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My daughter wants to be a pilot

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My daughter wants to be a pilot

Old 30th Apr 2015, 22:17
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 47
My daughter wants to be a pilot

Hello - I'm hoping some of the professional pilots on this forum can give me some guidance. My daughter has just turned 16 and has always wanted to be a commercial pilot. She has a few hours of flying but really nothing to speak of, but she wants to do it right.

I would really value the advice of anyone who has gone through this (fairly recently) as to what we should be looking for in a flight school, and what steps she should be taking.

We're realistic about this - nobody thinks she's just going to walk into a six figure salary job. We understand she needs to go through the regionals, how seniority is everything, how she'll one day have to leave a Captain position on Express to become a FO on mainline etc. Between my wife and I we have 35yrs in major airlines, though neither of us are pilots. We understand the lifestyle.

As you can tell from my username, we're in South West Pennsylvania, so it's really the advice of pilots in the US that I'm seeking.

I've looked at ATP Flight School, and they have a scheme that is sponsored by the airlines and offers a guaranteed Instructor position to build hours to 1,500. To me this seems rather good, but I'm not an expert. Is this fairly typical? Are there other/better ones out there?

I'm not looking for the "cheapest" way in, rather the best value. What's going to give her the best chance of success and career progression, and the best way into the major airlines?

Thank you in advance for any help and guidance you can give me.

MichaelKPIT is offline  
Old 30th Apr 2015, 23:18
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: yankton, sd
Posts: 290

I am a pilot for that airline there, U know the one? ;-)

I won't give you advice on specific schools. But here are some ideas:

1. Don't pay everything up front, sort of pay as you go as you never know when a school will go out of business without notice and without paying you back.

2. Get your girl to read a few books about flying (cheaper than actual flying and it will help).

1. "Stick and Rudder"
2. "Fate is the Hunter"
3. "Spirit of St. Louis"
that should be good enough for a start

16 is a tiny bit early, remember you now have to have that 1500 hours to be a copilot at a major (realistically much more) and you cannot get an airline transport pilot license until the age of 23.

Be sure to get her a medical certificate because you don't want to pay all that money to find out something is wrong (hopefully this will not be a problem).

Little things along the way will help too like a radio to listen to air traffic control ( I guess you can do this on the internet in some locations).

Studying a little meteorology would not hurt.

I hope this helps. And Safe flying for you all!
skyhighfallguy is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 13:45
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: -
Posts: 1,176
Get her in a flight school, she can get her PPL now (or was it at 17?). Whatever, get her into a flight school where she can also obtain her CPL, SE-IR and ME-IR as well as CFI, CFII and MEI afterwards.
A degree is a must but it does not have to be aviation related. She can Always get 2 degrees eventually. Also having a non-aviation related degree could work as a fall-back plan in case she loses her medical one day or decides to go for a career change.
Pilot certificates are recognized by some colleges and universities and give credits.

Let her fly now despite the 1500 hours rule to be a copilot at a regional at 23. She can instruct or do other kind of flying meanwhile.

The books that Skyhighfallguy suggested are great book to read, especially the first one -- it is my bible.
RedBullGaveMeWings is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 14:57
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 47
Thank you everyone - this is valuable information.

Completely agree about the degree - ALL of our children are going to get degrees, no matter what career they choose, that's just essential.

And I'll certainly look into getting her those books too.

Thanks again.
MichaelKPIT is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 15:35
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Denver
Age: 31
Posts: 9
I am currently an instructor and recently went through the whole training process. I also worked as a ground handler for a regional for 4 years. I have some advice which is all my own opinion. And by the way it's 16 to get a student pilot certificate and you must be 17 to take the private check ride.

a degree is a must in the long run, you will not need one to be an instructor or get a job with the regionals, or most other time building jobs. The regionals are very desperate for pilots and taking candidates who have the bare minimum requirements.

Do your training through part 61 not 141. You will save a ton! Of money and I always recommend to my students to major in anything but an aviation degree. The majors will absolutely love if you have an engineering degree or a foreign language degree. The only benefit of 141 is a restricted ATP.

