Airline Pilot Forums

Airline Pilot Forums was designed to be a community where working airline pilots can share ideas and information about the aviation field. In the forum you will find information about major and regional airline carriers, career training, interview and job seeker help, finance, and living the airline pilot lifestyle.




curiousfireman2
08-12-2019, 03:54 PM
Long story short, Iím a 26 year old firefighter thinking about a career change to aviation. Iím currently at a ďstepping stone departmentĒ with mediocre pay/benefits, and Iím at a crossroads as to whether invest my energy in getting onto a better department or a career change. Hereís an outline of what Iím considering and Iím wondering if you guys can either correct my misconceptions or give me some advice.

Lifestyle: lifestyle is by far the most important consideration for me in a career. There are two big factors that Iím worried about: travel and schedule. The schedule is one of the best things about the job in my opinion. I work a 24 hour shift and then have two days off, and often swap shifts with my coworkers, so I have a lot of flexibility before I even begin to dip into my vacation time. If I get on a better department Iíll get a day off every three weeks built into my calendar. I love to travel, and the fire department schedule has allowed me to travel quite a bit. From what Iíve read there seems to be much less flexibility with a pilots schedule. I donít have a good sense if I would have more off days as a pilot or a firefighter. However, for what itís worth when Iím on at the firehouse, my fiancť can come up and visit, I can help her with stuff when I have down time, and family can come up and visit when I work holidays. As a pilot, when youíre gone youíre gone. As far as lifestyle, it seems as though firefighting has the advantage. Itís really heavily dependent on the schedule, which I need to learn more about.

Pay/benefits: I think a career in aviation has the advantage. On average, pilots make significantly more money. If I get on a fire department Iím shooting for, Iíll make 70k to low six figures throughout my career in a low cost of living area, with the range depending on how I do in promotions. The big benefit would be a pension and the ability to retire in my early 50s, but thereís no guarantee politicians donít steal from it. The other ads range of firefighting is job security. With aviation there is a much higher ceiling for salary.

The work: This is a bit of a wash. I think Iíd enjoy the actual nuts and bolts of being a pilot as much as I enjoy firefighting. Itís exciting work thatís both cerebral and hands on. However I would really miss the ďfringe benefitsĒ. Itís incredibly rewarding to be a public servant, I have a deep connection to the community I serve, and at the risk of sounding corny the firehouse really is a family and brotherhood. I could volunteer, but it wouldnít be the same. I worry about the loneliness of the pilots lifestyle.

A couple questions:

What can I expect schedule wise early and mid career? The last thing I want is a regular 9 to 5, but I do value flexibility and plenty of time off. I read about the nuts and bolts of scheduling in the r/flying FAQ, but I'm wondering about big picture stuff. How long would it take to be working 10 days or less a month? The goal for travel/vacation is to take one or two one-month "sabbaticals" a year. These can include unpaid leave. Could I realistically expect to get that within ~5 years?

How likely is it that I would be able to get a job out of flight school in the first place (I have an unrelated bachelors so I just need to knock out flight school)? How likely is it that I would make it to the major airlines?

Are there any options for working part-time?

How limited would I be if I'm tied to one location/airport?

Big picture, what do you guys think? Should I keep looking into pursuing a career as a pilot or stick to firefighting?


Jpatrick
08-12-2019, 04:41 PM
Iím in the exact same boat. Iím currently 28 years old and 5 years into a career department. We are a smaller department so the next scheduled promotion is a few years away at-least. I am a paramedic also but have very little left in student loans for that. Iíve been reading these forums for awhile and talking to local flight schools as moving away to attend ATP or something similar is probably not feasible for me with a wife and kids.

sourdough44
08-13-2019, 06:00 AM
Once you get a Commercial & CFI you can live(frugally) as a full time instructor at a flight school, FL & AZ two of the most common. Once you have the required flight hours, you Ďshouldí be hired at a regional.

The above assumes you donít have any skeletons & no medical troubles.

You have to work in the trenches a while, years, before moving to better schedules. Even then, seniority in a seat is what dictates bidding horsepower.

Under 30 with a degree already, itís doable for many, initiative & $$$ are always key. If married, family support is another important factor.

