Real Answers from Real Pilots

Something new

Hello,

My name is Johannes. I’ve been a paramedic for the past 2 years and have been working in the EMS fields since 2009. I have an associates degree as well as other courses that I’ve taken for firefighting and paramedic. I’ve been trying to get a firefighter job for the past 5 years however I haven’t been able to find employment. As a paramedic I was not making enough money to take care of my needs and the schedule and expectations for that salary were unreasonable. Thus despite enjoying what I do I’m looking to make a career change.

I’ve always loved flying and traveling is a huge part of my life. So to be able to be paid to travel would be amazing. My current plan is to study for the FAA written exams and take those exams before starting at ATP. Also I’d like to take a discovery flight in Sacramento with ATP. My goal would be to become a commercial airline pilot and go to ATP starting with zero hours experience.

While it would be amazing to make the cockpit my office I have some concerns. The initial investment of 80,000 dollars is incredibly steep. How long does it take to pay of such a huge loan? What is the hiring process like for an airline job? Is there still a shortage in and airline industry? One of the huge reasons I’m wanting to make this change is because it seems like there is such a need in this field.

More questions to come I’m sure. Thank you very much for your time and consideration!

Thank you!

Johannes,

  1. It’s impossible to say how long it will take you to pay off the loan as we have no idea of your personal expenses, finances, how frugal you are etc. The available Tuition Reimbursement will help. I believe Tory recently said he’s looking at having his paid off in 5 years which is pretty good.

  2. The hiring process right now is incredibly easy at least at the Regional phase. The pilot shortage is alive and well (and expected to continue) and all the Regionals are actively recruiting. While your building time instructing you’ll have the opportunity to interview with a number of recruiters provided you were successful in your training and your record is clean. Getting to a Major requires a considerable more work. There is no shortage at the Majors. You need to exceed their minimums, have some strong letters of rec and networking helps tremendously. Once you earn an interview you need to convince them you’re someone they want to attend l spend time in a cockpit with.

  3. See above

There definitely is a need but you also need to have a desire to do the job and live the lifestyle. I strongly recommend you take that intro flight before anything else. While you may believe you “love” flying, training is VERY different than flying in the back as a passenger.

Adam

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Welcome to the forums and thank you for the introduction.

The loans that are most students take out are 15 year loans. There is absolutely still a shortage in the industry and all signs are that it will continue.

The hiring process in the industry typically consists of applying online and then doing an in person interview. They will ask you questions about flying, but also Human Resources type questions.

One thing that concerns me in your post is that your desire to be a pilot seems to center around money. This is not the right reason to fly. Sure, there can be a good payoff at the end, but generally the first several years can be rather thin. Just make sure that you have a love of flying before you commit to this path.

Chris

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Thank you for the info. I will schedule the intro flight before doing anything else.

You mentioned the lifestyle that comes with this job. Would you be able to elaborate a bit on what this lifestyle is like?

Thank you for the advice and info Chris. Obviously I will take an intro flight with ATP before I do anything else however would you suggest that I get my private pilot license first before committing to ATP’s program? I’ve always loved flying but that comes from a passengers perspective. I understand there’s a lot more to it then just that.

The lifestyle is simply a lot of time on the road and away from home, much more so than most jobs. Take a look at our schedules section and the flying the line section to get a better idea of what I am talking about.

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If your goal is to be a professional pilot, then I would not recommend getting your Private license outside of ATP as there is really no advantage to doing so. If you are unsure if you want to fly professionally or just for fun, then I would recommend getting the PPL separately.

Chris

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Johannes,

Deciding to get your PPL first is a personal decision. For some, joining an accelerated program is a no brainer. For others, it’s not. Some people feel more comfortable starting out slow before they commit to a full-time training program. Hopefully you’ll have a better idea of which path is right for you after your intro flight. Talk to as many pilots as you can. Browse the Student Experiences section on this forum. Also, keep in mind that if you choose to get your PPL first, ATP requires 78+ hours total time. So, keep that in mind when estimating the cost to earn a PPL outside of ATP.

Tory

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Johannes,

I believe Chris covered the lifestyle aspect well.

As for getting your PPL first here’s my take. Take the intro flight. If you love it and decide this is for you than there’s zero reason to get your PPL elsewhere. There’s a concept in training called “the law of primacy”. In short it means the things we learn initially when beginning any type of training have the greatest impression on us and stay with us the longest. ATPs program was modeled after actual airline training and will set you up for success from day 1. BUT, if after that first flight you’re thinking “ehhh, I’m not really sure about this whole flying thing”, then I’d say take a few more lessons or even go all the way to earning your PPL and that might help in your decision making.

Your call.

Adam

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Adam, Chris, Tory thank you so much for your time and input. I will schedule my intro flight and let you know how it goes.

Please do. Let us know what other questions you may have.

Chris

Hello everyone. I have my Intro flight tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to experiencing what it’s like behind the controls. As someone coming in with no previous knowledge of aviation I was wondering what I should prepare for? I’m looking at this as an opportunity to see if I truly enjoy flying not just as a passenger but as someone who will potentially will be behind the controls. However, after reading some comments on here I get the feeling like this is an opportunity for the school to see if I’m a good fit for the school. That being said will there be any written or verbal tests I should prepare for?

You shouldn’t really prepare whatsoever and just keep an open mind and enthusiasm to learn!

Thank you for the advice Joshua!

Yeah just remember that you aren’t expected to know anything :slight_smile:

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Johannes,

This is an opportunity for you to meet ATP (and a small GA airplane) and ATP to meet you. There’s really nothing to stress about, study for, etc. Enrolling in ATP is a huge commitment both time and money wise and honestly they don’t want you to waste your time. As long as you can conduct yourself like a normal respectful individual and can follow some very basic instructions you’ll be fine (ie, the instructor says “smoothly turn the control yoke to the right” and you respond by screaming “Lord here I come” and push it forward diving towards the Earth you might not be accepted).

As for the flight itself it’s purely to introduce you to the environment and your classroom for the next 9mos. While not common some people do freak. Relax, enjoy, ask questions and have fun and it’ll be a successful intro flight.

Adam

Thank you Adam for the insight. This has put my mind at ease and will help me to enjoy and really take in the experience.

There is really nothing to prepare for. But yes, it is also an opportunity for the school to see if you will be a good fit. This involves looking primarily at your attitude and willingness to learn. So just show up with a positive attitude and a desire to learn and you should be fine. Do not put pressure on yourself to already know how to fly or to “handle the controls” for a certain amount of time, that is all irrelevant to the flight.

Finished my admissions flight and it was amazing! Much more fun behind the controls vs as a passenger! After a brief overview of the controls I was allowed to fly the airplane and I even had the opportunity to perform steep turns. I was amazed to see how the plane can almost fly itself without too much manipulation of the controls. Granted the weather was perfect and I had a very good instructor by my side but still it was impressive to experience that. I applied for a loan through Wells Fargo but unfortunately they told me I need a cosigner. Next step is the medical. Thank you again for your time and insight. Much appreciated!

Anytime, let us know how else we can help you.

Chris