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Are things any better?

Old 11-13-2005, 10:39 PM
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Unhappy Are things any better?

I am a former flight instructor CFI, CFII, MEI with about 925 TT and an aeronautical studies degree (still owe about $75 K on). I left flying just over 2 years ago after I could not stand being broke any more and saw my debt spiraling out of control (using plastic to help make ends meet) and my credit rating being destroyed. This coupled with a constant barrage of bad news coming from the industry and any hopes of getting to a regional pushed further and further out of reach. This was after moving half way across the country to take a job flight instructing at a college making less per hour (when all face time is considered) than a guy stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. All this while my sizable student loans entered repayment, rent prices went through the roof, and my wife was suffering along with me to trying to make ends meet. Not to mention the fact I had a very tough time just getting through college because my parents could not really afford to help.

Even considering all this it was the hardest thing I ever did because I love flying and have always dreamed of flying for an airline. I guess there just came a day when I realized that this career is a money pit, and if I continue down this path I could end up pennyless and possibly divorced. It is so sad what has happened to one of the greatest careers in the world, and to think how many people besides myself have worked so hard to train, and for what, to make less than many Americans with far less education and training. It is a tragedy that the dreams of so many hopeful pilots have led them to a race to the bottom. It seems today that the "paying your dues" period is lifelong.

It is so discouraging to hear the people actually flying the heavy metal deciding to leave the career because they have all ready made it. It seemed to me insane to continue chasing a dream job that no longer existed when the people that already have it do not even want it (and to go broke doing it). Sorry for the bitter tone but I cannot help this seeing what has become of this once great career. Over 2 years later I have not even rented a plane because after leaving it all behind it is very hard to even be around planes. I am afraid to catch that bug again as flying is very addictive.

That being said there is some faint glimmer of hope still in me, and for this reason I have decided to maintain my instructor licenses. Can anyone still in the trenches let me know what the industry is like for instructors today. Is there any hope in sight or have things gotten even worse?

For all of you students and instructors still struggling to make this career work (and ends meet) my heart goes out to you, and I wish you the best of luck. Comments welcome.
Old 11-14-2005, 04:25 PM
Gets Weekends Off
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As a current flight instructor, I can tell if I could do it all over again I would go to some major aviation college to teach. Not to learn. For example Daniel Webster in Nashua has their flight instructors on annual salary and there is always plenty of students. There does not seem to be enough students at local flight schools to maintain a decent pace ad make any money. That is just my two cents. PM me if you want any more info on Daniel Webster I know a few folks there.
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Old 11-14-2005, 06:15 PM
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Default Flybye


Pass your tale along to FlyerJosh and the rest of the cheer staff. They maintain that I am nuts when I have a slightly negative opinion of aviation.

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Old 11-14-2005, 09:01 PM
Che Guevara
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Originally Posted by SkyHigh

Pass your tale along to FlyerJosh and the rest of the cheer staff. They maintain that I am nuts when I have a slightly negative opinion of aviation.

It is disrespectful when you speak ill of it.

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

-- William Butler Yeats
When you are so blunt about how you hate it and how the world is ending you don't ever seem to take the time to think that you are treading on our dreams. Eversince I was a little child I wanted to be a pilot. I went to college and majored in aviation to be a pilot. I am being hired tomorrow as a CFI where I plan to continue until I obtain my main goals. I would not had made it this far were it not for dreams. If you don't like it. Don't do it. Don't come to the forum, don't get in a plane, don't persue it any further. Do something you do like. This is what we like and we will defend it. You don't chose to be an aviator. It sounds like you chose.
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Old 11-14-2005, 10:29 PM
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flybye & TD,

Check your Private Message Boxes. ~J
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Old 11-14-2005, 10:57 PM
Kill Bill
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the current state of the industry spurred me to do something i've always wanted to do but never could quite start: my novel. it's about one third written and it's really good. this from someone who is incredibly self-critical and knows crap when he sees it.

the point is that everyone has talents that lie outside of this job; a job that used to be the best in the world.

