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Am I too old to have a flying career?

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Am I too old to have a flying career?

Old 08-30-2005, 01:16 PM
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Default Am I too old to have a flying career?

So at age 32 you had the guts to walk out on the office job and go to such an unstable career as flying. I have to say I am impressed as this is something that I have thought about doing for 7 years.

Now I am 32 and still feel that I cant pull the trigger. I did leave the Corporate job in the states for another one that pays quite a bit less but to take an adventure of living abroad.

Can someone share their experience of making this transition with me? My fiance thinks I am crazy and is really starting to get nervous. I think maybe your stories will be helpful.

Maybe you can explain to me where and how long it took to build your ratings and time to get the needed hours for hire at a regional. I have looked at numerous part 141 sites filled with promises.

My background is: B.S. in Healthcare Management from Penn State, worked in Health Insurance for a number of years in Seattle, NYC, & Philly, and then traveled abroad and volunteered and worked with tourism and most recently I am working as a sales rep for a software company travelling to Scandinavia.

I am not a science or math guy, but love the idea of flying and have 33 hours in C152 & C172s. School was never my strong point and I did what I needed just to get through.

As well I have had one instance of a DUI that was supposed to be sealed but you never know how those things will surface.

Maybe someone can share their insight and whether or not my age, or background is a problem and what challenges I may face?

Last edited by NittanyLion; 08-30-2005 at 01:29 PM.
Old 09-01-2005, 05:26 PM
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There are even people making a career change in their late 40's, so it can be done. Not matter what your age, if you really want something, you are only going to end up older and still be wanting it if you don't pursue it. For some people happiness is more important than security or money. However, you must be realistic about what you can expect out of flying as a career if you do attain it. Many people dream about becoming a pilot, but the reality is often not what they expect.

If you started now, then it will take a few years to get the ratings and time necessary to apply for a job. Figure at least three years to get rated and land a time building job to get the flight time required to meet regional minimums. Unless you do a $50K + 'academy program' with a guaranteed interview (no job guarantee, just an interview) then you can do it in 18-24 months. You can easily make Captain at a regional carrier and at 10-15 years seniority, you might see $80+k/yr as a regional RJ captain. You may very well get hired on at a major after a while, but you would be starting over again (pay cut, back on call).

You can expect to make less than $20K/yr for the first year pay, plus $2K or so each year after that depending on the carrier you get on with. Some carriers pay better than others. For example first year pay at Skywest is $18K but second jumps to $32K. Either way, you will have to suffer low wages for a bit, just how long is dependant on the carrier, they type aircraft assigned and how long it takes to upgrade. Upgrade, however, cannot be predicted with any accuracy. Upgrade all depends on pilot attrition, aircraft deliveries and airline expansion. Some carriers may have a 2 year upgrade now while others may have 7+ years.

The sacrifices you & your family (fiance) are going to have to make, financially & otherwise, cannot be underestimated. I don't want to be a "downer", but you really need to be educated on all that's involved to make an informed career changing & life altering decision. If you decide to 'go for it', do so with no illusions.

I made the jump in my 30's, and if I did not have a substantial sum saved and no loan debt other then my house, I cannot imagine how I'd get by. I know someone who had the money and did the PPL thru CFI at a flight school and in 3 years they were new hire F/O at age 46. Unfortuntely, at age 50 my friend has left aviation because of the low wages (expected top out pay/retirement) and BS at the regionals. They did not want to stick it out till 60. Three years on the line was enough to find out that doing it for a living was not really living their dream- even though they thought (and proclaimed) so in the beginning.

In addition, yours is a popular question at the message forums on these boards (Jetcareers even has a career changer forum):

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Old 09-06-2005, 01:56 PM
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Tx Av8trxx

I appreciate the input and the other sites you suggested were great.

- NittanyLion
Old 09-06-2005, 06:23 PM
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Default Career

Av8trxx did a good job covering the basics. If you have money to burn then do it, otherwise get a private license and forget about it. Keep your wife, build a retirement and become financially independent. You can hire on at 55 and enjoy the job without the worry and disapointment. The opportunity cost is too high.

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Old 09-06-2005, 07:00 PM
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My best friends sister started medical school at 32! Everyone told her, "You'll be 40 before you are a doctor." Her reply was elegant. "I'm going to be 40 anyway and when I am, I want to be a doctor."

That pretty much sums it up. You can do it if you truly want it. It is a long haul however.

A flying career is largely a matter of lucky timing. Now may be a good time to get in to it because there are soooo many retirements coming in the next 15 years. If you get on with a growing carrier you may find yourself in the left seat of a 100+ jet making 6 figures. That may be enough for you. For me, the dream is dead. (see my other posts) I had different expectations. You may be plenty pleased with the career as it stands these days. Think long and hard about the multiple hoops you have to jump through and pull the trigger.

Good luck
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Old 09-13-2005, 12:12 PM
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I will be 38 soon and I was just hired. You can do anything you set your mind to. Keep working towards your goal.

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Old 09-14-2005, 12:11 PM
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Hi Nipopolis,
Thats great to hear. What was your background? How long did it take you to get there? Where did you train? and with what hours and whom did you get hired on with?

Appreciate all the feedback.
- NittanyLion
Old 09-14-2005, 12:25 PM
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I'll try to keep it short. I studied aviation in college but couldn't afford to fly. I wanted to fly for a living but my first job out of college was in IT. I did that for 14 years with various companies. I started my flight training in 1998 and followded my private with an instrument rating, commercial/twin ratings and then got busy with work and just flew all I could for until 2003 when I was down sized from my company. They call it right sizing so you don't feel bad about being fired... As I stated, I wanted to fly for a living but after a couple of years in IT, I made too much money to walk away from it and start instructing. When I was down sized, I decided that was my chance to follow my dream. I finished my cfi ratings as quickly as I could and was lucky to find an instructing job. It didn't pay my bills so I also took another part time job to make the money I needed to survive. Over the past year and a half I have giving 600 hours of dual and was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time and was just hired by ASA. It hasn't been easy but I kept chugging along and I never gave up. If it's what you want to do, do it.


P.S. I did all my training at local airports and I'm right at 1000 hours.

Last edited by Nipopolis; 09-14-2005 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:44 PM
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You guys give me hope I feel like I'm never going to get a job flying a jet. Right now I'm 25 graduated from Western Michigan University in 05' with a bachelor's degree in aviation (wortless degree by the way major in something else!) I have my Comm multi with instrument but I'm not current with anything (lack of money!) couldn't get CFI done because I got denied on my loans so I've just been working my butt off working two jobs. I'm hoping to train for CFI within the next month or two. I do get jealous seeing guys younger than me flying for a regional but hey at least I can say I did it all on my own not being spoon fed by rich parents.
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:52 PM
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I was 30 and working at an office when I started flying (just for myself. I had no idea I'd end up doing it for a living.) Figured I'd need the instrument, then at 250 hours I got the commercial just for something to do. Then I felt like I should use the commercial, bit the bullet and got the CFI. I started instructing part time, got the other instructor ratings, and started flying pt. 135 (all part time, while working at the office.)

So, I never had the guts to 'bite the bullet and leave,' at least in the way that someone going to work for an airline would. But one day I was offered a corporate job flying small jets. It was nervous and scary, but since I've made the move it's been just fine. The money is better than I made programming computers, and my whole outlook on life is soooo much better.

Just wanted to give another thought to you. There are options outside of the airlines.
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