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New member
Dec 3, 2001
Hello everyone,

I am totally impressed with all the replies I have received. Thank you all very much. Let me answer some questions for you. I am a new Private Pilot with about 170 hours and am just starting my IFR rating. I also recently received my Bachelor of Science in Business Management. I am 38 years old and feel that time is somewhat of the essence to complete my training so I can have a good career with the airlines. Thus the reason I am looking into these types of schools is so I can get there faster and start my career sooner. So I thought if I could be hired with 400-500 hours it might be better for someone my age. Instead of building my time instructing I thought I could do it flying for a regional. There are so many choices and so many ways to get there. I really appreciate all the great advice and input so keep it coming!!

Also I am not opposed to the uniform!!


The last thread got carried away a bit, but with good intentions...

Your total time changes things... first of all you may not be eligible for 141 training. Some schools "may" allow you but at a significant cut of your time (they may not allow all of the 170 hours). Personally, I do not think a 141 environment is going to give you the bang for the buck you may want...

to start part 141 states you have to do 35 hours for your instrument, for commercial it is 120 hours which will at the end net you somewhere around 155 on top of the 170 you currently have. SO you will get a commercial certificate at 325 hours? When you can get it at 250? Since I do not know your time and how it is broken down but assuming that you have met most of the requirments for the instument you probably are almost 1/2 way to the commercial as well, why not finish it up that way and save the $$$? Your 70 hours from a commercial, why spend an additional 75 to get the same thing?

I was in the same place you are 2 years ago, I was 36, a degree and coming off of a decent first career. I started the same way with a private then went into an accelerated program. Although I was only at 80 hours or so, I still finished the programs in less than 7 months then another 3 weeks for the 3 CFI's. From the wet ink on my CFI to my first regional was less than 9 months. This again was in 99-00, and it is a different environment now.

I am really not sure a program will assist you as much as you would like, but one may... MAPD (Mesa Pilot Development). I flew with a few MAPD people, they came in with around 300-400 hours and went through the program to a regional airline (Mesa). I know most of them spoke highly of the program. I do not know how much it costs and I do know if it is still running. Mesa does has some 317 guys on furlough.

Getting hired with low time is going to be difficult, at our age we cannot easily compete with the 21 year old who still lives at home, nor can we easily compete with the 20 something who will live at the hangar. I assume you have a family, and it becomes difficult when families are involved. We do have a benifit with age that usually indicates responsibility and dependability. I can say from a CFI position, I did have more students because I was older than the rest. The older students were not comfortable with a 20 something and the younger students assumed the age meant I was more "seasoned" that the 20 something CFI. Not true, but first impressions gave me a lot of student business.

I wish you the best, and in some ways I do not envy you as you have a difficult decision with many options. Here is one question though, where you live, how is the market? Are there a lot of instructor openings or 135 operations? Your answer may be right there already...

A couple caveats: (I thought I was done with this thread)
1st, Don is right. WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE DO NOT LET ANYONE SELL YOU 141 TRAINING. I worked for a 141 school, and we were very honest with people, and in your case, we would finish you under part 61. Otherwise, you will pay for 75 hours that you do not need. The quality of training is not diminished if you go part 61. For instance at my school, as I said we would finish you up part 61. You would complete your training with the same instructor, on the same syllabus as a 141 student, but we'd cut the "time building" lessons out of the syllabus. It's the SAME training. there is nothing magical about 141, particularly if you get part 61 training at a part 141 school.

2nd, No matter where you go, you will not get to a regional with 500 hours right now, no matter what they tell you. Your post indicates that you consider flying for a regional an alternative to providing instruction. This kind of goes against conventional wisdom. Regional jobs are far more competitive, and requre far more experience to get than instructor jobs. (especially right now because there are no regional jobs to be had.) I'm not saying you have to instruct.. there are still some part 135 jobs to be had. (with a lot of furloughed pilots, those are even fairly competitive right now) But there are still 135 opportunities for low time pilots. Please Please Please do not think that any school can get you a job at a regional with 500 hours. A few months ago, a pilot with 500 hours (if she had 100 multi) could get a regional job. There is no telling when those days will come back, but probably not before you finish your training.

I think my grand total is about $102.20 with all the .02's I've been putting into this thread.

Good luck.
Everything said above is great advice. You don't need to go to one of those big schools, if you have 170 hours they have nothing to offer you. After you finish your instrument you'll have 210-220 hours. Figure another 10-15 to get the commercial, all you need for that is to learn a complex aircraft and the commercial maneuvers.

Find a good a instructor who will sit down with you and your logbook and map out the exactly what you need to get your commercial certificate. You'll need 250TT, plus meet some PIC and XC requirements, some of which you may want to make sure you take care of during your instrument training. Make sure you ONLY do what if required by the FAA, don't let anyone sell you any additional training.

Then, as FlyinBrian said, plan on getting your CFI.

