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View Full Version : Too Old To Play in The Majors?


BurntOut
08-08-2007, 04:20 AM
I am months away from my 50th BDay and I am burnt out at my current job (Rocket Scientist, yes for real) after 30 years; I've done it all, seen it all, and had to work thru the accident reconstruction of 2 Shuttle crews losses so I'm looking to change careers to something I always wanted to do first - FLY.

My question to you vet's of this business - is it too late for me? What with family, college for the kids, not to mention the house payment, would I be relegated to poverty level pay and the regionals for the entire time before I hit mandatory retirement? I make a comfortable living now >100k, but I can do this stuff in my sleep. I don't care if it's passengers or cargo, I just want to know if it's possible to quickly get to my current paylevel within a "reasonable" time once I start flying, and please define what you think is reasonable.

As a data point = 0.5 TT. As I said this is a career change!

Many thanks in advance.


pullup
08-08-2007, 04:46 AM
If you really want to do it, You should get your ratings and build some flight time, then possibly get a flying job near home part time. I wouldn't forsake your familys financial future by quitting a high paying job to fly planes!

Flyby1206
08-08-2007, 05:21 AM
I would say in one of the most optimistic views, you could make 100k+ flying passengers/cargo in about 5 years. It would be a lot of sacrifice and nights away from home. If you slept in your own bed half of the year then that would be doing well.

Year 1 you would have to go through some very accelerated training program like AllATPs to get your ratings (-$50,000).
Year 2 get hired at a regional and fly as much as possible (+$20,000).
Year 3 get hired as a street Captain flying a turboprop in the middle of nowhere across the country from where you live and fly 1000hrs/yr (+$35,000).
Year 4 get extremely lucky and get several internal letters of recommendation to get hired at a major carrier (SWA, FedEx, UPS) (+$40,000).
Year 5 second year payscale you should make roughly +$100,000.


Personally, I would recommend buying an airplane and flying around for enjoyment on your days off. Maybe get your ratings and be a CFI at you local airport for fun as well.


NGINEWHOISWHAT
08-08-2007, 05:23 AM
If you really want to do it, You should get your ratings and build some flight time, then possibly get a flying job near home part time. I wouldn't forsake your familys financial future by quitting a high paying job to fly planes!

You can do it, especially considering age 65 will pass. If you have a retirement you'll be fine. If not, I'd seriously reconsider it. If I woke up in your shoes today with a retirement, I'd buy a 172 and get all my ratings. Obviously you'll have to rent some from the local FBO, and then sell the 172 when you have your instructors certificate. Multi is not a real problem. Get into one of those programs that teach CRM and can get you hired quickly, or flight instruct. It's all dependent upon your retirement. Good luck.

Tom

SkyHigh
08-08-2007, 05:27 AM
Your first step will be to find the thickest pair of prescription rose colored glasses that you can find.

It is highly unlikly that you will be able to earn back the cost of your own flight training let alone be able to replace a 100K income.

I would keep working in your sleep at your current job and let this aviation dream remain as such.

SkyHigh

Oldfreightdawg
08-08-2007, 05:33 AM
I am months away from my 50th BDay and I am burnt out at my current job (Rocket Scientist, yes for real) after 30 years; I've done it all, seen it all, and had to work thru the accident reconstruction of 2 Shuttle crews losses so I'm looking to change careers to something I always wanted to do first - FLY.

My question to you vet's of this business - is it too late for me? What with family, college for the kids, not to mention the house payment, would I be relegated to poverty level pay and the regionals for the entire time before I hit mandatory retirement? I make a comfortable living now >100k, but I can do this stuff in my sleep. I don't care if it's passengers or cargo, I just want to know if it's possible to quickly get to my current paylevel within a "reasonable" time once I start flying, and please define what you think is reasonable.

As a data point = 0.5 TT. As I said this is a career change!

Many thanks in advance.

