Want to Fly


New Member
I have wanted to fly since I was old enough to remember. I grew up building models of WW2 warbirds, my gramps was a USMC SBD tail gunner and I've always dreamed of flying.

Well, I never pursued it because I listened too much to my brain and not my heart. Anyways, I'm 30 years old, married with 2 kids and one on the way. I have a B.S. And worked for 5.5 years as a Police Officer and have spent the past 9 months working as a State Investigator. I drive a desk and don't feel fulfilled at all.

I have a good friend who is a Delta Captain and I've been inspired to follow my goals. I've looked into ATP since they offer a fast track program to the certs I'd need to make a living. I've read good and bad about them so any experience with ATP is welcome.

My wife is very supportive of me changing careers and spending 6 months at ATP. My real question is how do I get a job when I'm done?

As I understand it I'll finish training at ATP with PP, CP, Intstruments, Multi Engine, and CFI. I'm assuming that's around 270-500 hours of training?

I don't think my marriage would survive working for ATP as an instructor for another 18 months and my kids might think I abandoned them. With such low TT how can I gain some kind of employment?

I want to do this but I want to research before I take a huge plunge and make a huge change.



Well-Known Member
To answer the primary question, I think CFI's are pretty much in demand all over. I doubt that you would have to wok at ATP. There are also picto and survey vendors, jump operations and banner tow that you could work for and be home more. I believe all of those options would be rather low paying compared to your current occupation. (Not knowing where you work, I realize it's different depending on where you are)

Having said that, have you considered getting your certifications at a regular FBO flight school? You could do it around your current work schedule in your off hours, it might create a less of a financial strain as well. I suggest this because that's what I did. I actually worked at LE while taking my training, retired, and then went into flying professionally.

I'm not knocking ATP, in fact I got my multi there and was very happy with the program.

Other good advice I've seen here'. Make sure you can pass a first class medical before you jump in with both feet. (Especially if you want to get to airline work). Good Luck to you!

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Flying Saluki

Without going into all the details, I too did a "Hail Mary Pass" career change and I've regretted it every since. Not the change, but the "all-in" approach. Unless you live in middle of nowhere there is probably a FBO/Flight School in your town. Go there. This will save you money, allow you to train at your own pace and on your own schedule, and to pay as you go instead of accumulating debt. Ideally a couple of years of training at the FBO will lead to a job opportunity, full or part-time, when your finished. That's what I would do.


Gang Member
I have a good friend who is a Delta Captain and I've been inspired to follow my goals. I've looked into ATP since they offer a fast track program to the certs I'd need to make a living. I've read good and bad about them so any experience with ATP is welcome.

My wife is very supportive of me changing careers and spending 6 months at ATP. My real question is how do I get a job when I'm done?
I have no advice as to ATP specifically, but in general, I would recommend against the full-time zero to instructor programs. While no doubt you can learn to fly and become an instructor in these programs, and many do, there are some big drawbacks. It is a lot to learn quickly, it is expensive, and the experience is less than ideal for the work you will do as an instructor in general.

Depending on where you live, you can get the same ratings, and experience in more diverse areas of aviation, for about half the price. It may well take longer, but you also don't need to quit your day job.

I would look at getting a private license locally, and then figure out what you want to do after that.


Well-Known Member
I don't fly. I'm a flight dispatcher which, in my opinion, is the next best thing to being a pilot. But my point was to suggest to the OP not chuck it all and go all in. I think he is better served by a measured, patient approach to the career change.
Sorry, friend. I meant the OP.


Freight Dawg
Before you do anything make sure you can pass the FAA first class physical. With out it you're future career is finished before it gets started.

Second, keep your current job and find a good FBO at your local airport and get your ratings there. Pay as you go and at your own pace. If it turns out flying isn't your thing for whatever reason you're not out as much as if you paid everything up front. 250hrs with a wet CFI ticket is a long way to 1000-1500 hrs required to get on with a Regional Airline. If you're lucky enough to get a job as a newly minted CFI be prepared to make poverty wages for a couple years building time to the Regionals (If that's your goal). Yea, I know some folks make decent money as a CFI but realistically most don't. God forbid, what happens if we have another terrorist attack and it's affect on airlines and aviation. Remember what happened last time?

Third, you're young with plenty of time to obtain your aviation goals. Your heart better be in it 100% and not just a "Let me see if I'm gonna like this.." attitude. Understand that what you are about to get into can be VERY costly regardless of the road you choose with NO guarantees of personal or financial success. Understand also that you are playing with your family's financial security. With 3 young kids, is your wife REALLY on board with that? At this point you don't know what you don't know...

If you were single I'd say, "Hell yea! Go for it!" Throw in a wife, two young kids and one on the way I'm not sure the sacrifice you'll be putting them through chasing your dream! Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't.

Good luck!


Well-Known Member

I would think long and hard before going "all-in" with an accelerated program like ATP. Yes it's fast and will get you to CFI fast, but this industry is very fickle. Something as simple as another conflict or politics could cause a freeze in hiring. 2008 wasn't that long ago and many of us felt the repercussions to the aviation industry. As an LEO with a couple years on I would strongly recommend you go to an FBO and work on your PVT first. Take 2-3 classes a week if you have the time and money. All the while you will be still earning income from your day job and you will be paying down any debt on flying. Get through the IFR, COMM and CFI and work part time building your hours and then move onto the regionals. By then you will have a couple more years on your civil service job. Another consideration is if your city/county/state agency will grant you a leave of absence. That's always an option once your ready to make the jump to fulltime aviator.

You have kids and a wife. Trust me it sounds all good when you tell your wife its your "dream" to fly. Your kids could care less what you do for a living. All they want is a DAD. If you truly want to be a pilot it really shouldn't matter if your flying a piper cub or a 787. You can be both a dad, pilot and cop if you set it up right.

Take care, 3Green


New Member

Very good advice you’ve been given here .

Yes.....keep your job .. train locally . You may dicover that flying as Private Pilot when and where you want ....very satisfying .

For most professional pilots , it becomes a job , like everyone else.

.CFI’s are needed ... that is a respectable first goal , it will
Lead to many other flying and non flying opportunities .

Many police departments have, flight departments ? they may require you first have commercial / Helicopter certificates.

Don’t rule out your current police profession ..you may be pleasantly surprised that aviation is not just airline flying .

Three young children at home ... don’t become selfish .. a down turn in the economy ... the bubble may burst ...you will still have your bread and butter job .



Well-Known Member
As others have pointed out, there are a variety of ways to work in the aviation industry other than being an airline pilot.

I've had a side hustle as a CFI for the last 17 years. It fills my desire to fly professionally and leaves me with more money and quality of life than if I had taken the plunge into full time aviation. I'm in complete command of my schedule, and I fly enough to keep me happy and seldom more than that. My full-time gig pays well and is interesting work, and affords me the flexibility to run off to the airport whenever I want. Granted, I didn't always have that flexibility and the first 10 years were limited to evenings and weekends (mostly weekends) when I wasn't deployed, but it worked for me.

You're only limited by your imagination, so don't get stove piped into a single career track that is either one thing or another. Balance is the key to happiness!