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View Full Version : Case of Cold Feet. Student Pilot.


Papa Charlie
04-17-2017, 08:02 AM
disclaimer: This post may come off as pretty melodramatic. I apologize. I needed some closure somehow.


Hi all,

you don't know me, but I know you. For about two months I have read about every thing written on the internet about the life of "being" a professional pilot. It's been an obsession. The first 3+ pages of google searches from "airline pilot life" to any other related search term I have read. For months. Hours a day.

I'm the typical story - since 10 years old I wanted to be a professional pilot. My wallpaper has airplanes on it. I fly model airplanes. I go to every air show within 200 miles every year. I've gone to countless aviation museums. I visit the edge of the ALS at O'Hare and watch the jets land. It's become a part of my identity. Or so I thought.

Let me take a break to define a purpose to this post. For one - i'm seeking some closure to my decision. Second - having exhausted every scrap of written text on pilot's quitting and what it is like to live the life of a pilot, I felt I needed to add my own text for any other student doing the same research, maybe it'll help them reach a decision, I don't know. There's no more text to read so I'll add my own.

Back to a bit of an intro to my situation.

At 16 I started to earn my PPL at a local airport - 1C5. I had to quit due to money, then I came back at age 20 and finished my PPL in a C172 with about 70 hours total. I probably would have finished earlier, but the 4 year break set me back about 25-30 hours. I got pretty rusty. Meanwhile I graduated high school, went to community college and earned my associates degree in "engineering science" (just a general pre-engineering degree).

Fall 2016 I enrolled at Lewis University as a flight major. "Time to make my life's goal a reality." I thought. In the fall semester I could not fly due to a medical deferral, which I went through FAA hell for and was released January this year. I now hold a first class medical.

So I started instrument training at Lewis, and it was all going well. I do love flying. I'll admit, instrument flying isn't nearly as entertaining to me as visual flight. I miss looking out the window. I love the beauty of flight, and as challenging and rewarding as instrument flight can be, staring at a screen gets a little depressing. I just passed "stage 1" in my instrument flight training, it's kinda like a 1/3 way point to completing the IR training. Then I dropped my flight block, and now i'm just riding the semester out, hoping to finish with A's and move on.

So what happened? How did I go from "aviation for life" to "screw this i'm out"?

Early February this year, my girlfriend and I are just walking through the mall on a Saturday afternoon. I'm talking something about aviation, and she says "I'm sure going to miss you when you become a professional pilot."

That got me thinking. I never really looked up what a "pilot's lifestyle" entailed. I knew some basics, like ****ty starting pay, 7 day work weeks as a CFI to get hours up, start at a regional etc...But I never really cared what the negatives were - my life's purpose was to be a pilot so that's what I was going to do! period!

But her statement hit me somehow, so I started researching. I think the first thing I googled was "airline pilot wife", and I found some blogs. Blogs written by wives of airline pilot's, frustrated but powerful women making the mostly single mother lifestyle work.

I think these blogs scared me the most out of anything else. You don't hear about "engineer's wife" blogs or "accountant's wife" blogs or most any other profession where the wife feels so lonely so much that they feel the need to form a support group. my god. Pilot's aren't the only profession that travels, and there are ****tier jobs that travel more and pay less, people do those too. But a family is a major life goal of mine, if not the #1 life goal, and I want to be there for them. Whomever I marry. So I wouldn't ordinarily do any of those traveling jobs.

This initial search triggered months of research, and my ultimate decision to leave. Don't get me wrong - I spent weeks telling myself I was okay with all the various conditions and the being away from home and the turbulent industry and the massive loans etc... Then I just broke. I felt better telling myself I wouldn't do this job, so I did.

A moment of clarity, maybe.

Someone has to do this job. Someone has to be a pilot. I'm not bashing the industry [cough..Skyhigh..cough]. Maybe some people look at the "negatives" and don't see them as negatives. Maybe some people don't associate a certain area as "home" and could give a **** where they spend the night. Those people could end up making ****-tons of money if they stick with it for 30+ years in the same company. Or they get furloughed or lose a medical and are royally screwed, who knows.

I'm about 20k into this, and I expected to have all my ratings with 80k in principal. I would have to be a pilot to pay that back, and it would take at least 15-20 years. If I lost my job as pilot, a degree in "flight management" would not get me much else in the professional workforce. Why would anyone get their flight ratings at a university? It's financial suicide.

I know airline pilot isn't the only flying job out there. But it's easily 80% of the market for pilots, and corporate jobs require some major "ins" that I just don't have, and i'm not much of a social butterfly.

