Best path to commercial license?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Derrik, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Derrik

    Derrik Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello everyone, I started my PPL training back in the fall out in Midland. I only have 8.4 hours logged so far and my student pilot cert. I’m back in the north Texas area now, and I’m looking for advice toward getting my commercial license. I have contacted several flight schools, but they’re all 70-80K for PPL, Inst, Multi, Commercial, and CFI. What are some of your experiences, or suggestions? I’m not in a rush to get my ATP. I would be more than happy doing pipeline patrol as long as I’m flying for work I don’t care. Thanks
     
  2. farky

    farky Pre-Flight

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    Don't have my commercial yet but that's my goal....I got my private and just started flying any chance I get. Just bought my own plane last week so I don't have to worry about availability and paying rent. I'm not going to be needing my instrument for the line of work I'm going in to so that makes it a bit cheaper...maybe sometime in the future. What are you calling north Texas?
     
  3. gasfiltered

    gasfiltered Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You might be surprised by the minimums required for pipeline patrol. One of the biggest players in the game requires 1500 hours.

    If you do the math, that $70k equates to 350 hours at an average of $200/hour, which is about right. It is possible to buy a plane and save some money, but it is very possible it could end up costing you an extra $25k. There is a guy at the flight school I used to work at who bought a 172, put it on leaseback, and it has paid for all his ratings and made a small profit. In order for this to work, you have to have a very busy flight school and favorable terms and unusually good luck with maintenance. It's not something I would suggest for a first-time business owner.

    The truth is, that unless the cost of a trainer is literally pocket change to you and you can afford to take a hit on nearly the entire value, it is not the safest way to go. You also have to consider that a basic trainer will not get you the certs that pay. You don't sound like you're immediately airline bound, which can complicate things. Airlines don't care if you have 1500hrs in a 152, but everyone else wants to see some variety and progression of complexity in your flight time. That means multi-engine time in progressively faster, more capable planes. Those big schools graduate you with hundreds of hours of multi-time and an MEI for that $70k.

    The time factor is also big, market fluctuations being what they are, you need to get yourself into a stable position as quickly as possible. Buying an airplane is often similar to buying a house, it can take a couple of months. By the time you get your grubby paws on that plane, a big school would have you nearly finished with your multi-commercial (they almost all do the CMEL as the initial because it is more valuable and it is a very easy checkride).

    I didn't go to a big accelerated school, but at times I wish I had. My colleagues from those pilot mills leave with a more marketable CFI ticket and a big chunk of Part 135 PIC mins already met. They are a few steps ahead; they also have crushing debt which I believe leads some of them to take some unreasonable risks. If you can shoulder the cost in mostly cash, it's hard to beat.
     
  4. farky

    farky Pre-Flight

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    I'm not doubting that some companies require 1500 but I buddy of mine got hired this past fall on pipeline patrol and he had 300 hours.
     
  5. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Look into:

    Small tailwheel planes (buy or at a club) and free lance instructors
    Gliders
    Shot gunning hours

    Don't be afraid to move to get your CPL.


    Avoid the big box schools.



    Uhh,

    $200hr for plane is a ton of money, you can find a 2 seater for 80bucks wet at most places with little effort.

    And why on earth are you paying for 350hrs when you get your CPL at 250??

    Also any plane with a basic VOR and glideslope can get you every thing you need to be marketable as a greenhorn professional pilot, minus the 10hrs of complex time right before you get your CPL.

    And no, someone who has 250hrs and a CPL from ATP inc (the McDonald's of flight training) doesn't have any better luck at that first job compared to someone who did it freelance or at clubs, in fact some places look down on places like ATP Inc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  6. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    Wow...that's financial rape. You can get to Commercial multi for probably half that on your own. Get you PPL, build XC hours as safe and economically as possible and add your instrument, then get you CPL single engine in an accelerated course. I know a lady in NC that has a multi-engine commercial add-on program with a Baron, and go from there. When you look for CFI (if you want it), Train first for the CFI-Instrument, (fewer tasks, higher pass rate) and then add-on from there. The US is in need of pilots, so you don't have to be a pilot-mill graduate to have a shot, and your interview would be much more interesting that pilot #3771 from (insert pilot academy mill name here).
     
