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Old 12-24-2015, 03:38 AM   #1  
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Question A future in aviation? I have some questions.

Hi I am 16 and am interested in a career being a pilot and had a few questions regarding the profession. I haven't had any formal flight training yet but I am hoping to have some soon and I don't know many pilots that I could talk to so I came to this forum. Even if you cannot answer all of these questions, please answer the ones you can because all of your answers would be awesome and greatly appreciated!

1) Does the college degree you receive impact airline hiring decisions? I heard getting a degree is just proof that you can make a commitment to airlines, is this true?

2) Do well know aviation colleges such as Embry Riddle influences hiring decisions?
-Follow up to #2: If you went to Embry Riddle, can you tell me which one you went to (Daytona Beach or Prescott) and your overall impression and experience in college? Also, if you went to Embry Riddle Prescott, where was the airport you trained out of?

3) Could you go through your typical schedule on a work day? (Hours in advance you prepare, get to the airport, preflight check, and flight.)

4) Layovers constantly allude me; what is a typical overnight stay like? do you have time to visit and travel around and how long is a normal layover (Overnighters and not-overnighters?) Do you pay for your housing or hotel on a layover or is that based on your airliner? Is the hotel usually descent? How would an international layover differ from a regional layover?

5) Could you describe your experiences after college? How many years you had to work before you got a job as a pilot, how long it took you to become a captain, and how long it took to get hired by a legacy?

6) My parents are really skeptical about me becoming a pilot and the initial investment we need to put forth for a profession that may soon die off. Has advancements in computer technology posed a risk for pilot jobs in the near future or is a transition to a fully automated cockpit a long way away?

7) What do you do while you are flying? Are you constantly sharp and checking your dashboard or is it ok to relax a little by listening to music?

8) Why did you become a pilot and what pushed you to investigate a career in aviation?

9) Do you regret becoming a pilot? If you were to go back in time, would you still want to become a pilot when you get older?

10) What were some of the biggest surprises (good and bad) that you encountered as an airline pilot?

11) What recommendations would you give to a 16 year old to help him become a pilot if he hasn't had any experience flying a plane?

Thanks you so much for your answers, you don't know how much these answers will help! Happy holidays and sorry that this post was so long!
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Old 12-24-2015, 04:54 AM   #2  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indyflyin View Post
Hi I am 16 and am interested in a career being a pilot and had a few questions regarding the profession. I haven't had any formal flight training yet but I am hoping to have some soon and I don't know many pilots that I could talk to so I came to this forum. Even if you cannot answer all of these questions, please answer the ones you can because all of your answers would be awesome and greatly appreciated!

1) Does the college degree you receive impact airline hiring decisions? I heard getting a degree is just proof that you can make a commitment to airlines, is this true?
Currently it is a factor, not necessarily at the regional level but as you move on to the major airlines. It is a requirement at most to have a degree but I imagine that will start to fade as the pool of qualified applicants and flow-thrus start to dwindle. A degree makes you more competitive at most places where it isn't a requirement, but there are exceptions to that. Besides, why would you want to skip 4 years of making stupid decisions in front of girls your age in a parent-free atmosphere!? I learned some of life's most important lessons in college!