"I don't want to want this" - is my current mentality. I still want to fly airplanes, but I wish I didn't. "Millions of people are perfectly happy not being a pilot, why can't I be like that?"

Will I regret this 40 years from now? Maybe. It is currently one of the best times to get into the industry, I've seen ads for starting FO pay at 60k. But will it last? Will those regional pilots really make it to the majors during the upcoming "retirement boom"?

But maybe the American middle class dies, and no one can afford flight travel anymore. Or oil prices get too high, and a sustainable power source for flight isn't found in time to save aviation. Maybe I get diabetes in my 40's (like almost everyone in my family has) and miss out on that big captain pay I've been betting on my whole life.

I've applied to UIC for mechanical engineering. I expect 40k in principal and 50-60k salary my first year out of college. I'm still not thrilled with this decision. I like engineering well enough, and a job is a job. I feel like i'm stabbing my childhood friend in the back. Sure, I can fly just as a hobby, but who can afford that? Not an engineer.

Am I making the right decision? I know no one can truly answer that. But I would love to hear more opinions.

If you read this all, thank you.

If not...TL;DR:

I'm quitting aviation university to go back to engineering and i'm not super thrilled about it.


TiredSoul
04-17-2017, 08:14 AM
So your 'girlfriend' says...

That's a problem right there.
There are no garantees in life and at some point you need to decide whose life you want to live.
The one your parents planned, the one your girlfriend wants or the one you want.
Sounds harsh but if you want a career in aviation you need to start selfish then adjust. Not the other way round.
I've been an instructor for years and saw this type of doubt a lot.
Worked a lot with European students and I can't tell you how many of them had girlfriends and even fiancées break up with them because of their choice.
Had several break up with my students like the day before a checkride.
What you have now is a girlfriend and not a wife.
You'll need to make a decision what you want out of life and if she has a place in that life.
Here's how: make your own decisions and see if she follows.
Yes I'm still married to my first wife.

Alternatively find a career that allows you to fly as an (expensive) hobby.
I couldn't afford to fly as a hobby.
Still can't.
Good thing I fly as a pilot though.

javaflyer
04-17-2017, 08:46 AM
What Tired Soul said. I've got 25 years of marriage and have been flying that long for the regionals and at a major. My wife is the independent sort and it works well for our family. When I am getting on her nerves (or my teenage daughters), one of them will say "when do you leave on your next trip?" I can take a hint. Tough sometimes for sure, there's been some holidays or birthdays missed. We just pick a different day that works with my schedule. You figure out what works if you're in it together. The flight benefits are a bonus, you just have to be very flexible to use them if you have kids in school.


badflaps
04-17-2017, 08:58 AM
Why does it have to be "Airlines?" I know plenty of guys that teach on the side. My first instructor was a paper salesman, and the best instructor ever. You can go fixed base and do day charters as well. If I had it to do all over again, I doubt I would "Airline" it even though I saw the best years of the biz.

Papa Charlie
04-17-2017, 11:30 AM
I was worried that would come up. "You're quitting because of your girlfriend blah blah blah."

No no no. Our conversation sparked my curiosity, but at no point did she suggest I should quit. Quite the contrary. When I first told her I had doubts, she said I should stick with it anyway. She told me "this is your dream, go for it no matter what!" She promised we'd Skype and call and that money isn't important to her, basically I would have her unconditional support.

My parents said the same. They have always supported me, and couldn't believe I might want to rethink this. The debt doesn't even seem to bother them as much as it bothers me, although it will be my debt and not theirs. They say "oh, you'll pay it off eventually, just go for it!"

So I would say this decision has been mine and mine alone. And I don't even fully know why I suddenly have such a strong change of heart. Like I said, it's like my brain broke.

And how come when wannabe pilots like myself complain about the time away from home senior pilots say "the family doesn't mind it so much" and "My wife is strong/independent etc..."

What about you? Pilots always say "my family can deal with it" but can you? It's less that i'm worried my family will miss me, more that i'm worried I will miss my family. Maybe i'm just a sentimental wuss, i don't know.

I currently have two days in my schedule when I don't see my family, starting Tuesday morning and i'm back Wednesday night. I get home around 11 Wednesday night, and I actually wake my parents up so we can talk. They like it too, but it was my idea. And this is just two days. I went to boy scout camp when I was a young teen, and it was over my birthday week. I thought it'd be no problem, but my birthday came and I cried. I just wanted to be home that day, not at camp. Of course, people can change, but I guess I really like being with family.

I'm sharing some pretty personal stuff here, and it really makes me look weak for sure. eh, it's all part of my existential crisis. I guess strangers on the internet can't hurt me. Fire away if you must.

