Real Answers from Real Pilots

When should you get your private pilot's license?

From my understanding, the majority of commercial pilots earn their private pilot’s license at larger flight schools, such as ATP, as a part of working towards their commercial pilot’s license. What are your thoughts on earning a private license before college, and working towards a commercial license afterwards?


Not sure that’s correct the majority of pilot’s earn their PPLs at larger schools? I’d say it’s closer to half. There are many routes to accomplish your goals. The biggest issue is that while you could certainly earn your Private first and do it locally, successful flight training relies on consistency. Due to the limitations of most small flight schools (number of aircraft and instructors), plus people’s schedules, weather etc. that can often be challenging to accomplish. People often get frustrated and end up spending way too much time and money. It’s for that reason we often recommend waiting and completing all your training as a single program.

That said if you’re eager to get started and or just want to fly there’s nothing wrong with that. I would only caution you to be mindful of your progress. If you find you’re only flying once every few weeks and making little progress then pull the plug and wait.



I think there may be some confusion about what ATP offers and what private and commercial licenses are.

ATP offers training to receive licenses from private through flight instructor, including the commercial license.

A private pilot license allows a pilot to fly recreationally. A commercial license allows a pilot to fly for hire. The commercial license is the license obtained before becoming an airline pilot; therefore, airline pilots are also commercial pilots, but commercial pilots aren’t airline pilots.

I wouldn’t recommend getting your PPL before college. That’s a guaranteed way to spend more money than you need to and/or forget a lot of your PPL training before you continue with the rest of training after college. It’s best to focus on one thing at a time and with the least amount of gaps between training.


Thank you for your response

My question is why do you want to do this? What do you hope to accomplish by getting the private so early? Over the several. years you are in college your skills will likely degrade to the point that you have to almost learn everything all over again.

I got my PPL in high school. Granted, my dad was an airline pilot and made sure I flew regularly. After that I joined the military and used the GI Bill for college and the rest of my flight training which I completed at ATP. Do what works for you. I’ve flown 135, commuters, and now I’m at the majors (American). Everyone has their own path. Like my dad told me when I was younger, if you want to be a pilot bad enough, you’ll figure out the best path for you to make your dreams happen.