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Timing your exit...2011 update

Old 01-30-2011, 09:21 AM
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A repost edited to update. Just my two cents...take it for what its worth.


I've helped hundreds of military pilots make the transition to the exits over the last eight years, and thought I'd share my 2 cents on some suggestions. Watching quite a few military aviators make some (what I consider) mistakes I decided rather than venting to specific pilots I'd throw some shots out into cyberspace.

Rule one--start early! For you no-civilian rating/no civilian logbook types, here is a conservative guide. Yes...you can jump through your butt and try to do it all 90 days from your retirement/sep date, but even if you get a class date when you get out (not likely) you will at least be suffering a lot more stress than necessary.

Network--3 YEARS out. Keep a list of bros at the airlines. Send those Christmas cards...and emails. Visit. Ask about the lifestyle. Learn. Listen.

2 years-18 months out. Get the ATP. Now. Its less than 2 grand, and you KNOW you have to have it. Why are you still waiting? Turn your trip to the FBO or ALL ATPs into a family vacation if you must, but stop stalling. Apply to EVERYONE that is accepting apps. Don't get picky now...get picky when you have 2-3 offers. You may be from Dallas, but if Southwest Airlines isn’t hiring when you separate you'll feel stupid for not applying to Delta, Jetblue, or Fedex. Delta may be your first choice, but would you pass a year on the line at another to wait? What if your favorite company has a hiring freeze?

Need an online recommendation? Don’t put your friends in a square corner. If you are trying to get someone to help, send them your info. If you are trying to connect a friend to someone else, take the candidates info and pass it on to the potential sponsor and let the sponsor initiate contact. Most folks will gladly help you, but they'd prefer to initiate the process rather than being put "on the spot". I've never turned down a request for help, but the courtesy is always appreciated.

18months- 1 year out. Get the FE written. Don't want to work at FDX or UPS? Do it anyway...things may change. You can buy the book, study a week, and pay 50 bucks to take the test at a test center. It is cheap insurance.

1 year-6 months out...update your resume. Put a professional message on your home machine. Get a nice email ([email protected], etc) but ([email protected]) or ([email protected]). You’d be stunned at some of the email addresses I’ve seen on resumes. Don’t be “that guy…”

Save some leave. You may need it for a job fair, or to visit a company at the invitation of someone already on the property.

Lose the attachment to holidays, special occasions, etc. Don't skip a May interview for a vacation, or a June shot for an (optional) TDY. Go to the first interview offered (you should be ready by now). Ditto the first class offered. One guy at FDX skipped a class for his wedding. He spent his honeymoon, plus the next 20 month, waiting without a FDX job in the pool. Cost? 2 years of longevity, health insurance, and a myriad of other benefits. Airlines have a habit of cancelling/delaying classes, so deciding the "next" one would be a better fit might haunt you a long time. Your seniority number will be with you for the rest of your professional life.

What about that retirement you planned for June 10? Airline X offered you a June 2 class. You told Wing/Squadron you'd be there through the ORI, and your retirement ceremony invites are already out.... My take: 2 weeks after you leave the base, nobody will even be mentioning your name. The ORI is history, your party is old news, and nobody cares. However, for the next 17 years, you are 10-24 numbers junior to some guys because you didn't want to "inconvenience" a group of guys who really don't even care that much about what happens after you leave. That may mean the difference in getting your domicile, your upgrade, or the "cherry" line you have been trying to get since you got on the property. I know a captain who missed getting his old MD-11 captain seat back by ONE number after a displacement bid at our airline. How would you like to be haunted by an extra week at the squadron fifteen years later? How important is that holiday REALLY? You don’t want to have regrets the next 15, 20, or 25 years. It might also mean the difference in being furloughed if things turned south...

If asking for a letter of recommendation, I recommend writing a draft of a letter and then emailing or giving a copy of it on a disc or thumbdrive to the person you want to write it. Now they can either personalize it or re-write it, but they aren't knee deep in having to write YOU a product on their busy schedule. Real compensation for a major airline pilot is pretty high per hour...think about what your bill would be if they were "billing" you for their time. Make their job easy.

Diet...1 year out. 6 week crash diets will only have you stressed, hungry, and irritable when you show up. Get your suit fitted but leave a little "slack" for a 5 pound rebound.

Suits, shirts, shoes, ties....3-6 months out. Wear them a few times...get used to standing up in a suit (vice flightsuit) and make sure those new shoes don't squeak when you walk down the quiet hall.

Want interview prep? Great! Call early. Don't call 24 hours prior and say "I heard you can help out..." (yes, it happens more than you might think...) You should be ready to go 2-3 months out....done...ready...excited. Save the last minute flailing for your competition. Plenty of folks have been hired without outside prep, but if you want the help get your money's worth and don't try to jam it into a last minute cram session.

Last—some advice. If you are separating vice retiring, find a way to stay in the Guard or Reserve component. There will be plenty of days you remember why you got out in the first place, and after a few years at your airline you’ll be giving up some pay when you perform your duty. Do it anyway. I have yet to meet a pilot who regretted hanging on and making the sacrifice to stay involved in the total force. When the economy hiccups, or things get tight financially, having that other job can be a real family saver. It is also nice for professional and emotional reasons as you are making a LOT of changes in your life in a short amount of time. I found hanging out at the bar with the bros on a Friday not only a lot of fun, but a refuge where I sort of knew what the hell was going on most of the time. I can't always say I had the same SA my first year or two at the airline--everything is new. Its nice to have "next" to return to you as you make the transition. Plus--killing stuff and breaking things is cool--even if you are just training to do it most of the time. Most of us who have done both jobs a while will recommend living at your Guard base, or your airline domicile, but try not to commute to both. There are exceptions to every rule, but the ability to drill at home or sit reserve in your hometown make the task of doing two jobs well possible. The balancing act gets harder if you must commute to both. I personally chose to stay in my hometown and commute to my airline, so my family wife could keep her career and our family could maintain our social network.