TiredSoul
04-17-2017, 11:38 AM
Not everybody is cut out for every job.
Whatever it is.
There are plenty of jobs that have you home every night. Even airlines jobs.
Look, I'm going to be harsh; either you want it or you don't.
It's that simple.
I wanted it, I got it.
It's been a long road.
Every single person 'at my level' knew what it took to get here.
Again, it's not for everybody.

mainlineAF
04-17-2017, 12:00 PM
If you can't be away from your parents for two days you can't be a professional pilot.

Pilots are gone a lot but also home a lot. You'll get over it.

tomgoodman
04-17-2017, 12:13 PM
Some people find out that a career is not right for them before they have invested a lot of time and money in it. You may be one of those fortunate people. :)

Papa Charlie
04-17-2017, 12:47 PM
tomgoodman, that's the big question I keep asking myself.

If I don't like the life, it'll be hard to leave when I've got some big honking loans that must be paid one way or another. I'm not quite saying "I definitely will hate this career", but rather "I could possibly hate this career, or I could love it to death." But that's a big 80k gamble to play.

However, the benefit to some "normal" college degree is that it's pretty darn flexible, and i'll have the possibility of going into something else if I hate what i'm doing. I've heard many an aviator online say that you should never go to an aviation college, instead get some college degree then get your ratings through part 61...a year ago I would have said "bull****, i'm going part 141 because this is all I want to do with my life.", but I think I see the wisdom in that advice now.

I may still attempt to get all my ratings through my local FBO...if I can scrape up the cash without any loans...

That's the big college dilemma these days anyway. I've got no collateral. Buying a house on a loan doesn't scare me as much (although I reckon some wiser people could set me straight, lol) since you can always sell the house and pay the loan. Assuming you don't go underwater.

A college loan is a ball and chain to your chosen profession. Your future work is your collateral. This is most true with less flexible degrees like aviation.

I remember a discussion with my local FBO's manager. I told him I had my associates degree, and he recommended I finish my Bachelors in engineering. "Why bother?" was my reply. The manager had also gone to a part 141 flight school, and for some reason he is now grounded and works at this FBO. I didn't ask why he doesn't fly anymore, but it seems he is pretty knowledgeable about the consequences of investing in aviation. He's quiet, but a good guy.

My previous post is a pretty extreme example. I believe anyone can change their way of life and even enjoy it, it just may take some adjustment. Just an example of what might be "values" to me.

TiredSoul
04-17-2017, 02:01 PM
As nauseum: there are enough flying jobs that keep you home every night.
You will have to move to get that job as the job won't come to you.

RV5M
04-17-2017, 05:34 PM
In regard to the loans: With an engineering degree from a decent school you should be able to pay off your college debt quite quickly. There's no reason to let it become a ball and chain. Live below your means and pay off the debt.

Also, you're right about "don't go to an aviation college". Learning to fly isn't degree worthy. It's skilled labor. Engineering, on the other hand, is one of the "professions". You can get your ratings on the side and be in a much better place than the Part 141 grad if you do decide to fly.

andycfi
04-20-2017, 07:05 AM
I quit as a CFII/MEI, and it was really hard at first. Same as you, it was my goal for a really long time. I transitioned into part time flying and working an IT job, then finally just stopped flying when I realized I didn't have what it took from a sacrifice perspective.

This isn't the case with every pilot, but there is A LOT of sacrifice involved. You will probably have to move (more than once), you will be gone a lot, you will loose a lot of autonomy over your career and how quickly you move up, you will have HORRIBLE starting pay for quite some time, I could go on and on.

I spent years mad at the industry that I was a CFI racking up hours and I couldn't find a good opportunity flying corporate or something like that. I finally gave up being bitter when I realized it was ME. I wasn't willing to make the sacrifices - and it sounds like maybe you're not either. It's a hard realization, but it is a weight off your chest. It's not that you're not good enough, or that you have bad flying skills ... it's just that your preferences don't align with the industry.

As far as the girlfriend goes, it's fine if that's what sent you down this path. But, make sure it's because YOU don't want to make the sacrifices. Don't pass on the career because you think it will upset her. As long as your reasoning is sound and it's for you, there is nothing wrong with moving on.

Sr. Barco
04-29-2017, 11:19 PM
Some people find out that a career is not right for them before they have invested a lot of time and money in it. You may be one of those fortunate people. :)

Listen to the wise retired Airline Captain.