Well, it depends. How fast can you get your ratings? Comm, instr, multi will put you close to regional minimums. 2-3 years at a regional to build time for a major. Top pax and cargo jobs can pay 100K by year 3 or 4 ( go to the "airline" overview on the main page, find the hourly wages at each carrier and multiply by 1000 to figure annual pay). Length of time to obtain your rating is the biggest question mark. 2-3 years with work and family? If you quit work and train full time, maybe 18 months or less depending on your level of skill. At the outside: 5 to 8 years to earn what you earn now. If the change to mandatory retirement at 65 goes thru, you COULD have 7 to 10 years of pilots asking: why the hell did you do this?

On an unrelated note: there is a fierce discussion in another thread about cockpit automation, specifically designing and deploying pilot-less airliners. As an individual with an extensive engineering background, what is your take on this? Thanks, and good luck.

Bucking Bar
08-08-2007, 05:41 AM
Burnt Out:

As I mid life career changer, your post resonates with what I was thinking. However, if you are in the six figures performing a job that is easy for you and which has a retirement (and some stability) I would recommend staying put.

The flying for the most part is great and you will work with really good folks in the airline business. The parts you do not see from the bleacher seats is all the studying on your own time (more on some aircraft and at some airlines than others) and the frequent jeopardy your career is in every time you get into the Sim, go to the Doctor, or even accept a clearance to cross a runway. The flying career is risky - the future of all airlines are uncertain with oil trending upwards.

Very few people in this business can develop a time line and stick with it. September 11th, oil prices, and the rest set many of us back 5 to 7 years. In 2000 most airlines reported record profits. Just a scant few years later most were teetering on bankruptcy and the first items to get cut were non managerial retirements and compensation.

Concomitantly airlines sent 49% (yes, half by block hours) of their flying out to regional carriers. Those RJ jobs are not anything like the jobs they replaced and unfortunately I do not see those positions coming back to the majors. Delta's seniority list went from nearly 12,000 to 6,700 and the regionals hired something like 5,000 to 6,000 pilots to do the DAL code flying. There has been a fundamental and permanent shift in where the flying jobs are. Even worse, these regional carriers do not have a brand and several are owned under one corporate structure allowing management to shift airplanes back and forth to try to shake out the senior pilots who make good money. At ASA we had airplanes taken by SkyWest, taken by Comair, we took some back from Comair, got some from Independence - etc... in other words, if you demand a raise say adios to your job (the threats are worse than the reality - but it keeps the regional profession from achieving the standards you would expect)

You can afford to fly and many of my rocket engineer friends overcome their boredom with a Vans RV4, or RV6. You can fly when you want, turn it upside down when you get bored, inspect and repair it yourself and not have to live in moldy hotel rooms for 20 days a month. Flying is not checking EPR, turning autothrottles on and getting the autopilot at 500 feet just to dial numbers and type until you turn the thing off 3 miles from the destination. Flying is taking a SuperCub to somplace where the fishing is good, or hanging out with your friends at Oshkosh.

I just got my dream job with Delta & I'm very happy with the career move at the moment. But even here it will take three years to match my wages from 10 years ago, not even counting inflation. With inflation the Delta number pushes out to a Captain upgrade. If I had stayed put, I would be enjoying low six figures, an easy job (no study), home every night, a company car and a retirement that pays around 60 to 80% of my pre-retirement salary. And even at Delta, I keep my old boss's phone number right below my computer monitor - just in case. And I keep savings of several years' worth of income - again, just in case.

Everything in this business is seniority - pay, equipment, schedule. It is much easier to recommend this job to kids (no offense to those under 30) who can take an airline failure, or two, and still have the time to get to the top somewhere.

I am not trying to be negative. Getting out of the office and flying is a great job. If you have over $1,000,000 in the bank and are ready to retire to a job that takes 300 hours a month of your time (away from base), go for it. If you still need a stable income - this ain't it.

