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30 Years Old : Too Old To Become A Pilot?  
User currently offlineAP001 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 20 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 69349 times:

What if someone who is already more than 30 years old (like me ! grumpy  ) decides to go back to school with the aim to become an airline pilot ? (without having any previous work experience in the aviation field.)

I have heard saying that many younger students have a lot of difficulties finding a job after they obtain their license, so I can imagine that for someone older, it should be nearly impossible, unless one is willing to work anywhere in the world flying for any company. Not talking about the cost of such Studies, and the time it takes before being able to apply for a job.

So, "mission impossible", or on the contrary, is it more a matter of will ? What do you guys think ?



13 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineJFKLGANYC From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 4556 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (11 years 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 69327 times:

When I used to flight instruct, I came across many "career changers" at 30+. I knew one dentist who did it. He was about 40 years old.

-But on another note, as an airline pilot, I must ask why?
-It will take years even if you drop everything else and build flight time full-time.
-It will take $80,000-$100,000.
-Before you become an airline pilot, you will have to flight instruct to build up flight time. Expect a year with income less than $20,000.
-Once you get hired by a regional airline, you will often take a PAY CUT from instructing. Yes, hard to believe but true.
-Look for an upgrade time to Capt near 5 years in the current state of affairs. As an FO at a regional, you will not make more than $40,000.

Point being is unless you want to sacrifice a lot, don't do it. At 21 it's tough to do, at 30 it will be horrendous.


User currently offlineTexan From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 4324 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (11 years 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 69298 times:

Haven't heard a lot about airline pilots starting after 30-35 without having built up experience in another area of flying. I know of three gentlemen who are over the age of 40 and are finishing up flight school in the next year or two who plan to fly corporate jets. If you go the corporate route for a few years, build up some good time (either with one of the on demand companies or with a business that flies frequently), and get a good amount of PIC time, there is the possibility of going airline after that  Smile Corporate pilots get to fly to tons of airports across the globe both big and small. Jean Christophe Montaut, a corporate pilot whom I had the pleasure of meeting a couple months ago, has a decent collection of pictures posted here on airliners from his travels as well as a much larger collection on My Aviaion.net.

Hope this helps!


"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
User currently offlinePilotaydin From Turkey, joined Sep 2004, 2561 posts, RR: 48
Reply 3, posted (11 years 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 69233 times:

actually, the things listed above, are for FAA and american pilots, over here in Europe it doesnt go like that

over here, you enroll in a flight school preferably with a program to get you into the airlines, it's common here, if that doesnt work out, many European airlines have academies or partnerships with flight schools to train you from ppl up and be a f/o with them, unlike in the states where you go from cpl-cfi-cheesy charters and 3 am snowstorm runs with airnet for a few years followed by erj and crj aircraft, im telling you this from experience with both the FAA and JAA, it all depends on where in the world you wanna fly...

The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
User currently offlineWhiteHatter From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (11 years 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 69218 times:

Quoting AP001 (Thread starter):
So, "mission impossible", or on the contrary, is it more a matter of will ? What do you guys think ?

The cemeteries are full of people who would, if they could, say "if only..."

If you have the opportunity, then go for it. Life is too short for too many of those "if only" regrets  Smile

User currently offlineLeezyjet From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 4053 posts, RR: 52
Reply 5, posted (11 years 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 69139 times:

I'm 30 and have just started learning to fly.

Bear in mind that you can only hold an ATPL at 23, then you are not that far out. But you have you decide to do it ASAP.

I've just passed my PPL in South Africa last month, and I'm hoping to start self study ATPL exams soon with a plan to have them completed by April next year then do the rest of the flying (CPL/ME/IR) over summer 06 by which time I'll be 31.

Now is a great time to start learning to fly in Europe. There are some huge a/c orders from European airlines and there are not enough pilots to fly those planes coming through the schools at the moment, not to mention enough to replace all the retiree's.

You have to be realistic though about what you want. A job with an airline like BA is probably out of the question, but with a lo-co, cargo op, charter airline, regional airline, corporate jet it is more than feasable.

MAny small regional airlines need older pilots as they know younger guys are just using them as a stepping stone to something bigger and better and the older guy will more likely stick around for longer.

Check out www.pprune.org and have a look in the wannabe's forums. There is loads of info on there about all the different training options and flight schools.

Ignore what people in the US are saying, it's a whole different picture over there.


"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 69122 times:

If you´re in good health and have the financial means, why not?

User currently offlineLegacy135 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 1052 posts, RR: 24
Reply 7, posted (11 years 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 69082 times:

I think, first of all you should do something in your live you feel satisfied about. If you go on for reasonable aspects in your actual position, you may feel sorry for your whole live, you may not..... you may even feel sorry, for having done the change and to become a pilot. So it is very personal and there is no universal answer for.