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2) Do well know aviation colleges such as Embry Riddle influences hiring decisions?
-Follow up to #2: If you went to Embry Riddle, can you tell me which one you went to (Daytona Beach or Prescott) and your overall impression and experience in college? Also, if you went to Embry Riddle Prescott, where was the airport you trained out of?
In my opinion it does very little towards giving you an advantage in hiring. I think it's an over-priced degree that is worthless in most respects. Also, it invalidates my argument above, the part about 'making stupid decisions in the presence of girls your age'. Skip ER and go to a state college and get a business degree. Learn to fly on the side. A lot less money and a lot more fun. For the same amount of money at ER you can become a doctor.
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3) Could you go through your typical schedule on a work day? (Hours in advance you prepare, get to the airport, preflight check, and flight.)
I typically fly 3 day and occasionally 4 day trips. Most days are 7-10 hours with 2-3 legs. Overnights are typically 12-18 hours. I commute so I leave about 5 hours before checkin. It's 3-4 hours to either drive or jumpseat to work. We check in one hour before departure and update our charts (all electronic now, iPad, 2 apps, sync both and done). I'll wander down to the gate, usually stopping to grab a snack or two, and then get to the plane 45 minutes before departure. Meet the crew, walk around, and then start loading the flight plan or bs-ing with the Captain and crew. Well, who am I kidding, I'm always bs-ing with Captain and crew.
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4) Layovers constantly allude me; what is a typical overnight stay like? do you have time to visit and travel around and how long is a normal layover (Overnighters and not-overnighters?) Do you pay for your housing or hotel on a layover or is that based on your airliner? Is the hotel usually descent? How would an international layover differ from a regional layover?
Most layovers are 12-18 hours. The hotel is provided by the company, single occupancy unless you have some game. They're typically located near restaurants, bars and shopping. Long overnights (over 16 hours) are typically in a downtown area. You've got time for a nice meal, some walking around, maybe a few beverages if the time is right. As you get more senior, the cities get nicer and take longer to get to. First it's Allentown, Panama City, Flint, then it's Boston, San Francisco, New York, then it's Paris, London and Tokyo. I'm always looking for the little hole-in-the-wall local restaurant/pub, there's a world of food to discover.
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5) Could you describe your experiences after college? How many years you had to work before you got a job as a pilot, how long it took you to become a captain, and how long it took to get hired by a legacy?
I changed careers so it took me some time before I got into flying. I was at a small commuter for a few months then a large regional for 9 years and then a legacy that merged with another.
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6) My parents are really skeptical about me becoming a pilot and the initial investment we need to put forth for a profession that may soon die off. Has advancements in computer technology posed a risk for pilot jobs in the near future or is a transition to a fully automated cockpit a long way away?
We're a ways off from single pilot operations. There are so many redundancies built into the system that it'll take years before the FAA will sign off on removing a pilot. The single biggest advancement I've seen in my short 13 years is that we're using iPads for our manuals. There are planes flying around that were built in the 60's. Yeah, the autopilot does a great job flying straight and level, descending, etc, but there is countless interaction between pilot and airplane even when that part is automated. Hell, we can't taxi off the ramp with intervening somewhere in the process. Remote control with cameras???! Yeah, right!
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7) What do you do while you are flying? Are you constantly sharp and checking your dashboard or is it ok to relax a little by listening to music?
No, you don't really sit back and relax and listen to music. You're talking with the other guy, waiting for your crew meal, watching where you're going, talking to ATC and maybe perusing a magazine cough cough, or book (aviation related of course). It's not as boring as you think, compared to say, sitting in a cubicle writing code and looking out the window in to the sky, like I did for 10 years.

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8) Why did you become a pilot and what pushed you to investigate a career in aviation?
Read above paragraph, sitting in a cubicle writing code...
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9) Do you regret becoming a pilot? If you were to go back in time, would you still want to become a pilot when you get older?
This job has made me unemployable in any other job. Wait, you mean I need to sit at this desk for 8 hours today and be productive!? No way. There is so much freedom in the confines of a 3 day trip that you can't imagine going back to a job where you are accountable daily to meetings, emails, phone calls etc. When you're flying, you're doing your work and you aren't even thinking about it. There is no slacking off because it's so regimented and results oriented, I'm flying from A to B and this is everything I do to do that. When I worked for a large corporation in IT, it was exactly like the movie Office Space, we would dwadle about trying to waste time to get thru the morning so we could get to lunch, I produced maybe 15 minutes of real work in the first 3 hours, I'm not kidding!

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10) What were some of the biggest surprises (good and bad) that you encountered as an airline pilot?

