Real Answers from Real Pilots

Too old?

Hello, I’m new to this forum. I have a question if anyone can help? I’m a 47 year old retired Police Officer. I have always wanted to fly but started my career in law enforcement at age 18, so flying took a back burner. I’m looking for a new career. With that said, is it to late in life to train to be an airline pilot? I’m pretty sure I would be happy with being a regional pilot. One more question. Where can I find info on the pilot physical? Thank you in advance

Chris,

This is a pretty frequent question on this message board. The answer is no, you are not too old, but you need to act quickly and you need to have realistic expectations.

If you started flight training today, and went to an accelerated flight school like ATP, you would be airline eligible at the age of 49. Expect to spend between two and five years as a first officer at a regional before upgrading to Captain, so age 54. Then about two years of flying as a Captain before you can realistically apply to the majors. At 56 there is a chance that you could make it to the majors, but it is very slim.

I don’t think that you would have any problem at all getting hired on at the regionals.

Whether it is worth it or not is up to you, but if you decide to go for it I would wait much longer. Time is of the essence.

Chris

Thank you Chris for your response. I would be perfectly happy as a regional FO or captain to be honest. I’m not really looking to go to any of the majors. I know my age is gonna play a big part. Im sure I can have a good career in regional

Here is the info on how to get a medical certificate:

https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/medical_certification/

Just be prepared when you call ATP. You’ll probably get off the phone disappointed and discouraged. I don’t think they know what to do with “older candidates” there. I’m a little older than you and I’ve spoken to reps in their phone center twice. In both cases, once I dropped my age on them, it was like a bomb of disinterest went off. I’m not really sure why this is the case. You would think ATP would welcome older, career changers, retirees, etc. who are self-pay and previously successful but that hasn’t been my experience. It was anything but welcoming. I’ve almost given up on ATP but as I’ve looked around I can’t find anything comparable to their program, so I’ve decided to suck it up, call one more time and be more persistent. Hopefully, better luck this time. I’d be curious to hear what your take is once you’ve talked to them.

Timothy - I’m sorry your experience speaking with the ATP admissions team did not live up to expectation. I would like to have the opportunity to try and make it right. Please call me and I will be happy to help you.

Thanks for jumping in Danielle. I’d love to talk to you. There were many questions I never got a chance to ask. Could you send me a private message with good number at which I could call?

Timothy,

Unfortunately I can sympathize with your story as I had a very similar one myself back in the day. I was trying to decide what school to attend and everybody looked sharp on their websites so I decided to go visiting. ATP was actually at the top of my list but when I scheduled a visit at one location there were 2 instructors there who blew me off. While I hate to make sweeping indictments of any segment of the population, I’m willing to bet whoever you spoke to belonged to the same “generation” as my 2 peckerheads. Frankly I crossed ATP off my list. After my search I was beyond frustrated but I was fortunate to meet an ATP graduate who encouraged me to take a second look. This time I met a “professional” who saw beyond my few greys, I signed up the next day and life has been good ever since.

If I still sound a little perturbed by the experience it’s because I am. While I credit ATP with my success in this industry and honestly feel I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, it could’ve easily went a different way based on 2 of their instructors. While I admire the fact that ATP hires their students and prides themselves on having pilots not salesmen, again there are certain individuals who “believe” they know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING and that simply ain’t so.

I encourage you to speak with Danielle and others who can better help you with your decision.

Adam

Thanks Adam. I did speak with Danielle. My first two phone calls must have been snafus or a result of confusion caused by me. After our conversation it was clear to me that ATP wants and welcomes all students no matter their age or experience. My apologies to the community for suggesting otherwise.

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No worries, glad it all worked out. Danielle rocks :slight_smile:

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No apology necessary.

Adam

Hi Chris I am in the same Boat … uh… Plane? I am 45, I have spoken with ATP and they have been great and continue to call me … I have not made my decision yet as there is a small Community College near me that offers a Professional Pilots course associated with a regional I am torn between the two and hope to make my decision soon … good luck!

William,

I encourage you to look in my “Flying the Line” section for a post titled “Questions for Any Prospective Flight School”. It will help you know what questions to ask and guide you in the direction that is best for you.

Chris