QuacksterDuck
Topic Author
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Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:53 am

Hello, I'm Andrew. I'm 13.
I have been looking around my city and found a promising flight school. ATP.
I also looked on youtube for stuff about ATP, and people talk about all these certifications and tests and you have to study all the time (8 hrs a day) to do well. It all seems so menacing from my young point of view. Is it really as hard as it seems from someone talking about it? It just seems so... complicated.
Also, they recommend not having a job while going to ATP. How can you pay for it then.


Sincerely,
Andrew
 
Woodreau
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:03 pm

The skills to be a pilot are not extraordinary and can be learned easily. It's just a matter of how much time and how much money do you have to devote to the task.

At the small airfield I flew out of, we had a group of kids around your age (13-16) who were into aviation. They washed lots of airplanes, and helped out a lot on the flight line... So pilots took them flying, flight instructors gave them lessons at no cost. They were able to obtain their student pilot certificate and soloed at 14, and obtained their private glider certificates at 16 and added on an single engine land airplane rating to their private certificate by 17 at a much cheaper rate than if they had simply showed up enrolled and paid for all of their training. Some went on into commercial aviation, others found other careers outside aviation but still come back to the airport for the weekends, where there are more kids just like you working hard washing airplanes and getting lessons when they can.

In short, the airport had an airport community, the kids were a part of it, and the community took care of them by nurturing their interest.

To get into a career in aviation, staying out of debt or keeping it manageable is a serious consideration, given low entry level salaries. Right now first year regional airline pilots are paid a lot more than they used to be - but it's only due to temporary signing bonus/retention bonuses that can be rescinded at any time. The actual contracted pay rate of a first year regional airline first officer is still low.

The other way is to get a career outside of aviation. At some point in time become a career changer, use the discretionary income in your current career to fund the flight training.

You can also research aviation colleges, like UND, WMU, La Tech - there are lots of them out there - there is also Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach - it's the most expensive aviation college, but personally I don't think it's worth incurring the debt to obtain a worthless aviation related degree to pursue a career as an airline pilot. There are a lot of pilots who do not have aviation science degrees (they do have college degrees - just not aviation related ones) and have successful careers in aviation. The career doesn't really demand the skills of a college degree. That being said, any major airline will use having a 4-year college degree as a discriminator for hiring, and as virtually most pilots have a 4-year-degree, you will need to obtain one in order to satisfy the many criteria needed to be a competitive applicant at a major airline.

So the best advice I can give to you at your current age is to do well in school, study, go to college and do the best that you can. While you're doing so, go out to the airport, check out flying - go flying when you can save up enough money for a flight - you don't need to go to ATP - they cater to the folks who want to get it done quickly - which may or may not make you a good pilot.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:39 pm

QuacksterDuck wrote:
I also looked on youtube for stuff about ATP, and people talk about all these certifications and tests and you have to study all the time (8 hrs a day) to do well. It all seems so menacing from my young point of view. Is it really as hard as it seems from someone talking about it? It just seems so... complicated.


You must remember that unlike an ordinary school, there won't be any "boring" subjects that you are forced through just because someone in your class might want to become a psychologist or nurse some day. It's all aviation relevant stuff, and generally fun and interesting all the way through. You will find that most other students share the same interest in aviation.


QuacksterDuck wrote:
Also, they recommend not having a job while going to ATP. How can you pay for it then.


I spent 2 years saving up after high school, covered the rest (about a 3rd) with a loan.
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:36 am

VSMUT and Woodreau provided excellent comment on the civilian track. The military track is another route.

Get a degree, get commissioned either through ROTC or OTS, pass all the tests including the physical one and apply to be a pilot. There are no guarantees, but if you are accepted and make it through flight school, be prepared to spend the next 8 or 9 years having some great flying adventures with probably an equal amount of time experiencing some shitty times. Deployments to god awful places, and the possibility (if you are in a combat unit) of getting shot at is something you have to live with.

At the end of your commitment (and assuming you didn't step on you're wiener along the line), put in your walking papers and apply to the airlines. There is a reason the USAF and Navy can't retain experienced pilots and it's call the "airlines are hiring". This track isn't for everybody but it worked for me and thousands of others and most don't regret the decision one bit.
 
QuacksterDuck
Topic Author
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:56 am

I'm not too interested in going military, and also I don't think the airport "community" route would work because I live in a big city with about 8 million people. I also want to graduate college and then get into an airline fast. How much saving would it need for ATP?
 
MSJYOP28Apilot
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:04 am

QuacksterDuck wrote:
I'm not too interested in going military, and also I don't think the airport "community" route would work because I live in a big city with about 8 million people. I also want to graduate college and then get into an airline fast. How much saving would it need for ATP?