As for a job after training, most flight schools hire you after you get your CFI. But there are no guarantees.

As for ATP, I don't know much about them, other than what I've read. But there connections with the airlines is irrelevant, if you get to your ATP minimums and don't bust your check rides you'll be able to interview with any regional you want.

And for starters, all the FAA books are available online, have her start reading the pilots handbook of aeronautical knowledge, just google it and start from the beginning.
dec122287 is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 18:40
  #6 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 47
Thank you again. Yes, she actually already has that pilots handbook of aeronautical knowledge!
MichaelKPIT is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 19:21
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: At home
Age: 58
Posts: 132

Yenz is talking close to my heart. I live in Wash Co, and flew out of PIT right to the end in Feb of 2008. I now am one of the PIT refugees that commute weekly to other domiciles. I won't say which one yet.

16 is not too young to start. I would however suggest that your daughter think about majoring in Aviation in college. It doesn't have to be Embry Riddle, which is very expensive. The Ohio State University and Kent State both have flight programs. They are well respected and will serve her well.

I she wants to work at a major as a pilot she will need a 4 year degree. Many suggest not majoring in aviation but I can tell you as a 30 year pilot at our former home town airline, that's what they are looking for. The college flight programs allow a person to get the ATP with fewer hours. It is more expensive on an hourly basis but cheaper in the long run.

There are probably many others who will disagree with my assessment of an aviation degree but I know for a fact hat our new company is actively seeking these graduates.

While she is in high school she should work towards her private pilot's license. That will give her an idea of what she is getting into and whether or not she actually likes it and is willing to put up the effort to understand it.
Zaphod Beblebrox is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 20:37
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: US
Posts: 1,926
The faster and younger she gets to a major airline the better her career will be. She could be in the job market by 22-23. It takes effort, drive, and money.

She can have her CFI before she starts college. AP courses and community college means she could be entering her third year of college by the time she is 19-20. Get a two year degree and continue towards her four yr degree (currently a 'must' for the big airlines). As soon as she gets 1500 hrs or her two year degree, or earlier, start flying full time and transition to part time, but year round, four year degree program. She could be 23 yrs old (+/-), with a four year degree and 2,500 (+/-) hrs total time.

Similar to what I did and I'm fairly lazy. Graduated at 23 y 9 months with 3 yrs 2 months, and four jobs, worth of work experience.
misd-agin is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 20:41
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: US
Posts: 1,926
Join WAI. Women in Aviation International. Great organization. Great conference every March. Nashville in 2016. Road trip. She'll be inspired and can talk to almost every college with a flight program, major flight school, or regional airline in the U.S.
misd-agin is offline  
Old 1st May 2015, 23:46
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Mare Nostrum
Age: 36
Posts: 1,349
Let her fly now despite the 1500 hours rule to be a copilot at a regional at 23. She can instruct or do other kind of flying meanwhile.
Actually, you can be a first officer (copilot is not politically correct) at the age of 21. You can't be PIC of a 121 operation until you are 23. Anybody can get a restricted ATP at 1500 hours total time and 21 years of age regardless of the route of training that they chose. And keep in mind, MOST 141 programs do not qualify you for the reduced restricted ATP minimums of 1000/1250TT. There are still restricted ATP minimums for those who have 1500 hours and meet all the other ATP requirements except for the age (21 instead of 23) and cross country time (200 hours instead of 500).

I would suggest that you shop around the different flight schools in your local area. No need to buy into the advertising at ATP. ATP is ok, but not the best, and a bit over priced. If your daughter goes to ATP, once she becomes a private pilot she will not be able to take her dad up flying. If she goes to a local flying school or flying club, she will be able to take anyone flying while building up her time to become a commercial pilot and beyond. Most schools will hire your daughter once she completes her CFI. There are lots of instructor jobs right now, especially in training hubs like Florida and Arizona, but I live in neither and am able to fly 100 hours per month, and I make more money than the guys at ATP on the other side of the field.

Visit the different schools in person. Find the place that has the best environment for you. Visit ATP and compare. If ATP is the best for your daughter then go for it. Everyone has their preferences, but at least do your research and shop around.