Personally, I think if a person isn't willing to instruct a while, or do one of the other "low time bottom feeder" flying jobs, then they have no business bothering to pursue the career. This career field does require some sacrifice.....
PACE Program

How can you recommend a program that costs over $10,000 that will only prepare you for an interview with one airline that is not hiring and has pilots on furlough?
Wiggums, it's the blind leading the blind. They will just have to learn the hard way.
Glad to see I ain't the only dog on this board!!
Career Changing

Hi, Diana, thanks for giving your age, because that puts perspective on your plans. I second Brian's and Don's comments, again. Especially Don's comments about how HARD it is for 40-year-old types to compete with 21-year-olds for jobs. Read my (lengthy and maybe long-winded) post on the "Career Changer" thread to get an idea of my experiences.

I was 36 and already had my Commercial and CFI A and I and bunch of time with no multi when I decided to change careers. I needed my multi and MEI to be ready to compete. I regret that I couldn't simply pick up and leave my day job to go back to school, earn a second degree in Aviation (I already had a B.S.B.A.) and train full-time to finish. Your degree is fine and all you need.

Many of the well-known 141 schools, such as FlightSafety in Vero, can tailor a course to meet your needs under Part 61. I had a couple of Part 61 students when I instructed at FSI. You'll train for individual ratings under the same syllabus used for the 141 students. Check on these schools. It won't hurt if you can do as much training as you can in multis, but it is not essential. Especially now, with hiring grinding to a halt and extra multi time out of training not really helping anyone.

Don't delude yourself that you can be flying for a commuter with 400-500 hours. It happens infrequently in the best of times (except for MAPD) and it won't happen now. Expect to instruct for a couple of years and plan to get your ATP at 1500 hours. Don't expect to be able to get a commuter job right out of instructing. Try to get some 135 time along the way. When hiring picks up, there will be plenty of well-qualified people available and the commuters can be choosy once again, and 135 time and a 135 letter will give you an advantage.

Maybe the 1000 total-100 multi days may return. When I was looking for commuter work ten-eleven years go, the rock-bottom requirements were 1500 total-500 multi and an ATP and people whined about those quals.

Once again, here's another .02 for the older pilot career-changers support fund. ;) Good luck with your plans.

"It is not the goal that is important, it is the journey." The idea that you wouldn't "mind" flying for a regional for awhile is a bit insulting, I'm afraid, although I'm sure your didn't mean it intentionally. The fact that someone is still willing to get into this business is nice to see. Don't forget that learning to fly doesn't stop at your PPL checkride. Flying freight in the middle of the night provides plenty of opportunities to learn. A thousand hours (minimum) dual instruction provides plenty of lessons. When you are sitting in your Airbus at UAL with your feet up on the traytable and something goes wrong you might remember that. Good luck.
I agree with Jim on most of the post. The part I disagree with is menial but I think worth mentioning.

First, during my intial training (141) my classmate and good friend just retired from the Navy. For serving his country he did get the GI bill to pay most (80%) of his training. The benifit he had was two folded though, his training was paid for while I took loans out for mine. After completion I was able to get a CFI job reasonably quickly, my friend was not as fortunate, but he did "(in his words, not mine) get to play soldier" and hence made almost the same as I did busting my butt instructing. Because of his service to this country he had or has a job that would pay some of the bills. Unlike me who did not by any other reason but working.

The second point, in my recent CL-65 class we had on retired Army Helo pilot, upon our furlough he was able to sustain by doing the "guard", he too got most of his fixed wing hours because of a GI bill. With the combination of the guard and unemployment he was making more money than if he was working. Also, because of his military position he was employed within 10 days after the furlough flying helicopters again.
Me the civillian, fixed wing pilot with the loans I am still paying for does not have that luck.

I am not in any way knocking any military pilot, or person. I think they are an asset to the pilot group. I am merely trying to point out that while many of them have success stories, they have reasons for the success stories. Some of the reasons may be GI bills which seriously cut the expense of flight training, others have the ability in a bad economy to go to the reserves or guard, or in the case of the helo pilot to different equipment to keep the money rolling in. The civillian group though in most cases does not have this liberty, and since Diana, you have not mentioned that you are former military, you fit more into this group than the ex-military guys and gals.

Regardless, there are success stories, many will give you a guide to go by. The realization though is that not all are successful, this is equally sad and the truth.
to flyinBrian..

Why do you say there are no regional jobs to be had? Comair is hiring and purchasing new aircraft. I'm sure we're not the only ones. Good luck to all of you.
to: skydiverdriver

You are right, Comair will start hiring and I heard ACA or ASA will start up too. Express I will too as we are "supposedly" to get up to 70 something 44 seaters, but for sure 10 more CL-65's...

The thing is, from what I heard (again maybe rumor) Comair has a pool that is about 4 months in size. Hence, they may hire but you would be luckly to see a class by April. Express I prior to 9/11 supposedly had classes filled for 6 months in advance.

Even if these 3 or 4 airlines do start hiring (and it pretty much assured they will), question 1 is when , question 2 will be how many. Question 3 will be how many will be left from the street after each empties thier respective pools.

Regardless, you are right but these few airlines are not going to pick up all the furloughed guys and gals, I wish they would or could though...
I stand corrected. The airlines mentioned here all require 200 multi. (I'm pretty sure.) Unfortuanately, I don't have that number. I retract my statement that there are no regional jobs to be had. I think it is fair to say however that there are FAR fewer regional jobs, and the market for them is far more competitive than it was pre 9-11.

Thanks for clearing that up.