I dont think there are any fast routes to an airline anymore if you are in the United States. The ATP/restricted ATP license requirement to be hired by an airline means you need to spend time building hours to meet the ATP requirements. If you get your commercial multi-engine ratings from either a university, FBO or pilot mill, you will usually have around 250 hours flying time. ATP mins are 1500 total hours or 1,000 hours for a restricted ATP if you go to an aviation university. This means you will have a considerable amount of hours to build before you can get to an airline. Most get their CFI ratings and teach. CFI takes a lot of time to prepare for and the time building is highly dependent on the students you have and the weather. It can easily take a year or two maybe more to build the time to be qualified to apply to a regional airline.
 
mmo
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:35 am

RetiredWeasel wrote:
VSMUT and Woodreau provided excellent comment on the civilian track. The military track is another route.

Get a degree, get commissioned either through ROTC or OTS, pass all the tests including the physical one and apply to be a pilot. There are no guarantees, but if you are accepted and make it through flight school, be prepared to spend the next 8 or 9 years having some great flying adventures with probably an equal amount of time experiencing some shitty times. Deployments to god awful places, and the possibility (if you are in a combat unit) of getting shot at is something you have to live with.

At the end of your commitment (and assuming you didn't step on you're wiener along the line), put in your walking papers and apply to the airlines. There is a reason the USAF and Navy can't retain experienced pilots and it's call the "airlines are hiring". This track isn't for everybody but it worked for me and thousands of others and most don't regret the decision one bit.


I would second this route! I had an AFROTC scholarship (4 years) and then went to UPT. At that time the commitment was only 5 years after you graduated. So, from my perspective it was an even trade. At the first opportunity, the airlines WEREN'T hiring, so I stayed in for another 3 years and then put my paperwork in. I have never looked back. Was lucky enough to fly in the ANG and spent just under 25 years in military flying.

It's not for everyone, but if you like variety and challenges, then it's the best thing to do.
If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane!
 
VSMUT
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:40 am

QuacksterDuck wrote:
How much saving would it need for ATP?


How much does it cost in your city? Where do you even live? (the US, EU or elsewhere?)

I started by getting some offers from various schools, then went down to the banks to see what terms they could offer me, with the previous offers from the flying schools in mind. Then I went home to think it over, discuss it with my parents, lay some budgets etc.

In the end I decided to scrape together at least 50% myself (between 45-50.000 eur), and by the time I started after 2 years, I was able to provide 75% of the total training cost out of my own pocket.
About halfway through the training, the banks decided to have a change of mind, and suddenly new students started pouring in after having saved up only about 7%, with the banks providing the rest.

It really comes down to how you feel about being indebted to a bank for the next few years (for me) or lifetime (for those other students). If the economy suddenly crashes just before you graduate, how long will you be able to hang on before having to give up flying and take on a career at a desk? Will you be able to finance a type-rating after graduating, in order to land the first job? Can you save on the costs by living at home with Mum and Dad, and for how long will they let you stay? Do you need a car, or can you forfeit it and just take the bicycle instead?

Lots of variables that really only you can answer.

BTW, spending 2 years after high school working in all manner of shipyards, factories, offices etc was really great fun, even if it was hard.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:56 am

Good thing to start planning early! The first thing you should do is get a first class aviation medical, or if that is not possible at your age, at least get the equivalent tests done. No point spending serious money if there's a medical issue precluding you from getting a first class medical. Note that many issues can be either "fixed" or managed, so don't immediately despair if some things on the medical don't quite work out the first time.

To answer your question: Becoming a pilot is not really that hard. It just requires time, money, and most importantly commitment and the right attitude. Remember that no pilot starts in an airliner. We went through many incremental steps on the way, each more complex than the previous one but manageable in context. Don't start your flying training by worrying about a multi-crew jet. Start by worrying about your PPL. Once you have your PPL, worry about your IR, etc...

Thankfully, I had savings I could use for my training. I would have been very wary of getting into big debt without at least a fairly concrete job offer.

As mentioned above, "big schools" like ATP are but one way of getting your licenses. Many people, myself included, went all the way to commercial multi-engine at a "mom and pop" school with a dozen aircraft. No epaulets, very chilled out, and importantly typically cheaper. Not saying schools like ATP aren't good, but there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Big schools tend to be organised like a rather formal university. There's a curriculum with relatively fixed dates; you're in a class of students; there are formal classes in a group and so on. You follow the plan and get to your goals. At (good) smaller schools you are the one "driving" your flying development; teaching is less formalised; timing can be customised to your needs, etc... For example if you feel you want to pay your way, you can arrange to work 3-4 days a week, and fly 2-3. At a "formal" school you can't do that.

Advantage of big school: there is a plan so you don't need to make one yourself. Advantage of "mom and pop" school: You make the plan to suit your timing and financial requirements.

Once accepted by the airline, I did my airline "cadet" time at a big, formal school. This was fine, but I felt that sometimes a more individual approach to the practical side of flying can be beneficial, rather than having to stick to a strict and detailed lesson plan.

Tangent on aviation universities: One disadvantage of big University flying schools like Embry-Riddle is that the degree tends to be aviation oriented. If you end up not being a pilot, or if you change career after a couple of decades, having a "fallback" can be useful. And you'll probably spend less in total getting a degree somewhere else along with a less formal flying school.