There are ways to test the water some before letting go of a current occupation, local flight training. Once you get your sea legs, & like it, faith may be needed.

Itís hard to say who can do what. The potential pilot with a silver platter can stumble, where the next excels as they jump hurdles along the way.


rickair7777
08-13-2019, 07:04 AM
Lifestyle: lifestyle is by far the most important consideration for me in a career. There are two big factors that I’m worried about: travel and schedule. The schedule is one of the best things about the job in my opinion. I work a 24 hour shift and then have two days off, and often swap shifts with my coworkers, so I have a lot of flexibility before I even begin to dip into my vacation time. If I get on a better department I’ll get a day off every three weeks built into my calendar. I love to travel, and the fire department schedule has allowed me to travel quite a bit. From what I’ve read there seems to be much less flexibility with a pilots schedule. I don’t have a good sense if I would have more off days as a pilot or a firefighter. However, for what it’s worth when I’m on at the firehouse, my fiancť can come up and visit, I can help her with stuff when I have down time, and family can come up and visit when I work holidays. As a pilot, when you’re gone you’re gone. As far as lifestyle, it seems as though firefighting has the advantage. It’s really heavily dependent on the schedule, which I need to learn more about.

The schedule is quite variable, and generally improves significantly with seniority.

Entry level is reserve where you're on call for about 12 hours/day for (usually) 4-6 days in a row. Typically you have two hours to be inside security at the airport. The daily 12 "off" is not guaranteed at all, they could call you in the last five min on call on day one and send you on a trip for the rest of your reserve days (maybe extending into your days off). Reserve is not fun at regionals, typically 10-12 scheduled days off. At some majors reserve goes very senior because they rarely use them, so you get paid to hang out at home.

Regional schedules are inherently harder than majors as a rule. You have to block about 80 hours/month in the airline business. A regional day typically consists of 3-5+ shorter legs/day. Since you credit block time when the plane is moving the 1 hour+ between flights is wasted time as far as your personal efficiency goes. You can work 12 hours to block four hours, so you'd have to work 20 (long) days/month to get to 80. Some regionals, in some bases on the larger RJ's can have schedules which resemble a major airline.

Majors are better because, on average, the bigger planes fly longer legs. If you block 6-8 hours in 1-2 legs, you would only have to work maybe 12 days/month. And the work days are easy... most of your time is spent in cruise flight just hanging out and answering the radio.


Pay/benefits: I think a career in aviation has the advantage. On average, pilots make significantly more money. If I get on a fire department I’m shooting for, I’ll make 70k to low six figures throughout my career in a low cost of living area, with the range depending on how I do in promotions. The big benefit would be a pension and the ability to retire in my early 50s, but there’s no guarantee politicians don’t steal from it. The other ads range of firefighting is job security. With aviation there is a much higher ceiling for salary.

You can do a spreadsheet. I'd do two versions, one with conservative career progression to a major, and one for staying at a regional. Those are your two reasonable best and worst cases.

But generally it's going to pay better than fire fighting, police, etc even at the regionals. Bear in mind that while regional pay has improved, the regional industry is NOT stable long term... look at the regional forums under Compass and Gojet. Planning to hang your hat as a senior regional CA is not really a safe bet, more of a planned fallback position. Try real hard to get to a major... the industry in general is subject to unpredictable behavior but majors should be a bit more stable, ie most are too big to fail right now while regionals can be (and have been) intentionally liquidated by their major partners. Problem there is if you've invested 10+ years and are a senior CA, you have to start all over at the bottom somewhere else... maybe a major if you're lucky but usually another regional. Seniority is never portable from one airline to another.

Major pay will quickly get to $200K and then top out $400-500K (narrowbodies) or $500-700k after many decades if your airline has widebodies. A handful of folks are even making way more than that right now.



The work: This is a bit of a wash. I think I’d enjoy the actual nuts and bolts of being a pilot as much as I enjoy firefighting. It’s exciting work that’s both cerebral and hands on. However I would really miss the “fringe benefits”. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a public servant, I have a deep connection to the community I serve, and at the risk of sounding corny the firehouse really is a family and brotherhood. I could volunteer, but it wouldn’t be the same. I worry about the loneliness of the pilots lifestyle.