SkyHigh
08-08-2007, 05:48 AM
Well, it depends. How fast can you get your ratings? Comm, instr, multi will put you close to regional minimums. 2-3 years at a regional to build time for a major. Top pax and cargo jobs can pay 100K by year 3 or 4 ( go to the "airline" overview on the main page, find the hourly wages at each carrier and multiply by 1000 to figure annual pay). Length of time to obtain your rating is the biggest question mark. 2-3 years with work and family? If you quit work and train full time, maybe 18 months or less depending on your level of skill. At the outside: 5 to 8 years to earn what you earn now. If the change to mandatory retirement at 65 goes thru, you COULD have 7 to 10 years of pilots asking: why the hell did you do this?

On an unrelated note: there is a fierce discussion in another thread about cockpit automation, specifically designing and deploying pilot-less airliners. As an individual with an extensive engineering background, what is your take on this? Thanks, and good luck.


Yea, My father is a retired Aerospace Engineer who specialised in trajectory and re-entry. He tells me that the space program is almost entirely automated. What about that?

Skyhigh

Skyhigh

Skyhigh

Skyhigh

Oldfreightdawg
08-08-2007, 06:12 AM
Yea, My father is a retired Aerospace Engineer who specialised in trajectory and re-entry. He tells me that the space program is almost entirely automated. What about that?

Skyhigh

Skyhigh

Skyhigh

Skyhigh

Okay, I wasn't trying to be in your face, the post appears after yours because I don't type very fast, purely coincidental. But you have to admit it's pretty funny.

Had I known your dad was an engineer, and you've undoubtedly based some of your argument from his input, you could have saved me a considerable amount of typing had you mentioned this earlier. I still want to heard from Bunrtout on the subject.

SkyHigh
08-08-2007, 06:15 AM
Okay, I wasn't trying to be in your face, the post appears after yours because I don't type very fast, purely coincidental. But you have to admit it's pretty funny.

Had I known your dad was an engineer, and you've undoubtedly based some of your argument from his input, you could have saved me a considerable amount of typing had you mentioned this earlier. I still want to heard from Bunrtout on the subject.

I am just having a little fun. :)

It was funny.


SkyHigh

757Driver
08-08-2007, 06:32 AM
C'mon over to Continental. We have Captains with less than 2 years of seniority. Now of course you won't have a life outside of flying a tin-can and soaking up everything Newark has to offer but who cares, you'll have 4 stripes.:)

Bucking Bar
08-08-2007, 06:33 AM
Yea, My father is a retired Aerospace Engineer who specialised in trajectory and re-entry. He tells me that the space program is almost entirely automated. What about that?

Skyhigh

The problem with automating aviation is congestion and the fleet mix. Most of us have had to deviate from a clearance more than once to avoid peril. Without going into detail; this is why we have to do that "pilot stuff" and turn off the automation, or tell a controller "unable" from time to time. Also, the equipment we have it good, but the more automated it is - it seems like the more circuit breakers get re-set short of the runway and the more things break in the winter time. Even a crash a year will not be tolerated.

Bucking Bar
08-08-2007, 06:34 AM
C'mon over to Continental. We have Captains with less than 2 years of seniority. Now of course you won't have a life outside of flying a tin-can and soaking up everything Newark has to offer but who cares, you'll have 4 stripes.:)Excellent point. :)

IronWalt
08-08-2007, 06:41 AM
and soaking up everything Newark has to offer


Hey I like Newark.

Seriously, I am considering making a move myself. I am a 1989 hire at USAirways, and thanks to too much furlough time I am on Year 7 pay. Sitting right seat on the Airbus. I like the job and the aircraft. I have a driving commute and a base that I like.

But the PAY SUCKS and with these 2005 AWA kiddies wanting my seniority I am worried about never upgrading. At age 44 what would some of you do??? I refuse to wait until age 50 plus to upgrade. And I would like to stay in THIS country to do it.

Thoughts, Ideas?

757Driver
08-08-2007, 07:06 AM
Hey I like Newark.

Seriously, I am considering making a move myself. I am a 1989 hire at USAirways, and thanks to too much furlough time I am on Year 7 pay. Sitting right seat on the Airbus. I like the job and the aircraft. I have a driving commute and a base that I like.