  7. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou En-Route

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    We do not have enough input, Derrick. You asked about best path to CPL. But in your post you mentioned school pricing for different ratings.
    CPL takes only PPL, some time flying and another checkride. So you can get it for a few thousand or a 100 grand, depending on who tries to take advantage of you.
    But the best way to CPL is flying. You will need hours to gain experience, skills and become the master of the craft.
    Buy a small plane, get your PPL in it, fly the pants off of it this year, get your CPL at 250 hours and it will cost you a fraction of what you will spend through flight schools.
    Don't forget extra endorsements on the way, such as high-performance, complex and tail-wheel. They are fun to get and will also be required for some commercial flying (TW for banners, high-perf for jumpers etc).

    But the most important part in this is to have fun. So go fly, have fun and get your CPL in the future.
     
  8. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    Are you independently wealthy..??? :lol::lol:
     
  9. Derrik

    Derrik Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you all so much for the input and help! My goal is to be a full time pilot for a living. I’m not trying to become rich, or fly 747’s on transatlantic flights. I just simply love to fly. It may sound corny, but when I went up on my first flight in a 172 and took control of the plane something happened to me, and from that moment on all I want to do is be in the air. If I can keep the bills paid, food on the table, and my family happy while doing that then my prayers will have been answered.

    I definitely have a better idea of how to proceed with training now. I will focus on finishing my PPL and logging hours. I am located in Whitesboro in between Gainesville and Sherman TX. Thank you all again so much.
     
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  10. farky

    farky Pre-Flight

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    I was just down in Bowie last week....I'll holler if I get down that way again and you can hop in for a bit!
     
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  11. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Keep at it and you'll reach your goal. All it takes is time, sweat, sacrifice, and luck. Oh and money. Many of us have done the same. Good luck!
     
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  12. Derrik

    Derrik Filing Flight Plan

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    T
     
  13. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Go see carol walker at the airport in Midlothian south of Dallas. She is a DPE and owns a flight school. Very down to earth, nice and knowledgeable. The kind of person worth associating with as you develop into a professional pilot. She can give you good advice on what your options are and reasonable costs for budgeting.
     
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  14. gasfiltered

    gasfiltered Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Show me somewhere you get a plane and instructor for $80.

    You're a gold seal, what is the average actual logged time at each checkride? It ain't the book minimum. To get to CFI, CFII, AND MEI, which is what the puppy mills give you for the cost, 350 hours is a good estimate. The thing about such a strong market for pro pilots is that there is a corresponding uptick in demand for advanced instruction. A plain-jane CFI simply doesn't get the hiring looks you might think, even in this market. The other routes like survey or pipeline still have minimums in the 500-2000 hour range (Surdex and Woolpert, before you ask). Banner tow is 350-400 with 100 tailwheel. Every DZ add I've seen in the last two years has specifically said "no low timers".

    You're discounting the time and opportunity cost of rolling your own. Right now every DPE I work with has a month wait, my part 61 students have trouble scheduling more than one or two flights per week, my schedule is pretty solid for 2-3 weeks. Tell me you've purchased any of your planes in less than two months and how much above the sale price did it cost to get in your hangar/dock?

    This guy doesn't sound airline bound, there are real advantages to having all the extra multi time baked in to an average $200/hr cost for someone with 135 aspirations.

    You're selling a best case scenario that may have been true 8-10 years ago, but it simply isn't the case anymore.

    I don't like the puppy mills, but the product they're putting out is specifically tailored to the current market. They have teams of analysts who's only job is to ensure that is the case.

    Absolutely it can be done much cheaper, but this is a "strike while the iron is hot situation", the additional six months it will take him to do it the old fashioned way could easily mean the difference between getting furloughed/laid-off or not when the bottom drops out of this boom.
     
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  15. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    @Derrik — where in North Texas are you? If near DFW, I might have some folks you need to talk to.
     
  16. Derrik

    Derrik Filing Flight Plan

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    Whitesboro, in between Sherman and Gainesville.
     
