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Where do I start?

hannah717

New member
Ever since I was little I have always loved flying but I never really considered it to be a career choice until now. My end goal would be to become a commercial pilot, so where do I start? Just googling flight school brings up a million and one options. Do I go with something big like ATP or do I do something local? Keeping that goal of commercial in mind, what would you choose?
 

Zeede

Active member
Hi Hannah, welcome to the forums!

The first place to start would be to go on a discovery flight! Find a nice general aviation airport near you, and see if any of the schools there can take you up.

Whether you want to go to a big, formal flight school like ATP is up to you. Personally I think some of the programs like AeroGuard are quite good, but ATP has a very poor reputation among pilots.

Let us know if you need help finding a small GA airport near you.
 

hannah717

New member
Hi Hannah, welcome to the forums!

The first place to start would be to go on a discovery flight! Find a nice general aviation airport near you, and see if any of the schools there can take you up.

Whether you want to go to a big, formal flight school like ATP is up to you. Personally I think some of the programs like AeroGuard are quite good, but ATP has a very poor reputation among pilots.

Let us know if you need help finding a small GA airport near you.
Thank you! I have a nice GA airport very close to me so I will check them out! May I ask why ATP has a poor reputation? With it being such a large program I would've never guessed that it would have a bad rep.
 

MsHighAltitude

Active member
Hello Hanna and welcome to the forum.

Some of the things I've heard about ATP include:
  • The extra hours are quite expensive once you go over the allotted time;
  • Your instructor(s) might have very little experience
  • Your instructors(s) may/may not care that much about their students because they just want to get enough hours to go to the airlines
  • You will probably go through multiple instructors as people accumulate enough hours and head to the airlines
However, I've had an instructor who went through an ATP school and is now flying for one of the airlines. So it really depends.

But like @Zeede said, try a discovery flight first. If you are still interested afterwards,
  • Evaluate flight training options (part-time vs. full-time / different types of flight schools) based on your personal and financial situation, as well as where you are located;
  • If you don't have a college degree, get a college degree; and
  • Schedule a first class medical appointment with an AME (aviation medical examiner) -- I assume by commercial pilot you mean flying for the airlines, so you will need a first class medical certificate. Better to find out if you qualify now.
Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any questions.
 

Zeede

Active member
Thank you! I have a nice GA airport very close to me so I will check them out! May I ask why ATP has a poor reputation? With it being such a large program I would've never guessed that it would have a bad rep.
For starters, they are extremely expensive, and at the same time, you only get the minimum allotment of hours for each stage. If you want more time, or you're having trouble picking up something, you either pay them *even more money* or you get washed out. They are the very definition of a pilot mill. They just want to churn out pilots as fast as possible. If you're in a big hurry, then they aren't the worst option. If you want to be able to take your time and become the best pilot you can be, well ATP isn't it.

I know about half a dozen ATP graduates including my Instrument CFI, and none of them would recommend it to anyone.

MsHighAltitude hit all of the other points and has great advice :)
 

hannah717

New member
For starters, they are extremely expensive, and at the same time, you only get the minimum allotment of hours for each stage. If you want more time, or you're having trouble picking up something, you either pay them *even more money* or you get washed out. They are the very definition of a pilot mill. They just want to churn out pilots as fast as possible. If you're in a big hurry, then they aren't the worst option. If you want to be able to take your time and become the best pilot you can be, well ATP isn't it.

I know about half a dozen ATP graduates including my Instrument CFI, and none of them would recommend it to anyone.

MsHighAltitude hit all of the other points and has great advice :)
I'm super glad I asked in here! Thank you both!
 

RAF805

Member
Hannah,

One of the best things that you can do is to make friends with people at your local airport and find a good mentor. I have often thought that one of the hardest things about aviation is getting past the airport fence the first time and meeting someone. The rest is easy after that....well, maybe not easy but better. In my case, I got involved at a local Commemorative Air Force museum. While volunteering there, I made friends who have been wonderful mentors and done their best to point me in the right direction. You might also look into joining a chapter of The Ninety-Nines if there is one near you.

Good luck!
 

Siris

Active member
All of the above in spades.

Large schools have reputations for being "pilot mills," more interested in putting a card in your hand and your tail out the door for their own reputation than really teaching their students. But even still talking with some of the seasoned pilots for advice, as RAF805 said, can teach you lessons that are absolutely invaluable later. There are a few stories already floating around this forum alone even. Also don't limit yourself to flight schools only as choices. I've done both part 141 and part 61 instruction and there are certain and clear advantages to both but neither is bad if you have a good teacher. Ask the FBO at your local airport if there are any instructors on the field or even talk to some of the older mechanics if they have a recommendation. And if by any off chance you're in the area of the carolinas shoot me a message and I can recommend a few places to you. Either way welcome, good luck, and right rudder!
 
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