If you're having doubts now I'm afraid you could become disappointed and bitter if your aviation career progression weren't satisfactory. I'm happy to share more with you via PM but suffice to say that being an airline pilot is a completely different lifestyle than most other professions. There's good and there's bad. It's simply not a M-F, 9-5 desk job.

CaptYoda
04-30-2017, 08:52 AM
While this may be the best time to enter the field as the entry level pay is the best it's ever been at the regional level there are many unforeseen hurdles and sacrifices along the way.

At my first regional, we had a professional engineer give it a try, and he only lasted about 3 months. While he loved to fly he quickly realized that it was not anything like he had expected and was smart enough to make the exit.

LRSRanger
04-30-2017, 01:57 PM
Whatever you do don't do it because of a girlfriend. I've known a few folks who gave up a dream over a girl, and then found a few years later that women don't always last, and then regretted changing the course of their life for someone else.

Not a wife, no kids involved, you be you and see if she wants to join in. If she doesn't, I see a divorce in your future, because that will never change.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

JohnBurke
04-30-2017, 02:45 PM
There are many that start down the path, few that stick with it.

Presently, you're with the majority.

Papa Charlie
05-01-2017, 02:06 PM
All right now, calm down people. I'm not quitting because of my girlfriend. I swear I see people rave about that so much. In many different forums and topics.

It could have been a close friend or even an acquaintance who simply said to me "have you ever considered the lifestyle and time away from home as a pilot?" that would have sparked my curiosity. I simply never did much research, I was blinded by "my passion."

I guess I feel like i'm "quitting while i'm ahead." I still love aviation, but I want to make this decision before I've spent all this money lest it turn out I don't like the lifestyle.

So i'm going to finish my engineering degree, with much stress i'm sure, but it's a solid degree I think. I like the math and physics. I'm looking at an engineering internship this summer.

Here's my tentative plan. I'll get a real degree and a real job. Work for awhile, get out of my parents house hopefully. Maybe finish my ratings on the side - I'm currently a PPL with about 90 hours total ASEL and about 10 hours towards instrument. I expect I could complete all my ratings through commercial/CFII/multi for about $30,000 at my local FBO, as compared to $60,000 at the part 141 school. On top I still gotta pay off my student loans too, of course.

Then I could be a part-time CFI for some years earning hours. Maybe when my future kids are in their 20's and moving out I'll try out for the airlines. I'll be one of those 40 year old regional guys. Maybe pay will be better by then. Or maybe the airlines will be flown by a computer with only 1 guy in the cockpit who is a "systems manager." Or maybe cabotage will change and domestic flights will be flown by some European company and not Americans. Who knows.

It seems like it's a pretty wide spread field as far as quality of life. Some pilots work 10 days a month, make big money, and only have 4 of those days as overnights. Some pilots work 18-20 days a month, make nothing, and 16 of those days are overnights.

I can't plan my whole life out, and I don't want to. Thinking about "20 years from now" makes life feel real short. Maybe I'll never actually become a professional pilot, but I think I can "forgive" myself eventually. 10 year old me only said I wanted to be a pilot, not a professional one. And I am a pilot now, so there.

But honestly just taking a plane up for fun sounds so amazing. In my 90 hours of flying I have yet to once take a plane up with no reason other than for fun. The solo cross countries were the closest thing to a "for fun" flight, and they were absolutely amazing. I love learning to fly, for sure. But I've never gone up with no real purpose in mind other than to fly. I might do that soon.

Xdashdriver
05-02-2017, 05:34 PM
All right now, calm down people. I'm not quitting because of my girlfriend. I swear I see people rave about that so much. In many different forums and topics.

It could have been a close friend or even an acquaintance who simply said to me "have you ever considered the lifestyle and time away from home as a pilot?" that would have sparked my curiosity. I simply never did much research, I was blinded by "my passion."

I guess I feel like i'm "quitting while i'm ahead." I still love aviation, but I want to make this decision before I've spent all this money lest it turn out I don't like the lifestyle.

So i'm going to finish my engineering degree, with much stress i'm sure, but it's a solid degree I think. I like the math and physics. I'm looking at an engineering internship this summer.

Here's my tentative plan. I'll get a real degree and a real job. Work for awhile, get out of my parents house hopefully. Maybe finish my ratings on the side - I'm currently a PPL with about 90 hours total ASEL and about 10 hours towards instrument. I expect I could complete all my ratings through commercial/CFII/multi for about $30,000 at my local FBO, as compared to $60,000 at the part 141 school. On top I still gotta pay off my student loans too, of course.