  17. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Nope... after a spell you’ll want bigger and better things. It’s just the way life works.
    The more experience you get, the more you want. Eventually you are wanting the left seat in a heavy jet airliner. That’s a good thing...
    Some may poo-poo that, but generally they are just jealous they will never get there.

    As far as training goes... it is sooooo different now than when I did it. I guess there’s these quicky schools now. I’m not sure how good they are, but they do get you through the certificates & ratings. The ATP you mentioned is up to you. There’s no magic bullet for that one at a flight school due to the hours required.

    If you want airlines for a living some quicky schools have deals with regionals. They’ll give you a job after X amount of instructing with the school.
    It’s a long hard road to financial freedom, but it can happen.
     
  18. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This is what James doesn't comprehend. Many of the so called "puppy mills" have agreements with regional airlines and train to a syllabus designed for a particular airline's flying. Even some major airlines are studying setting up programs. Someday the airlines could even help with financial assistance as the shortage gets worse. It is being discussed. And gasfiltered is correct, it is a good time to get on with the airlines with thousands of retirements in the next 10+ years.
     
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  19. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Where exactly did I say plane and CFI?
    I didn't, I'm not sure how your road to your CPL went, but most of my hours were NOT dual.
    And $200 AVERAGE per hour is still straight nuts.


    When it comes to "plane Jane" that's exactly what ATP Inc and many of the other mills turn out, I mean look who they use for CFIs, want to stick out and save money, log time in a little (and likely cheap to rent) tailwheel, or join a glider club, learn from pilots who actually have been there and done that, not just the self licking ice cream come of puppy mill CFIs.

    250hrs is PLENTY of time to knock out all the needed first job stuff, instrument, high performance/complex, ME, tailwheel, etc. and if you want your CFI that's not a flight hour intensive thing at all, and getting anything more than just your straight CFI initially is silly before you start working and making money, in fact many flight schools will pay for your add ons, seems like many places are hurting for CFIs too.

    I've also not had a issue with DPEs or rentals, if you're having a one month wait for anything other than weather, and even then, you're training in the wrong place.

    With people being desperate for pilots, what they ask for and what they get are often two different things, this isn't 2003, getting a job as a greenhorn non CFI isn't as hard as it used to be if you get in your car, drive and shake hands, getting a job as a greenhorn with a CFI is super easy.

    Haven't bought a plane in the last few months, but I don't pay asking price on things, I've also not had too much trouble getting a hangar, again, if you're having these problems you need to broaden your search.

    All that expensive multi time, no one really cares much anymore, and even if you have 80 hours multi, you're still a 250hr pilot, chances are you ain't going to be PICing a ME out of the gate, and as your experience builds you'll end up getting multi time if you want it, and you'll get paid to build it vs paying to build it!

    Again if anyone is 8-10 years behind in their thinking it you bud, thinking airlines and whatnot have room to be choosy, nope, and thinking anyone cares where you went flight school, please, don't tell me, did you list by name your flight school on your resume?

    You can get your stuff done outside of a puppy mill just as fast, I got guys done 0-CPL and into a job in under 6mo before, it really only comes down to how full time of a student you can be, if you're needing to work and don't have the money to do it all at once, that's going to be one, if not THE biggest factor.

    Strike while the irons hot, yeah, but the difference in your options, if we falsely presume there actually was a time difference between somewhere like ATP Inc and doing it at a club or something, that's nothing compared to the albatross of extra debt / capital.



    Oh yeah, I've read that marketing, and it's just that, which you should get as you're in the industry, is you don't need a foot in the door to get into a regional, meet the mins, have a pulse, don't show up high and you're in.

    They don't care if a puppy mill trained you or if frickin' jeffrey dahmer was your CFI, beggars can't be choosers and all that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018 at 7:20 AM
  20. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Now offering reverse discounts.
    Then go visit US Aviation at GYI.

    Also post the question and your background info on the North Texas Aviators Facebook group.

    If you are able/willing to relocate, talk to Tamara Griffith at Fox Aviation in Justin, TX.