Real Answers from Real Pilots

Possible journey into ATP life

Want to thank you all for the valuable information you’ve shared and helped others with while they’re on their journey. I think most of my questions have been searched and found, but one that quickly comes to mind:

  1. I have a local airfield that offers Part 141 schooling (PPL, Instrument Rating, CFI, & Commercial Pilot Certificate). However I’d have to do my ME Rating at another school (which they had suggestions and mentioned it could be accomplished in a weeks time?) I’ve been researching ATP Flight School and while it looks awesome and that it seems to guarantee 100% direction to a commercial pilot position, I can’t justify uprooting my wife, and 3 kids (with another on the way). So is it that big of a deal to not go to an ATP Flight School? The airfield I’ve mentioned has had a couple students pursue a commercial pilot career from their field, and it’d just be a whole lot easier for our family if it can be done.

A little background on myself. I’m 34, wife & soon to be 4 kids. My wife and I work for our family business, but it’s very flexible and I believe I can do this part time while working part time. I realize I’d be sacrificing a year or little longer by doing this, but this allows us to keep things somewhat familiar in the meantime…

Thank you for your time and if I have more questions, I’ll be sure to post them in here :slight_smile:

Brian,

Welcome to the forum and thank you for your kind words.

I got my private at a small local school, it was a disaster. It took twice as long as they said it would, and cost significantly more. Most of the delays were not my fault, but were because of their lack of airplanes or decent instructors. They too had sent “a few” pilots to the airlines, but it must have taken them forever to get there.

I fully understand your desire not to uproot your family, but keep in mind that when you get hired at an airline, you really should move to your domicile if you want to spend maximum time with your family. So at some point, there will likely be an uprooting in your future no matter what.

You are right in that you will likely add at least a year to your training. Your reasons are certainly valid, but try to look at the situation as a whole. I will be honest though, I am not sure what I would do in your situation.

Chris

Brian,

I completely understand your situation, as I was in a similar one not that long ago. Like Chris I got my PPL locally and it not only took forever, it cost a fortune. When I decided to make flying a career I too had 3 small children at home and a wife who was less than supportive of me selling my business to “go chase some dream”. I started looking at local schools but I just kept having flashbacks to my PPL training. Airplanes and instructors not available, weather delays and since I wasn’t locked into a program, life and work all constantly delaying my progress (worse was the lapse between lessons caused me to have to relearn skills rather than build on them). It was then I decided if I was going to do this I had to commit and it was the best decision I ever made. I enrolled at ATP in VA. While not close (about a 5hr drive to home) I figured in the event of an emergency I could get there pretty quick.

That said that’s what worked for me and again I understand your concerns. If I were you I wouldn’t listen to me I’d try for myself. Sign up locally for the PPL program BUT give yourself a very fixed timeline (say 2 months) and see how that works. Hopefully you’ll do better than Chris and I did and it’ll workout well. However, if you see it start to unravel, if you see yourself (or the school rescheduling often) and that 2 mos becomes 3, then 4 you should really nip it in the bud and seriously reevaluate.

Adam

Awesome information! Thank you both. Chicago would be the closest ATP school for me, but that’s close to a 4 hr drive… Do you think going for the PPL in the beginning and seeing how things go will be a set back or mess with the ATP program? I know they have a “Zero to ATP” & “PPL to ATP” option, but does it really mess with the training? The PPL program I believe also uses their Cirrus SR20 G6 aircraft. Does aircraft really matter?

Brian,

If you get your private before attending ATP, you won’t be messed up.
You’ll just need to learn how ATP wants you to fly their airplanes. It is
also likely that there will be some unlearning of bad habits. Just speaking
from experience.

Tory

Brian,

Listen I won’t lie. I’m a HUGE fan of ATP and their training program. It was created over 30yrs ago by airline pilots to train airline pilots and I don’t believe there’s a better program out there nor a more efficient route to the airlines. That said not everyone can take 9mos off from life which again I completely understand. Despite both me and Chris having horrible experiences getting our PPLs locally, the fact is we both did and both were able to transition to ATPs program with no issues. If you can work it out financially and logistically with your wife (you could go home some weekends?) then I would definitely say start out on the right path with ATP but if you can’t you can’t and that’s ok.

As I said maybe you’ll have different experience? Unfortunately the reality is most local schools, while not bad schools, simply aren’t equipped to train someone who seriously wants to do this as a career. They just don’t have the resources (instructors or aircraft). There’s also the multi engine issue which you’ll need to address (not just getting the rating but building the required mins for an airline) and then of course after you’re done training you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to build the 1500hrs? (will these guys help you find a job?). Becoming a professional pilot is a process and I believe if you have the desire and the means the most important thing is to get started. If that means starting locally that’s ok. Just know at some point the majority get frustrated and either quit or switch to a full time academy like ATP. As you said the school “has had a couple of students pursue a commercial pilot career” and that’s great but ATP has had over 300 HIRED in just the last 12 months. This isn’t a commercial, these are the facts.

As for the airplane the Cirrus is a really nice plane but it’s a tool for training like any other so I wouldn’t let that be a factor.

Adam

Brian,

I think getting your private elsewhere, then finishing up with ATP is a great idea. It allows you to get your feet wet and see if you really like it, then dive in if you do.

The aircraft type really does not matter. Just pick whatever is least expensive, which is probably not a Cirrus.

Chris

Thank you guys. Looking into beginning at the first of the year, but we’ll see how that goes. Are there any recommendations when it comes to student loans?

Brian,

If you are going to train through ATP, they have several lenders that they work with, the admissions department can give you the full details on that. I really have no idea what lenders other schools work with, you would have to ask them.

Chris