Then I could be a part-time CFI for some years earning hours. Maybe when my future kids are in their 20's and moving out I'll try out for the airlines. I'll be one of those 40 year old regional guys. Maybe pay will be better by then. Or maybe the airlines will be flown by a computer with only 1 guy in the cockpit who is a "systems manager." Or maybe cabotage will change and domestic flights will be flown by some European company and not Americans. Who knows.

It seems like it's a pretty wide spread field as far as quality of life. Some pilots work 10 days a month, make big money, and only have 4 of those days as overnights. Some pilots work 18-20 days a month, make nothing, and 16 of those days are overnights.

I can't plan my whole life out, and I don't want to. Thinking about "20 years from now" makes life feel real short. Maybe I'll never actually become a professional pilot, but I think I can "forgive" myself eventually. 10 year old me only said I wanted to be a pilot, not a professional one. And I am a pilot now, so there.

But honestly just taking a plane up for fun sounds so amazing. In my 90 hours of flying I have yet to once take a plane up with no reason other than for fun. The solo cross countries were the closest thing to a "for fun" flight, and they were absolutely amazing. I love learning to fly, for sure. But I've never gone up with no real purpose in mind other than to fly. I might do that soon.

It sounds like you're making a rational choice. Deciding not to pursue flying right now doesn't mean it has to be that way forever. It has always been a good idea to have a "Plan B" as a pilot so getting your engineering degree and some experience in the field will set you up with a good Plan B should you decide at some later date to do the flying thing as a job.

NYC Pilot
05-02-2017, 08:53 PM
Flying jobs will always be there. I would focus on getting a very solid education and career going. Fly for fun on the side and see what it leads to. There are many options in life while you are young but the most important thing to do as a young person is to get a solid education. Can't emphasize that enough. Good luck!

Flyhayes
05-04-2017, 06:00 PM
A couple of points I'd like to add to the mix.

I feel that I get to spend more quality time with my family as an airline pilot than I would with a regular 9-5. Instead of only being able to give my family a few hours of attention after a long day at work, I can give my family my undivided attention for several days in a row. Sure, holidays and birthdays will be missed. But for me, I feel that the tradeoff is worth it. I consistently have 15 or more days off a month. That sure beats 4 weekends and a few hours after work in my opinion.

You mention that the pilot wives forums startled you the most.
It's true, it takes a certain kind of a wife to be able to handle the lifestyle. When I met my wife, the airlines really wasn't on my radar. I had a small aviation business that kept me home at night. With her support we decided to give the 121 world a try. If it didn't suit us as a family unit, I could always leave it and find other flying jobs that better suited the family. As it turns out, we are very happy with the 121 lifestyle (I honestly thought being away from home for stretches at a time would be tougher on me that it really is, and I'm a dreaded commuter!). The reason you find these support groups is that this industry is unique in many ways. My wife likens it somewhat to being a military spouse. We don't live the normal lifestyle where we get to see friends and family on certain holidays or weekends. and that can be hard to constantly explain to "civilians". These "support" groups exist because like minded wives can get together and vent frustrations that normal people just can't relate to. Or just go to Disney World together on a Wednesday like my wife recently did.

With that said. If you have serious enough doubts, maybe it's not for you. But if you keep finding that you look to the sky every time an airplane goes by, then you might do better taking a slow career progression towards the airlines by ways of an engineering job.

Just a couple of thoughts...

Pilotpip
05-09-2017, 07:42 PM
One thing to always remember: Things can get a lot less fun when they become a job.

I have a thread somewhere in here. I'm one that left. I'm finding that in my current job I have much less time at home than I ever did at the airlines. Working 60+ hours a week will have that effect. I'll never do the regional airline thing again, but I'm seriously considering returning to flying for a living. There are a ton of jobs flying airplanes that have nothing to do with the airlines.

While some here are reading you the riot act about the girlfriend, I think they have some valid points. Never let someone else dictate your course. Especially in your 20s. Support, yes. Question, yes. Dictate, no. I didn't marry until I was in my 30s, and I'm glad I didn't. Honestly, I would have never even dated my wife in my 20s. I probably also wouldn't have a marriage and family right now, let alone a happy and supportive marriage.

Bottom line: you gotta do what's best for you. All you can do is make an informed decision and go for it. Whos to say that you decide to go the engineering route, the economy goes TU and you're out of work for years? I think the current state of affairs is as good for someone getting into aviation as its ever been in my 20 years of it, but its always a crap shoot.

Quarryman
05-10-2017, 05:54 AM
tomgoodman, that's the big question I keep asking myself.

If I don't like the life, it'll be hard to leave when I've got some big honking loans that must be paid one way or another. I'm not quite saying "I definitely will hate this career", but rather "I could possibly hate this career, or I could love it to death." But that's a big 80k gamble to play.

