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Two year update - left for law

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Two year update - left for law

Old 03-26-2016, 03:41 PM
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Default Two year update - left for law

Two years ago I posted this thread with the promise of returning in two years to update: http://www.airlinepilotforums.com/le...ast-trip.html?

I updated about three months later here: http://www.airlinepilotforums.com/le...-regrets.html?

My alarm went off today that it was time for an update, and boy was I glad it did. Fun to look back on the last two years.

First, after I posted the first followup, I became so busy with my legal career that I didn't have time to read the replies, nor the PMs that came in. For that, I apologize. But I also find the responses very interesting in hindsight.

So here goes, the two years in a nutshell:

I planned to work part time on the side doing discovery work with my JD while flying for the airline. I approached a law firm working on a very public airline incident to see if they needed such work. They offered me a full time job on the spot. Though a large firm, they did not have many actual aviators in the company. I took the job, because of that pretty number after the $.

It quickly became apparent that office life was not my thing. My windows faced a major airport, and all day I watched planes take off and land. I listened to the tower on LiveATC. When Virgin Galactic crashed, with a friend on board now deceased, I cried at my desk. The bossman called me weak. Maybe I am. If crying over the loss of fellow aviators and friends is weak, please let me stay that way.

The legal environment is very backbiting and demoralizing (shocking, I know). There was no crew. No team. Everyone was so used to doing what it took to take down opposing counsel, they didn't know when to turn it off. Everything was a competition and anything was fair play. Want the chocolate cookie at lunch? Make sure no one else knows, or they'll take it just to spite you.

I became the expert in aviation incidents - reviewing accidents and drafting NTSB-like reports, as those aren't allowed in as evidence generally. I was fairly well respected in that arena. I also became our client liaison as I could speak to them in their language. Not tooting my horn. I sucked as a lawyer. But I had a few skills as an aviator that applied.

I got more and more depressed in the office environment. No camaraderie, no shooting the **** in the hangar, just throat cutting day in and out. About a year in, a friend of mine that had wanted to get me into a corporate outfit flying their jet called and said they'd be hiring for an aircraft I was typed in. I'd stayed flying small aircraft, got my tailwheel, and flew aerobat on weekends, but my jet time was nearly expired. I interviewed and a few months later, gave my two weeks to the firm and was back in the cockpit. Haven't looked back once.

Now, I'm stupidly happy. It's been almost a year at the corporate show. We have a great schedule, fantastic respect from management, solid aircraft, and I work with the best team. They are my family. This job combines that which I loved about the firm (initially) and that which I love about flying.

Basically, in summary, all those that said that I was in the rebound phase and would miss flying soon enough were right. I couldn't stay away. And I'm glad I didn't.

I would love to use my JD for something, but every time someone says to me, "You spent all that time and money on your law degree for nothing," I reply, "I spent more time and money on becoming a pilot and this is where I belong." Maybe time will tell what the purpose of my JD can serve, but if not, that's ok. I'm back in the office that I love, 39,000' above the old one.

It's not like I have any sage advice here. All jobs have their pitfalls. I think if I had moved to live in base for the airline I would have been better off. I commuted because of a relationship that ended while I was at the law firm and freed me to pursue what I really wanted. I see now clearly my pilots friends are no more suited to office work than I am. We are a unique breed of human - and while some will do fine and not look back, it's worth a second though.

I left for a job that theoretically addressed all the things we hate about airlines. Six figures, good pay, great future, home every night (though late work nights were the norm). I could drink beer at lunch! But none of it made up for that feeling of pushing those thrust levers forward...

I got ripped apart on my last post, I hope I won't here, but I understand if you do. This isn't exactly the ending I know many of you would hope from such a story.
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Old 03-26-2016, 07:54 PM
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Great story. Same thing happened to me after I got furloughed; hit the corporate world, thought I'd turn a new leaf and never go back to flying.

Guess I shouldn't have moved right under the 8 mile final for 28 at ORD. My neck muscles are finally un-cramping themselves from all the looking up I was doing!

