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Old 02-14-2006, 09:36 AM   #1  
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Default Pilot career

Hello all,
I was writing on the regional board about pay when I posted my "plan" for flying as a career. I had some pretty incredibly negative feedback about how I was dreaming. I know the industry is volitile (Have parents, friends, and family in the industry), but I feel that if I do as much as possible to prepare for it, I will have a better experience. I would like to hear everyone's "IF I COULD DO IT OVER AGAIN, I WOULD..."
I would also like to hear any strong recommendations (have a back up career, etc...)
Furthermore, this is kind of a reasonable expectation I have for my future career. Does it seem reasonable? How would you change it?

I am 22, a CFII, and I have over 700TT and I intend on hiring on at a regional in the next several months.
I pick a decent, solid regional with decent pay and upgrade times (Skywest, Republic, AWAC, ExpressJet, etc..)
Spend 2-3 years as an FO. Suck it up and deal with the pay. I am young enough that 30,000 is plently for 2nd,3rd year.
Upgrade to captain. Spend another 3 years flying. Given all the upgrade times I saw, this is a reasonable expectation.

So now I am 27, making at least 65K, I would potentially have 5000TT, over 3000 PIC. I think these are reasonable expectations. Now I could stay at this regional job for a few more years if I desired to (make reasonable pay for being young and rack up experience), or I could go to a major.
Even in the poor hiring conditions of today, I have to believe that 5000TT, 3000PIC is plently for Southwest, FedEx, UPS, JetBlue, AirTran, Frontier, anyother "Major" that is hiring. Spend a few years as starting FO pay, and then sometime around age 30-35, I would cross the 100K threshold. My goal, and I get to do something I love.

Anything comes up, I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering and I will just get a job in that field.

So again, I would like to hear everyone's "IF I COULD DO IT OVER AGAIN, I WOULD..."
I would also like to hear any strong recommendations (have a back up career, etc...)
Furthermore, this is kind of a reasonable expectation I have for my future career. Does it seem reasonable? How would you change it?

I have never met a pilot who did not like to share their experiences...
Thanks a lot.
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Old 02-14-2006, 11:21 AM   #2  
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I got into this flying career because it was exciting and I loved doing it. I thought it would be great to do something you love as a career (despite my CFI's advice against it). After I got my PVT, I started looking for flight schools. So 18 months into the CAPT program I graduated with my Commercial ASEL, AMEL, Instrument, DC-9. My resume went out to ASA but they just decided to stop the hiring process due to fleet deployment plans. I could have applied to Pinnacle but living at Memphis/Detroit/Mini was not my cup of tea. Not to mention the instability/uncertainty of their only client, Northwest. That was an easy *no thanks* for me. My other option at the time was Focus Air. The job would mean first year slaving away at a desk job and then second year flying as FE. Two years of no flying wasn't what I was looking for. Not to mention, if I wanted a desk job, I could be making a ton more doing what I was doing before. My resume is going to Air Wisconsin this week but the boards are jumping about how they're suspending hiring until April/May. I don't have as many hours as you (460/101) so you're in better shape than I am. For me, it was bad luck, bad timing.

At quick glance, I think you're assuming you're going to be flying 1000 hours a year. That's allowable by regulations, but doesn't necessarily mean you're going to fly 1000 hours. I got buddies at Pinnacle and ASA and they're averaging 40-60 hours a month. You may want to put that into consideration.

So to answer your question:

IF I COULD DO IT OVER AGAIN, I WOULD sit at my desk and enjoy the fact that I was making a lot of money to afford me the luxuries of flying a single-engine to my heart's content. They say preserverence is the key to success in aviation. Well, my job hunting preserverence has led me to starvation and the eventual visits from Tony and Joey with the "where's my money" baseball bat for the enormous loan I took out for CAPT. I basically walked out of CAPT with a very expensive instrument rating. It's the only thing I'll be using along with my PVT privileges once I start making enough money to afford to fly again. I wish there was a way to sell off my commercial single and multi privileges. If you want my hours, you can have them. I have no need for hours anymore. If I'm lucky enough to find another job in the industry I left at the same pay, I'd still be 3-4 years behind because of my loan payments. As it stands, the only luxury I can afford is the dollar menu at Wendy's once a week...coming from top shelf sushi once a week before I got into this insane flying non-career.

My advice to you is to do as much research as you can and talk to as many people as you can about the industry. Don't take the good at face value. Ask for the bad too. One thing I learned from flight training is that it's a lot cheaper (and survivable) to learn from other people's mistakes.
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Old 02-14-2006, 03:34 PM   #3  
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Thanks for the advice. I very much agree with the last line. That is a big reason why I posted this thread.
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Old 02-14-2006, 03:54 PM   #4  
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My two cents. Get your multi time as inexpensively and quickly as possible. Nobody ever asked me how much I paid for a rating or even how I got my first 100 hours of multi time. When ready to apply, ask yourself what your goal is?

$$$? Nobody can predict what they will make in any industry because no one can predict the future. Pick a career you enjoy and are good at and live within your means. A major? Then get on with where ever you can get that turbine PIC the fastest. That's more crystal ball ****e but do your best and be willing to move. Commuting for reserve isn't the best deal in town. Fast growing companies mean less time on reserve and faster upgrade. Which major to jump to? Who knows who'll be alive at that point in your career?

