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View Full Version : Need a little help planning...

10-09-2006, 03:11 PM
I am 29 yrs old, and I want to earn money as a pilot. I currently hold a bachelorís in math from UT and am working as a high school math teacher making 42K, but I canít stand my job (I love teaching though). I am married to a 26 yr old doctor (still in residency making 38K) who in 2009 will be raking in 400K as an anesthesiologist. If I can reach yearly earnings of at least 50K as a pilot, I will consider myself a success (even though my woman will have lapped me 8 times over).

I am about 1/4 of the way through PPL and I love it. I kick myself at the thought of not starting sooner. I landed the 172 classic on lesson three on my own (with instructor next to me, of course), and I love to study and am learning quickly. I feel as though I was born to do this, and, despite the fact that compared to many on this forum I know nothing, the idea of flying for a living sounds perfect for a guy like me.

As painful as it sounds to me, I plan on staying in public education for another few years. The pay is half-way decent believe it or not, and I only work 187 days out of the year which frees up a lot of time to fly. I am paying for PPL out of pocket, and once I am through with that I plan on hitting up Sallie Mae for a loan to finance my Instrument and Commercial. My wife and I have absolutely flawless credit, and paying back this loan when my wife reaches her full earning potential in a couple of years will be fairly easy. I have been told that most people accumulate their hours by becoming instructors, and since I am already a teacher this sounds exciting to me (although I hear I will be paid very little at this stage).

So this is my plan thus far.

1. Is it feasible to earn Instrument and Commercial in 2 years while teaching high school full-time?

2. What is the next step after becoming an instructor?

3. What would my next move(s) be in order to be on my way to landing that 50K/yr. job?

Thank you for your advice/criticism


10-09-2006, 03:28 PM
1. Yes it is feasible
2. Build time as an instructor at least 1000 hours total, also get your commercial me and get some pic time
3. Hang around your fbo and get contacts for people in the industry, a job oppurtunity might come up, keep building time as an instructor or however you can even when you hit the 1000 hour mark

10-09-2006, 08:33 PM
Realistically, you could complete both in a year if you have the time and finances. The instrument and commercial are where part 141 programs will give an advantage by reducing the total time required. Why not continue teaching while working on your ratings? Work part time as a CFI after that. You have the busy summer months free and have evenings and weekends available as well. I am working with a college professor who plans on doing this.

It will take a number of years to duplicate your current income if you bail on teaching and work in aviation full time.

10-09-2006, 10:26 PM
You are in a fairly good position. Like Pip said, do instrument and commercial part 141. You could do that in a summer if you really take the time to get it done. Then get your CFI and instruct during the summer when school is out to build TT and PIC. You will probably want to wait for the anesthesiologist money to start coming in before you quit teaching, but then a $50k job is probably 5-7 years away.

10-10-2006, 05:37 AM
do instrument and commercial part 141. You could do that in a summer if you really take the time to get it done. Then get your CFI and instruct during the summer when school is out to build TT and PIC.

Instrument and commericial in one summer??!?!

For some reason I thought it would take much longer than that. I talked w/ a guy at my flight school yesterday who was on lesson 27 for both lisences can really be done in three months? Would I be flying/at school every day of the summer to pull off instrument and commercial?

Once I complete CFI and build necessary hours, what is typically the first job in the sequence that brings in 50K?

Thanks for your advice,


10-10-2006, 08:06 AM
It is possible to do Instrument and commercial in one summer if you treat it as your full time job. You would be doing a lot of flying to get it done that fast, but it is very do-able.

After doing the CFI thing for a year or two, you could make $50k at a regional right when you make captain. Perhaps 2-3 years after being hired, depending on the regional.

10-10-2006, 10:46 AM
50K will take a while to get to. You're basically starting at the bottom of an industry where entry-level regional pilots are making in the 20k range. For some stupid reason, flight instructing is often viewed as even lower on the pole than regional pilots. I'm doing ok as a flight instructor, but nowhere near making 50k and I'm working my ass off. Take a look at the pay rates on this site. Starting is around $20 per hour for most regionals. However, you cannot assume that you'll be working 40 hours per week. This pay is usually "block time" or something similiar. You're only making that wage when the aircraft's engines are running. Yeah, there is perdiem but you're realistically going to bill 70-100 hours a month at that rate that's listed.

There is no reason why you can't do both ratings if you have the time to commit to it. I have friends that went from 0 time to CFI at a local FBO in that amount of time. One of my fellow instructors did his commerical and CFI in less than a month (he was building cross country time for about 6 months prior to this).

10-10-2006, 02:11 PM
Pip is right. I got my Instrument rating in January, my Commercial license in June, and I should have my CFI this Friday if everything goes well. I did everything part 141 except my CFI. I think I got all that done pretty quick. I probably could have gotten it done quicker, but I am going to school full time, and working part time.

10-11-2006, 07:43 PM

Getting your ratings should be no problem, all you need is money, time, and talent.

