Contract Airline Services

"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Career Change

At 51 Years Young! 

My friend Dan sent me a message this week asking advice on where and how to start the process to become a pilot at the age of 51. I'm posting his questions for anyone who knows the answers, to help him get started. 

"I'm currently living in New York City.  ATP has a branch on Long Island, which is a possibility, but its so expensive - close to $80k, and they don't guarantee a job as a flight instructor unless you pass all check out rides on the first go.?

Does anyone know anyone know anything about ATP...
  1. Do they have a good reputation in the industry?
  2. Are a lot of students known to be hired by them after graduation, and are they able to build a lot of hours?
  3. Can pilots who log the 1500 hours through ATP (assuming #1 & #2 above are in the affirmative) expect to get a job with a regional right away?

An alternative track I'm considering is to follow that of one of my tenants who is 26 and just landed a job with a regional. He said he bought a plane for $20k, spent another $45k getting lessons, building hours by flying around the country and then sold the plane. He then flew cargo for a while, until he had the hours to begin with a small commuter airline. Curious if you would theoretically support this path or if the regional airlines would less inclined to hire someone with this experience?"  Dan

Your Advice is Much Appreciate! 

Help Dan find his way
on the path to becoming a pilot! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. I'm not a fan of ATP, but if you want to get to the end as fast as possible, damn the cost and don't worry about learning anything beyond ATP's "fast as possible only one way to do things" methodology, then it may be best for you. American Flyers has a similar program, with a facility in Morristown NJ. I think they're a better choice, but as I also know people who extol ATP, what do I know? I've heard of more people who have been burned by ATP than by any other school. The other choice of buying an inexpensive aircraft, finding an instructor you like and flying the he** out of it will take longer, cost less, and you'll end up a more rounded pilot. If you don't start with ATP, they won't take you later, but American Flyers will.

    1. D.B. Thank you so much for the great comment. This will be of great help to Dan. This is what he was looking for.... those who are in the know about ATP. Also, he was looking at the idea of buying an inexpensive plane...but that will be important to find something that won't kill him on maintenance. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

    2. Hope it helps. I taught at American Flyers in Dallas, and I know they're a good school. Expensive though. But for someone who cares mostly about getting to the airlines quickly, a good choice.

  2. As to which a regional airline will prefer, I don't think they care. The shortage of pilots is becoming acute.

    1. Yes... once he has his flight hours, they will all want him.

    2. D.B. -

      Thanks for all of your advice. Was concerned ATP might be promising more than they deliver.

      Best, Dan

  3. Dan, In alignment with buying your own airplane, check out what Jason did...
    Same thought that blossomed!

  4. Hi Dan,
    FAA minimums require at least 40 hrs with 20 solo and 20 dual with an instructor. Average time to get the certificate is around 60 hrs. Average cost aprox. 8 to 10K. When I was first training I thought of buying my training airplane as my schedule was selling it at the time (Piper Warrior). The selling price was 35K, and I negotiated it down to 20K.
    It turned out in my case the operational cost to own this sweet airplane was 1K a month (hangar, gas and flying twice a week. This didn't include any additional cost for bi-annuals and such). Along w. my other expenses, it just wasn't feasible to buy an airplane for me at that time.

    However I did rent and work with CFI's at Nassau flyers flight school at Republic Airport, and their planes and CFI's are top notch. If you want a sold training in the LI area, I'd go with them. I love their Piper: N521MA – Piper Archer III

    As a side note as well, and for best results flying twice a week at a minimum. The longer you spread your lessons out, the longer it will take to complete and the costlier. Audition your Flight instructor, and if you do not feel comfortable with them, move on to one that fights you best. As a final note, save as much as possible down for your instruction (all if possible). I paid as I went, and when money issues came up, I had to stop lessons. Hope this helps. :)

    1. Christina, Thank you so much for this excellent advice all the way around!!!

    2. Hi Cristina -

      Thank you so much for all the useful information. It will definitely come in handy.

      Curious if you went on to get your ATP? If so, any suggestions on this front?

      Best, Dan

    3. Christina -

      Thanks much for the insights! Curious if you continued onto an ATP and if you have any advice from that component of your training?


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!