But the PAY SUCKS and with these 2005 AWA kiddies wanting my seniority I am worried about never upgrading. At age 44 what would some of you do??? I refuse to wait until age 50 plus to upgrade. And I would like to stay in THIS country to do it.

Thoughts, Ideas?

Oh, I love Newark as well. This recently happened to some of our employees. Great place that Newark.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/08/nyregion/08newark.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

viking767
08-08-2007, 07:32 AM
Oh, I love Newark as well. This recently happened to some of our employees. Great place that Newark


I didn't see Continental employees mentioned....?

757Driver
08-08-2007, 08:26 AM
Oh, I love Newark as well. This recently happened to some of our employees. Great place that Newark


I didn't see Continental employees mentioned....?

Sorry,

Should have added this:

Daily News Update
Produced by Employee Communications
Tue.,Aug. 7, 2007

Three out of four attack victims were connected to CO team in EWR
Funeral arrangements have been set for two people connected to CO who were shot and killed over the weekend. EWR Chelsea Food Services Production Associate Iofemi (Shena) Hightower was killed. The stepson of EWR CSA Troy Bradshaw was also killed, and Troy ’s stepdaughter was seriously injured. A fourth victim, unrelated to CO, was also killed.
Details regarding services for Shena and for Troy 's stepson will be in tomorrow’s Daily News Update.
Larry has reached out to both families to offer condolences on behalf of the CO team.

shackone
08-08-2007, 08:50 AM
My question to you vet's of this business - is it too late for me? I don't care if it's passengers or cargo, I just want to know if it's possible to quickly get to my current paylevel within a "reasonable" time once I start flying, and please define what you think is reasonable.

Short answer.

Yes. It is too late to do what you want.

But let's define what that is...you will need to continue to keep up with your financial and family responsibilities while you are climbing the aviation ladder. You have established an income of greater than 100K as a benchmark within a 'reasonable' amount of time.

I think this is unrealistic. Not that it couldn't be done...but my guess is that demands on your personal and financial life...and the sheer magnitude of the luck that would have to come your way...will make this goal improbable.

For one thing, you will have thousands of much younger pilots competing with you for the same opportunities. Then, while you might be able to acquire the hours and ratings needed to be hired at a regional, none of those companies will likely get you anywhere close to your stated dollar goal.

It just isn't going to happen, even with the age 65 rule going into effect...the odds are overwhelming against it. Again...it might, but most likely, it won't.

So I second what others have said. Definitely get into flying. Enjoy yourself. If you have any mechanical aptitude, look into homebuilts...at your income level, there are many excellent designs that might be of interest. You'll have the best of two worlds...something to take your mind off the office and the expectation of building something that you can then enjoy.

Good luck.

BurntOut
08-08-2007, 09:23 AM
Burnt Out:

As I mid life career changer, your post resonates with what I was thinking. However, if you are in the six figures performing a job that is easy for you and which has a retirement (and some stability) I would recommend staying put.

[snip]

The flying career is risky - the future of all airlines are uncertain with oil trending upwards.

[snip]

You can afford to fly and many of my rocket engineer friends overcome their boredom with a Vans RV4, or RV6. You can fly when you want, turn it upside down when you get bored, inspect and repair it yourself and not have to live in moldy hotel rooms for 20 days a month. [snip]

[snip]

I am not trying to be negative. Getting out of the office and flying is a great job. If you have over $1,000,000 in the bank and are ready to retire to a job that takes 300 hours a month of your time (away from base), go for it. If you still need a stable income - this ain't it.

Thank you and all the others that have responded to my posting. While I have built up some retirement benefits they don't really start to pay unless I retire, as opposed to quit, after 55. So given what you and the others have posted I will work on getting my ratings (ATP, CFI) over the next 2-3 years and see where I am at that point in time. For the time being I Guess I'll buy a set of wings for myself and take this up as a serious hobby.

Again, thank you one and all for your opinions and guidance.