As a military guy I stayed in the reserves, and that's one of the reasons. You're not alone in airlines, there's another pilot and FA's but unless you're in a very small base you'll often (usually) fly with folks you've never met before. There's some opportunity for social life and comradeship but it's personality driven and hit and miss. Like you said volunteer activities can be an outlet and you should eventually have enough time off to do that.



A couple questions:
What can I expect schedule wise early and mid career? The last thing I want is a regular 9 to 5, but I do value flexibility and plenty of time off. I read about the nuts and bolts of scheduling in the r/flying FAQ, but I'm wondering about big picture stuff. How long would it take to be working 10 days or less a month? The goal for travel/vacation is to take one or two one-month "sabbaticals" a year. These can include unpaid leave. Could I realistically expect to get that within ~5 years?

Unpaid leave is only offered in times of economic trouble or if an airline is making a fleet transition and can't train all of it's pilots for the type all at once. Don't plan on that as a matter of course.

An airline career is always a tradeoff between career progression and seniority. If you're very aggressive (which I recommend) you will not sit tight and enjoy the scheduling benefits of your seniority, but rather take the next career step (upgrade, new type, major job) at the earliest opportunity. Once you get to your career-destination major, then you can kick back and relax.

But with a some seniority, you can typically enjoy significant schedule flexibility, especially in the airline off seasons (mid Jan-Feb, mid Sep- mid Nov). Somewhat depends on the employer, some regionals work you like a dog in a very inefficient manner.


How likely is it that I would be able to get a job out of flight school in the first place (I have an unrelated bachelors so I just need to knock out flight school)?

Essentially guaranteed that you can get a job, typically as a flight instructor. There's a shortage right now and the majors are retiring a lot more pilots over the next five years. Same with a regional job, as long as you don't have any felonies.


How likely is it that I would make it to the major airlines?

If you hit the retirement wave (hurry!) I'd guess about 70% but that's artificially high due to all of the pending retirements. That's knowing almost nothing about you but assuming no real criminal history or any other public notoriety. I'm assuming you can pick up flying fine since you have a degree and are employed in a physical occupation.


Are there any options for working part-time?

Formally no at airlines (corporate aviation is a possibility but probably not at the best jobs) . But most major jobs might as well be part time by normal standards.


How limited would I be if I'm tied to one location/airport?

Potentially very limited. Unless it's New York, DC, Chicago, Dallas, LA, SFO, or SEA. Other than that you'll have to move or commute in order to progress in the career. Commuting is certainly possible and a very large number of pilots do it, but you'd really want to limit yourself to one short leg with multiple airline options. NY - LA will just suck. As will a 2 leg commute from some tiny rural town. But something like MCI-ORD would be OK. It depends on which airline(s) have bases in the two towns you live and work in. If there's not a lot of pilots going both ways, you normally can get the jumpseat without too much trouble even if the cabin's full.


Big picture, what do you guys think? Should I keep looking into pursuing a career as a pilot or stick to firefighting?

Can't answer that for you. The potential rewards are great (financial + schedule) but there is risk and dues paying. Although the dues paying is measured in years right now, while in the recent past it's been measured in decades, so relatively speaking now's a great time.

DontLookDown
08-13-2019, 09:39 AM
If I were you I would do this:

1) use 12K of savings or take out a loan. Get a PPL license over the course of the next 4 months by flying on the 20 days off a month you have.

2) use your unrelated bachelors degree to join a guard unit as an officer (at age 26 youíre still young enough) and go to flight school. Theyíll take care of your instrument/multi/commercial requirements

3) Get a CFI civilian job

4) Continue flying in the guard as you enter the regional world. Youíll still get to serve the public and will rack up a resume to make you marketable to the majors.

Youíll be gone more but paid more
Youíll still travel for fun and for free
Your job will be relatively boring most days compared to firefighting but the guard could make up for it
Youíll still even get paid to relax and workout if you take advantage of layovers

tomgoodman
08-13-2019, 10:09 AM
IMHO, this thread represents APC at its best....unbiased, helpful information for those interested in pursuing this career.

ByrdmanFL
08-13-2019, 12:45 PM
Just an idea, but have you thought of EMT rotor pilot with or without military?

