Real Answers from Real Pilots

Start Date and a Greeting

(Caleb Shearer) #1

Howdy folks,

I’ve been reading up on everything I can around here for a few weeks and figured since I have a start date I should go ahead and introduce myself. I’m a 26 year old college graduate (finally) pursuing the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I secured my financing and lined up all the other requirements and now have a start date of Feb 25th at the Conroe-North Houston location. Saying I’m excited for what is in store is quite the understatement. I have several goals I am striving towards leading up to my start date thanks to the information on this forum. I intend on knocking out all of the written exams before my start date and am already close to the point of scheduling my PAR.

I don’t have much more to say at the moment because any questions I’ve had have all been answered on this forum at some point. I may have some far looking questions (step 836 as Adam put it), but I think as I continue to read up on these and other forums that I will eventually find those answers as well. If not I know I can count the mentors and other students here for quality input.

In closing I really just want to say thanks to the pilot mentors and current students, specifically Adam, Chris, Tory, Tucker, Sergey, and Peter, for some absolutely invaluable content so far. This is an awesome community and I look forward to utilizing it and reaching the point where I can also help future students down the line.


Thank you Caleb. Feel free to ask anything and everything.

Oh and congrats to Sergey and Peter on your promotions :wink:


(Peter Banning) #3

Welcome to the board, Caleb! Thanks for the shout out. One of my favorite things about the aviation community is the willingness of most pilots to pay it forward. Looking forward to hearing more about your experience! Also, as you approach your start date, please feel free to ask any questions.

Adam, I’m only here to post Ric Flair gifs and pretend I’m talking to Tony Stark every time you post. Not all heroes wear capes. :grin:

(Tucker) #4

Welcome! Awesome to hear you are getting all that out of the way. If you need anything don’t be afraid to ask!

(Sergey Kireyev) #5

Congratulations, dude! Welcome to the family!

You have three whole months to get all of those writtens out of the way. You should be done in time with 2 weeks to spare :grin:

…why are you still reading this? Get to it!

(Caleb Shearer) #6

Well I took and passed my PAR yesterday and have started on the path to taking the IRA. Quick question for current and recently former students: How long did it take to study for each of the writtens in your experience and what were the tools you used besides the provided ones through King’s (for Private) and Sheppard Air? Thanks in advance.

Question for y’all at the major/legacy carriers: What was the jump like moving from FO to CA and did you switch aircraft to do so?


(Peter Banning) #7

The IRA was the most daunting one of them all, for sure. Largest question bank by a decent margin, and having not started instrument training yet - most of the concepts were very abstract. It definitely took some time. I used King Schools exclusively for the PAR. For the IRA, I used a combination of King Schools and Sheppard. You really shouldn’t need anything else.

As far as study time goes, it took several weeks for me to feel comfortable enough to take the IRA & FII consecutively. The rest of the tests became progressively shorter in study time. People complain a lot about the FOI because it doesn’t really pertain to aviation, but it has a tiny question bank, and the answers are all fairly unique in nature. Using Sheppard made it a cinch.

(Caleb Shearer) #8

Ah okay that is good to know, thanks for the quick response. In the emails I’ve received so far from ATP training it was described that the King’s School is only used for the PAR and that ATP students are automatically enrolled in Sheppard Air’s program for the rest of them. I will have to look into what they say about getting access to the Instrument course for King’s, as I did quite well with their program for the PAR.

As for the order, I’ve read that doing the FII and IGI consecutively after the IRA is the best course of action. Then moving on to the CAX, FIA, and AGI with the FOI rounding out the group. I’ve also heard that the order doesn’t particularly matter either, but if I can at least group the tests with similar concepts it would be better for memorization purposes.



I spent about two to three weeks studying for each written exam. I strictly used the King Schools prep series and was very happy with it (I purchased them on eBay).

When I upgraded to Captain, I switched from the 737 to the A320. I found it to be a large change as the thinking behind Airbus airplanes is very different from Boeings, so add that to the stress of upgrading and there was a lot going on. That being said, I made it through without any problems. I am still not an Airbus fan, but it is suiting its purpose for me.




It varied with the exams but I’m really a last minute crammer so it wasn’t long just intense.

As for the transition it’s often said there are no FOs, just Capts in training. If that’s the way you approach your time in the right seat (vs just biding your time) you’ll find the transition fairly easy. It’s really more psychological. This may seem corny but I will always remember my first flight as a Capt. I took a look to left and saw my own refection. It was then when it really hit home that it was all on me. When I upgraded at the Regional it was in the same plane. At my Major it was a transition from the ScareBus to the Boeing BUT I had started on the Boeing and already had the Type rating so that too was fairly basic.


(Tory) #11


I’m currently going through the upgrade process in the ERJ. I’ll share more details when I finish. But for now I’ll just say that I get what Adam’s saying about it being mostly psychological. The best thing anyone can do is be teachable. If you think you already know everything, you’ll get burned one way or another. If you lack self confidence, you won’t get signed off. Be somewhere in the middle and odds are you’ll do just fine.


(Caleb Shearer) #12

Since Tory brought it up, I was curious as to how long the upgrade process is and how it compares to indoc training when you first onboard with your particular airline as an FO?

A few more questions:

  1. Without diving into the politics of it, how has/did the government shutdown start affecting your day to day operations (read articles claiming delays in the northeast due to the effect on ATC’s) and will this type of thing affect hiring/retention in the different supporting roles and even pilot roles?

  2. What would you say is something you learned (official or unofficial) that has since changed that would benefit new pilots?

