Realistic Timetable


Well-Known Member
I am definitely going to take the plunge into this thing. I know that I'll be making jack for a while when I do it, but I'm determined to see this thing through. All my friends who do this love it and only wish they did it sooner. One of them is a lot like me, he hated his job, loved flying, and decided to make a career out of it.

So, from zero hours to getting paid, what's realistic? I am 33, with a mortgage to pay. I'm single, so I don't have what my friend had, which is a very well compensated wife to keep things afloat while he was building up hours.

I'm figuring that it will take three years or so to get enough hours in to get a commercial and CFI, going up once or twice a week like I am. Would I be able to quit then, or would I still have to work a regular job while teaching?

Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks, guys!
I'm 37 and 17 hours into my private en route to the same place you want to go. To kind of answer your question - Depends.

Depends on how often you can fly.

Depends on when you get done.

Depends on the hiring environment when you get done.

I'm not tryingn to discourage you - not in the least. Bottom line is - if you want it - do what I did - find a place you like, get a loan, and dive in head first! Fly your butt off (I'm flying three to four times a week) and GO FOR IT!! Is three years realistic? I hope so!! I hope to finish my CFI ratings by the end of this year or the beginning of next and start instructing ASAP - which is a paying aviation job - albeit not a high-paying one.

Good luck!! Start flying - NOW!
(oh yeah - go get your Medical first)

If you are only flying 1 or 2 times per week, I will offer the same advise I used to give my students.... if that's all you can afford to fly right now, stop flying for now and save money until you can hit it 3 or 4 times per week to knock out that rating. You will progress faster, review less each lesson, and most likely save money in the end. If it more a matter of lack of time, do the best you can to fly as often as possible. Like anything else, the more often and regularly you do something, the more "natural" it becomes.

Be well and fly safe
As usual, I am on the same page with EAS. the biggest thing anyone can do to progress faster is fly more often. it took my wife 2.5 years to get her pvt, she only flew once or twice a month. I took 2.5 mos to get mine flying 2-3 times a week, if I had flown twice as often i would have finished even sooner.
Hi, EAS. It's not a question of money -- if I wanted to, I could pay for my entire private training right now. It's a question of time. With a regular job, which requires some travel, it's difficult to see how I can get there more than two times a week, maybe three at the most. Plus, my instructor is a part time contractor with a regular job as well.

I am definitely going to take advantage of the extra daylight, though, and schedule some flying after work in the summer. I think that would be invaluable to accomplish my first goal, which is a private by the fall. I only started in March, so if I can do that, I will be on track, I think.

What do you think?
It took me around 6 months to get my private doing it the way you plan on doing it. I flew one to two times per week, and at 55 hours, I received my private. It felt like it took forever, because some weekends were cancelled due to weather, etc....
To get my multi-engine instrument, I went to an accelerated school for 10 days, and flew pretty much all day every day. It was a lot of work, but man what a relief it is to knock it out quickly like that. I plan on doing my commercial at the end of July in the same manner. I fly once or twice a weekend to build hours toward my 250. Then I will go knock it out when I am at around 220. Do your private the way you plan on doing it, but then get your additional ratings by taking a week off here and a week off there. That would be my reccomendation if you want to continue w/ your job and a salary. It works pretty well.
Ditto. I'm also working full time and flying three times during the week in the evenings (Mon., Tues. Fri.) and then on Saturday mornings - or Sundays, which ever works out the best.

Good luck!
Hey, guys, thanks for the advice. Astin, what you are planning on doing sounds a lot like what I will do. I plan on getting the private, and then going to one of the high intensity training places to get a multi and instrument rating. All the while, I'll be in the air every chance I get after getting the private so that I continue to build hours up.

As an aside -- and I really shouldn't even be thinking about this, since I'm several months away from being able to do this -- there was an article in Private Pilot about Sheble Aviation in Nevada. Has anyone worked with them?
The thing with this industry is timing!!!!
Hiring stalls and then goes crazy..sort of like an ocean swell. I started flying at 26 about 3 years ago while I was a supervisor for United Express. At that time they were hiring kids with 300 hours who looked about 16 years old as FO's. I went and got my private then packed my bags and moved down to Florida to get the rest of my ratings and bag my CRJ slot...
fast forward 3 years and with a college degree, 3 years airline CS expierience, and a CFI, CFII, MEII and 500 hours in my pocket, I spent the morning sweeping the floor on the shipping dock at a company where my older brother is a manager.
Not a great start to my glamorous aviation career, but I haven't given up. I am just coolling my heals and do have a job offer from a large flight school, but I'm currently on the waiting list.
Things will pick up and how long it will take all depends on when you enter the game.
Good luck!
Tony, you should run the numbers on how long you will take to get your ratings and then consider what your timeline is. This is all assuming you are talking making aviation a career. If you want this, I would drop everything and go.

Consider what you earning potential is today, how long you will take to get trained in aviation, what you earning potential will be when you are trained, what you will spend along the way including living expenses, training (the whole lot), and then consider dropping everything and going.

