’s infinitely easier to blame ATP then to admit you just aren’t that good.

You make the ridiculous statement “it seems to me these programs are meant for you to fail”. If that were the case explain to me how ATP has managed to continued to cheat people out of tens of thousands of dollars for over 30yrs, has over 40 locations and has successfully placed over 600 pilots with airlines in the last 12mos alone? You’d think someone (perhaps the FAA or the airlines) would’ve have shut them down by now no? I’m a Capt at a Major airline and have been flying professionally for 14yrs now. The pilots I know (and I know many) basically all come from 3 sources, the military, Embry Riddle and ATP. There are sprinklings from other schools but without question those are the major players. Further, despite what you think (and rudely point your finger at others), not everyone who goes to ATP is wealthy or gets “tax breaks from their kids” or has a trust fund etc. No these are people who TRULY have a passion, have done the research AND the math and have made an informed, INTELLIGENT decision based on facts vs coming on here whining “That’s wrong!”, “and seems like you suck people in with your words”. Perhaps, if you came on here with a modicum of respect and maturity and asked “hey I’m really interested in doing this but not sure how to make it work financially” (like MANY people do every day) you’d get some REAL answers and possible solutions. You’d instead are barking and snapping like we’re all here to deceive you “I need answers, not crap…”. Honestly I don’t believe you do want answers. There people currently in the program who are genuinely trying to offer advice and you’re calling them arrogant. Why because they not agreeing with your ignorance on the subject or assessment? No you don’t want answers, you’d rather whine and use exclamation points.

What’s funny to me is how really simple the answer to your post is. You don’t like ATP, think you have to be rich, think it’s scam, don’t go to ATP. End of conversation :slight_smile:


(Sergey Kireyev) #20

Jordan, there are many routes to an airline career. You can go the same route through a local school at a slower pace (much slower) and then figure out how you’d like to build your hours. CFI positions are available all over the place but the pay is generally similar. Don’t expect to retire on it. You can join the military and hope to get a flight slot. When you get out many years from now, building hours will likely be a moot point and you can go straight to the regionals or even majors. ATP offers you the fastest route but one that doesn’t allow you to keep work while training.

Now onto bills… Everyone has them and contrary to your presumption, this is not a “rich kid program”. I have encountered all walks of life here. People sell businesses, take out loans and cash in retirement/savings plans to make it work. I cannot speak for all cases obviously but those are the ones I’ve seen so far. I have substantial bills and obligations, had to come up with a plan, a backup plan, and then had to come to an understanding that it may all fall apart in adverse conditions. I put it into action and now I adjust as needed. Semper Gumby!

If it is truly your dream job and it’s all you ever wanted to do with your life, then start acting like it. Start decreasing expenses, liquidating assets, and save every penny. Only you know what you can or cannot do financially.