Real Answers from Real Pilots

Picking the right flight school


(Christian Hemenway) #1

I am traveling down to Daytona in March and will be visiting a few flight schools with my son. I am aware that I am on a ATP forum and will get some strong advice to attend ATP. But my son has three he wants to visit. PEA, Epic and ATP. I am a CFII and know that I can do all his rating local but getting a flight instructor job at a busy flight school is really why I am sending him to a school. Any advice?


#2

Christian,

Honestly, I do not know much about Epic or PAE. Check out this link as it will help you know what to ask: https://www.airlinepilot.life/t/questions-for-any-prospective-flight-school/

Keep in mind that you should call ahead and schedule a tour of ATP, rather than just showing up. This will make sure that somebody is available to show you around and answer your questions.

Chris


#3

Christian,

As Chris said make sure you schedule your visit with ATP since there’s a good chance everyone will be flying and you’ll find an empty office. Aside from that do your research (like you are). We get a fair amount of flack on here since it is ATPs website and some feel we come off like salesman. Honestly nothing could be further from the truth. We receive no incentive to get anyone to enroll. The mentors here are all current airline pilots who after doing our on research decided on ATP. Fact is ATP isn’t for everyone. The program is highly accelerated, requires a considerable amount of self-study and there is a good amount of pressure. That said you really can’t argue with the results. They’ve been doing what they do for a long time and have placed thousands of pilots at the airlines.

The fact is the Regionals are hiring like crazy and so long as your son earns his licenses and ratings he will get hired. What attracted me to ATP was back when things were very different and just getting an interview was a major accomplishment, ATP students were getting hired solely based on their reputation and the product they were producing. I’ve been flying for the airlines for 14yrs now and can tell you I’ve flown with countless ATP grads with no regrets and many who’ve sent their children as well.

Do your homework, ask around, visit the schools and make the your decision.

Adam


(Aaron Levy) #4

Im from the Daytona area, I would advise against PEA but epic is a great school


(Christian Hemenway) #5

Thank you for the quick response. I will call the week before I go to set it up. Did you instruct at ATP after? I know all flight schools treat you like you are just a number when you are instructing. They need you to teach and you need them for flight time. But do you know what the average instructor flys on a average week. Working 6 days or do they want 7?


(Sergey Kireyev) #6

One of the mentors on here is a CFI and he has posted his schedule on the forum in the past. Daytona is a busy location with most CFIs working 6 days a week to keep their students progressing. I also heard today that DAB will be a new additional CFI school location so things may get even more exciting. While it is rare, my former instructor hit 140 hours of instruction time in his first month as my CFI between me, evaluations and other students he had.


(Christian Hemenway) #7

I can’t thank everyone enough for being so helpful. I can only hope when we visit we have a great experience. I like to listen to DAB tower and ground on a app but I don’t know what ATP uses for a call sign or do they not?


#8

Christian,

I did instruct with ATP. ATP requires 5 days a week but many instructors work 6 or 7 to build their time faster. Those who do average close to 100hrs a month, those who don’t it’s closer to 70. Honestly I never felt like a number. I spoke to the home office often and the other instructors and I all worked together as a team. It was a very positive experience.

Adam


(Sergey Kireyev) #9

ATP uses tail numbers. We don’t use a callsign. I may get some conflicting opinions on here but… I think callsigns are for airlines. Like epaulets are for airline pilots. But that’s just my opinion… I’ll see myself out :smirk:


#10

Christian,

No call sign just tail #s.

Adam


(Christian Hemenway) #11

A couple of other questions. My son is 18 and if he progresses according to the plan he will hit the 1500 hrs before he is 21. The regionals age I think is 21? Could he sign with a regional before he is 21? At ATP they pair you students to build time. Can you pick who you fly with?


#12

Christian,

A pilot can commit to an airline prior to turning 21, but they have to be 21 prior to when their first airline checkride will be scheduled. Essentially, they cannot be hired by an airline until shortly before turning 21, but most airlines will take them into their cadet programs at a younger age.

Chris


(Tory) #13

Christian,

You are correct in that 21 is the minimum age. At 21, a restricted ATP will be issued and at age 23 the restriction will be removed. Theoretically, he could receive a conditional job offer prior to his 21st birthday, but he will have to be 21 prior to his ATP/Type rating check ride. Some regional airlines may require him to be 21 on or before their first day of employment.

During the crew cross country phase of the program, he will not be able to choose who he flies with. Flight Ops will pair him up with whoever happens to be on crew also.

Tory


#14

“During the crew cross country phase of the program, he will not be able to choose who he flies with.”

Which is really good practice for the airlines and again the reason it’s done that way.

Adam


(Erik) #15

Jumping in on here as well. I like the semi-certainty that seems to come with ATPs all in one packaging, but 80-100k is hard to swallow in one go especially from a commitment perspective. Finding out I just want to fly but can’t see myself doing it as a career would be a rough realization AFTER dropping 100k. I’m considering doing a gradual track of getting my certs over a couple of years before CFI etc… And getting a really good feel for what feels right as a career path. How common would it be to mix and match different schools for different portions? (School A has a good simulator and ground school program, School B is closer to home and easier to get to for flights etc) considerations like that?


#16

Erik,

I would recommend getting your Private license, then if you decide you like flying, go to an accelerated school from there. The time it takes you to get a private license should be enough for you to decide if you want to fly as a career or not.

Chris


(Tory) #17

Erik,

I second Chris’ suggestion, but it’s your journey. If you feel like floating from one school to the next to get exposed to different equipment, airspace, etc. by all means. I just find that your proposal is a very uncommon approach because most people decide to fly for more concrete reasons. They either want to do it as a career or they just want to fly as a hobby. So, one school is all most people need.

There are a few, like yourself, that are still figuring things out, but completing a private pilot course should be more than enough for you to make up your mind about where you see yourself going with this.

Tory


#18

Erik,

This is America and you can do whatever you like. Keep in mind airline pilots have a finite number of years they can fly. Every year you delay could literally cost you $300k off the back end. I’d call it a good investment to get moving but as always your call.

Adam


(Erik) #19

Tory / Adam,
I appreciate the input. I think my first hurtle is getting over the idea that it CAN be done. I’ve spent my entire adult life just assuming I couldn’t fly for financial reasons. I’m still getting used to this door being “opened”


(Tory) #20

Erik,

We understand. That’s why we’re here to help. I think you should start by taking an intro flight, maybe two if one isn’t enough. It’s a small investment and well worth the money if you’re on the fence.

Tory