After a year in the corporate world, I was longing to give aviation a second chance. Sadly, right at that time, both Age 65 AND the economy imploded; I was stuck outside looking in for an additional three years...

Finally, four years after I left, I was able to get back in. It's been a tumultuous ride, no doubt, but now I'm exactly where I want to be, flying at exactly the stage lengths and the trip types I want, on nice new equipment with great crews and life is only getting better and better. (Payrates not withstanding, but we're working on that...)

Welcome back! It's good to have you here!
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Old 03-27-2016, 02:29 AM
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shouldn't there be a support group for recovering aviators? "Hi, my name is Smilin' Jack..."
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Old 03-27-2016, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by badflaps View Post
shouldn't there be a support group for recovering aviators? "Hi, my name is Smilin' Jack..."
Depends on one's perspective on "recovery". To some, the OPs return to aviation is a case of relapse, not recovery. Stating this return to the cockpit as the right financial decision for the OP and/or for the long term stability of his/her vocational choices, assumes facts not in evidence. What is clear from these anecdotes is that, if you're unhappy in an office setting, you're unhappy in an office setting. If that means that your life choices are therefore limited to non-sedentary occupations that suffer from high income-volatility, then that's just merely the unfortunate opportunity cost you'll have to face in life upon your aversion to office work. Nothing particularly good, bad or indifferent about it, just life choices.

No free lunch in life. It'd be great if these choices weren't so mutually exclusive, and perhaps to a statistical few, they are indeed not. For the majority though, it does seem like a perennial exercise in trading off time for money, in a quantity not too great to afford no time to do what you really want, or too little money that it affords you not what you really want.

To the OP, sounds like the answer has already been sort of addressed by him/her already. The inference to "life would have been different had I lived in domicile" was made in passing, but it bears incredible relevance. Want to continue to struggle between two jobs, neither of which provide domestic comfort nor vocational contentment at the same time? Move to domicile and presto, problem solved. Time and money balance. Works for some, not for others. For the OP, it sounds like that might be the missing piece.

Good luck. Life's too short to be unhappy, and Lord knows there's no time to be in your late 30s restarting financial retirement plans like a regional slave.
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Old 03-27-2016, 05:18 PM
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^^^^This 100%^^^^

One thing to consider is, what makes you "happy" now might not be the same in the future. The arrival of my one and only son was a true miracle. Family became significantly more important to me than my flying job at a Legacy. I voluntarily traded careers to be home more. I have not looked back since

Good luck to you Harrier.. Blue skies and tailwinds...
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Old 03-28-2016, 04:47 PM
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Thanks gringo for the welcome back! And the rest for your replies.

Right now, I'm the happiest I've been in ages. This gig has a ton of benefits that I don't feel are appropriate to mention here, as I'd feel like I was bragging. That's not my goal.

It isn't airline so if the sparkly fades, I can lateral easier, but flying for the airline is why I am here. A captain I flew with helped me get in after he got in based on his impression of me at the airline.

Who knows how long it will last, or what comes next. My motto for this last year has pretty much been, "We don't get to know our destination, we only get to enjoy the trip." Once I'm no longer enjoying this, should that happen, I can reevaluate, but damn, it feels good to be flying.
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Old 03-31-2016, 07:30 PM
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That not such a bad story. I spent time and money on an aviation degree and couldn't sell it for enough to live on.
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Old 04-01-2016, 01:44 PM
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The key to happiness is getting out of the regionals.
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Rama View Post
The key to happiness is getting out of the regionals.
Exactly, totally agree
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:56 AM
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Welcome back! LoL.

Hoping this time continues to be more enjoyable than your previous employment. As a guy who found a decent job outside of flying, a way to continue some involvement in aviation, and was making decent $$, I still found the draw to fly to be to much to happily sit on the sidelines.

I've found flying to fit my personality considerably more than working a 9-5, and I had a really cushy 9-5. While being on the road for a few days at a time is always less enjoyable than days off at home. The amount of "work" i'm doing on the road makes this job pretty cush in and of itself.

Once again, Welcome back!
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