Kind of gives you a little bit of both worlds

DanMarino
08-15-2019, 07:25 AM
The work: This is a bit of a wash. I think Iíd enjoy the actual nuts and bolts of being a pilot as much as I enjoy firefighting. Itís exciting work thatís both cerebral and hands on. However I would really miss the ďfringe benefitsĒ. Itís incredibly rewarding to be a public servant, I have a deep connection to the community I serve, and at the risk of sounding corny the firehouse really is a family and brotherhood. I could volunteer, but it wouldnít be the same. I worry about the loneliness of the pilots lifestyle.


I worry about this too. Coming from a corporate sales environment always working with customers and meeting up with coworkers. That combined with being away from family and friends at home base.

Thinice
08-15-2019, 12:54 PM
A lot to digest and all in all you're in a pretty good spot to make a well informed decision. As a fellow hose dragger, I can appreciate all the draws of the fire department schedule/life style. A couple of questions that came to mind right off the bat:

Do you like to fly? I know it sounds silly but you didn't mention any flying experience.

Is your pension portable from the current department to the next? We have a state system which many departments subscribe to and then there are several private systems. The point being, how far are you from vesting in the current system, how long to vest in the next? You may not desire to reach full retirement but vesting is mostly guaranteed retirement income...political attacks aside.

You have some time before you have to make a decision. While there may not be a viable p/t airline opportunity, there are things you can do to build your time on the way to 1500 while staying on the job. There aren't many careers that allow you to swap a shift to get five in a row, much less a Kelly day. You can do both for the foreseeable future. By that time you will have a better idea of what you want to do. While the Majors are the gold standard and certainly have the most earning potential, there are more than a handful of people that prefer other segments in aviation.

simscott
08-23-2019, 02:51 PM
I too am a firefighter and currently going through the commercial phase then will be doing CFI after. It can be done and the pay difference would be pretty much lateral as I'm not getting paid much as well.

Firemantx
08-24-2019, 06:39 PM
I am 38 and I have been with my career department for 17.5 years. I am seriously considering pulling my pension at 20 years and diving head first into this. I already have my PPL and am working on my Instrument right now. I have zero college hours though.

This will be a very hard decision for me because I have made it up to the rank of Captain and only work 8-9 days a month. I have a great crew and I really do still love this job. I too work for a department that is, more or less, a stepping stone department. I could shoot for my goal of 33 years and fully retire at 54 with a FAT pension. But firefighting is hard on the body and cancer is rampant in this line of work. Many of our retirees have died shortly after retirement, and every single one has been from some form of cancer.

I wouldn't dare make the change without my pension to help me through the regional years. But I'm also in a different place in life more than likely. If I had the ability to leave early in my career and transition to being a pilot, I pretty sure I would have taken it.

I have many friends who fly professionally. One I own an airplane with flew the 777 for American, another just got hired at Southwest after being at Skywest, several at Envoy and a cargo guy. They all hound me about stopping and going to be a pilot.

Another reservation I have is that I had a fellow Firefighter who was a Battalion Chief at a neighboring department left to fly professionally. He left without a pension and was used to the easy 9 days a month. As the sole breadwinner, he transitioned to horribly low pay, having to commute, and working 20 days a month. He lasted only a few months before calling it quits. He is now aged out of working for civil service departments and looking for other pilot work.

Think hard about it. Make an excel sheet like someone else suggested. I did this and have numerous different scenarios played out on it. I am accused of researching too much before I jump into something though...lol

Just food for though. Good luck Brother!

cgriffin
08-26-2019, 08:10 PM
Old guy here,

Iím a retired firefighter/medic. Always wanted a flying career. Financed my own flying and was able to fly part time (off duty days) corporate for several years, Citation Bravo.... loved it! Awesome company and pilot group.

Worked my career until the day I could draw full pension and then pulled the plug. The fire service treated me well, put two kids through college, married 35 years (in a row, to the same woman)and am now looking towards the next flying adventure. Lucky not smart....

What I could have done better...
* got the CFI, CFII & MEI
* finished my bachelors degree
* worked harder

Never achieved the big dream of working for a major but I am still flying and looking for the next adventure. Probably a full time corporate gig... who knows.

Have fun and enjoy the journey, either way I think you win.