I can tell you how I did it and it worked out pretty nice. So you have at least one idea:

First of all I would not go for a loan. Invest as much money in your training as you can, but not more. So you avoid this enormous pressure to succeed and if it doesn't work at the moment desired, it's not so grave.

Take your time for doing it. It may last in total 2 to 3 years. There is nothing wrong about. Do as much as you like to do at once. If it always goes with "The Fun Factor" it's great.

I don't know if you got already a PPL. If yes, you know already quite a bit, if no, take piece by piece. Go for a PPL, it's the base for all, all ATP's started up with a PPL. You may contact AeCS (AeroClub der Schweiz) in Luzern, they can give you many addresses of local schools close to where you live.

The general situation for pilots in Switzerland at the moment is everything else than good. This mainly because of the Swissair collapse. In other countries I can see, they already got over the 9-11 misery and it restarts to get interesting again or pilots.
In general, aviation is a very rude business. In times like yet they will nearly ask you to pay for a job. In times as we had them 5 years ago, you could ask close to anything and they gave it to you, as they needed somebody to fly the plane. I am sure, times will become better, even here in Switzerland. The operators will then run even into bigger problems recruiting their pilots. Imagine, many pilots lost their jobs during the actual crisis. A pilot not flying will loose it's license. He may go on and fly for fun to keep the minimum, but he will need a job again. So he will take another job in another profession. I am quite sure, those people won't come back, as they will have commitments in their live and will probably not be able to take again the risk and restart a career with 35 or 40 years of age. Same or the flying schools, They won't be ready to train all those pilots needed to fill the positions. So if you are ready by this time, it may be a great opportunity. As actually we are on a slight climb again, I think it could be a good moment to start  Wink

I wish you good luck and please don't rush into something, do only you will have fun for anyhow, regardless how it comes. Take care!

User currently offline777STL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (11 years 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 69049 times:

If you've got a family and you make decent money now, then take up flying as a hobby.

User currently offlineAP001 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 20 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 68767 times:

Many thanks to all of you for these very interesting posts. The decision of whether to become a pilot or not can of course not be taken before having thoroughly thought about it. But after reading your comments and personal experiences, I think that if someone really wants to do it, he can (at least here in Europe, where things seem to be a little bit less hard than in the US).



User currently offlineFlyMIA From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7606 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (11 years 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 68640 times:

Quoting Pilotaydin (Reply 3):
actually, the things listed above, are for FAA and american pilots, over here in Europe it doesnt go like that

Yep sadly that is true. It is much easier in Europe to get a flying job as long as you can pass the medicals and checkrides. With dedication and money you could become a commercial pilot in maybe 1 1/2 years in Europe. It would take atleast 2 1/2 in the states.
The job situation is much different. Man I wish I could just get a regional job in Europe and than come back to the states for a Major Airline Job.

"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineSoaringadi From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 472 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (11 years 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 68491 times:

***"If you´re in good health and have the financial means, why not?"***

I would have to absolutely agree with that.

***"It would take atleast 2 1/2 in the states."***

I disagree with that statement. If you do it full time everyday a cfi is not more than 8-10 months away. And this is not at a fastrack program like A.t.p. or something where you learn just how to complain and not fly.

Anyways comming back to the topic... you could absolutely do it ! There are just so many pilots that decide to start flying in their 30's and make it to nicer airlines. If you have the will power, and the dedication and commitment, Go ahead and just do it. You'll find urself in a T7 one day.  Smile

Good luck on your training.

If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going !
User currently offlineLegacy135 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 1052 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (11 years 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 68396 times:

One important fact to keep in mind:
Most airlines here have an age limit and may not even allow anymore to enter the recruitment process, as their maximum age is normally around 28 or so. Anyhow, there are many real good job in corporate aviation, giving it's pilots the opportunity to fly the Ferraris and Porsches of the sky. Here we face very often the same problem in the opposite way:
Many customer do prefer to have a crew a little older of age and refer to have a captain with grey hair. So, the sky is yours!

User currently offlineSLUAviator From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 357 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (11 years 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 68205 times:

I work on the ramp at O'Hare for Air Wisconsin. We ground handle all of the United Express carriers, and I have seen several guys who are in their mid to late 40's on their IOE trips. One Skywest F/O said he took his first flight lesson at the age of 45, and got hired on at Skywest just after he turned 49. He knows he will only have around 5 years as a captain, but that did not matter because he wanted to fly.

If you want to be an airline pilot that bad, don't let your age stop you!

What do I know? I just fly 'em.......
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