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Old 03-17-2019, 09:40 PM   #1  
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Question Some Airline Experience - CFI or Buy a Plane?

Currently finishing up my commercial and trying to decide between spending 30-50k on an airplane to fly random cross countries or spending 1-3 months getting my CFI/CFII and going from there. If I bought a plane, I'd likely try and get a low time job around the 500-750 hour mark. I'm in my early 30s, no debt, not married, with money to do either.

I'm also kind of unique, in that I already have roughly 8 years or so of non-flying Part 121 operational auditing and safety program management experience along with a masters in aviation safety and an aircraft dispatcher certificate that may make me a slightly more attractive low time candidate than someone straight out of school. (If you want to know what "operational auditing" experience means, check out AC 120-59B http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/m...AC_120-59B.pdf). I was reasonably good at my job, and my experience with regulations and dealing with the FAA could likely be a huge plus for some 135 operators. Since I'm largely trying to focus on flying now, that's the kind of thing I'd only agree to do part time though.

I know there's pros on cons to each, but I at least feel that if I didn't choose to get my CFI, "check-mark wise" my previous airline experience and education would likely more than make up for it.

Just curious, what would you guys do if you were me?
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:58 AM   #2  
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I vote CFI then instruct. It will be cheaper than your own plane and the flight hour quality will be higher. Some of the larger schools will assist or train up to CFI, then you owe some time.

Another option may be one of those air mapping outfits. You need to put yourself in the fast lane, stay there until hired.

Donít mess around with a few hours at the local FBO, go instruct at a pilot mill in FL or AZ.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:43 AM   #3  
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You can buy a 150 for $10k.
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Old 03-18-2019, 01:52 PM   #4  
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You can buy a 150 for $10k.
Maybe, Iím 6Ē5í 240 though, so a bit bigger is better. Iíd also try to get something IFR certified.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:15 PM   #5  
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I'm also kind of unique, in that I already have roughly 8 years or so of non-flying Part 121 operational auditing and safety program management experience along with a masters in aviation safety and an aircraft dispatcher certificate that may make me a slightly more attractive low time candidate than someone straight out of school.
Dandy. Another one that thinks he's unique.

The story seldom changes. Everyone else gets their CFI, but me, I'm different. I'm unique. I can't wait like everyone else. I want a job that doesn't involve instructing. I'm special. I have a unique experience that the airlines will snap up.

No. You don't.

If your goal is the airlines, you'll be an entry level regional schmuck like everyone else, and your masters degree won't matter at all, and your former airline experience won't make a hill of beans difference.

What will? Get ATP qualifications.

Farther down the road, your degree will be a qualifier, but for the next few years, it doesn't mean squat. Neither your quality assurance.

Buying an airplane and flying it around does not speak to your ability to be vetted or hired, and means that you're not subjecting yourself to regular evaluations, observations, or competing with other pilots for a job or to show your worth. Your sole qualification is that you paid to get what you got.

As a flight instructor, you'll undergo several more evaluations to get the ratings, then by a school to hire you, then training and evaluations during your time with the school, and your students will be examined, and their success will reflect on you. This paints a clearer picture of your character and ability than simply buying an airplane and flying it around (because you can).

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I was reasonably good at my job, and my experience with regulations and dealing with the FAA could likely be a huge plus for some 135 operators.
I wouldn't count on that. it's not what most 135 operators are interested in, especially with regard to a pilot.

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I know there's pros on cons to each, but I at least feel that if I didn't choose to get my CFI, "check-mark wise" my previous airline experience and education would likely more than make up for it.
Not really, no.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:45 PM   #6  
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Dandy. Another one that thinks he's unique.

The story seldom changes. Everyone else gets their CFI, but me, I'm different. I'm unique. I can't wait like everyone else. I want a job that doesn't involve instructing. I'm special. I have a unique experience that the airlines will snap up.

No. You don't.

If your goal is the airlines, you'll be an entry level regional schmuck like everyone else, and your masters degree won't matter at all, and your former airline experience won't make a hill of beans difference.

What will? Get ATP qualifications.

Farther down the road, your degree will be a qualifier, but for the next few years, it doesn't mean squat. Neither your quality assurance.

Buying an airplane and flying it around does not speak to your ability to be vetted or hired, and means that you're not subjecting yourself to regular evaluations, observations, or competing with other pilots for a job or to show your worth. Your sole qualification is that you paid to get what you got.

As a flight instructor, you'll undergo several more evaluations to get the ratings, then by a school to hire you, then training and evaluations during your time with the school, and your students will be examined, and their success will reflect on you. This paints a clearer picture of your character and ability than simply buying an airplane and flying it around (because you can).



I wouldn't count on that. it's not what most 135 operators are interested in, especially with regard to a pilot.