P.S. As for autolanding planes and Space Shuttles: auto-entry and auto-landing software works and works great. There are 2 tacit assumptions - 1) If your vehicle is n-fault tolerant than you can have no more than n failures. 2) No other traffic within ~10 nmi. Once you satisfy these requirements "Who needs the cockpit". Software is great for nominal performance in nominal situations and for HELPING to identify faults/problems/performance issues and aid in diagnosing systems; but if it's so great why hasn't it replaced (write in occupation of your choosing)?

IronWalt
08-08-2007, 09:33 AM
Any answers to my dilemma. In otherwords, what would you do??

de727ups
08-08-2007, 09:48 AM
I think 50 is kinda late to start and expect to make 100K.

If you really love flying, buy a small plane, like a 172 or something. You can get your ratings in it, then get your CFI, and use the plane to free lance instruct out of. Once you develop a following, you could easily make $50 between you and the plane, plus, a little something renting it out.

maximaman
08-08-2007, 10:20 AM
I recommend buying a plane also an enjoy flying the way it is supposed to be. I'm sure flying 737's is fun but its not quite the same as hand flying a small plane to destinations that you want to go to.

Roll Inverted and Pull
08-08-2007, 10:27 AM
Kids run away and join the circus. You are no kid. This is the one (and only) time that I`m in complete agreement with Sky High. Forget about quitting.You are having a mid life crisis (about 5 years later than most), suck it up and get back in harness and get back to work.

Slice
08-08-2007, 11:40 AM
I would say in one of the most optimistic views, you could make 100k+ flying passengers/cargo in about 5 years. It would be a lot of sacrifice and nights away from home. If you slept in your own bed half of the year then that would be doing well.

Year 1 you would have to go through some very accelerated training program like AllATPs to get your ratings (-$50,000).
Year 2 get hired at a regional and fly as much as possible (+$20,000).
Year 3 get hired as a street Captain flying a turboprop in the middle of nowhere across the country from where you live and fly 1000hrs/yr (+$35,000).
Year 4 get extremely lucky and get several internal letters of recommendation to get hired at a major carrier (SWA, FedEx, UPS) (+$40,000).
Year 5 second year payscale you should make roughly +$100,000.


Personally, I would recommend buying an airplane and flying around for enjoyment on your days off. Maybe get your ratings and be a CFI at you local airport for fun as well.

Wow, I want some of what you're smoking...Your odds of winning the Powerball are better than seeing the career timeline you just described. I do agree with the last paragraph of your post though.

seaav8tor
08-08-2007, 11:59 AM
I started flying in 1976. Thought I would be making 100K by 1986. Finally made 100K for the first time in 2000. Only took 24 yrs.

Factor in:

Opportunity Cost

Cost of flight training

Cost of a University Degree

Time Value of Money

Inflation

A (long term) trend line of decreasing compensation for pilots

I think the previous advice to stay where you are, buy a 172, RV-4, etc, is sound sage wisdom.

av8or
08-08-2007, 12:19 PM
Hey I like Newark.

Seriously, I am considering making a move myself. I am a 1989 hire at USAirways, and thanks to too much furlough time I am on Year 7 pay. Sitting right seat on the Airbus. I like the job and the aircraft. I have a driving commute and a base that I like.

But the PAY SUCKS and with these 2005 AWA kiddies wanting my seniority I am worried about never upgrading. At age 44 what would some of you do??? I refuse to wait until age 50 plus to upgrade. And I would like to stay in THIS country to do it.

Thoughts, Ideas?

UPS maybe?

maximaman
08-08-2007, 01:01 PM
I suggest staying put with your current job. Go take some lessons and maybe buy a plane in the future. Hang out at a local FBO and make some friends who are into flying. Maybe get some free flying out of the deal. You will have a good job, but on weekends you can go enjoy yourself by flying for fun with some great people. You don't need to fly for the airlines to be involved in aviation. Sometimes when you turn a fun hobby like flying into a job it starts to loose its appeal very quickly. I may really like Burger King but that does not mean that I want to work their for a living.

Crossroads
08-08-2007, 08:53 PM
I am months away from my 50th BDay and I am burnt out at my current job (Rocket Scientist, yes for real) after 30 years; I've done it all, seen it all, and had to work thru the accident reconstruction of 2 Shuttle crews losses so I'm looking to change careers to something I always wanted to do first - FLY.