11) What recommendations would you give to a 16 year old to help him become a pilot if he hasn't had any experience flying a plane?
Go to your local small airport and take an introductory ride with a small flying school. It typically costs less than $100 and you'll know immediately if it is for you. It's like crack after that, you can't stop until you're sitting in the left seat wondering where the last 20 years went!
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Thanks you so much for your answers, you don't know how much these answers will help! Happy holidays and sorry that this post was so long!
Personally, I think it's one of the best careers out there. I see some that have only flown and have never had another career and it's hard for them to compare. I worked for a small company and a large corporation before becoming a pilot so I feel like I've got a different perspective. I can't imagine doing anything else so now the goal is to stay healthy and try to fly it out. Good luck!
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Old 12-24-2015, 05:34 AM   #3  
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What a fantastic, funny and spot on post by SilverandSore, one that I would vote for post of the day.

The only difference I would add is a different perspective on getting to a flying career. I did mine in the military. They paid for my training and paid me at the same time. It's a great way to learn how to fly, but it's EXTREMELY competitive to get in these days, not like it was when I was accepted to pilot training.

Either way, an airline career is a great career, I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else.

Best of luck in what you decide young man, the smartest thing your doing is gathering information and trying to make decisions at such a young age. Most young adults do not do this and drift aimlessly. I applaud you.
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Old 12-24-2015, 06:18 AM   #4  
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Silverandsore - great post.
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Old 12-24-2015, 06:29 AM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indyflyin View Post
Hi I am 16 and am interested in a career being a pilot and had a few questions regarding the profession. I haven't had any formal flight training yet but I am hoping to have some soon and I don't know many pilots that I could talk to so I came to this forum. Even if you cannot answer all of these questions, please answer the ones you can because all of your answers would be awesome and greatly appreciated!

1) Does the college degree you receive impact airline hiring decisions? I heard getting a degree is just proof that you can make a commitment to airlines, is this true?

2) Do well know aviation colleges such as Embry Riddle influences hiring decisions?
-Follow up to #2: If you went to Embry Riddle, can you tell me which one you went to (Daytona Beach or Prescott) and your overall impression and experience in college? Also, if you went to Embry Riddle Prescott, where was the airport you trained out of?

3) Could you go through your typical schedule on a work day? (Hours in advance you prepare, get to the airport, preflight check, and flight.)

4) Layovers constantly allude me; what is a typical overnight stay like? do you have time to visit and travel around and how long is a normal layover (Overnighters and not-overnighters?) Do you pay for your housing or hotel on a layover or is that based on your airliner? Is the hotel usually descent? How would an international layover differ from a regional layover?

5) Could you describe your experiences after college? How many years you had to work before you got a job as a pilot, how long it took you to become a captain, and how long it took to get hired by a legacy?

6) My parents are really skeptical about me becoming a pilot and the initial investment we need to put forth for a profession that may soon die off. Has advancements in computer technology posed a risk for pilot jobs in the near future or is a transition to a fully automated cockpit a long way away?

7) What do you do while you are flying? Are you constantly sharp and checking your dashboard or is it ok to relax a little by listening to music?

8) Why did you become a pilot and what pushed you to investigate a career in aviation?

9) Do you regret becoming a pilot? If you were to go back in time, would you still want to become a pilot when you get older?

10) What were some of the biggest surprises (good and bad) that you encountered as an airline pilot?

11) What recommendations would you give to a 16 year old to help him become a pilot if he hasn't had any experience flying a plane?