However, the benefit to some "normal" college degree is that it's pretty darn flexible, and i'll have the possibility of going into something else if I hate what i'm doing. I've heard many an aviator online say that you should never go to an aviation college, instead get some college degree then get your ratings through part 61...a year ago I would have said "bull****, i'm going part 141 because this is all I want to do with my life.", but I think I see the wisdom in that advice now.

I may still attempt to get all my ratings through my local FBO...if I can scrape up the cash without any loans...

That's the big college dilemma these days anyway. I've got no collateral. Buying a house on a loan doesn't scare me as much (although I reckon some wiser people could set me straight, lol) since you can always sell the house and pay the loan. Assuming you don't go underwater.

A college loan is a ball and chain to your chosen profession. Your future work is your collateral. This is most true with less flexible degrees like aviation.

I remember a discussion with my local FBO's manager. I told him I had my associates degree, and he recommended I finish my Bachelors in engineering. "Why bother?" was my reply. The manager had also gone to a part 141 flight school, and for some reason he is now grounded and works at this FBO. I didn't ask why he doesn't fly anymore, but it seems he is pretty knowledgeable about the consequences of investing in aviation. He's quiet, but a good guy.

My previous post is a pretty extreme example. I believe anyone can change their way of life and even enjoy it, it just may take some adjustment. Just an example of what might be "values" to me.

You have a lot of wisdom. Allow reason to prevail over emotion and make rational decisions. The rational decision is to not get into this career for many of the reasons stated already.

If I ask you, as an engineer, to work 8 hours a day but I will only pay you 4 hours, would you do it? Would the hamburger flipper do it? Yet, every day, hundreds of pilots do it with (butt) cheeks wide open in the brace position.

Walk away from this circus act called commercial flying. But wait, I bet circus workers get paid 8 hours for 8 hours' labor.

JohnBurke
05-10-2017, 01:51 PM
If I ask you, as an engineer, to work 8 hours a day but I will only pay you 4 hours, would you do it? Would the hamburger flipper do it? Yet, every day, hundreds of pilots do it with (butt) cheeks wide open in the brace position.

Walk away from this circus act called commercial flying. But wait, I bet circus workers get paid 8 hours for 8 hours' labor.

My attorney gets a days pay for fifteen minutes work. I get paid a small fortune to stand by, and when I actually do fly, I get paid that small fortune every hour, plus per diem, plus overtime, etc. it quickly becomes a large fortune, and whether it matches hour-for-hour is irrelevant.

The job is the job, and the way pay is scheduled varies by the employer. Some pay by the hour, some by the day, some by the year. Some have trip rigs, some have contract rates. The pay arrepangements are different than an engineer in some cases, but then a pilot is not an engineer.

Some pilots get paid for consultation, others don't. I've been paid for showing up, whether I fly. I've been paid for starting an engine, or taxiing, even if I don't fly. I get paid to simply be available. I've been paid to standby while I penned a novel.

The comparison that one isn't paid as an hourly circus worker while employed as a professional pilot is non sequitur, straw man, and idiotic.

One is welcome to leave aviation to work in a circus if it suits. I guarantee that no circus on earth will come remotely close to my annual wage, or standard of living. If someone feels they'd rather work in a circus, have at it, but don't make the idiotic inferrence that because a circus worker has a simple pay mode, it should apply to aviation, or any other field or job.

The circus worker has neither minimum guarantee, 401K, insurance, seniority, loss of license insurance, or the ability to carry professional certification gained on the job to thousands of other circuses with upward mobility and career pay in the hundreds of thousands per annum. The worlds largest and oldest circus is about to shutter its doors permanently. Aviation, not so much.

pilot28906
05-13-2017, 05:36 PM
Been in your situation; 24 years ago. Always wanted to be a fighter pilot. Only reason I went to college (engineering); got a pilot slot in the Air National Guard (cargo) but dropped out. Same type of reasons as you; gone from home a lot, move to a different city than my parents, maybe not the best future family life, etc. Got an engineering job in my home town, got married, had two kids. Along the way I still flew some, eventually got my CFI/CFII/MEI so I could afford to fly; however I do like instructing even though that is very little now due to living in a rural area. I am now an engineering manager at 48 and still wonder what life would be like as a professional pilot and still look up at every plane that crosses overhead. I have enough hours to apply to the regionals and sometimes consider it but would take a pay cut. Also am building an experimental plane. My point is you may never know if you made the correct choice, if you love flying you will always love flying and will be trying to find a way to do it. Engineering can be a great job and mine has been, however sitting at a desk in a cube or office and dealing with nothing but problems gets old too. Whichever choice you make do your best to make it work; and keep flying at some level if you truly love it.

dzbum
11-05-2017, 12:47 PM
Its like getting married. If you are not 100% sure you want to do this - Do NOT!