If money really isn’t the limiting factor, based on my calculations, you would be much better off, quitting your job, moving to a training facility where the cost of living is cheap, rifling through your ratings, and then working somewhere. Honestly, if you spend all your time training, your could get to a money making job in aviation soon. Consider finding a Part 141 school where you can get student loans. Take your saved money, pay on the loan as you go, and save the rest for living and contingencies, and get your career going. In the end you will be a better pilot because you will have lived aviation while you were training, and you will get to a job sooner.

The reason I am saying all this is it happens to be exactly what I have chosen after a long time debating the issue. I too am 33, and I hope to soon be in the cockpit bringing how a paycheck, albeit small for quite awhile.
Wow 33 seems to be a magic age to become enlightened. I'm 33 as of March and will most likely be attending one of the 'pilot mills' down in Florida this fall.

The age of enlightenment being 33 was true for me the sense that I was 33 when I decided that I did NOT want to pursue a degree in law anymore. was 3 years later when my passion for aviation came back!

Now, here I am...on hours (or so) into my Private....getting ready to take my FAA written.... I'm on my way!!
You are right about 33. I am 33 now and just mailed my applicaiton to FLA today. I will be 34 by the time I start though...
I turned 32 in March and had two roughly concurrent revelations- that retail is NOT my future, and that being a pilot is a possibility that is still open to me. That was a biggie. I was reading a book called Cockpit Confessions ( a disorganized assortment of bad spelling, the profane, the downright offensive, and some damn good stories about what it's like to be a modern airline pilot ) in which the writer is a guy who started flying at FORTY, and ended up a first officer on 747's. Nice to know my life wasn't necessarily over at 30. /ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif
So if I get this thing together, it could well be that I'll be that magic age of 33 when I get started on my way.

I have to do this too! I am 32 and am pretty sure I will commit to a flight program by my October birthday.

However, I am not in the "I need a career change" mode. I have a great job that I have worked hard at and continue to love. My problem is that while I am at work loving my job I continue to think about flying even more.

For those 33'ers out there ( actually anyone around that age) I'd be interested in hearing more about people's choices for flight training options. For a long time I was planning the 141 route. But I dont know if at this age it makes sense to do the 141 curriculum at their specified pace. I started this endeavor looking at FSI and Sierra here in California. Now I feel like that my interests and capabilities are more matched to an accelerated program like ATP.

I gotta say that my biggest beef with the 141 route is the time and money spent in mandated ground school to learn written material that can be learned through other means, and usually a LOT quicker than the schedule.

I wouldn't recommend Sierra, I've heard bad things about their program and their tendency to be a money pit.

Stick with ATP, you'll be better off in more ways than one.

I'm 37 and chose the FBO route. I looked into the Part 141 route, and liked what I saw, but ... in the end.... convenience and the price tag had a LOT to do with my decision to go Part 61.

It's really a personal preference thing. It's TOTALLY up to you!! If you are a VERY self-motivated person (emphasis on VERY), then it is indeed posssible to go the FBO route.

That said, I am in NO WAY implying that those who go the Part 141 are not self motivated - I'm sure they are. My point is that if you do decide on the FBO route - you MUST be --- and remain --- very, very motivated to get through at a rapid pace. It's up to you and you alone (well, you and the wx and whether or not the plane is available) whether you fly, how often you fly and when you study. It's not easy, but then again, it's not easy anywhere, nor is it supposed to be.

It is, however... FUN!!

Whatever route you choose - keep it FUN!! Good luck!

I'll jump in and say I am 32 turning 33 in October and very seriously considering ATP and FSI in the Fall of this year around my 33rd birthday! Weird yet comforting to see I am not alone.
The other night I was having a beer and began talking with a local pilot who flies for Northwest (strangely enough, he too is 33). He is a FO and claims to be one of the youngest guys he sees flying the DC-10. I told him that I was going the FBO route with the intention of going for it, spending as much dedicated time as possible until I was getting a pay check and then continuing on that path in to the right seat of a major.

He told me to scrap that plan. He said to get the ratings (and definetly get a degree) don't do the CFI thing, but rather go ab initio. He was a huge advocate of buying time in a Beach 1900 or other similar program. He feels the result is you end up working for a regional faster which translates to working into a major. His other recommendation was to work ANY regional, not just the regionals that seem like good airlines. His quote "People always said 'Why are you working for Mesa, they suck.' They might suck but I am sleeping with them, not marrying them!" He went on to say that working for a lower grade regional that would provide him the opportunity to become captain of the plane he was flying would result in many more hours and CAPTAIN time. This would result in his being more appealing to the majors, being a captain that is.

It seems like a good piece of advice. I know people frown on ab initio pilots but in the end who really would know. This guys feels that morgaging the house, taking money from relatives, what ever it took to buy some ab initio time would be money well spent.

What have you guys heard, what do experienced people know? Is it really that bad to buy right seat time???