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F-16 to MD to Airlines - Need Advice

Old 08-09-2023, 05:47 PM
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Default F-16 to MD to Airlines - Need Advice

Former F-16 pilot (1700+ hrs total). Separated from the Air Force 12 years ago, went to medical school and now am a doctor. I'm in my mid 40's. Haven't flown since I was in the Air Force. Honestly I always wished I had gone to fly for the airlines after my time in the Air force. For years I thought it would be impossible to go back to being a pilot due to my gap in flying, but it seems like it actually might be possible right now. I'm looking for advice on the best path forward to flying for the airlines.

I have a commercial single engine (got it from my initial instrument check in F-16's. Beyond initial training in 172's I've never really flown civilian). I am going to at the very least get current and get a commercial multiengine. My hours should qualify for an unrestricted ATP (250 night, 350 instrument, single seat so all PIC). It's all turbine time. I was an instructor + evaluator pilot. About 200 multi engine from T37/38 as a student pilot. No failed checkrides / DUIs or anything sketchy.

From talking to some regionals, it sounds like if I get my multiengine and stay current I would be competitive.

Would I have any realistic chance with a legacy or LCC if I got my ATP? By the numbers it seems vaguely possible (e.g. United lists: Minimum of 1,500 hours of total time. Prefer 1,000 hours of fixed wing turbine time. Prefer a minimum of 100 hours of flight time within the last 12 months.)

Any recommendations for someone in my situation?

Thank you
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Old 08-10-2023, 08:42 AM
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With currency and a new ME ATP I'd say you have a good shot at any majors (priority obviously legacies unless you live in an ULCC base, or really want to). The legacies especially really want all the mil they can get at this point, and pointy nose has always been a premium commodity.

You should of course do some soul searching as to why you want to leave medicine... the flying alone isn't a good enough reason, that's a job, with a variety of potential warts, like any other job. And it's not like flying fighters. Financial and lifestyle factors should be major considerations. That said, there are docs and lawyers at the majors.

Keep your medical certification alive on the back burner if possible, that's a good fallback to have in case of medical problems on your part.
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Old 08-10-2023, 10:01 AM
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Agree that it’s important to understand that flying for the airlines is far from perfect, and nothing will recapture my flying F-16s in my 20’s. That being said, this has been something I’ve wanted to do for years.

It’s hard to explain just how bad the doctor lifestyle is. Awake for 36 hours (or more), going back to the OR for the 3rd time for another person trying to die, administration trying to get you to always see more people in less time, thus forcing you to take home more and more work. The constant threat of getting sued. Angry heroin addicts cursing you out at 3AM. Ending each shift covered in some combination of other people’s bodily fluids.

In residency my youngest child literally forgot who I was. She started crying one morning because I was actually home when she was awake and she thought a stranger had broken in.

However I would plan to still take a few shifts here and there just as a back up plan.
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Old 08-10-2023, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Panton
Former F-16 pilot (1700+ hrs total). Separated from the Air Force 12 years ago, went to medical school and now am a doctor. I'm in my mid 40's. Haven't flown since I was in the Air Force. Honestly I always wished I had gone to fly for the airlines after my time in the Air force. For years I thought it would be impossible to go back to being a pilot due to my gap in flying, but it seems like it actually might be possible right now. I'm looking for advice on the best path forward to flying for the airlines.

I have a commercial single engine (got it from my initial instrument check in F-16's. Beyond initial training in 172's I've never really flown civilian). I am going to at the very least get current and get a commercial multiengine. My hours should qualify for an unrestricted ATP (250 night, 350 instrument, single seat so all PIC). It's all turbine time. I was an instructor + evaluator pilot. About 200 multi engine from T37/38 as a student pilot. No failed checkrides / DUIs or anything sketchy.

From talking to some regionals, it sounds like if I get my multiengine and stay current I would be competitive.