Flightsoffusion
11-23-2017, 10:01 PM
Going to re-spark this conversation a little if I may as my situation is a bit similar but quite different. I have been flying professionally for 30 years and in all that time, I have always come home every night with my jobs. It's a little more predictable on the helicopter side. Now I have accepted a job in FW flying charter in 737s and I'm starting to get cold feet about the commuting part. I know it's the normal for many of you and lord knows I prowl this site trying to get the best "feel" for doing the same but it doesn't seem to help. Throw in the fact that I'm 56 years old and I'm wondering if maybe I'm biting off a little more than I can chew. Guess there's no real question here. Just looking for a little encouragement.
Safe flights..

mkfmbos
12-12-2017, 05:26 PM
The Job. I never even thought about these things. I was so hell bent on becoming an airline pilot that I would have done anything. Recently I have been questioning some of my choices. What led me to those choices and how would my life be different if I hadn't made them. But none of them are about my choice of career field. I don't want to do anything else. Being away from home is something I have to deal with so I can't have a job that I love. I have a wonderful supportive wife and two awesome kids and it's really tough when I am away but I still wouldn't dream of doing anything else.

15+ days off per month
-Not sure how "home" you are when you get home at 6pm on Wednesday night and then in 12 hours have to do it all over again. Pilots often get 10+ days off in a row.

Buddy at Jetblue: 18 days off with 88 credit hours.


Scheduling Flexibility
-with some seniorty you pick what days you want to work.

Working Enviroment
-You are the boss bro. Just you the other guy, your crew and ATC. Make it happen. No need to wear a funny tie or be nice to people you can't stand. Don't like the crew, swap the trip.

Money
-United gives you 16% of your salary for retirment. Say you get hired when you are 30: 0n 150k thats a lot of cheese when you are done working. You will average well over that at most legacy carriers. Oh and you will work a little less than half the year.


Lots of benifits buddy, but if you don't mind driving to work everyday, on the the same road, and looking at the same people everyday then maybe giving up on your dream is a good idea. Personally, I couldn't stand it.

I woke up one day and I said to myself "if I don't pursue this I'll regret it the rest of my life." So I closed my eyes and dove straight in and havn't looked back.

Stoked27
12-31-2017, 11:11 AM
Adding my $0.02 from the other perspective, even though this is probably a bit old to apply to the original poster's. For anyone else that reads this, they can consider my experiences in their thought process. I was in the OP's shoes in 2005.

I am looking to get into the airlines at age 33 after having worked those cozy Mon-Fri 9-5pm jobs (yea right). I was initially timid about the airlines because I don't want to ruin my passion by making it my work and I also hadn't met an airline pilot prior to 2004 that had never been laid off at least once. The pay was abysmal too at the regionals and I was very concerned about always being gone from home. After having worked for the last ten years in a couple jobs and being around the recruiting industry (getting exposure to other industries and jobs), I've definitely learned that the majority of people think that 'the grass is greener on the other side.' Take anything negative that someone says about their industry with a grain of salt, including my post here.

From my experiences, most of those "Mon-Fri 9am-5pm cozy jobs" now come with a company smartphone tied to your hip, even on your days off. Get used to checking your work email at all hours when you're home including your days off. I've seen plenty that don't involve that, but they don't pay the kind of money that would ideally enable maxing out the annual $18k 401k limit, supporting a family, and supporting a hobby of flying.

My family has come to find that of four weeks in a month (8 weekend days), we're either not mentally engaged in our family or we have weekend rotations. We get 6-8 days off per month, which still involves checking email and making occasional phone calls. Sometimes the stress never stops. From my experience working in an international company, when ex-pats come to work in the US they're shocked at how much we work. There were definitely perks - the pace of work at most jobs I've seen or worked next to had flexibility (need to see the dentist? No sweat, just go when you need to... that type of thing).

Ultimately, I just want to help prevent younger people entering the workforce from being misled into thinking that they're going to be an engineer, earn $100k plus straight out of school, buy their own used single engine piston plane, and not have a care in the world on their days off. That makes the airlines days-off sound pretty amazing. You'll know when you're off and can be mentally disengaged without work politics entering your home life (plus get paid well).

highfarfast
01-02-2018, 07:43 PM
I say this to anyone that asked me about becoming a professional pilot:

Only do it if it's the only way you'll be happy.