My question to you vet's of this business - is it too late for me? What with family, college for the kids, not to mention the house payment, would I be relegated to poverty level pay and the regionals for the entire time before I hit mandatory retirement? I make a comfortable living now >100k, but I can do this stuff in my sleep. I don't care if it's passengers or cargo, I just want to know if it's possible to quickly get to my current paylevel within a "reasonable" time once I start flying, and please define what you think is reasonable.

As a data point = 0.5 TT. As I said this is a career change!

Many thanks in advance.

Have you ever watched the movie Rudy? I'd say those are about the same odds you're up against. My point is... he did it. I give you a lot of credit for being a genius, knowing what you're up against, and still dreaming. The other side to that is, there is a reason they made a movie about Rudy. That is, things like that don't happen very often.

I'm inspired listening to your story. You do have your family to be responsible to, but don't let anyone talk you out of your dream. I saw an 89 year old woman graduate from law school last year. Anything is possible. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Good luck.

Slice
08-08-2007, 09:10 PM
Have you ever watched the movie Rudy? I'd say those are about the same odds you're up against. My point is... he did it. I give you a lot of credit for being a genius, knowing what you're up against, and still dreaming. The other side to that is, there is a reason they made a movie about Rudy. That is, things like that don't happen very often.

I'm inspired listening to your story. You do have your family to be responsible to, but don't let anyone talk you out of your dream. I saw an 89 year old woman graduate from law school last year. Anything is possible. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Good luck.

Slow clap...:D

FLYBOYMATTHEW
08-08-2007, 10:34 PM
Any answers to my dilemma. In otherwords, what would you do??

Ever think about Spirit? They have a small satellite base in ACY that does all turns, upgrade will be rather fast if they get all of the a/c they have on order, and you would still be flying the Bus.

Formerbuspilot
08-09-2007, 04:25 AM
As mentioned by others, get the ratings using your own plane. Keep working until minimum time to retirement. During that time log as much flying as possible. Upon reaching a time where you can draw retirement, go after the fractionals (are they subject to the age 60/65 rule?). Within a couple years you should be close to the 100K level combining salary and retirement income.


FBP

BurntOut
08-09-2007, 07:04 AM
You say "go after the fractionals". As I understand them "fractionals" are where companies own an undivided share of an aircraft. Does the crew work the aircraft for all the [partial] owners or does each owner have their own crew? How flexible are they and all the "usual questions".

shackone
08-09-2007, 03:19 PM
You say "go after the fractionals". As I understand them "fractionals" are where companies own an undivided share of an aircraft. Does the crew work the aircraft for all the [partial] owners or does each owner have their own crew? How flexible are they and all the "usual questions".

From Wiki...

The term fractional ownership originally became popular for business jets. Richard Santulli of NetJets pioneered the concept of allowing businesses to purchase shares in a jet to reduce costs — other companies such as Citation Shares, Flight Options and FlexJet soon followed. With a fractional jet plan, members will typically fly in any jet available, not necessarily the one in which they own shares. The management company will reposition jets as necessary and provide flight crews. Companies with greater needs purchase larger shares to get access to more time.

The fractional-ownership concept has since been extended to smaller aircraft and has now become common for single-engine piston aircraft like the Cirrus SR22, which are beyond the financial means of many private pilots. The same concepts apply, except that the management company may not provide flight crews nor reposition the aircraft.

Fractional ownership has played a significant role in revitalizing the general aviation manufacturing industry since the late 1990s, and most manufacturers actively support fractional ownership programs.

Oldfreightdawg
08-10-2007, 10:41 AM
You say "go after the fractionals". As I understand them "fractionals" are where companies own an undivided share of an aircraft. Does the crew work the aircraft for all the [partial] owners or does each owner have their own crew? How flexible are they and all the "usual questions".

And yes, most fractional companies have crews on staff (no age limit on retirement). Go to this link for more info: http://www.airlinepilotcentral.info/airlines/fractional.html