VSMUT, there are some boring subjects, or at least there are instructors that manage to make them boring. Who really likes Air Law? ;)
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
VSMUT
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:40 am

Starlionblue wrote:
VSMUT, there are some boring subjects, or at least there are instructors that manage to make them boring. Who really likes Air Law? ;)


True, but that was a relatively small subject. I don't think we had more than 7 lessons on that during the ATPLs, and they bundled them together 2 in one day ;)

It would have been much worse if Principles of Flight, Navigation or RNAV was just as boring :ill:
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:04 am

VSMUT wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
VSMUT, there are some boring subjects, or at least there are instructors that manage to make them boring. Who really likes Air Law? ;)


True, but that was a relatively small subject. I don't think we had more than 7 lessons on that during the ATPLs, and they bundled them together 2 in one day ;)

It would have been much worse if Principles of Flight, Navigation or RNAV was just as boring :ill:


Word. Navigation with a boring teacher would have been torture.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
VSMUT
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:07 am

Starlionblue wrote:
VSMUT wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
VSMUT, there are some boring subjects, or at least there are instructors that manage to make them boring. Who really likes Air Law? ;)


True, but that was a relatively small subject. I don't think we had more than 7 lessons on that during the ATPLs, and they bundled them together 2 in one day ;)

It would have been much worse if Principles of Flight, Navigation or RNAV was just as boring :ill:


Word. Navigation with a boring teacher would have been torture.


We had a former fighter pilot for nav and RNAV. He would always tell some very interesting stories along the way.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:56 pm

Found this on line and thought there be something in it for you. One thing is for sure, 13 is not to young start working towards this goal.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ot-440938/


A couple of comments regarding the USAF ANG, or Reserves. Really a great way to go and very competitive for pilot slots. Just watch out for that really cool F16 slot does not morph into a pilot/drone slot just when you're ready to pull the trigger. Don't overlook the military academies as you can get your four year degree and a pilot slot as well, and you can transfer from one service to the other if the grass looks greener on the other side.

The bottom line is there are numerous avenues to achieve goals.

Good luck.

Funny story: when I was about 16, maybe just a little bit younger I was at the Los Angeles International airport watching airplanes come and go. A lot easier in those days without any significant security around. I saw this Pan American guy doing a walk around on a DC7C and motioned for him to my way so I could ask him a question. How did he become an airline pilot? Actually he was a Flight Engineer, but they all looked the same back then. His answer....He started out working as a "beach boy" for Pan Am, When the flying boats would land, and they taxied towards to dock he and others would jump in the water, swim out and grab the mooring lines and swim back in with them. One thing led to the next and he finally became an entry level Flight Engineer. Those kind of avenues do not exist in todays aviation you get the idea, don't let the dream as anything is possible.
 
Flyer732
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:54 pm

I trained with ATP, you don't have time for a job if you're doing the full time program. They offer various financing programs, and once you complete the training you can come back and instruct for them full time. If you choose a busy location such as Phoenix-Mesa you'll have the 1500 hours in no time.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:25 pm

That 1500 hour rule might be long gone by the time this young man is at the door step of his career. Fingers crossed.
 
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falstaff
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:34 pm

BravoOne wrote:
That 1500 hour rule might be long gone by the time this young man is at the door step of his career. Fingers crossed.


That would be good.I recently read that there is a push to overturn that rule. I read that it was implemented due to the Colgan crash. What would 1500 hours have fixed on that crash; both pilots had more than 1500 hours. The USA Today article I read said the unions pushed the 1500 hour rule into place and are resisting it's repeal. How exactly does the union expect to gain membership in the future if young people can't afford to fly 1500 hours before getting a FO job? My soon to be wife graduated from Western Michigan University's aviation program just as the 1500 hour rule was going into affect. She got out of school with no debt and 250 hours, but didn't go the CFI route. Right now she has 350 hours and is unemployable. She doesn't have the money to go back and become a CFI. She keeps plugging her way slowly towards 500 hours then there are several companies in the region that could hire her. She can't get a decent job because every place she applies says she's over qualified and will leave at her first chance to be paid to fly (which is 100% true). For her the only way to gain enough hours fast enough is to go into debt, which she doesn't want to do. She is a member of a flying club, which as good rates for aircraft rental, but it still isn't cheap.

BTW if anyone knows of any aviation related jobs in the Detroit area that she may be qualified for please let me know.
My mug slaketh over on Falstaff N503
 
VSMUT
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:57 pm

falstaff wrote:
BTW if anyone knows of any aviation related jobs in the Detroit area that she may be qualified for please let me know.


How about looking outside of the US? Maybe accept a small amount of debt in order to get a license conversion.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Is becoming a pilot as hard as it seems?

Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:05 pm

Pretty hard to acquire this 1500 hours these days without going the CFI route. People do it, but it takes some luck and perseverance for sure. Going outside US is a poor choice IMO, as in spite of the 1500 hour rule, I can't think of a better place to build time than right here at home.

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