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Old 10-25-2008, 10:06 AM   #1  
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Default Family Life

A few months ago there was an article in the New York Times that described the reasons why GA was going out of existence. One of the biggest reasons was a surprise to me. Phil Boyer claimed that changes in the family unit had one of the largest effects. In the 1970's one earner family the father usually had total control over the family finances. When he decided that he wanted to blow his Saturday and families disposable income on flying then that is what happened. Today we have a two wage earner family system and shared power between spouses.

As a result all family spending and decisions have to go before committee and most often the choice is against such a large expenditure towards one individual. I believe that this observation can also be applied to airline careers. In the past an aviation career was able to support the entire family. As such whenever an opportunity came up the family just moved. The freedom made career advancement much more easy. Today there are lots of extras to consider.

People can not just up and move as easily as before. Many families are often made up of mixed individuals. Past relationships usually have strings attached in the form of court ordered visitations and restrictions as to where one lives. Additionally in the two wage earner family often the spouse also has a career in progress and can not easily move without doing damage to their dreams and income potential.

Lifestyle choices are a family decision now. A husband or wife can not unilaterally choose a path without facing the rest of the family first. Pulling up roots to take a job that pays less than the high school son makes at the grocery store is a hard sell. Most often in order to preserve an aviation career the choice is usually to commute. Commuting however is far from a cost free endeavor. Family time will suffer and the resulting hardship is not welcome to an already overloaded modern family life. The spouse who is left at home becomes a near widow and is overwhelmed by work, children and other household responsibilities. It is not fair and can lead to conflict.

In the past it was much easier to follow career trends and opportunities when it was more common to make the wages that the big three pay. The one wage earner nuclear family could absorb the changes and hardships that came with the profession. Today it is more difficult to fit an aviation life, and the demands that come with it, into the complexities of the modern family. As a result either career aspirations are forced to fall short or else the family may suffer.

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Last edited by SkyHigh; 10-25-2008 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 10-25-2008, 11:36 AM   #2  
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I agree and disagree at the same time. If your spouse is a white collar professional, there is a likelihood (whether it's high or low depends on the job, of course) that they might have to relocate for promotion. Having the ability to commute invariably affords that spouse the ability to realize their professional aspirations without a landslide compromise of the pilot's career. QOL compromise? Of course. However, I several couples that seem quite happy and content because a move wasn't a career-ender for one of the individuals.
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Old 10-25-2008, 01:00 PM   #3  
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Originally Posted by N5139 View Post
I agree and disagree at the same time. If your spouse is a white collar professional, there is a likelihood (whether it's high or low depends on the job, of course) that they might have to relocate for promotion. Having the ability to commute invariably affords that spouse the ability to realize their professional aspirations without a landslide compromise of the pilot's career. QOL compromise? Of course. However, I several couples that seem quite happy and content because a move wasn't a career-ender for one of the individuals.
Sometimes moves can work however as children get older and careers more established it is not so easy. Inevitably the pilot will have to find a new job or get a base change. The constant parade of new cities and towns make it increasingly difficult for the family to follow as time goes on. Eventually a conflict will most likely occur.

Commuting can turn a 19 day off line into a 8 days at home. I know of a SWA captain who has spent most of the last 14 years living in an old motor home in the crew parking lot. He commutes to work and has been on reserve a lot and instead of a crash pad chooses to spent his time in the RV in a dusty parking lot.


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Old 10-27-2008, 05:15 PM   #4  
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PearlPilot got a thread going on this a few days ago over here, except nobody attributed the demise of GA to dual-breadwinner households. It could very well be a major cause, though.
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:44 PM   #5  
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PearlPilot got a thread going on this a few days ago over here, except nobody attributed the demise of GA to dual-breadwinner households. It could very well be a major cause, though.
Thanks for the heads up. I made a post there. I really fear for the future of GA. Planes and hangars could become real cheap though.

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Old 10-28-2008, 06:50 PM   #6  
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I think that if a person is planning on a career as a pilot, he or she must come to an agreement with their spouse as to where they will live prior to making any decisions. For example, my fiance, ( ex-wife) & I have talked living in ATL, HOU or MEM. These cities offer the possibility of being based there or to have an easy commute; at least that's the plan.

She's tested the waters in terms of applying for positions in her field outside the state of Florida. She has had a number of offers. Our plan is for her to apply for positions in those cities when I meet or exceed the mins for the airline that has an FO base in that city. Going into an interview and stating that my wife already has a job offer in the city may indicate to HR stability.




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Old 10-28-2008, 07:40 PM   #7  
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Going into an interview and stating that my wife already has a job offer in the city may indicate to HR stability.
Honestly ATP, I don't think HR really cares if your SO has job stability in any city they have bases. Since they may have to reassign your base due to closure, openings or any other reason that may occur during your employment there. From my experience, I seriously don't remember any interviewer at any 121 interview I've done asking me anything about my family(that's including the company I ended working at). Such is the industry.

Your probably better off just stating you'll go to any base, anywhere they have an opening. That's probably more likely to get you the job.
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Old 10-30-2008, 06:08 PM   #8  
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Rnav:

Yeah, but you can't blame a fellow for trying.



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Old 10-30-2008, 08:24 PM   #9  
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That's true. It never hurts to put it out there. LOL
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Old 11-03-2008, 11:14 AM   #10  
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I typically dismiss what SH has to say, but I am in agreement on this point. I think the effect on GA isn't as notable as the effect on the airline industry. But, the airline industry will be just fine as there is something about it that attracts a continual surplus of applicants willing to bend over *edited for appropriateness* to fly an airplane.

I have decided to pull from my endeavors as an airline pilot for a while - not necessarily forever - to go back to school to finish my CPA. I have already been accepted back to school, paperwork is either finished or in progress, and life just feels a whole lot better, and I am looking forward to being home for the upcoming holidays.

My respect for this profession has fallen dramatically - not my respect for the pilots. The most significant concern I have, among many others, is the rat race that exists right now (and most of the time) and the ramifications this brings. The wages we accept, the QOL we accept, and the lack of any probable career advancement just scares me off. Pilots are not treated like professionals, especially at my company. Of course, there is the flip side of the coin - many pilots don't ACT like professionals - porn in the cockpit is an example.

Living life under the seniority system, IMHO, has more disadvantages than advantages. As a pilot, there is no way to excel above your co-workers. You'll NEVER be known as "the" guy that can get it done - we'll always be seat meat, instantly interchangeable for the other guy. Upgrade and increasing QOL is based entirely on how quickly the line moves and has nothing to do with how hard you work or what value you bring to the company. How can you control your own destiny when the factors affecting your life (and your family's life) are inevitably beyond your control? And as the conga-line moves, the company's grip on you becomes tighter. I know a plethora of folks that loathe this industry and company, get treated like dirt, and yet are stuck due to the seniority status gained over their tenure. Starting over at the bottom would be horrible when you've got family relying on you. A pilot with 25 years of left seat experience is all of sudden junior to the 300 hr FO should he decide to change companies - its just SICK!. I am drawing a blank in trying to think of another profession where you cannot bring your unique resume with you and have it instantly pay appropriate dividends. When I was in accounting, we'd occasionally get a new CPA into the office, and he/she would instantly get their own office, pay and respect according to the value he/she was bringing into the firm. Pilots - not so much.

I am tired of the cattle call. "Cattle call", its the best way I can describe this profession.

Again, I am speaking of the structure of the profession, not in anyway speaking against fellow pilots. I will always be a pilot first, just don't need to make a living doing it. I'd rather be in control of my own life.
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