Real Answers from Real Pilots

Retiring from the Air Force 20 years maintenance background

Happy New Years to all! I will be retiring this August from the Air Force after serving 20 years and I want to take on a new career flying these amazing machines that I have worked on for so long. I am currently finishing my PPL at the aero club in my base. I do have an associates degree in Aviation Maintenance. A few questions that I need some help with:

  1. Will my degree be enough to get me into a regional? ( I do expect to continue my education after being established with my new career)
  2. What other things besides upgrading my medical to a 1st class can I do to hit the ground running?
  3. Financing scares me and my wife and I know that it will be a small sacrifice for a few years until established in a solid base, what are some recommendations financially that you can offer to help this short transition?
  4. I am interested in the ATP 100 days training with PPL credit, I understand that the program is like drinking from a fire hose but I am up for the challenge, how do I prepare my family for this period of intense training?
    My apologies for the wide range on questions but August fast approaches and I want to make solid decisions with your expert inputs!
    Thank you in advance! and I look forward to all your mentoring tips!
    Adrain Quezada

Hey Adrian,

I can help with a couple of your questions.

  1. Regionals, as of now, don’t require a degree at all so you’re all set.

  2. I would get a headstart with the instrument written exam (and FII while you’re at it) if you have time for it. If you are going to build some time (assuming you still don’t have the required 80hrs), try to fly as much of it as you can under IFR (fly with an instrument rated friend if it’s an option), this will help you understand what is going on in the first phase of ATP’s instrument training.

Yarden

Hello Adrian and welcome,

Happy New Year to your sir and thank you for your service. Ok, let’s get crackin’:

  1. Yes, the Regionals actually don’t require a degree at all. No question you’ll be fine.

  2. Well if you do decide to train with ATP we strongly recommend you bang out as many of the FAA written exams you can prior to attending. While it’s not a requirement it definitely lessons the workload and relieves some of the pressure coming out of that firehose.

  3. Financing is scary but as you pointed out it’s an investment in your future. Also there are some excellent Tuition Reimbursement programs available if you do decide to train with ATP.

  4. While this may not sound that appealing to you or your family, ideally I’d like to see you stay in student housing during your training EVEN if there’s an ATP close by and you can drive. As you’re aware the training can be intense and you need to focus hard for 3 mos free from distractions (consider it a short deployment). If that’s an issue (or you just don’t want the added expense) you need to make sure your family is supportive and will afford you ALONE TIME for your studies. If you have young children that can be a bigger issue. Other than that I’d woo them with tales of free travel and second honeymoons :slight_smile:

Hope that helps a little.

Adam

Adrian,

Have you looked into using your GI bill? I am starting my flight training now i retire in a few years. I have been lucky being a Prior Maintenance myself the last 12 years i have been a Flight Engineer which will help cause i can use my FE time towards my ATP. I have 3 friends who have used the GI bill to pay for flight training. I am taking my PPL written tomorrow. 

good luck

Kevin

Kevin good luck with your written, let me know how it goes with the new ACS format. I have used my Post 9-11 for flight training already and will likely continue to use it where ever possible. Unfortunately, ATP does not use GI bill but the schools that do don’t have the fast track training that ATP offers. I want to get this new career going ASAP…I am working against the clock age wise…

Respectfully,

Adrian

Hello updated info. Took the written and got an 87%!!! Went to Savannah GA and worked with a buddy who is a CFI started feb 5th check ride completed feb 22!! So I have my PPL now to get the GI bill stuff situated and start my instrument ASAP.

Kevin

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Kevin,

That is great news, congratulations! That is incredibly fast on the PPL as well. Thanks for the update.

Chris

Congrats Kevin,

You appear to be progressing nicely.

Adam

Update. Just got my VA approval letter in the mail!!! I will know be able to start the rest of my training. I just hope I can finish up my hours and certs before I retire. So far I have 500 hours from being a flight engineer, 62 hours as a pilot. My biggest struggle is this class B airspace in Honolulu makes me nervous as I don’t wanna mess up and get violated. I am very careful and do a good preflight study of all the procedures to make sure I don’t. Fly safe everyone.

Kevin

Kevin,

That is great news, thanks for the update. Now stay clear of the Class Bravo :slight_smile:

Chris

Kevin,

While I’m sure you’ll be fine regarding the Class Bravo, does the plane you fly have GPS? If not you may want to consider a handheld or even an app for your phone/tablet. While it’s generally VMC in HNL and the landmarks are usually easy to keep track of, nothing wrong with a little technology just to be certain.

Adam

Adam,

I have Foreflight pro and a stratus GPS receiver. The aircraft i fly have GPS on board but i like to have the back up on my IPAD as i know it will work when i need it. I am currently 25% completed with my Jeppesen online Instrument course that is required fro the 141 school. Right now my plan is to knock it out have the written completed and then fly my tail off to hopefully be completed by july. My current USAF job is a Flight engineer on the C-37A(Gulfstream V) but it is away for some Maintenance so this is a perfect time for me to knock out the instrument and start on the Commercial hours required. I am very excited for my next Job after the USAF. if you have any advice or words of wisdom feel free to pass it along. Fly safe

Kevin

Sounds good to me Kevin? Just keep doing what you’re doing.

Adam

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We’ll update I passed my written and will start Monday flying the DA-40 for my instrument. Thanks post 9/11 gibill for paying for my flights.

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Kevin,

I have about 3 years left of my active duty Air Force contract. I plan to start training for my PPL in January. Do you have any suggestions as far as the use of the post 9-11 bill. The flight school in Utah that I’m looking into accepts the post 9-11 bill for their part 141 classes but as far as I can tell, the VA will only pay for about $12,000 worth of training per year. Obviously I would need to get loans since I plan to get my ATP license within the next 3-4 years. Not sure if there was any other way to work the GI bill.

-Jesse

ATP does reimburse the examiner fees and written tests for those that want
to use their VA benefits. Contact admissions for details. They can provide
you with the form. Reimbursements are usually made at the end of the
program.

Yes you are correct they only will pay for 12K per year or completion of the license. Which is August to July. For example if you finish your instrument cost was 7K total in say may. there is 5K left over but if you’re not enrolled into a instrument/commercial you can’t start commercial till august for the next set of money to pay for it. Most schools i looked into enroll you into the instrument/commercial at the same time as you will have some money left over from the 12K after instrument completion. you start flying using the left over money till it runs out or completion of that license. I hope that makes sense to you. I am also going for the ATP so I’m hoping i can get most of it knocked out before i retire. but I’m sure i will have to find some way to build some hours. perhaps Mokulele airlines or Ameriflight will be an option.

If you have any questions or want some info on what i did to know out my PPL fast hit me up.

Kevin