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Old 05-21-2018, 08:47 AM   #1  
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Default Becoming a Pilot, what should I do?

Iím a junior in high school right now, and Iím absolutely set on becoming a commercial pilot. I am almost finished with my glider rating (this would be my first rating/license), and I am pressed by my parents on what is going to happen the next few years on the path to the cockpit. From all my research, it seems to me that thereís about two realistic ways to become a pilot; flight school or military.

For me, military sounds most appealing because of the long term benefits, the valor, and the dedication, commitment, and consistency that is developed during that time. So that being said, no problem with anything with the military whether its AF(ROTC) or Nat. Guard or anything else. Although, I donít know much about any of the processes or how college/ratings/licenses work through the military.

Flight school seems to be the most expensive, but if it is the best way, I feel like it would be worth it.

So for anyone who knows the most about this subject, what is the best path into the cockpit?
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:59 AM   #2  
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Normally (historically) military aviation is the best path to major airlines. Military wings are about the single most valuable credential to the best major airlines. But there are some drawbacks:

1. Things can go wrong (vision, medical, failing training). It's possible that you'll still have a military service obligation even if you can't be a pilot, which will delay your ultimate career progression as a pilot.

2. You might get assigned helicopters. In that case you'll need to acquire some fixed-wing time, either as a military instructor or at a regional airline before most majors will hire you.

I would normally recommend that if you're focused on flying and airlines, go the civilian path, get a regional airline job, and THEN join the air national guard or USAF reserve. That's the best of both worlds, and both of your careers can progress in parallel. If you really want to be a military officer and reach high rank, take the active duty route.

That's the historical norm. Today things are a little different...

Due to pending massive pilot retirements from the legacy airlines over the next 15 years, right now there is unprecedented opportunity to get hired, and for seniority progression (Pay and QOL depend on seniority. Two weeks seniority can make a huge difference for years, ask me how I know ). If you decided on airlines, then ten years in the active duty military is going to cost you a lot of seniority, and you'll likely (at your age) miss the bulk of the retirement movement. For that reason I would strongly counsel guard/reserve (unless you really want to be a general someday). Guard/reserve will not cost you much seniority if you time it right, ideally you'll want your initial military training to occur while you're a regional FO.
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Old 05-21-2018, 11:34 AM   #3  
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I tried to do exactly what Rickair advised. Get a regional job then guard or reserves, and Iíd still recomend that as well, if you have the means to pay for it.

I was a CFII with a about 2,000 hours and started interviewing for regional jobs in late summer 2001. I had my reserve application package ready as well. As you can guess, plans changed on Sept 11, 2001. I went to an Active Duty recruiter on Sept 12th and made the barest move of my career. 12 years later finally got the Air Force Reserve job and Major Airline job.

Ricks advice is sound, Ill just add 2 things

1. avoid debt if you can.

2. If you go military (other than ROTC/USAFA)

You must work with an Officer Accession Recruiter. Recruiters will lie to you, especially non Officer Accession recruiters, they will try to get you to enlist. They donít care one bit about your dream of flying. Donít give up if they tell you you arenít medically qualified. Donít accept any job other than pilot, the Active Duty Service Code (AFSC) for a pilot trainee is 92T0...go to forums and start learning about the nuances...
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:46 PM   #4  
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Fly first. Get a regional job at an AA wholly owned. Get a degree part time/online. If youíre still interested in the military join the ANG after you get your degree(25 yrs old?). Youíll be a regional Captain by then. Desires and goals can change.
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:53 PM   #5  
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Debt to advance the career advancement timeline can be worth it. Each additional year you add to your career can be worth up to $250,000 to $450,000. Paying off the debt will be a struggle early in your career but the long term value can be high.
Buy a 10 yr old car, or older, until your training debt is paid off.
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:24 PM   #6  
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What RickAir said about getting hired ASAP is absolutely correct. I was hired in spring 2005 at NetJets. 30 months later I was a Captain. Pilots hired 6 months after me are still First Officers, just now starting to make Captain and I think pilots hired a year after me got furloughed for 4 years after the 2008 economic collapse. Seniority is everything in the airlines.

I would go for the path that'll get you 1500 hours the quickest-if you can afford to do that.
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