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Thread: Too old to start?

  1. #1

    Too old to start?

    I have dreamed of flying for years but unfortunately chose a different career path based on pressure from others. I am not at all happy in current career and have been looking into aviation degree/flight training to become commercial pilot. I realize that I will have to work for smaller airlines and I am ok with that. I also realize that money will probably be less and amount of financing this goal is high, but at age 46 It is now or never. Is this just a waist of time, delusional or what? I certainely am more interested in flying for a living even with lower pay. I want to fly and get paid for doing what I know in my heart I will love. My father almost got his PPL but financially just could not finish. Going the route via flight school and student loans is the only way to make this happen. Should I go forth or not? Please advise, anyone. Thanks.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Hunter Valley in New South Wales Australia
    Go for it! If you never give it a go you will never know. Then you will be 56.......

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Frederick, MD
    I used to fly with a guy who had started flying about your age. He had "made his fortune" and wanted to try his dream of flying. He worked his way through all the licences, and came to work for the outfit I was flying for at age 49. The pay wasn't quite what he was used to, but money wasn't the issue for him. He loved his time with the airlines, and was a very good pilot. But this was 15 years ago, before everything in the airlines changed so much.

    I would definitely say "go for it". I believe strongly in not taking your last breath thinking "I really wish I had done that, or this, or whatever". But think very carefully about your finances. The aviation world is not an easy one to get into, and pay is very poor initially, regardless of your age. If you are serious, then how about doing the PPL first, if you haven't already done that, while still employed? Then, subject to how that goes & how you feel about it, continue with the other licences while still working. Or having done the PPL, go to somewhere like ALLATP where you work your backside off and get everything done in 4 months or so.

    Then the really difficult part starts - finding a job. No airline will take you with 250hrs, so you will spend quite a few years instructing, glider towing etc, etc, trying to build hours until your resume starts to look a bit fuller.

    Unless you really want to go to college, I wouldn't necessarily follow that route. Do you already have a degree?

    Alternatively, get your licences to CFI/II and flight instruct in your spare time. You may find that sharing the joy of flying gives you as much job satisfaction as anything else.

    Good luck with what you decide to do. And remember there's an awful lot more to working in aviation than just flying for the airlines
    Last edited by Janet Davidson; 12-07-2011 at 08:17 AM.

  4. #4
    rosiejerryrosie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Carlisle, PA
    Janet has given you some very good advice. Do what you would like to do, but keep your options open. Age is not a factor in learning to fly (I got my ticket at age 72) but whether or not you want, and can afford, to have flying your sole means of support is another issue with many, many details to consider.

    65LA out of 07N Pennsylvania

  5. #5
    Fred here. Flew for United for 30 years. Pay and working conditions are so bad that some who got out of the military to fly commercially, have quit and gone back to the military. The small carriers are even worse. I'd think long and hard before I spent that kind of money. To show how old I am, my wife and I both got our privates (back in the early 60's) for $800 for both of us.

  6. #6
    Jim Clark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Prairie Cottage Airport, 8KS8, Chapman KS
    Do the math and you will discover you can't get the ROI to pencil before you turn 65. Should you fly? Absolutely! As a career? Do the math.
    Jim Clark, Chairman National Biplane Fly In, Currently flying: 1929 Waco CSO, 1939 Waco EGC-8, 1946 Piper J-3, 1955 Piper PA22/20, 1956 Beech G35, 1984 Beech A36 & 2001 Vans RV9.
    You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there isn't any woman and there isn't any horse, nor any before nor any after, that is as lovely as a great airplane, and men who love them are faithful to them even though they leave them for others.
    - Ernest Hemingway

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    no such thing as "too wold",

    i'ts all in the mind! true, there are such things but not much of it

    nice forum by the way!!

    cheers !!

    vision therapy
    improve vision
    Last edited by scotron80; 12-19-2011 at 07:07 AM.

  8. #8
    Cary's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Fort Collins, CO
    At your age, you are not too old to learn to fly, but whether you can make a career of flying for the airlines is problematic. Different airlines have different hiring minimums, so you should research that before setting yourself an unlikely goal. And as you'll see, it helps to already have "made it" economically.