Thanks you so much for your answers, you don't know how much these answers will help! Happy holidays and sorry that this post was so long!
My advice would be to get a college degree in something other than aviation. Something with teeth in the real working world. You never know when your flying career will be derailed. Can't get a medical, strike, airline goes out of business, etc.. You need a fall back plan, even if it is temporary. Additionally, that fall back plan can help pay the bills in the beginning of your airline career when you make peanuts.
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Old 12-24-2015, 07:18 AM   #6  
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My advice would be to get a college degree in something other than aviation. Something with teeth in the real working world. You never know when your flying career will be derailed. Can't get a medical, strike, airline goes out of business, etc.. You need a fall back plan, even if it is temporary. Additionally, that fall back plan can help pay the bills in the beginning of your airline career when you make peanuts.
I'll caveate this a bit. I wholeheartedly agree that you need to have a back up career path. This alternate path can certainly be aviation oriented, my alternate schooling is as an A&P, additionally my CFI has opened up opportunities outside of full time flying as well (my maintenance certifications helped me land almost every job I had before an airline). I am not recommending this specifically, just providing additional perspective.
First Class brings up an excellent point...Flight Physicals. I cannot stress this enough. As someone who has been through medical procedures that grounded me as an active pilot as well as dealing with the special issuance process, I strongly recommend that you make absolutely sure that you are medically qualified for a career path in aviation before pulling the trigger and spending tens of thousands of your (or your parents) dollars.

All the best in your career choices,

GP
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Old 12-24-2015, 07:46 AM   #7  
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^^^^^^

This is so important. Not only should a young person start out by getting a 1st Class Physical, they should also get an EKG. I know of a couple of guys who were medically eliminated when they took their first EKG at 35. That is a really ugly time to find out you are medically ineligible for amy class of physical.
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Old 12-24-2015, 07:55 AM   #8  
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Take a couple of lessons. Sometimes reality is different than perception. My first lesson was terrifying. Winch launched glider, it was beyond what I expected. I had a death grip on the frame (canvas glider, metal frame). Second one was almost as bad. Back to back launches and then about a 30 minute break to the next two flights. Between the two sets I decided if I wanted to become a pilot I had to get over this fear. By the end of the course I had the instructors nervous about how aggressive I was fighting for alititude on the launch.

Most of us don't get it in for the money, we do it to fly. Doing what's fun for you makes work easy.

You probably need 5,000 - 7,5000 hrs, in today's market, to reach the 50% experience level of major airline pilots with commercial pilot backgrounds. If you hustle you can get that by about 25 yrs old(5,000 hrs). With this path you can get your degree part time as long as you have it by about 24-25 yrs old(or about when you have a chance of getting hired by a major airline).

^^ This is close to the 'no life' option. Working full time and college full time, or almost full time. The payoff is a better airline career. Many have done it so it's not impossible.

The tough part is if you get on the hard core pilot treadmill how do you get your degree? In today's market it's a must. Will be a must in tomorrow's market? Maybe, maybe not. It's safer to get your degree vs. hoping the market shifts in your direction if you don't get a degree. And the degree can be used a fallback option if you have medical problems. Many have needed a fallback option. Many of us have had moments where we wondered if our flying careers were over due to medical issues.

Another excellent route is to join the Air National Guard. If you read the various military/reserve threads the ANG is typically considered the #1 choice for various reasons. If that's the path you choose getting your degree ASAP is best. The more flying experience you have prior to applying to the ANG the more competitive you'll be. But it's not just your flying resume so don't think "the most time wins." Flying experience will be just one part of the overall competitive process the unit uses to select their candidates.
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Old 12-24-2015, 08:09 AM   #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YAKflyer View Post
^^^^^^

This is so important. Not only should a young person start out by getting a 1st Class Physical, they should also get an EKG. I know of a couple of guys who were medically eliminated when they took their first EKG at 35. That is a really ugly time to find out you are medically ineligible for amy class of physical.

Agreed.
Make sure you're not color-blind, go in for an EKG test for your heart, THEN go in for the 1st class medical exam with an FAA Medical Examiner. That's your first step.

Silverandsore nailed it.

My path was Riddle>Flight Instructor at local FBO>Regional>Major. I would definitely recommend a college degree (any), with flying on the side.

Best of luck
-T

Last edited by TwinkiePilot; 12-24-2015 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 12-24-2015, 08:32 AM   #10  
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Don't go into massive amounts of debt just to get your licenses. It may take a little longer but it will be worth it. When you start with your PPL, which you can start now I believe, find a local flight school or FBO that you can trade work for flight instruction.
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