Would I have any realistic chance with a legacy or LCC if I got my ATP? By the numbers it seems vaguely possible (e.g. United lists: Minimum of 1,500 hours of total time. Prefer 1,000 hours of fixed wing turbine time. Prefer a minimum of 100 hours of flight time within the last 12 months.)

Any recommendations for someone in my situation?

Thank you
You should qualify for a commercial multi based off your T37 & T38 time. The centerline thrust restriction has been deleted.
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Old 08-11-2023, 09:20 AM
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Stay away from flying Bonanzas and you should be OK.
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Old 08-11-2023, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by vroll1800
Stay away from flying Bonanzas and you should be OK.
A viper guy should probably be OK in a Bonanza, even if he is an MD. Probably.
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Old 08-11-2023, 11:27 AM
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Would I have any realistic chance with a legacy or LCC if I got my ATP?
After about a year or two with a Regional yes.
No offense, you’re missing a lot of let’s call it exposure experience.
Flying 121 could not be more different from what you did before.
Its a different universe.
Multi crew, CRM, SIDs and STARs, big airport operations, little airport operations, the goings into O’Hare or JFK, LA or Miami.
The whole 121 world is totally different and does not require a we-must-complete-this-mission-at-all-cost mentality.
Your background is doing (very) dangerous stuff. That’s a different mindset and it requires some adjustment time. We are trying to do very safe and boring stuff.
Again…no offense.
I fly with a lot of former military.
Give yourself a fair shake and learn the ropes with a Regional, same as others that are “new” to this side of aviation.
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Old 08-11-2023, 11:54 AM
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Original Poster: All I can say is try to work for the major airline that is in, or close to your home town, and/or is the least painful commute to.

Generally speaking, if you are looking to get some experience at a regional, do not go to the "flow partner" of that home town airline. Statistically speaking, it seems getting hired outside of the flow is not common.

Also, keep your day job / keep your practice alive somehow. The airlines are like the oil business, in boom times, everyone has a new powerstroke Diesel super duty pick up truck, in dire times, the truck is for sale
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Old 08-11-2023, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Panton
Former F-16 pilot (1700+ hrs total). Separated from the Air Force 12 years ago, went to medical school and now am a doctor. I'm in my mid 40's. Haven't flown since I was in the Air Force. Honestly I always wished I had gone to fly for the airlines after my time in the Air force. For years I thought it would be impossible to go back to being a pilot due to my gap in flying, but it seems like it actually might be possible right now. I'm looking for advice on the best path forward to flying for the airlines.

I have a commercial single engine (got it from my initial instrument check in F-16's. Beyond initial training in 172's I've never really flown civilian). I am going to at the very least get current and get a commercial multiengine. My hours should qualify for an unrestricted ATP (250 night, 350 instrument, single seat so all PIC). It's all turbine time. I was an instructor + evaluator pilot. About 200 multi engine from T37/38 as a student pilot. No failed checkrides / DUIs or anything sketchy.

From talking to some regionals, it sounds like if I get my multiengine and stay current I would be competitive.

Would I have any realistic chance with a legacy or LCC if I got my ATP? By the numbers it seems vaguely possible (e.g. United lists: Minimum of 1,500 hours of total time. Prefer 1,000 hours of fixed wing turbine time. Prefer a minimum of 100 hours of flight time within the last 12 months.)

Any recommendations for someone in my situation?

Thank you
You’ll get hired at a major once you get some recency of flight time. Search/find a flight school that specializes in Mil to Civ ATP training… take the ATP written, get some quality instrument hours in a twin to break the rust off and then do a quick ME ATP 5-6 day course followed by your FAA ride. I went through ALL ATPs many years ago with T-37, T-38 and F15E time because they specialized in mil pilots with no commercial time… my first job was United and had no issues learning the 737. I’m sure others like All ATPs schools who can help you. Good luck.
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Old 08-11-2023, 02:02 PM
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What are you, gen surg?

And you would likely be quickly hireable at a career job.
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