    I have 2 acquaintances who made "the leap" at an older age, but they already had their private, instrument, commercial, and multi.
    • D was in the insurance business and had done well. He regularly flew, mostly for pleasure, his light twin, occasionally for business. He'd had a dream of flying airliners. In his mid-40s, he researched and found that he already had the minimums (barely) required of a number of different regional airlines. He applied to all of them, and got several responses. Long story short, he was accepted into the training program for one of the larger regionals, worked his butt off, became a FO, and regularly flies in the eastern US--but he lives in California, so he commutes and misses out on much family stuff. The pay is awful--but he gets to fly a lot, and that is gratifying.
    • W has flown most of his life, largely as a part-time instructor. Can't recall what business he was in, but I think it was a stock broker. He built and flies a Murphy Moose. Anyhow, similar story as D, except he had reached age 50 when he decided to switch careers. Again, bare minimums to qualify, but again accepted into a training program, not for a regional, but for a major west coast carrier. He's been with them for 8 years as of last Fall, spends about 4 days a week away from home, but enjoys flying up and down the coast to Alaska. Pay remains an issue, but he had been set from his previous career. He just moved to the left seat this past summer, largely due to some unexpected retirements.
    So it's possible, if you stick with it, but don't expect it to be a money-maker. The days of the high paid airline captains is long gone, and by the time you get through the necessary qualifications, you'll only have a decade at most for the career, which may or may not give you the seniority to move to the left seat. But you'll be flying, and that may be enough!

    "I have slipped the surly bonds of earth...,
    put out my hand and touched the face of God." J.G. Magee

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Olympia, WA.
    Howdy Will; I was very fortunate to have started my flying career at the end of WW-II. Still, I had to work for every hour of flight time. Sold my '33 Chevy and my saxaphone to buy my first airplane, a "46 Champ for $ 600. This airplane got me my Private, Commercial and Flight Instructor ratings and later when sold bought me an Instrument rating and a Multi Engine rating. Unfortunately times have changed. I still think that having your own aircraft is a good route as there are any number of Cessna 150's for a low enough price. One more thing, I never attended any kind of formal flight school, found a good instructor and got the rest out of the midnight oil and books. I did fly for an airline for 35 years, started as a co-pilot on DC-3's at $325. per month! You might take a look at the possibilities in corporate flying, air frieght or commuter. Low pay but it's flying. I am 82 and still flying sportsman and I would do it all over again if I could turn back the clock. Barnstormer
    Last edited by Barnstormer; 12-16-2011 at 12:30 AM.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Plano, Tx
    I'm not a professional pilot but at around the same age as you I started looking into flying for a living. With the time you have left before mandatory retirement, you will not be able to make this endeavor pay off. However, if you are really determined to try, you might look into flying helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico. The competition is probably just as strong, but the starting pay is better and I'm told flying them is a lot of fun. The cost of helicopter training is greater, but you don't need an ATP rating, just a commercial instrument rating.

    If you look into this, DO NOT believe what the flight schools tell you about job prospects. They greatly exaggerate. However, it might be a worthwhile option.

    You didn't say what you do for a living currently. It obviously doesn't suit you or you wouldn't be thinking of trying to become a commercial pilot. Maybe there are other fields that would better satisfy you. You might consider taking some values and interests tests ate your local community college to get some ideas of another career change that would be more satisfying, yet not leave you destitute at 65 years old.

    However, I do strongly urge you to learn to fly. In fact, I believe you should get your PPL before even considering going further. If you haven't gotten at least a hundred hours, you really don't know if you will enjoy flying for a living or not. I know several pilots that got their PPL, flew for a short while, then decided it was not what they expected and quit altogether. There are many ways to fly recreationally that are very satisfying, or you can get your CFI and teach on the weekends.

    If money is currently tight, I suggest you see if there is a glider club near you (not a commercial operation). Learning to fly at a soaring club is both cheaper and a lot of fun. Most clubs have a very social aspect, as opposed to commercial operations where you show up, take your lesson and go home. OTOH, at a club, you are expected to chip in and help with the maintenance of the aircraft and the flight operations, so just showing up for your lesson and then going home is unacceptable.

    I'm not saying don't do it, but I think you should evaluate this coolly and with detachment, rather than with the idea that it will be fun and glamorous.

    Good luck, whatever you decide,


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