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View Full Version : Firefighter to Pilot

12-27-2014, 08:05 AM
Greetings everyone,

I've been stalking various pilot forums for quite a while now... Thought it was about time to get in on some of em!

To keep a long story short, I am almost 25, a firefighter in the UK (with dual UK/American citizenship), and want to become a major airline pilot in the U.S.

I have wanted to be an airline pilot since I was a little kid and still do to this day but I had to be practical about my situation as a 2009 U.S. high school graduate with no money. So I went to do something else... firefighting.

I know I got lucky, very lucky. I love my job... But I still want to be an airline pilot more than anything else. There are many reasons why and I know its going to be a very long journey ahead.

I do also want to say that I regret not joining the military out of HS but at the time I really wanted to make the firefighting thing work and it was almost impossible to get a military FF job from enlisted.

It's a bit frustrating for me because I feel even though I've matured loads over the last few years and worked really hard, I am no closer to becoming a pilot than my 18 year old self (no offence to 18 year olds). Then again I've read posts from 23 year olds with a bachelors degree and 3000hrs flight experience... Good on those guys but does that make me well behind? Is it too late for me?

Anyway, here's what I think would be the best plan for someone in my situation... I am saving as much money as I can over the next 5 years to pay for all my licences in one go. I am also thinking about doing online university to attain a non-aviation related bachelors degree in the meantime. I'm still trying to choose between natural science, general engineering, or even psychology... It will have to hold my interest and be somewhat usable if the whole pilot thing doesn't work out.

If everything goes to plan, I will have 4yr college degree and enough money to pay my way through a fast track flight school or something similar by my early 30s. Obviously this will mean eventually moving to the U.S. permanently, starting from the bottom and working my way up to the majors, hopefully making it by the time I am 40.

So I guess all of that to say, "hi" and also, what do you guys think? Am I waiting too long? Should I jump in now or is my current plan of action a decent one? Does a 30 year old with no mil experience and 0 flying experience ever stand a chance at getting into a major airline ever (once they've built their hours of course)? Any advice/opinions would be much appreciated.

Oh and whaddaya think about something like this (

And for the record, the UK route is all good if you make it into a cadet program such as British Airways Future Pilot but it is almost impossible to hit the majors as a self-improver (ie working your way up). The UK majors generally only hire cadets from a select few partnered flight schools. These schools charge a hefty premium for the privilege of an interview at the end of flight training (which doesn't even get you a PPL) and maybe just maybe, if your lucky, a zero hours flexicrew contract. Hefty, as in 130,000 because you also have to pay for your own type rating, hefty.

Cheers for your time!

12-27-2014, 08:38 AM
Hi Bozzles,

Considering most pilots here are working in the US, I would recommend you ask this question over at the PPRUNE forum. I think you'll find much more applicable advice (advise!) over there. Good luck!

galaxy flyer
12-27-2014, 11:46 AM
In the US, you'll pretty much have to have the 4-year degree; 1,500 hours and all the ATP requirements and probably the ATP itself. This is a long row to hoe. Worse, your timing might put at the downhill side of the huge retirement bulge. If you accomplished at that in 8 years, you'd be in the middle of huge hiring, wait til you are 40 and definitely past the hiring binge just teeing up.


12-27-2014, 01:15 PM
You're only 25?! What is all this, "by the time I am 40" BS!

Read through these threads, regionals are begging for pilots. Of course, you are going to have to finance the training somehow. Since you live in the UK, I suppose you get a month vacation std. What you could do is use your vacation to come to the US, and get your PPL--over a period of a few vacations. If you get your ratings, instruct for a little while then head to Alaska, you can get some very valuable hands on experience and decent pay after a while. Then leverage your firefighting experience into the forestry dept. and eventually work as a fire suppression pilot.

Anyway you slice it, becoming an actual working pilot is a tough road to hoe. You are going to have to sacrifice a lot of money, income potential, friends, family time, and maybe a stable future. There are plenty of 40 year olds with no family chasing this "dream". Just make sure you want it.

12-27-2014, 05:52 PM
I believe he is stating he wants to come back to the US to become a pilot for a US carrier

01-14-2015, 06:20 PM
Bedrock basically just summed everything up for you. Good Luck! Don't let anyone talk you out of your dreams!

02-04-2015, 05:17 PM
I would look into the air national guard. I just retired from active duty, but had friends that joined a guard unit, went to pilot training with an associates degree, and then completed the bachelors after attending pilot training. You'd cut your time to flight down to 2 years and wouldn't pay for training. I'm not sure if they cover the rest of your education, but you're not too old to still join the military. And you'd be well compensated for your time on duty...
I think there's a million roads to get there... Just don't give up!