  3. How much does/can picking up Open Time really move your income levels? I imagine it’s something highly desirable to do if you’re single and really looking for more flight hours to get to that upgrade faster.

  4. I know there are schedules posted but I don’t always see the numbers so I was curious as to how often you go over the monthly hour guarantee and if that comes in the form of more flight hours or more duty rig conversions due to longer layovers, etc?

  5. Do the roles of holding a line vs being on reserve change in desirableness when moving from a regional to a major? To elaborate, I understand you hold reserve for a while when first entering as an FO at a regional/upgrade to Captain at a regional vs someone like Adam who greatly enjoys his time on reserve as a Legacy Captain. So do low seniority pilots at the Majors hold lines immediately or is it the same as regional level?

  6. I’ve read some information on the Hogan test, but haven’t really been able to dive into the meat of why it’s such a feared exam/process. I know that mainly comes from being outside the industry for the time being, but I figured getting any insight on it would be helpful.

I know it’s quite the barrage, so I appreciate any replies ahead of time.




Ok I’ll take a stab at these:

  1. Short answer is not much and long term not at all. While yes there were some delays and ground stops due to the shutdown in certain areas, it’s really no different than a period of very bad weather, airport construction or any other temporary abnormality that can affect airport and airline operations.

  2. Not sure what you’re asking?

  3. Picking up open time can have a dramatic effect on your income. At most airlines min guarantee is around 75hrs and the regs restrict you to 100 (not including “soft time” (rigs, deadheads, premium pay, etc). Using really rough basic numbers, if you make $100hr that’s $7500 a month at min vs $10,000 at max. That’s a 33.3% increase in just that. Again factor in the soft time and that can make a considerable difference.

  4. That depends on the individual. If you want to fly more and make more you bid for a high value schedule or you pick up, if you don’t you don’t. That can mean more flight hours or it can mean more efficient higher value trips. My company doesn’t allow you to pickup on Reserve but they call often offering premium pay on days off (they can call you but you can’t ask them). If I need money or just feel like flying I answer the phone, if not I don’t.

  5. At 99% of the airlines (Regional and Major) Reserve is junior and most pilots want a line asap. Most have to wait some time before they build enough seniority to get one. Hawaiian Interisland flying is really very unique for a number of reasons and I’m not aware of any other airline that has a comparable operation. We have no overnights, we have many spare planes and the weather is VFR 80% of the time. Further we have one base (HNL), there’s a 2hr callout and there’s literally nowhere you can go on the island of Oahu that’s more than 2hrs away from the airport. We also have very nice lockers with showers. What that all equates to is a job where Reserves don’t get used much because we don’t have weather events or maintenance issues. You can keep a uniform in your locker and literally go about your business while on call. If they do call you simply head to the airport, throw on the uniform and go fly. Reserve therefore is very desirable and actually goes pretty senior. In fact I couldn’t hold it for next month and was given a line.

  6. I’ve taken the Hogan Inventory and it’s really nothing to be feared or concerned about. The problem is people prep and try and beat the test or they think they’re smarter than the test. You can’t and your not. Read the questions and answer honestly and you’ll be fine.


(Tory) #14


Upgrade times are dynamic and vary from airline to airline. It can be anywhere from 0-10 years.

  1. The shutdown affected ATC the most, but not really. They just worked without pay. Canada sent them free pizza! :grin:

  2. Come again?

  3. Open time is another dynamic realm. I’ve had months where I made double and months where I made a couple hundred extra. Straight up open time is priced at regular pay. Only when the airline is desperate do they offer 150% or more.

  4. It’s not hard to exceed min guarantee. I don’t keep track, but there are many ways it can happen. Using vacation time, trip guarantee, pay guarantee, open time…

  5. Again, it depends because it’s dynamic. All about luck of the draw. Typically, everyone starts on reserve as a junior FO or junior captain. True for both regionals and majors.

  6. Don’t know much about it. Never taken it myself. All I know is that people try to outsmart it and when they do they fail.


(Caleb Shearer) #15


Thank you for the replies, exactly what I was looking for. To clarify my #2, what I meant was more along the lines of a “Back in my day” kind of thing that was done that isn’t now that made better pilots than today. A specific example that I read about was the tendency of newer pilots to do less hands on flying on the ascent to 10k and descent from 10k whereas before the auto pilot was used less when below 10k. This is obviously just an anecdote, but I was curious if there was anything y’all had along those lines to impart to the incoming masses.

And Tory, I apologize for not being more specific. I was referring to the actual Captain indoc/training length once you get a slot and how it compares to indoc for an FO.

Thanks again for the replies,




  1. Other than dealing with a few not so happy TSA agents, the government shut down did not affect me in any way.

  2. I would not say there have been any major changes since I started flying. We are still pretty much flying the way I was taught.

  3. Picking up open time can have a dramatic effect on your income levels. At the regionals, it can affect your ability to upgrade as some of them have minimum hours for new captains, at the majors this is not the case, so it is purely an income related thing. I can usually add about 15-20% to my paycheck by picking up open time.

  4. I almost always go over the guarantee. Usually it is a combination of both of the factors you mentioned.

  5. Generally speaking, the unspoken laws of seniority apply the same at the regionals and the majors. There are a few pilots who enjoy reserve, but most seem to prefer a line.

  6. I would not worry about the Hogan test. I have not heard of any of the regionals using it and most of the majors do not either.


(Tory) #17


Ah. Yes. I understand now. Upgrade training is about the same amount of time as initial indoc. The only difference is less OE time. As an FO, IOE for my airline is 50 hours. As a CA, OE is 25 hours.