Flight Training Conundrum...


Well-Known Member
So here is my situation: I am going to retire from the Army next June and I am going to be a professional pilot. I am not married and my one and only daughter is in college. I can go to just about any school or aviation academy that I want so long as they are part 141 and VA approved. I'm looking to get the most bang for my (or the Governments) buck. The question is how to go about getting the ratings. I've narrowed it down to three choices:

Option 1: Stay in the PacNW and go to PCC/Hillsboro and get IFR, MEL, CPL, CFI, CFII, MEI, all on the G.I. Bill using 15-18 months of my entitlement. The upside is I won't have to come out of pocket for anything except for check rides, exams, and probably any time over 141 requirements that the G.I. Bill might not cover. I'll finish in December 2016 with about 300TT and will likely start as a CFI somewhere. The downside is I already have an Associates Degree and I don't need another, especially in aviation. Then there's the time, 15 months to finish the program.

Option 2: Go to sunny Florida at Aviator College. I get the same ratings but with waaay more ME time and finish in 6 months rather than 15. I'll end up using 15 to 18 months of the GI bill. The upside is I'll be working a whole year sooner. The downside is I have to come out of pocket for about $26000.

Option 3: Again at Aviator except in their degree program. I'll get the same ratings as above but finish with nearly 600TT and about 250 ME. I'll be out of pocket about $15000 and it'll take about 18 to 24 months to complete.

I know how important seniority is in aviation. I also know how important ME time can be. Aviation can be a fickle master so spending $15000 to $30000 doesn't make good financial sense if I don't have to spend it, unless there is a huge upside.

If you were in my shoes which option would you choose and why?

Are there some other schools you think might give me better/more options?


Well-Known Member
Is the degree program at Aviator a 4 year? While it's true you don't NEED a 4 year degree it does help set you apart and, by far, most guys at top of the pyramid jobs have one. I would vote for option one based on your first post but I'd push you towards finding a place that's VA approved for the flight training and has a four year degree. You'll be a more well rounded pilot if you take some time with the ratings rather than zero to CFI in six months. The seniority thing is a valid argument but I think there are a lot of other good reasons to take your time and get the 4 year. You could be rushing yourself into a situation that takes years to overcome because you didn't have the degree. You could save a year at the front end by doing it fast but not checking the degree square could really set you back if you want to shoot for the top.


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Multi time isn't what it used to be...as of right now. People are hiring with just 25 hours.


Can you instruct at any of the schools while finishing a Bachelors?

300 or 600TT won't leave you a lot of options. Might as well bang out the Bachelors and make a few $$ and hours at the University


Well-Known Member
DE727UPS, the program at Aviator is only an Associates degree. The school I considered that has a Bachelors program was ASU, but I couldn't pin down the cost of attendance there nor how long the program was. I haven't scratched ASU off the list yet but there are better ways to earn a Bachelors while I work as a CFI. I agree with you that slowing the training process down will help me be a better pilot, especially in the PacNW where I'll get IMC and actual IFR, but I'm 37 and in any two year program I'll finish just before my 40th b'day and start as a CFI. I have a relatively short amount of time in which to gain experience and earn a decent salary. I'm not in any rush to get to a 121 carrier a start slogging it out as a regional FO. I'm more interested in the experience of being a pilot; I want to fly skydivers and tow banners and do aerial survey and Grand canyon tours. My goal is to try to squeeze in a variety of flying experiences between 250TT and 2500TT and try to do it in three to five years. It seems to me the sooner I can get started the better off I'll be in the long run.

jskibo, thats exactly what I intend to do regardless of which option I choose. I'll try be a CFI at the school I go to, but am likely to finish my Bachelors online with American Military University.

Pachong, I peruse the aviation job boards and see that quite a few employers want ME mins of 250hrs to 500hrs. I've read about guys getting picked up at places like Ameriflight with 300TT and practically no ME time, how common is that?

The overall vibe I get from reading forums and talking to pilots is that now is a good time to start a career in aviation, as opposed to 2008; everyone talks about that time as if it were the dark ages!

Zapphod Beblebrox

Well-Known Member
Here is what is happening in the industry at the top levels

Delta has taken the lead and although it is not popular at Endeavor, it is a look at what is going to be happening with United an American.