Take care and be safe!

Griff

pnwchief22
08-26-2019, 08:43 PM
Long story short, Iím a 26 year old firefighter thinking about a career change to aviation. Iím currently at a ďstepping stone departmentĒ with mediocre pay/benefits, and Iím at a crossroads as to whether invest my energy in getting onto a better department or a career change. Hereís an outline of what Iím considering and Iím wondering if you guys can either correct my misconceptions or give me some advice.

Lifestyle: lifestyle is by far the most important consideration for me in a career. There are two big factors that Iím worried about: travel and schedule. The schedule is one of the best things about the job in my opinion. I work a 24 hour shift and then have two days off, and often swap shifts with my coworkers, so I have a lot of flexibility before I even begin to dip into my vacation time. If I get on a better department Iíll get a day off every three weeks built into my calendar. I love to travel, and the fire department schedule has allowed me to travel quite a bit. From what Iíve read there seems to be much less flexibility with a pilots schedule. I donít have a good sense if I would have more off days as a pilot or a firefighter. However, for what itís worth when Iím on at the firehouse, my fiancť can come up and visit, I can help her with stuff when I have down time, and family can come up and visit when I work holidays. As a pilot, when youíre gone youíre gone. As far as lifestyle, it seems as though firefighting has the advantage. Itís really heavily dependent on the schedule, which I need to learn more about.

Pay/benefits: I think a career in aviation has the advantage. On average, pilots make significantly more money. If I get on a fire department Iím shooting for, Iíll make 70k to low six figures throughout my career in a low cost of living area, with the range depending on how I do in promotions. The big benefit would be a pension and the ability to retire in my early 50s, but thereís no guarantee politicians donít steal from it. The other ads range of firefighting is job security. With aviation there is a much higher ceiling for salary.

The work: This is a bit of a wash. I think Iíd enjoy the actual nuts and bolts of being a pilot as much as I enjoy firefighting. Itís exciting work thatís both cerebral and hands on. However I would really miss the ďfringe benefitsĒ. Itís incredibly rewarding to be a public servant, I have a deep connection to the community I serve, and at the risk of sounding corny the firehouse really is a family and brotherhood. I could volunteer, but it wouldnít be the same. I worry about the loneliness of the pilots lifestyle.

A couple questions:

What can I expect schedule wise early and mid career? The last thing I want is a regular 9 to 5, but I do value flexibility and plenty of time off. I read about the nuts and bolts of scheduling in the r/flying FAQ, but I'm wondering about big picture stuff. How long would it take to be working 10 days or less a month? The goal for travel/vacation is to take one or two one-month "sabbaticals" a year. These can include unpaid leave. Could I realistically expect to get that within ~5 years?

How likely is it that I would be able to get a job out of flight school in the first place (I have an unrelated bachelors so I just need to knock out flight school)? How likely is it that I would make it to the major airlines?

Are there any options for working part-time?

How limited would I be if I'm tied to one location/airport?

Big picture, what do you guys think? Should I keep looking into pursuing a career as a pilot or stick to firefighting?

I was just past 40 when I had my 20 yrs in the fire service and could pull the plug with a comfortable pension for life...If you want that security, stay in the fire service until you accumulate the required min years, retire and go fly. I started flying at 43 and ran a side business. Started regular weekly flying with my commercial in hand by age 46. First Officer at the regional airline at 49... Thank you for your service.