a few years ago, i truly believed the death spiral the airline industry was and is currently in could be corrected. i no longer believe that. the industry itself will survive and thrive at some point, of course, generating huge bonuses and obscene compensation packages for management. sadly, the pilots will be forced to endure smaller and smaller total compensation until, finally, we're making what an assembly line worker makes... or less. and guess who did it to us? we did... by allowing ourselves to put "flying" before profession. NW just took a 24% hit, DL will follow, the next airline, probably AA will follow, then us at CO again, then NW will be back again, then DL... and on and on and on. when all is said and done, we'll be making about what a McDonald's manager makes... without the free meal.

i asked my son tonight at dinner what he wanted to be "in a few years" (never, "when you grow up", of course). he still wants to be a pilot. thankfully, he has incredible entreprenurial skills even at his age and will make a ton of money; it just won't be in flying and this makes me sad.

my best advice is to look within yourself; a real and deep soul-search. if you must fly, i wish you the best.
Old 11-15-2005, 06:38 AM
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There comes a point where you have to laugh and say "is this worth it?" Well is it? You have put this much time and effort and MONEY (apparently 75k worth) into this career. If you truley wanta be an Avi8ter then stick it out.

You have probably seen the worst of things. But the truth is its only gonna get tuffer. Any job you take (cfi, commuter, frieght) is gonna leave you strapped for cash at the end of the month. The bills are going to keep rolling in and with the co-signer you probably used and the new backrupcy laws coming into effect- bankrupcy may be out of the question.

I'm not trying to be a jerk when I say this- just truthful- you made your bed now you have to lay in it. But if you truley want to stay in the industry- there are things you can do.

First off, I know people that spent the money you spent for education on a car- yea thats right- a car . Now there is debt over a stupid shiney car. Puts things into perspective huh?

Second- There are many options, Military, Air National Guard or start networking at you local airports for a right seat job with a salary.

Third, get a part time job work nights- work on the line at the airport (another way to network for a job.)

I think you have spent a lot of time and cash to just hang it up. Just stick it out a bit longer and you may be surprised.

Keep the blue side up.
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Old 11-15-2005, 07:35 AM
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Default T-Duck


I am sorry if I come off as disrespectful. My aim is to slap some reality out there. Aviation is like a disease or addiction. What else could make a capable and gifted person throw 150K at a career (4 years of university plus 45K in flight training) to get a job someday that pays less than the post office.
Aviation isn't a dream anymore it is a fantasy. I have no doubt that in ten years all of us on this forum will be flying on the weekends and doing something else for a living. If I can help someone to make a clean break sooner then I have done my job.

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Old 11-15-2005, 07:47 AM
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Default Party


If Kill Bill says the party's over then it MUST be true.

Bill if you are out there I would really appreciate a signed copy of your book when it comes out.

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Old 11-15-2005, 09:39 AM
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Post I appreciate all the responses.

The fact is instructing was not my first flying gig as I worked on many seasonal jobs also. As far as having a second job I actually had a third job to try to make ends meet.

I can remember the propaganda of aeronautical schools "Now is the best time in history to train!" If the flying industry is bad at the time they tell you: "You should train now because then you will be prepared for the turn around that is right around the corner. When the industry is good they tell you: "You should train now because the industry is better now than it has ever been."

What is happening in the industry is the "Wal-Mart effect" combined with pilots love to fly. This is the recipe for exploitation. This industry is moving to a low-cost model and once it proceeds down this path there is no turning back. Passengers love a deal and the days of the gravy train (1st-class corporate travelors) are done. This means the race to the bottom of the low-cost model has begun. Like Wal-Mart the lowest cost players will likely win out.

My advice to anyone considering entering this field is to have a realistic backup! A few extra classes is not enough. Get a degree in something else (anything else) because you will likely need it. Pursue this career only if your love of flying is stronger than all the instinct and logic you have in you. The sad truth is we are in many ways worse off than the starving artist because flying demands huge outlays of money to enter the field, continue training, and to maintain currency and qualifications. That is what makes aviation so different is the enormous investment both financially and mentally. The reward should reflect this, but it doesn't because people will do anything just to continue flying.

For those of you that have already made it my hat goes off to you. Just be sure to hold on with both hands and appreciate what you have. The advice I offer is mainly for new entrants and people struggling with no end in site. Keep your witts about you and know when to fold them because this industry will never be the same again.
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