Airline Pilot Forums
Airline Pilot Forums was designed to be a community where working airline pilots can share ideas and information about the
aviation field. In the forum you will find information about major and regional airline carriers, career training, interview and
job seeker help, finance, and living the airline pilot lifestyle.
08-03-2012, 10:11 AM
Hello, I'm 17 years old and my goal is to one day become a commercial airline pilot. The problem is that I'm not entirely sure how to get there. I'm aware of all the things that I need to attain to get a job with the airlines, but I don't know what route I should take to get them. I'm going to be a senior in high school this year, and I'm debating on whether I should join the Air Force or Coast Guard, or go to college to get a degree and then go to a flight school. The problem is that my family is extremely short on cash for various reasons, so college and flight school is beginning to become more difficult to support.
Aviation is a real love of mine, and despite all of the reasons stating why a career in commercial piloting is the wrong choice, I believe that it's what I want to do in life. If you could please share with me what you believe is the best and cheapest route to get there, I would greatly appreciate it.
08-03-2012, 02:53 PM
Join the AF, USN, USCG. If lucky, get accepted to an academy or, failing that, ROTC. Paid education, pilot training and great career.
08-03-2012, 02:56 PM
strongly consider the military route...
08-03-2012, 03:41 PM
Mil route! ROTC. If ur fam is tight on cash apply for financial aid. Try for some scholarships....even the $500 ones can help out.
I don't recommend enlisting first, if u want to be a pilot...it's going to eat up years that you could be getting your degree and then commissioned. It's about a yr wait to go to UPT, then about a year at UPT, then a 10 yr commitment. You will b eligible to separate around the 12 yr active duty mark (~17 yrs from now).
...I also took out student loans!! Be smart on this one...it would suck to have huge debt after college.
08-04-2012, 10:45 AM
Army warrant officer flight training you can do from civilian to WOFT without a college degree. Do e-army U while in and get your degree. Expect to fly helos but who knows if you like it maybe one day you can get a fixed wing slot or even look at the army national guard, many have WO fixed wing units
08-07-2012, 12:09 PM
I don't recommend enlisting first...
Unless you go Guard...
Enlist in your local unit as a crew chief or enlisted crew member, simultaneously earn your bachelor degree, then apply to any and all rated hiring boards. If you do a good job as an airman, your leadership will go to bat for you, even with other units.
Well, it is very good that you are thinking about this early and if you stick to it and stay focused, you'll certainly be where you want to be at a young age.
A brief little about me, I was in your position and graduated in '08. I had the same contemplations you did between military and civilian route. At that time, the market hadn't quite crashed and money wasn't necessarily my problem. My end goal has always been to fly for a passenger airline, granted I would do any other flying (such as cargo or corporate) if the career possibility was there. Although most people told me to enlist, and the sales pitch is good; get paid, no debt, all kinds of flight time, and airlines love military pilots. I don't know how true any of that is, but that was the year that the percent of air force pilots flipped and more pilots were flying drones than actual airplanes. That thought scared me. I didn't want to sign away 10 years of my life or so for a chance to get in the aviation program, and if I got in it would more than likely get met with "your new airplane is a UAV." I just didn't want to spend 10 years of my life and end it with 0 flight hours.
So I enrolled in college, UVU online to be specific. I actually just graduated spring of '12 with a bachelor of science in aviation. I liked the program and think the degree is wonderful to have. The price tag is not so wonderful; with no scholarships or grants, I spent about $70,000 or so. I don't think that's too bad considering a degree and all my pilot certs in four years. I also just got hired at Great Lakes Airlines after being a flight instructor for a year. I am very pleased with the route I took, and would encourage anyone looking to an airline career to do the same. The military is shrinking their budget every year and I believe they are fast becoming the way of the past in order to become a pilot. But that is just my opinion.
Some other options you have; if $70 - $80 grand of debt isn't your price range, and you'd rather not do the military route, consider ATP flight school. They do fast track to airline pilot programs and they'll cost somewhere around $55,000. They'll go very fast, which is something I don't necessarily like, so make sure you go above and beyond to learn what they teach you and appreciate your time there as a flight instructor. The program is good and they can make you an airline pilot FAST, but the drawback is you don't have a degree. It is also possible to do college online and get your certs with ATP, but would probably cost about $15,000 more than I spent with a more local flight school.
All in all, good job on getting off to an early start. Aviation is something you must stick to, and be very motivated, in order to succeed. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. Hopefully you'll take all options and think about what is best for you and the life you want.
08-09-2012, 01:14 AM
Riley, I paid my way through college and flight training myself albeit decades ago. Do your best to avoid high debt loads. Do some math with your parents concerning normal every day living expenses while paying off $70,000-$100,000 of unbankruptable debt on a Copilot salary of $16,000 a year. ( Great Lakes F/O pph $16 )
Consider serving in the Guard/Reserve as enlisted. Usually they offer some college assistance. Be advised you will likely be called upon to serve overseas or in a deployment. If you don't like the military experience you have not signed away 12 years of your life. You can just walk away after your initial commitment is over.
BTW all branches of the Service require a 4 year degree before flight training except the Army.
Above all have a realistic view of what your job will pay and its lifestyle. Read the Regional airline section. Almost every pilot hired at my major airline gig was in their mid 30's to 40's when they started.
08-09-2012, 01:29 AM
Go to college, get good grades, graduate, go guard or AFRC. Get some time in UPT, be full time in your unit and fly your balls off. Go airlines and keep part time guard/AFRC.
End. Of. Story.