Firefighterpilo
08-26-2019, 09:09 PM
I have some insight but I went the other direction. I worked for a top tier regional for 7+ years during the lost decade. I made the switch after getting my fill of the airline life style and the ups and downs it can include. I have a jaded view, admittedly, due to my timing in the industry. I am fortunate that I work as a firefighter/paramedic for one of the highest paid depts in the California. My station is in a ghetto area so lots of fires, shootings, ODs, accidents and excitement. I honestly make more now then I ever came close to making with the regionals. My only aviation friends that are currently out earning me, are captains at the majors. I make roughly Major Widebody FO pay thanks to rank, specialties and OT pay. This is possible due to an amazing contract. With OT I still work less then 15 days a month and my family visits the station frequently. You throw in a pension, benefits and stability I could not be happier with my decision. Do not take for granted the job you have. The airline can and does change very rapidly and you could be left standing with no chair to sit in. Coming from public service you have no idea how much you take job stability for granted. Being a firefighter brings me more job satisfaction then the airlines ever did. I get to now make an actual difference in a community where most kids have no healthy adult role models. I have saved countless lives from heart attacks to burn victims. Not even acing the most challenging approach or trouble shooting an inflight emergency come close to the adrenaline rush and feeling of accomplishment this job gives me. Donít get me wrong flying was by far the best job I ever had, but being a firefighter is a better career. Do what makes your heart happy but trust me you have no idea how good you have it until you start flying for a regional. It will make you kick yourself for leaving the fire dept. Even worse if the music stops and you are stuck at a regional for ten or more years. I know I know retirements! but we were saying the same in 2007. I love flying and plan to go back to it professionally when I retire with my pension. For now though I make plenty to be able to fly a few times a week for fun. I go places I want to go and seeing things I want to see. Trust me I get the allure of becoming a pilot but please think carefully about what is best for you and your family. The regional lifestyle and pay caused me to almost lose my wife and kids. Now I am happier then ever, work with my best friends and deal with real emergencies that save peoples lives daily. Please PM me with any questions you have I will give you honest answers. I still CFI some and stay up with the industry through my friends and publications and cherish the years I was a professional pilot. Either way you choose I wish you all the best!

drywhitetoast
08-27-2019, 04:47 AM
I have some insight but I went the other direction. I worked for a top tier regional for 7+ years during the lost decade. I made the switch after getting my fill of the airline life style and the ups and downs it can include. I have a jaded view, admittedly, due to my timing in the industry. I am fortunate that I work as a firefighter/paramedic for one of the highest paid depts in the California. My station is in a ghetto area so lots of fires, shootings, ODs, accidents and excitement. I honestly make more now then I ever came close to making with the regionals. My only aviation friends that are currently out earning me, are captains at the majors. I make roughly Major Widebody FO pay thanks to rank, specialties and OT pay. This is possible due to an amazing contract. With OT I still work less then 15 days a month and my family visits the station frequently. You throw in a pension, benefits and stability I could not be happier with my decision. Do not take for granted the job you have. The airline can and does change very rapidly and you could be left standing with no chair to sit in. Coming from public service you have no idea how much you take job stability for granted. Being a firefighter brings me more job satisfaction then the airlines ever did. I get to now make an actual difference in a community where most kids have no healthy adult role models. I have saved countless lives from heart attacks to burn victims. Not even acing the most challenging approach or trouble shooting an inflight emergency come close to the adrenaline rush and feeling of accomplishment this job gives me. Donít get me wrong flying was by far the best job I ever had, but being a firefighter is a better career. Do what makes your heart happy but trust me you have no idea how good you have it until you start flying for a regional. It will make you kick yourself for leaving the fire dept. Even worse if the music stops and you are stuck at a regional for ten or more years. I know I know retirements! but we were saying the same in 2007. I love flying and plan to go back to it professionally when I retire with my pension. For now though I make plenty to be able to fly a few times a week for fun. I go places I want to go and seeing things I want to see. Trust me I get the allure of becoming a pilot but please think carefully about what is best for you and your family. The regional lifestyle and pay caused me to almost lose my wife and kids. Now I am happier then ever, work with my best friends and deal with real emergencies that save peoples lives daily. Please PM me with any questions you have I will give you honest answers. I still CFI some and stay up with the industry through my friends and publications and cherish the years I was a professional pilot. Either way you choose I wish you all the best!

Good god man...



paragraph
[ˈperəˌɡraf]
NOUN
paragraphs (plural noun)

a distinct section of a piece of writing, usually dealing with a single theme and indicated by a new line, indentation, or numbering.
"the concluding paragraph" ∑ "the information set out in paragraph 3"
synonyms:
section ∑ subdivision ∑ part ∑ subsection ∑ division ∑ portion ∑ segment ∑ bit ∑ passage ∑ clause ∑ report ∑ article ∑ item ∑ piece ∑ notice ∑ write-up ∑ note ∑ mention

VERB
paragraphs (third person present) ∑ paragraphed (past tense) ∑ paragraphed (past participle) ∑ paragraphing (present participle)

arrange (a piece of writing) in paragraphs.
"his style deploys a lack of conventional paragraphing"

ORIGIN
late 15th century: from Frenchparagraphe, via medieval Latin from GreekparagraphosĎshort stroke marking a break in senseí, from para-Ďbesideí + grapheinĎwriteí.

