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Fork in the road.

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Jan 24, 2002
Hey people! First off, just wanted to say what a great board this is! This is my first post so hang in there. On to the question..

I've taken my Private Pilot ground and I'm currently taking my Instrument Ground at a local community college. My job sucks and along with school I only have the time/money to fly ~once a week. How did you guys get through this?? Should I bite the bullit and get a big loan so I can go somewhere like Comair or other flight school?? It's killing me just poking around. I'm open to any suggestions. Please help a newbie out!!! Thanks!

If you have the resources available to take out a big loan and go to an accelerated flight school then that may be an option for you. If you just want to stay where you are there are companies out there who give loans for flight training at your local FBO so that may be another way to do it. I am not sure of the names of the places that give the loans but I will try and find some info for you. If you would do that, you can make the time to fly 2-3 times a week by finding an instructor who has a flexable schedule and can fly early AM flights or late PM flights with you during the week or on weekends such as early Sunday mornings. The way I financed my training was to just rack up the bill at my local FBO then pay it back as I was able to. The bad part of that is that I am still paying it back at 18% intrest which really hurts. The bottom line is if it is something you really want to do you will find a way to pay and make time to get it done. Maybe you could also work at the FBO part time as a line guy and get a little discount on rental and instruction. If you have any more questions just ask and good luck to you.
One way to do it would be to get Uncle Sam to pay for it. Have you considered flying for the military?? Might be something to look into. You would most likely need to join an R.O.T.C. unit while in college and become an officer upon graduation. A lot of guys go that route. I also believe you could go thru Officer Candidate School as well once you are done with college if you didn't do the R.O.T.C. thing. I did mine the civilian way, so maybe the Air Force or Navy guys could tell you more.

There is nothing wrong with the way you are going about it now if you are young. Just keep at it. There won't be much hiring at the majors for a while, so I think you have a good amount of time to get your ratings. We are probably talking 25 grand or so to get all of your ratings up thru instructor.

If you went to a flight school and did it all at once, from what I've read, it could be done in 9 months or so. But that is flying every day.....and that also means not having a job at the time to keep income coming in, so you have to consider that as well. Also, I think you would have a tough time right now getting an instructor job once you finished up training. No movement at the major airlines pretty much clogs up the jobs for everybody. It's like a big feeding chain. No movement and everybody stuck in their present position. Not good. I speak from experience because this is exactly what happened in 1991, when I just got out of college. No jobs, had to pump gas for a few years. So from this point of view I see no advantage to heading to a school and doing it all quickly in the present environment we are in.

I believe we had a pretty good thread going around a month ago about this subject. I can't remember the title of it, but I remember that the thread was started by a poster by the name of Crabtree. You should try to find it, we covered some good topics that might answer some of your questions.

I know it seems like you're spinning your wheels, but just keep at it, slowly but surely you will get there.
Flight School

I have some info on flight schools and financing for it, if you are interested. Just let me know!
Fannie Mae (sp?) has a program to finance flight training at FBO's that are pre qualified schools for them.

The interest rates are high, but allows you to fly as much as you can for $300-$400 a month. Of course, you will be paying that for years after your finished with the training.
Flight Training

I didn't set out to be a professional pilot when I started flying. I understand how you feel about only flying once a week. I would recommend, based on my personal experience, that you should just decide to do it, and start training full time. There are many ways to go about it.

I'd agree with UALX727 that a lot depends on your age. If you are under 25, you have a great many options open, such as the military. The military is a great option if you are young. The pros include the best, standardized flight training and flight experience anywhere, great personal development training as a military officer, the opportunity to do something for your country, and apparent hiring preference with the majors. The downsides include, well, the military isn't for everyone. A nine-year commitment, which won't matter that much if you're young. No guarantee of being selected or making it through flight training. The nine-year disadvantage might evaporate somewhat because there won't be much major airline hiring for the next few years. Military flying options include all the branches and your local National Guard unit.

If you're older than thirty, you don't have as many options. You can go to an aviation college full time or a commercial flight school full time. Or work and fly regularly at your local FBO. An advantage to an accelerated school is you build momentum and your training moves along. A few disadvantages to accelerated schools include too much learning coming at you too fast, receiving only enough training to pass checkrides, and your learning perishing after you complete the course because you are unable to continue flying. If you have a reasonable expectation of getting a job and/or continuing to fly after obtaining your certificates, an accelerated course may be fine. If not, with hiring the way it is, you may be better off in the long run in terms of thorough, retainable training to take it slower.

Most of the well-known schools are expert in helping students obtain financial aid. They do it to help you and to help themselves enroll paying students. You can obtain Pells grants and Stafford loans to finance your training. Payback terms are very liberal, something like seven to ten years. I took out loans to go to school for my current profession.

Finally, get your four-year degree, at some properly accredited college, in something. The majors hire pilots with or without aviation majors. You won't amount to much in aviation without a four-year college degree.

Hope this helps a little. Good luck with your plans.
I think Fannie Mae makes fine chocolates.
I know that both Sallie Mae and Nellie Mae offer loans for flight training. My personal recommendation would be to get the loans, but don't go to a big school like Comair. Go to a smaller part 141 school at a local airport that will be able to provide you with good instruction without the inflated price tag. Don't buy into any school's "we'll make you an airline pilot in 120 days with 300 hours!" marketing B.S. Also, schools that wear airline uniforms don't actually get you to the airlines any faster, they just charge you extra for the uniforms so that other pilots will laugh at you on your cross countries. (Hey look! It's Captain Skyhawk!)
Here's my situation. I'm 23, living at home (few bills!!) and working part time while in college. If I went to a flight school I wouldn't really have anything left behind to pay for. I've considered military but I don't think it's for me. I realize that after school my first job would probably be as a flight instructor. Which is basically a low paying hour builder, correct? But if have these huge loans to pay back, how much am I looking at making with the next step? What's the average going price for a newbie RJ pilot?

As you all can tell, I'm full of questions. Thanks in advance!

As a CFI you will be poor. There's just no way around it. However, most people I know have worked another job that was flexible enough to fit into their schedule, like bartending.

As a starting RJ first officer, expect to earn about $20,000 the first year. Once you make captain, which used to be a year on average the pay goes up to about $50,000.
Fannie/Sallie, 220v/240v, whatever it takes....

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