Not really, no.
Hey, you're entitled to your opinion. I know plenty of perfectly good Captains and First Officers at the airlines I've worked for that don't have a CFI nor were military, and they're making the same money as those guys who initially built their time that way. It's clear from your response that being a CFI is the only way you think time building should be accomplished, if you're non-military.

In regards to my "uniqueness," how many other low time pilots do you know who could go up to almost any major airline and be qualified for a low six figure safety or regulatory compliance job? I doubt many.... It also happens, that with all that airline experience, I have an "in" to more than one 135 operator if I wanted it, since I happen to know multiple people in flight ops and safety management at various 135 operators.

As far as getting "vetted" and trained by a flight school, sure maybe. I'm in Vegas right now, and there's such an instructor shortage here that I know someone who received a CFI offer at 3 different flight schools before taking their CFI ride. Flight schools right now can't be picky with who they choose to hire and they seem to care less about having a quality instructor than a body to fill an airplane. If I wanted to fly around foreign students all day, there are plenty of pilot mills out here in the southwest where I can do so.

My thoughts with getting an airplane, were that I'd at least be able to focus on what I want to do, when I want to do it... I learn something new when flying all the time, and I suspect I'd continue to do so with or without my CFI.

Last edited by AeroAl; 03-18-2019 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:23 AM   #7  
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In regards to my "uniqueness," how many other low time pilots do you know who could go up to almost any major airline and be qualified for a low six figure safety or regulatory compliance job? I doubt many.... It also happens, that with all that airline experience, I have an "in" to more than one 135 operator if I wanted it, since I happen to know multiple people in flight ops and safety management at various 135 operators.
Yep you're unique all right, and a shoe-in for any major. Don't wait. Apply now.

135 operations will trip over themselves for your airline experience. You've cracked the code.

You know so much about this, without any experience, it's a bit of a mystery why you're asking counsel, when you should be doling it out.

When you apply for that major job, be sure to stop the interview before it starts and remind the panel that you don't have to be there, that you could easily qualify for a better paying job with that airline. They'll hurt themselves hiring you, and probably at twice the salary of everyone else. Good luck with that.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:25 AM   #8  
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There are ways to skip the CFI ruckus. One of those is with an aireal mapping company.

You could buy a plane, though a $10k Cessna 150 could be more expensive than planned.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:42 AM   #9  
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Yep you're unique all right, and a shoe-in for any major. Don't wait. Apply now.

135 operations will trip over themselves for your airline experience. You've cracked the code.

You know so much about this, without any experience, it's a bit of a mystery why you're asking counsel, when you should be doling it out.

When you apply for that major job, be sure to stop the interview before it starts and remind the panel that you don't have to be there, that you could easily qualify for a better paying job with that airline. They'll hurt themselves hiring you, and probably at twice the salary of everyone else. Good luck with that.
John, I have to disagree with you. This person brings some unique things to the table for a major airline. He may have the contacts to get internal recs from a management type, and would likely be looked at less as a straight line pilot, but perhaps as a pilot manager down the line.

I do agree that the best current route right now is CFI, but that is because being a CFI teaches the instructor a lot about flying that was not learned during his own training. CFII instructing in an airplane with a six pack panel does wonders for situational awareness, a GPS with moving map, not so much.

135 is the usual next step after that, and might be done for the same operator that hired him as a CFI.

Definitely go to a regional as soon as you have ATP minimums, preferably one with a fast upgrade to get 1,000 TPIC.

Joe
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:58 AM   #10  
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Originally Posted by JohnBurke View Post
Yep you're unique all right, and a shoe-in for any major. Don't wait. Apply now.

135 operations will trip over themselves for your airline experience. You've cracked the code.

You know so much about this, without any experience, it's a bit of a mystery why you're asking counsel, when you should be doling it out.

When you apply for that major job, be sure to stop the interview before it starts and remind the panel that you don't have to be there, that you could easily qualify for a better paying job with that airline. They'll hurt themselves hiring you, and probably at twice the salary of everyone else. Good luck with that.
Oh, Iíll be sure to do everything you just suggested. I appreciate your constructive advice.

After all, itís not like my experience and relationships over the years working with folks in Part 121 positions like Director of Ops, Chief Pilot, Director of Safety, Director of Training, or Director of Standards have provided me with any useful insight on what it takes to be a successful pilot. Letís not even mention all the times Iíve jumpseated and the topic of getting my certificates came up. You know me so well already, Iím surprised you havenít mapped out my entire career path for me.

Believe it or not though, there are ways to leverage my current experience into flying jobs. Ever seen the Manager or Director of Safety fly where you work? I have. Know what an IOSA Auditor or an IEP Auditor is or how difficult it is to find qualified candidates for either? In business aviation they typically have something similar, but they're typically auditing to ISBAO or Argus standards. There are many ways into flying jobs other than through the front door.
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