Too old to train?

Member for

14 years 4 months

Posts: 3

I'd like to train as a commercial pilot, but I'm 40 years old. (I only recently discovered an interest in flight through gliding.) If I financed my own training, what would my job prospects be like?

I've read articles in Flight magazines suggesting the market is picking up and there may be a big increase in demand coming up for pilots. Do these kind of views come from organisations like training companies with vested interests, or are they widely held?

Original post

Member for

16 years 7 months

Posts: 12,842

40 years old, your only a pup, i say if you can afford to finance your own training, why not follow your dream. I'm sure, depending what country your in, that you'd have no trouble getting a job with one of the freight airlines

Member for

14 years 4 months

Posts: 3

woof woof

But didn't you guys get into this stuff in your twenties?

Profile picture for user David2386

Member for

15 years 4 months

Posts: 598

Not everyone.
I have a friend who only started at 35, self funded. He was lucky though and about a year after finishing at OATS, he was moving onto 737-200s. 5 years since he began training, he's now captain on 737-800s.

I read one guy started in early 40s and is now got his command on A320s before 50. Though this was in the 90s when the market was better.

Think about it carefully. It's a lot of cash and hard work, but if it is your dream...

Profile picture for user Skymonster

Member for

15 years 5 months

Posts: 1,953

I think it will be a little challenging. Assuming your target is airlines, my feeling is that to stand a reasonable chance you should be prepared to fund not only your CPL/IR/[frozen]ATPL/MCC, but also a type rating on a type you think you'll be most likely to find employment. Good luck though - sounds as though you're prepared to put your money where your ambition is.

Andy

Member for

14 years 4 months

Posts: 3

David, Andy,

'Scuse my ignorance, but what factors affect how quickly pilots progress? Successful pilots are people who...

I'm prepared to put up the finance, but cant afford to lose it! (Couldn't have done it at 25, but can now thanks to the rediculous inflation in the UK property market over the last 15 years.)

I need to understand what level of risk I'd be taking, and how to minimise it. Any thoughts?

Profile picture for user Whiskey Delta

Member for

16 years 7 months

Posts: 2,513

Successful pilots are one's who are modivated. Even when the going gets tough those that advance are the one's who never slowed. It's easy at the beginning of the journey to make assumptions about one's own determination but it'll be tested early and often. I saw many motivated students bail early in the game. But coming in a bit older will be an advantage when it comes to work ethics. The younger lot seems to have a lot more trouble sticking with it (or anything for that matter).

There is a high level of risk involved as there are absolutely no guarantees or free lunches. There is a lot of testing which gives one a lot of chances to fail. I'm not saying that you will but there are a lot of steps to this process and you are constantly under someone's microscope.

There is also a chance that you won't like it. Commercial aviation is a job. A better description is that commerical aviation is a lifestyle. That's something that no matter how much someone enjoys the act of piloting an aircraft some can't handle or care to deal with it. It can be a lot of long hours at bizarre times of the day. There can (most likely will) be a lot of time away from family/friends on important days (birthdays, graduations, holidays, etc.).

A good friend of mine that I met on our first day at work started his commercial aviation carrier at 39 years old. Obviously the industry has it's ups and downs and after 9/11 we saw a big downturn. He's really been scrambling to get his career underway. For us younger folks these slowdowns in career progression due to the struggling industry only delay our career a bit. We have 30+ years left to be a captain or move into bigger equipment. My friend now is approaching 15 years left in his career. A 5 year "pause" in his career progression has quite a different impact than it would on someone like myself.

It's also important to realize the industry you see today won't be the industry you'll see when you hit the job market looking for that first flying gig. Things may be looking up now but how will they look in 2 or 3 years?

Profile picture for user Redwings

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 55

I agree completely with Whiskey Delta on this one. If you are motivated, age shouldn't really stop you from doing it. Like he said, the industry could change dramatically within a short space of time (like 9/11 for example) and be prepared for it. I myself have just finished my flying training late last year. Unfortunately, I haven't found my first flying job, but I'm also considering moving over to the UK next year, converting my licence, and most importantly STAYING MOTIVATED whilst looking for flying work, which I'm doing by sending letters of interest, finding out the latest news etc... Also take a look at what you want to get out of your flying career (Majors? Low-Cost? Charter? Regional? Instructing?) and make a plan on how you want to get there, but remember to keep it adaptable to industry changes. I hope this has helped you somewhat with your decision making, and I wish you all the best with it all. Believe me, there's nothing better than the feeling of having achieved the ability to fly!!! :D

Cheers,
Paul