Things are WAY better for those just starting today than when I got in 20 years ago but I think that rule still applies. If it's the only way you'll be happy, you'll make it work. And it will work. However, other, more traditional, lifestyles are much easier to make work.

That said, you might consider 135 as your entry point to corporate. 135 operators are getting pretty desperate right now and it's going to get worse. You might be able to get favorable terms for you right away with the right 135 operation but even in a less than ideal situation, you're going to be flying a lot of people that also own their own airplanes that will be desperately looking for pilots. Each corporate gig is very different... some are terrible jobs, some great jobs. I spent the last 17 years flying corporate, spent far FAR more time at home than the average working dad, never missed a Christmas with my kids, and made most birthdays.

MrAviator180
02-06-2018, 07:45 PM
I'm talking something about aviation, and she says "I'm sure going to miss you when you become a professional pilot."

Life isn't easy on the road. It all depends on your spouse. Either it'll be horrible or it'll be amazing. I never did, and wouldn't let a relationship dictate my life's career. That's just me.

But a family is a major life goal of mine, if not the #1 life goal, and I want to be there for them. Whomever I marry. So I wouldn't ordinarily do any of those traveling jobs.

Well, lots of pilots have families.

But it's easily 80% of the market for pilots, and corporate jobs require some major "ins" that I just don't have, and i'm not much of a social butterfly.

Who told you this? There's thousands and thousands of corporate jobs listed on the orange site. You'd be surprised how many people you meet once you start flying even as a low time pilot and how many of those people might "know a guy" that can get you that job. So many feet in so many doors. Many more jobs out there than corporate too. 91 gigs, contract freelancers that have the type ratings bring home epic amounts of money and spend 20 days+ a month at home. Corporate jobs don't require ins if you look in the right places. Though they do help.

Am I making the right decision?

That's a question only you know the answer to. You're giving up on your childhood dream for a... Female, that you're not even sure is the one? I don't mean to open up the wrong door but I had a girlfriend that tried keeping me from becoming a pilot. Long story short my career outlasted the relationship. You live and you learn. Typing this from my hotel room. Glad I made the choice. I apologize in advance if this may have offended you. Flying every day as a "job" - I've always wanted to do - Is amazing. Hope this helps some. 10-20 years ago - The pay was much ****er, and the job conditions were too. So now's a great time do it if you can commit to it personal level. Maybe make some sacrifices.

:cool:

Stimpy the Kat
07-22-2018, 01:31 PM
Fast Forward- BOOM. The World is Your Oyster.

Get your tickets, get a job.

Done.

A job with pay scale that you can LIVE ON. Finally.

Don't like it?

Get ANOTHER flying job.

NEVER has it been like this before.

Oh, how wish that I was 20-40 years old again.

:)

That said...I had a Great Ride.

YOURS WILL PROBABLY BE EVEN BETTER.

Good Luck.

You are all potential Lottery Winners now !



STIMPY

Stimpy the Kat
07-22-2018, 01:41 PM
The Job. I never even thought about these things. I was so hell bent on becoming an airline pilot that I would have done anything. Recently I have been questioning some of my choices. What led me to those choices and how would my life be different if I hadn't made them. But none of them are about my choice of career field. I don't want to do anything else. Being away from home is something I have to deal with so I can't have a job that I love. I have a wonderful supportive wife and two awesome kids and it's really tough when I am away but I still wouldn't dream of doing anything else.

15+ days off per month
-Not sure how "home" you are when you get home at 6pm on Wednesday night and then in 12 hours have to do it all over again. Pilots often get 10+ days off in a row.

Buddy at Jetblue: 18 days off with 88 credit hours.


Scheduling Flexibility
-with some seniorty you pick what days you want to work.

Working Enviroment
-You are the boss bro. Just you the other guy, your crew and ATC. Make it happen. No need to wear a funny tie or be nice to people you can't stand. Don't like the crew, swap the trip.

Money
-United gives you 16% of your salary for retirment. Say you get hired when you are 30: 0n 150k thats a lot of cheese when you are done working. You will average well over that at most legacy carriers. Oh and you will work a little less than half the year.


Lots of benifits buddy, but if you don't mind driving to work everyday, on the the same road, and looking at the same people everyday then maybe giving up on your dream is a good idea. Personally, I couldn't stand it.

I woke up one day and I said to myself "if I don't pursue this I'll regret it the rest of my life." So I closed my eyes and dove straight in and havn't looked back.

I will admit a slight tendency towards a Quarter-Chub here...

EXACTLY my feelings for the past 42 years.

Well said.

Bravo.

Herr Kat



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