The more you have of any one of these the less of the other two you'll need.

A part 141 course will let you get that Commercial ticket in fewer hours logged, but might take more calender time due to the stage requirements. Check with your local CFI to get their opinion. Then go to a different school and get a second and third opinion.

If you can fly every day you can knock out your ratings in short order.

I finished my Commercial in 30 days, and my CFI in 45. Working part time, flying and studying full time.

I also had a couple students (2 of about 100) go from zero to Private in 30 days. Full time studying, flying 2 lessons a day. Very tough.

Once you get your CFI, build time instructing. Right now 1000TT/100Multi will get you an interview at any regional. In a few years that could go up again.

I had an interview at XJT scheduled for 9/19/01 at 1100/100.
I got hired some time later at 2000/250.
A classmate had 900/100.

50k is easy to get at a large regional. Just make Captain. That takes anywhere from 2 to 10 years.

At NetJets 50k is near starting pay, but you need signifigantly higher times,
2500/500, iirc.

Keep in mind there is a major change of lifestyle. You will be away from home 3/4 of the time. It is hard on you and your family. There's a joke about pilots needing 2 ex-wives to qualify for a Captain's upgrade. Its got a grain of truth to it because this industry is not kind to people's marriages.

Flying is fun.
Instructing is fun.

Packing for a four day trip and staying in a dirtbag hotel isn't. Your kids crying because you put on your uniform isn't. Your wife having a crisis, and you can't do anything about it because you're 2000 miles away, isn't. Working every weekend, every holiday, your anniversary, your wife's birthday, isn't.

You do have the best corner office view in the world.
The river visual into LGA on a clear day may be worth the whole price of admission.
Greasing it in, in a snowstorm, in rough terrain, and having the cabin applaud will make your day.

But then scheduling will call and Junior Man(mandatory overtime) you. And your day off goes away. And you get stuck with a MX delay for 4 hours - so you don't get paid. You make it back to the hub after the last flight has left for your home town, or the flight is full of revenue pax, and you get bumped off the jumpseat, so you have to buy your own hotel room...

It is just a very different life as an airline pilot.

10-11-2006, 08:54 PM
An important thing to consider is where your wife ends up. You'll have to work around her job situation. Depending on where it is, you might not be too happy with a regional that doesn't have a base in your city. In fact, you might want to ONLY consider a job that has a base in your city. I'd say 3 to 5 years to 50K if you go regionals, depending on which one. Corporate or a good 135 outfit will pay you that eventually. Heck, with you wife's income you could buy a nice plane to instruct out of and maybe do alright freelancing. You'd have to love instructing, though, and develop a high end clientel.

I just think, if you're not the ultimate breadwinner in the family, you're not gonna want to go out and do the usual "commute to a regional job" lifestyle.

10-12-2006, 05:27 AM
EXCELLENT advice thank you all for weighing in!

So for you pilots in the business - once people obtain their commercial license, do they typically go directly for their CFI, or is there any down time in between...I am trying to figure out the timing involved in quitting my job as a teacher and starting a job in aviation, even if it may be for the low-paying instructor job.

I am 1/4 of the way thru PPL right now, but i'm getting in 2 lessons each week while teaching high school full-time.

Do you think it is possible, given where I am at right now in my training (which is not very far) and that I work full-time, to finish PPL, Instrument, Commercial, AND be certified to instruct by the end of August of next year? Keep in mind that I have a week off for Thanksgiving, 3 weeks off for Xmas, a week off for spring break, and 3 months off for summer...

Thanks in advance!


10-12-2006, 08:32 PM
I had over a year of downtime as a saved up some cash to go for my CFI/CFII/MEI as fast as possible and finish my degree. This was all thrown down the tubes when my school screwed me and told me two weeks before graduation I was 6 hours short because credits previously understood as transferring were now considered inadequate. Sometimes the best plans are laid to waste by outside influences. Such is life.

As a result, I'd avoid suggesting any hard deadlines that far out. There are too many variables. I've almost never met a long-term deadline regarding aviation and in every case it has been a variable that was out of my control.

My take, if it's worth anything, try to get out there 3 times per week right now. This will give you more flexability as the wx gets a little more unpredictable with winter. If you don't fly, brief and review with your instructor. I'm doing this with my students more than I used to and I'm seeing very positive results. More time focused on the task at hand will give save you time and money in the long run.

10-12-2006, 08:49 PM
Does she have a sister?

10-13-2006, 04:51 AM
Yeah Pip I guess your right - August is a very long ways off - A LOT can happen between now and then...3 lessons a week may be tough on the ol' bank account though, I'll have to see if I can make it work.

Does she have a sister?

lmao no sorry friend, she does have a brother though...:eek:

10-14-2006, 09:01 AM
Is flight instructing a full-time job, or are there flight instructors out there who work other careers and instruct only in the evenings and/or weekends?

Are you less likely to be hired on as a flight instructor if you already have a full-time job that you plan on keeping?