Quality of Life? Choose a regional that you would be happy retiring with. Maybe you'll jump to the majors and maybe you won't. There are no shortage of gray haired regional Captains who have enjoyed a great schedule and great pay (over $90k) while living in the same base for decades.
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Old 02-15-2006, 10:27 AM   #5  
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Go for it....I'm 35, had a job with a decent regional, and quite for a desk job making of course a lot more money......oh yea I'm married and have two boys that I wanted to be around more. A day doesn't go by that I don't think about flying again......I had to sacrifice a lot to get there, I had it, and I let it go....You are young enough that if you hate it, or it is not for you, you can do something else.

Its funny all the pilots that complain about "the job" don't seem to have driven a desk in the corp world. Talk about back stabbing, hope the florescent lights don't give you testicular cancer way of life not sucking.

Let's face the reason why they call it a job is because it is not always fun and games. That is why you get paid for it. And flying is a hell of a lot funner than driving a desk.


Hope that helped
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Old 02-15-2006, 10:49 AM   #6  
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Your Plan seems sound. However, the Industry isn't, and thats the problem. I worked for Comair for 18 months between Active duty and my current Job, and some of the jr Capts I flew with upgraded in like 18-24 months. That stopped the month I got there, with the Guy I went thru Sims with being one of the last Capt Upgrades while I was there. I think over the whole time I was there, (May 03-Nov04) I saw maybe 1 or 2 up grade classes.

My point is the situation at each Regional is extremely fluid, mainly because they are dependant on a mainline partner(s). If you can time it right with the right regional, your plan might work. But your plan also happens to be everybody's plan, and as history as recently shown us, it isn't as easy as it sounds.

Also, Don't forget to network. Much more important than TT and almost as important as Turbine PIC.

Have you considered the Military? Better networking, Better Pay, You'd probably do well with your previous time. Plus, What better way to spend your 20's?
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Old 02-15-2006, 04:22 PM   #7  
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Hey guys, I might be crazy but just because your 22 or 25 doesn't mean that you need to be flying a jet and 400 to 700 hours is hardly enough time to make you a safe pilot in anything with more than 200 HP and thats not my opinion (only) its the insurance companies too. I'm not saying if you get the chance you shouldn't take it, but how about trying some of those interesting jobs you hear about. being a CFI would be one of the most helpful experiences that you will ever go through. The last time I checked you don't come out of medical school and start cutting on people. Doctors have to put in a residency and pilots do too. Remember how many lives are at stake while your sitting up front having fun. There are other jobs you can do at the same time as instructing including but not limited too CAP, fire patrol, banner towing, ferry flights, test flights (Sometimes in Jets with cessna or lear), sightseeing (These are in nice places usually), highway patrol, and medivac etc...
The real moral here is I know you think you put your time in and deserve to be flying a jet, but there are many more options that taken might allow you more choices in 12 - 24 months. This will also probably be the most interesting flying you will EVER do. I know I can not preach enough about it now because your too pumped over flying that crj or whatever but I can't tell you how many people that fly jets sit up there at 35K+ and think about what fun they use to have at the jobs they began flying. These are somewhat the college years that everyone looks back on, so enjoy them. Trust me if you got a job in 747 tommorrow it wouldn't take long to start questioning what do i do next. Most pilots are always looking for the next seat or aircraft like its a military rank or something, so tell me whats your hurry to the top. You are young and should enjoy accumulating the various stories that will be told around the terminal over the next 35 to 40 years. (Thats along time to sit in that jet) This reminds me somewhat of a poem written by Robert Frost called the road not taken. Look it up.

xtremeF150
P.S. oh and so you dont think im some old captain thats angry with his job, im actually only 26 have 3300TT / 1300 Turb PIC and have yet to log one hour of 121 or 135 flight time, but i've had fun.
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Old 02-15-2006, 04:32 PM   #8  
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I agree with the last guy...go fly DC-3s or something. My only regret reagrding my aviation career was that I started so late enough that I had to get into 121 as soon as I could qualify. You still have the time to fool around a little...
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Old 02-15-2006, 08:16 PM   #9  
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Especially if you are under 30. I know the lure of a regional jet can be strong, but there are a lot of guys spending two and three years in the right seat...and then failing captain upgrade for something called "soft skills". Basically this is the concept of "command authority". Maturity, flight experience, ability to make the right decision, ability to command seems to be lacking to a higher degree than the FAA would like in upgrade candidates at regional airlines. I just spend two hours in an instructor meeting with our POI. This exact topic was the focus of his presentation. It's pretty much unheard of at the majors because those without "it" have long since been weeded out. And you don't want to fail regional captain upgrade. With PRIA you will probably never see a major airline job.

1000 hours of TT with 600-700 of CFI/CFII/MEI instruction seems to consistantly build an excellent base for becoming an airline pilot. Just something to think about...

Last edited by WEACLRS; 02-16-2006 at 07:39 AM.
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Old 02-15-2006, 10:55 PM   #10  
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Quick note to XtremeF150,

When you said CAP I assume you mean Civil Air Patrol. Thats actually not a job, it's a volunteer organization; the civilian Auxiliary of the US Air Force. But yes, CAP does have some intense flying with regards to search & rescue missions. CAP also has a need for CFI's to be Stan/Eval Checkpilots.

I've been a member for 8 years. Joined as a Cadet when I was 12, now I'm a Senior Member.
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