FDNYOldGuy
10-14-2019, 11:22 AM
I know this thread is a couple months stale, but Iím new to APC and wanted to jump in here after seeing lots of fire pilot bros posting.

Iím a similar situation with a somewhat rhyming story. Always wanted to fly and am finally making it happen. I was told no dice on an Air Force pilot slot without a STEM degree by a recruiter (when do they lie?) way back in 2004 and took that as the gospel. So, I followed my other dream of being a firefighter. I started in 2005 and have been working in my current department for north of 11 years. I absolutely love it. But, after finally deciding to get my PPL two years ago, I was convinced by a mil friend to give the mil flying another shot, even with my...ah, advanced...age. I thought it was going to be impossible, but to make a long story really short, it worked out and Iím currently working my way through UPT and going to be flying a (reeeeaaaaalllly) heavy for the Reserves when all is said and done.

Depending on what youíre up for, it might make a lot of sense for you to look into your Reserve/Guard options to get you those hours. Here are a few big reasons it might make sense; especially if you want to keep working civil service.

First, itís a way to take service to the national level, fly some pretty fun airplanes, and make some great friends. Oh, and the fact youíre getting paid to do it all while gaining hours and ratings helps, too. Sure, there are not-small sacrifices, but itís been completely worth it, thus far.

Second, USERRA protects everyone, but civil service agencies tend to be a hell of a lot better at taking care of military service. If you stay with your current department, youíll get at least 5 years of military service time thatíll count toward your retirement/pension. Even more, actually, as OTS/SERE/UPT have all been marked USERRA-exempt for me, so Iíll have another year and a half of mil service thatís pensionable time in addition to the 5. If you go to another department, many will let you buy up to 3 years of pre-hire military service back to reduce your required working years. Add that to the 5 after hire and, well, youíre moving closer to a pension while mil flying.

Even more, most departments will also give you military service points for applying or promotional examinations. Getting those extra mil service points can put you a lot higher up the hiring and promotional lists.

Third, a lot of departments will offer additional military leave pay, so youíll still get paid by the department for some of the youíre on orders.

As for your questions about part-time, basing, etc., I am curious about those as well. As of now, Iím just focused on getting through training, to my unit, and then doing the best I can there before getting spit back out as a Traditional Reservist and returning to the FD in another year and a half or so. Once I get closer to that time, Iím certainly going to start looking at the same things you are about potential ďpart timeĒ employment. I donít have any intentions of leaving the department before earning a retirement, so it kinda rules out airlines, but who knows?

Anyway, feel free to hit me up if you have any questions about the Reserve/Guard options (or just to talk fire career stuff) and Iíll help however I can. Itís good to see all you other fire folks posting up and enjoying aviation.

Stay safe out there!

galaxy flyer
10-14-2019, 12:18 PM
Minijets at KSWF or KWRI or real Jumbos at KDOV?

GF

DanMarino
10-14-2019, 12:24 PM
I know this thread is a couple months stale, but Iím new to APC and wanted to jump in here after seeing lots of fire pilot bros posting.

Iím a similar situation with a somewhat rhyming story. Always wanted to fly and am finally making it happen. I was told no dice on an Air Force pilot slot without a STEM degree by a recruiter (when do they lie?) way back in 2004 and took that as the gospel. So, I followed my other dream of being a firefighter. I started in 2005 and have been working in my current department for north of 11 years. I absolutely love it. But, after finally deciding to get my PPL two years ago, I was convinced by a mil friend to give the mil flying another shot, even with my...ah, advanced...age. I thought it was going to be impossible, but to make a long story really short, it worked out and Iím currently working my way through UPT and going to be flying a (reeeeaaaaalllly) heavy for the Reserves when all is said and done.

Depending on what youíre up for, it might make a lot of sense for you to look into your Reserve/Guard options to get you those hours. Here are a few big reasons it might make sense; especially if you want to keep working civil service.

