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Looking for advice from veteran pilots

Old 01-05-2014, 09:16 AM
  #1  
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Default Looking for advice from veteran pilots

Hello all,

I知 basically just starting out, and I have questions about planning for flying professionally, if those with knowledge of the industry would be willing to offer their opinions.

My background in brief is that I知 a recent graduate in engineering, and I致e been working in that field for a few months now. I also have about 130 hrs in single engine land airplanes: I have a PP certificate, several more hours that were just recreational/skills maintenance, and most of the requirements complete for an instrument rating. Both ratings are/were worked on under Part 61.

Here are my questions:

1. When does it become worthwhile/feasible/legitimate to just work on ratings full-time, and get them done very quickly? I致e been doing my job during the week and flying on Saturdays, but progress is frustratingly slow, especially now that its winter here in the northeast. I tend to be of the opinion that flying is like exercise: you need to do it routinely in order to maintain fitness, let alone get better. I would ideally like to just get the ratings done and start instructing or building time in any way possible, but I知 not sure when this actually becomes a viable option. Any advice in this area? I'm speaking mostly from the standpoint of employment opportunities once all the ratings, etc. are complete.

2. Is a Part 141 flight school worth the cost, particularly for a commercial and/or instructor rating? I tend to think not, as my instructor under Part 61 is a retired FAA inspector who flies/teaches for the love of it: his knowledge/experience base and attitude are much greater than those of the 的知 just trying to build time instructors you sometimes get at 141 schools. The thing is, I wonder whether 141 schools would be worth it for the connections you make: I know many of those operations hire their own graduates as instructors, and I wonder if it would appear more 菟rofessional to prospective employers. For what it痴 worth, I would probably have to do a multi-engine rating at one of those establishments regardless.

3. Is being a graduate of an AABI-accredited aviation program a very significant advantage for a prospective pilot candidate? Would I, as an engineering graduate, be considered non-committed professionally, assuming I had all the necessary ratings and such? Or would time, etc. be all that really matters?
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:51 AM
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Your Thread Name implies you want military 'veterans' to answer. Maybe ask "Senior Pilots" or "Experienced Airline Pilots"? These pilots however may be many years/decades removed from the early stages of their careers, and their experiences may not be relevant today (mine included). Those who have recently made it to the airlines would be the best targets for your questions in my opinion - see "low time" section of forum. Good Luck!
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by REVERTEDRUBBER View Post
Your Thread Name implies you want military 'veterans' to answer. Maybe ask "Senior Pilots" or "Experienced Airline Pilots"? These pilots however may be many years/decades removed from the early stages of their careers, and their experiences may not be relevant today (mine included). Those who have recently made it to the airlines would be the best targets for your questions in my opinion - see "low time" section of forum. Good Luck!

I took "veterans" in this context to me mean experienced pilots. But you're right, widebody CAs may be out of touch with the state of the industry at the entry level.
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:07 AM
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I'm sorry if there was any confusion, I meant "veteran" as in "veteran/experienced pilot."

Thank you both for your responses-I can see what you mean about senior captains being removed from entry-level affairs. I'll check out the low time forum and see if I can pick up any gouge there.

In the mean time, opinions are still welcome.
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by SempreInVolare View Post
1. When does it become worthwhile/feasible/legitimate to just work on ratings full-time, and get them done very quickly? I’ve been doing my job during the week and flying on Saturdays, but progress is frustratingly slow, especially now that its winter here in the northeast. I tend to be of the opinion that flying is like exercise: you need to do it routinely in order to maintain fitness, let alone get better. I would ideally like to just get the ratings done and start instructing or building time in any way possible, but I’m not sure when this actually becomes a viable option. Any advice in this area? I'm speaking mostly from the standpoint of employment opportunities once all the ratings, etc. are complete.
If possible, keep your day job and devote essentially all of your free time to training at your local part 61 school (or even use a good freelance instructor at the FBO). This keeps you out of debt, but would require some dedication. Hopefully you don't have a girlfriend, wife, or kids. Flying 2-3 times per week should keep you from regressing between lessons. Could you manage Sat & Sun plus one weeknight?

Once you get your instructor tickets, that's probably the time to go full-time.

Weather in certain areas is a huge factor...that might make it worthwhile to pack up and attend a full-time program in a temperate clime...keep in mind that once you get a CFI job if you stay in the northeast your income and time-building will also be limited in the winter.

Cannot over-emphasize this: Stay out of debt. Aviation will not allow you to pay it off until you're years into the career. I know too many FOs who have a miserable existence because of training debt (esp aviation college debt).

Originally Posted by SempreInVolare View Post
2. Is a Part 141 flight school worth the cost, particularly for a commercial and/or instructor rating? I tend to think not, as my instructor under Part 61 is a retired FAA inspector who flies/teaches for the love of it: his knowledge/experience base and attitude are much greater than those of the “I’m just trying to build time” instructors you sometimes get at 141 schools. The thing is, I wonder whether 141 schools would be worth it for the connections you make: I know many of those operations hire their own graduates as instructors, and I wonder if it would appear more “professional” to prospective employers. For what it’s worth, I would probably have to do a multi-engine rating at one of those establishments regardless.
Generally, no. I've trained and taught both 61 and 141. The 141 syllabus is rigid and does not allow for individual learning speed. In your case you couldn't move on to the next thing just because you had mastered what you're currently working on. You get the ratings in less hours (potentially) but 141 usually charges more for the privilege so you end paying the same but walking away with less hours. Of course total time is about the only thing entry level employers care about, so the 61 student is ahead of the game here.