There are also several organizations dedicated to getting women motivated in aviation. There are scholarships for them too.

Check out the Fly with Amelia Foundation, run by Amelia Rose Earhart. They give scholarships to young girls between 16-18 to fly. I know her personally and I can ask her any questions that you may have.
Fly With Amelia Foundation - The Amelia Project

Also check out your local 99's chapter. They often have scholarships for young women in aviation.
Scholarships |

Getting a 4 year degree will be a big advantage, but it does not have to be an aviation major. if your daughter wants to major in aviation, I recommend that you check out the AOPA college directory.
zondaracer is offline  
Old 2nd May 2015, 01:43
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 59

Just a word of caution on the subject of a young person trying to become a pilot. That regional program you are considering is a load of BS, plain and simple. That school wants to paint itself as a more direct route when none actually exists. There have been many schools that promised this over the last 24 years, and I can tell you with certainty that majority of them never delivered.
It is really a marketing ploy.

Please don't get an aviation degree. This will limit what she may be able to achieve after she completes her degree. That 1250 hours required for ATP minimums versus the 1500 hours for non-aviation degrees is really a small amount of hours anyway. That is also just a ploy by the universities to get people to buy their dream of becoming an airline pilot.

Get a job while in college that has a future just in case. I worked in the airlines for over 20 years before taking early retirement. Managed to own my own home and paid down enough to be able to get back into flying.

I am not suggesting she work for 20 years, but having a real job on the side may help in the long run. With the option of taking on-line classes and so many colleges offering flexibility, there should be no reason why she can't work in a couple of years.
japandwell is offline  
Old 2nd May 2015, 03:55
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Mare Nostrum
Age: 36
Posts: 1,349
Japandwell brings up some really good points.

Do not buy into the marketing hype. You do not need to go somewhere that guarantees you anything. There is hiring left and right at the moment. There will be lots of hiring for the immediate future, however things could completely change by the time your daughter finishes college in 6 years. Just look at history and see how quickly things have swung from no hiring after september 11, 2001, lots of hiring in 2007, crash of the economy in 2008 and no hiring for awhile, and now hiring like mad in 2015. The numbers seem to point in the right direction for the next 15 years but it could change overnight.

Also, the difference between being an instructor for 1000 hours vs 1500 hours to get to the airlines can be as little as 5 months. I see that the OP has quoted "seniority is everything," and most people who have read the brochures and website from ATP seem to quote this. Seniority is important, but not the end of the world. Life is a journey, not a race.

Things to look for in a flying school... are the instructors passionate about instructing or are they just there to timebuild? It is ok if they have goals to move on in their life, but they should also enjoy instructing.

What kind of depth does the instructor corps have? Are they all fresh faced instructors or is there a mix of young, new instructors with older experienced instructors who can mentor them? There is nothing wrong with a young and inexperienced instructor, but it is great when they have resources at the flying school that will allow them to grow as an instructor and aviator.

Read google/yelp reviews of the schools. Do any have consistently bad ratings and reviews? Look for red flags.

Ask to look at the planes. There are lots of old airplanes, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, and some fleets get high utilization but what is important is the maintenance.
zondaracer is offline  
Old 10th May 2015, 17:52
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Somwhere between 6 and 15 feet below ground level
Posts: 108
Another western Pennsylvanian here.

Being from Pittsburgh, have you considered the Community College of Beaver County?

I can't claim any personal experience with them, or their Professional Pilot program, but their Air Traffic Controller program has a good reputation, and if she chooses to get a 2-year aviation related degree, staying local might offer her the option of living at home while still in school. That would also leave the door open to advance to a 4-year degree in some other field. I understand they also have a program with some of the local high schools that allows students to earn some college credits while still in high school.
Ditchdigger is offline  
Old 18th May 2015, 17:19
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: US
Age: 61
Posts: 333
Get her looking into ANG and AirForce reserve programs. They will pay for her flight training and provide her a excellent backup job to the airlines. She can enlist in a squadron while in college to earn some income and position herself to get sent to flight school when she has her degree.
Sailvi767 is offline  

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