1. Preference will be given to those who have a 4-year college degree in Aviation. Delta has stated the following:

WATS 2011: Delta ponders pilot sources
By: John Croft
21:19 20 Apr 2011

Delta Air Lines is considering a "blue sky" theory for how to meet future pilot demands. Called "CAPT," for Civil Airline Pilot Training programme, the carrier stresses the idea is conceptual in nature and that it is not committed to the implementation, nor is it engaged in discussions with potential sponsors.

Speaking at the World Aviation Training conference in Orlando, Florida on 19 April, Arnie Kraby, Delta's manager of pilot selection, said a dramatic pilot shortage is a "gathering storm" that industry must address. Delta alone in the next 15 years will lose 7,600 pilots who will reach age-65 and retire, says Kraby.

CAPT would mainly look to high-tier college aviation programmes as means of cultivating pilots. "Statistical data indicates that a quality college education from a top-tier university or college provides us with a much better pilot in terms of fewer training failures, overall performance and reliability," notes Kraby.

The programme would include advanced jet aircraft simulation training and would be on par with military training, which produces skilled pilots qualified to fly high-performance aircraft in a shorter period compared with the civil sector, says Kraby. He is a former US Air Force pilot who flew Delta aircraft for 38 years,

"First we need to educate, mentor and train students," says Kraby. The CAPT programme would invite stakeholders across industry to come onboard as sponsors and jointly work out solutions. One of the first goals would be to build an outreach programme focused on middle- and high schools in an effort to stir up enthusiasm for the pilot profession.

CAPT candidates would be carefully screened to choose only those who have skills necessary to become a pilot. The candidate would have to maintain a 2.75 GPA, and 3.0 GPA for aviation courses. Upon earning a degree, the candidate would be required stay on as CAPT member and accrue 1,000 hours as a flight instructor at the university, thus providing a stable workforce for the school and to acquire FAA-required flight hours.

Graduates of the programme would be guaranteed an interview at a sponsoring regional airline. Then, after meeting regional airline requirements and logging required number of hours for a mainline slot (Delta requires 1,200 hours), CAPT would offer an interview at a major airline sponsor-- "another light at the end of the tunnel", says Kraby.

With aviation training costs running $80,000-$100,000, Kraby stresses: "We've [industry] got to provide financial assistance for students if we are to get the [pilot] numbers." The programme might require that student loans be guaranteed by the sponsoring organization. Another solution might be to have loans reduced by 5% per year up to a maximum of 50% for each year the candidate works for a sponsoring airline.

2. The former head of the Training Department at US Airways, has been assigned to regional pilot selection and recruitment. Many thought he was just being pushed aside but the word is that management is going to go all in for multiple flow arrangements and preferred hiring. It is believed the program will be targeting the same demographic as Delta; graduates of Aviation Colleges with 4 year degrees and good grades as the primary preferred source.

3. United mainline has been sending senior Training department personnel to University Aviation Aviation Association functions and they have been featured speakers at these and other types of aviation conferences at the more basic training level.

In sum all three major airlines are demonstrating a preference for the Aviation College graduates. It may not remain so as the pilot shortage gets deeper, but it appears that way now.


Well-Known Member
Having a Bachelors is a no brainer in this industry, but the debate rages on about whether or not to get it in aviation or something you can fall back on. You make a compelling argument with the three mainlines specifically recruiting Aviation program graduates and the FAA certainly made it more attractive than ever by allowing restricted ATP's with less hours depending on the program you graduate from. Many pilots have written many diatribes about getting a non-Aviation degree in an effort to hedge their employment prospects in case they get furloughed or lose their medical or some other happenstance that would make it impossible for them to earn a living as a pilot. In my case I am an IT guy with all of the relevant certifications and 20 years of IT/telecom experience; that's my fall back plan. What degree I earn has to enhance my employment prospects in either industry and it seems to me, with most aviation employers preferring pilots with bachelors degrees but not specifying a degree in aviation, a degree in IT is more appropriate.

Oh BTW Zapphod....do you know where your towel is?

Zapphod Beblebrox

Well-Known Member
Oh definitely...

“A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
Not included in this list is; You can use your towel to plug your ears if Vogon's try to recite poetry, and you can use it to wipe your chin or other areas of yourself after feeling the effects of drinking several "Pan Galatic Gargle Blasters."