Some students (of the slacker variety) may benefit from a structured program, but you will have no problem accomplishing the necessary self study.

Originally Posted by SempreInVolare View Post
3. Is being a graduate of an AABI-accredited aviation program a very significant advantage for a prospective pilot candidate? Would I, as an engineering graduate, be considered non-committed professionally, assuming I had all the necessary ratings and such? Or would time, etc. be all that really matters?
In seems counter-intuitive to most white-collar professionals, but in aviation where you trained or went school is almost irrelevant unless it was a US military program. Quality flight time is the fastest and only path to success. Also important is who you know, and what leadership jobs you've held (check airman, assistant chief pilot, etc) but you won't even be considered without the requisite flight time.

Nowdays there is a career advantage (very slight) for certain university aviation programs because it allows graduates to get an ATP with 1000 vice 1500 hours but that won't apply to you since you already have a degree. But it's probably not worth the inevitable excess cost when you can make up that 500 hours in 6-8 months as a CFI.

Have you considered Air National Guard or USAF Reserve? That's probably the best path to aviation for a recent college grad assuming you're under age 27 or so).
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:56 AM
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Buy your own single engine airplane, an older beater and fly it as much as you can. You'll save thousands. In my opinion the airlines don't care where you graduated from, a non-aviation school might even make you stand out from all the Riddle/UND people.
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Nantonaku View Post
You'll save thousands. In my opinion the airlines don't care where you graduated from, a non-aviation school might even make you stand out from all the Riddle/UND people.
It's not difficult to stand out from the ERAU/UND types Pursue unique experiences in lieu of a pilot mill mentality. A summer or two flying the bush in Alaska, for example, is worth way more than an over priced diploma.
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:57 PM
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rickair7777-

Thank you for your insight.

I will continue to work on ratings under Part 61 in my spare time. Once the summer rolls around, I can definitely at least fly on both Saturday and Sunday, though I have some doubts about after work.

I can see your point in terms of weather being an issue for instructing as well as learning, so I'll keep that in mind in terms of planning.

In the mean time, I'm single and in my early 20's, so I can be flexible in regards to location, lifestyle, etc. When it becomes financially feasible without going into debt, I'll see about finishing up the remaining ratings full time in a more temperate climate. Whether I'm able to do this will largely be driven by finances, I think, since your point about avoiding debt resonates with what other pilots have said, and is something I have to take seriously.

Also, I have considered the ANG and USAF Reserve, the problem is that I wear glasses/contacts and don't meet the uncorrected vision requirements. I could have corrective surgery done, but the Air Force requires a waiting period afterwards of about 12 months, during which time doctors evaluate your healing process. I f you don't check out, no dice. Moreover, I've heard of some pilots who undergo corrective surgery but have their eyes naturally change shape as they age. Their vision becomes un-correctable on account of scar tissue from the procedure, and they lose their medical endorsements. So its something I would still consider, but if possible, I think civilian training and work experience a more feasible route.

I do have one more question:

You mentioned in your post that quality flight time is the fastest and only path to success. What constitutes "quality" flight time? I know that the CFI/CFII/MEI route is a viable option into airline flying, as well as working at smaller airlines and other flying establishments, but what about when I'm going for those positions? Are those ratings enough in and of themselves to be competitive, or is it generally expected that you have the ratings in addition to more flying experience? This might go back to your notion of senior captains being removed from entry-level career matters, but I thought I'd ask anyway.

Nantonaku, CRM114-

I agree in many respects about the mill mentality, because it does seem wasteful to pay more for what is, without question, very "quick" instruction. My concern right now is primarily in going for ratings in the most efficient way possible, while still getting quality instruction and being competitive professionally.

Flying for a summer or two in the bush in Alaska would be *awesome.*
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:22 PM
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Are you nearsighted or farsighted? What is your refractive error? I was told my vision wasn't good enough for the Air Force either. Turns out that guy didn't know what he was talking about.
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Old 01-06-2014, 03:28 AM
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I had LASIK done about 7 years ago. Went from 20/400 to 20/20 instantly, and it hasn't changed since. I wish I had it done sooner.

If your goal is to fly for the airlines, the advice I'm going to give is going to vary from the other advice (all of it good).

If I had to do it all over again, I would use a program like AllATP's and get it done. When I got my ATP, I used their course. I was amazed at how much quality (multi-engine) time my instructor had racked up in such a short amount of time. Basically, it took him maybe a year to accrue the flight time it took me 3-4 years, working on my own through Part 61 schools and as a CFI, and I never got as much multi-time (piston) as he did. Plus, he had professional networking opportunities I never had simply working as a CFI. I forget which regionals he had guaranteed interviews at, but it certainly made life that much easier for him.

The reality of the matter is, if you want to fly for a living with the airlines, you've just entered a race, one against time, other pilots, and yourself. The airlines are starting to hire, and the wave is coming. The sooner you can get on that wave the better your career will be. Delta at 33? Or United? American? Not only possible, but likely.

Staying out of debt is important. But the fact remains that if you want to move fast, you're going to have to use debt to your advantage. Only you can decide how much debt is too much.

If I had a chance to do it all over again, that's the way I would go.
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