No matter what your situation—retiring or separating you need a place to live. Your life is about to have a lot of changes…a new job, new friends, and new challenges. However, you have time—don’t be in a huge rush. No matter how much outside reflection you’d had on your new career, until you try it out you still may not know where to make your new home. You need to know what to be the best fit for your family. You don't know yet if you like commuting or hate it. You don't know yet if you'd rather hold a line and live somewhere else or live in domicile and sit reserve. It takes a little time to digest all the new options. Sometimes just starting your new job and giving it 6-12 months to see how it really feels is the best move you can make. I have known several pilots who immediately rushed into buying a home in a domicile city, only to retreat and sell out to move a couple years later. You’ve been on the military’s pace the last few years—enjoy the fact you can now slow down, reflect, and decide when and where YOU want to put down your new roots. It’s a big decision, and one you haven’t been allowed to make on your own before. Give yourself the luxury of a little time to make sure you make a decision that best fits your family.
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Old 01-30-2011, 02:46 PM
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Some very good advice ...
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Old 01-30-2011, 03:35 PM
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Good stuff. As was said, if you want to get some prep in get it lined up ahead of time. I can personally attest to Abief's skills--he does a great job, and the investment was well worth it.
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Old 01-30-2011, 06:31 PM
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2nd that on the rec for using Albie's services. Everyone I have sent his way has also had nothing but the highest praise.

good luck to all in what is appearing to be the perfect storm of hiring waves.
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:12 AM
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To piggy back as an AFRC Sq CC.....others are taking this advice. This means (for those getting out) there is a line at some reserve units.

Put your best foot forward...."read the directions" when it comes to packages and interviews and don't assume you have a job just because you are qualified in the AC now.

Funny thing is some AFRC/ANG units are busting at the seams....others have slots. Do your homework!
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Old 01-31-2011, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Albief15
A repost edited to update. Just my two cents...take it for what its worth.


Rule one--start early! For you no-civilian rating/no civilian logbook types, here is a conservative guide. Yes...you can jump through your butt and try to do it all 90 days from your retirement/sep date, but even if you get a class date when you get out (not likely) you will at least be suffering a lot more stress than necessary.
Great post! I am one of those military types with no civilian rating and no civilian logbook. Already have plans to get the ATP, but what about the logbook. I obviously have my AF flight records, but is that enough? Should I have other documentation of my past 10 years of active duty flying?
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Old 01-31-2011, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Flyer5
Great post! I am one of those military types with no civilian rating and no civilian logbook. Already have plans to get the ATP, but what about the logbook. I obviously have my AF flight records, but is that enough? Should I have other documentation of my past 10 years of active duty flying?
Others may have different/additional advice, but for me the work was in converting time from USAF format to airline format (e.g. cross country, PIC, etc.). I did not multiply my hours by any factors; just used hours as they were. After entering them in the application I was done. I did not have a log book, just the printouts from my AF flight records as well as the summary page. Others may want something else, but Delta was fine with what I had ready.
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Old 01-31-2011, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Jesse
Others may have different/additional advice, but for me the work was in converting time from USAF format to airline format (e.g. cross country, PIC, etc.). I did not multiply my hours by any factors; just used hours as they were. After entering them in the application I was done. I did not have a log book, just the printouts from my AF flight records as well as the summary page. Others may want something else, but Delta was fine with what I had ready.

That said, whats the stan on adding the conversion?

i.e. FedEx says you can add .3 per sortie. Lets say I have 1000 PIC in 1000 sorites (easy math). Do I put 1000 hours on my app or 1300?
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Jesse
Others may have different/additional advice, but for me the work was in converting time from USAF format to airline format (e.g. cross country, PIC, etc.). I did not multiply my hours by any factors; just used hours as they were. After entering them in the application I was done. I did not have a log book, just the printouts from my AF flight records as well as the summary page. Others may want something else, but Delta was fine with what I had ready.
Originally Posted by Grumble
That said, whats the stan on adding the conversion?

i.e. FedEx says you can add .3 per sortie. Lets say I have 1000 PIC in 1000 sorites (easy math). Do I put 1000 hours on my app or 1300?
Sorry, I should have said I didn't multiply or add anything to my hours for input into the app. Sounds like from what you said one company may have one policy and another something else. I don't recall if Delta even addressed it; as I recall they didn't so I played it safe and left the hour totals as they were.
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Grumble
That said, whats the stan on adding the conversion?

i.e. FedEx says you can add .3 per sortie. Lets say I have 1000 PIC in 1000 sorites (easy math). Do I put 1000 hours on my app or 1300?
Some do, some don't put it on. If you aren't gonna make the numbers without it, I'd say add it. That way at least you are in the system. FedEx is .2 per sortie. the big thing is if you do, on the app there is a box box box to check asking - did you add in the conversion? Had some buds use Albie's service..... all flying purple now. Good luck.
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