First, itís a way to take service to the national level, fly some pretty fun airplanes, and make some great friends. Oh, and the fact youíre getting paid to do it all while gaining hours and ratings helps, too. Sure, there are not-small sacrifices, but itís been completely worth it, thus far.

Second, USERRA protects everyone, but civil service agencies tend to be a hell of a lot better at taking care of military service. If you stay with your current department, youíll get at least 5 years of military service time thatíll count toward your retirement/pension. Even more, actually, as OTS/SERE/UPT have all been marked USERRA-exempt for me, so Iíll have another year and a half of mil service thatís pensionable time in addition to the 5. If you go to another department, many will let you buy up to 3 years of pre-hire military service back to reduce your required working years. Add that to the 5 after hire and, well, youíre moving closer to a pension while mil flying.

Even more, most departments will also give you military service points for applying or promotional examinations. Getting those extra mil service points can put you a lot higher up the hiring and promotional lists.

Third, a lot of departments will offer additional military leave pay, so youíll still get paid by the department for some of the youíre on orders.

As for your questions about part-time, basing, etc., I am curious about those as well. As of now, Iím just focused on getting through training, to my unit, and then doing the best I can there before getting spit back out as a Traditional Reservist and returning to the FD in another year and a half or so. Once I get closer to that time, Iím certainly going to start looking at the same things you are about potential ďpart timeĒ employment. I donít have any intentions of leaving the department before earning a retirement, so it kinda rules out airlines, but who knows?

Anyway, feel free to hit me up if you have any questions about the Reserve/Guard options (or just to talk fire career stuff) and Iíll help however I can. Itís good to see all you other fire folks posting up and enjoying aviation.

Stay safe out there!

Cool share.

How old were you when you applied to the Reserves?

FDNYOldGuy
10-14-2019, 12:51 PM
Minijets at KSWF or KWRI or real Jumbos at KDOV?

GF

Go big or go home! Haha. Judging by your username, Iím guessing youíre no stranger to KDOV. I should hopefully be headed that in about a year after FTU. One big alligator at a time.

Cool share.

How old were you when you applied to the Reserves?

Pretty ancient, by UPT standards. Haha. 36 when I applied and 37 now. I got beyond lucky it actually happened and worked out.

rickair7777
10-14-2019, 02:38 PM
Pretty ancient, by UPT standards. Haha. 36 when I applied and 37 now. I got beyond lucky it actually happened and worked out.

That's impressive.

galaxy flyer
10-14-2019, 04:50 PM
Go big or go home! Haha. Judging by your username, Iím guessing youíre no stranger to KDOV. I should hopefully be headed that in about a year after FTU. One big alligator at a time.



Pretty ancient, by UPT standards. Haha. 36 when I applied and 37 now. I got beyond lucky it actually happened and worked out.

Did you meet the DOV Reserve Wing Commander as part of your interview? Craig P. I was at Westover.

GF

FDNYOldGuy
10-15-2019, 09:51 AM
That's impressive.

Haha. I definitely got very lucky, it required a whole lot of hustle and networking on my part, and I was fortunate to have my unit running hard with their end. Beyond fortunate to be here, for sure.

Did you meet the DOV Reserve Wing Commander as part of your interview? Craig P. I was at Westover.

GF

I did not meet the commander as part of the interview and was only there for the day and a half interview, but I did get to meet a handful of guys and they are a great group! Had to be a lot of fun up at Westover, too, and Iíd love to hear some stories of your time with the big girl sometime, if youíre up for it!

galaxy flyer
10-15-2019, 12:32 PM
Haha. I definitely got very lucky, it required a whole lot of hustle and networking on my part, and I was fortunate to have my unit running hard with their end. Beyond fortunate to be here, for sure.



I did not meet the commander as part of the interview and was only there for the day and a half interview, but I did get to meet a handful of guys and they are a great group! Had to be a lot of fun up at Westover, too, and Iíd love to hear some stories of your time with the big girl sometime, if youíre up for it!

18 years as a technician, I got loads of them. I hired that commander, heís at Westover now. The UE unitís like Westover are more fun as you donít have to fly as many AD missions. Most of the candidates I selected and sent to UPT are now DL captains.

GF