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War Pilots Now Commercial...  
User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 2100 times:

Sort of silly, but has anyone read about a pilot that flew in a war and later went to work for commercial aviation? Just curious as to the transitions they would go through or the training...My granps was a fighter pilot in the South Pacific during WW2 but had no ambitions of commercial aviation as a career.


21 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSATL382G From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2085 times:

Yeah, there are/were lots of pilots who made that transition. it used to be that the airlines got there pilots almost exclusively from the military. That
source has dried up a bit in the last 15-20 years. Ab initio programs have come online to take up the slack.

In the period just after WWII just about all airline pilots had wartime experience. The airlines had been nationalised during the war.


[Edited 2004-09-16 20:12:32]

User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17382 posts, RR: 66
Reply 2, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2062 times:

The Danish pilot who saved the SAS MD-8x at Gottröra credited his military training for getting it down safely in a field..

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2064 times:

Step into the cockpit of many commercial jets and find at least one vet among the 2 pilots. More often than not, some of them have Vietnam or Gulf War experience. My dad was in the first Gulf War, along with many others, and left the Navy with that on their resumes- the airlines don't necessarily see the warfighting is good or bad, it's about the hours and responsibilites that came with it (i.e. section leaders, ops officer, etc). Personally, having a ex-warfighter flying our airliners is pretty cool, if you ask me.


User currently offlineAeroFan From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2049 times:

Don't know about the transitions. But I do recall that lots of British Royal Air Force Pilots used to go to work for VS.

User currently offlineLevent From France, joined Sep 2004, 1718 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 2044 times:

Some of my former pilot colleagues in Holland flew Starfighters, F16´s and Fokker F-27´s & 50´s with the Royal Dutch Air Force.

User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30175 posts, RR: 58
Reply 6, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1944 times:

If you want a good book about a group of pilots that did exactly that, I highly recommend Vern Moldrem's history of the Flying Tiger Line titled, "Tiger Tales"

All the guys that founded that once great carrier that FDX helped kill where ex-AVG pilots.

User currently offlinePlanespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3547 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 1872 times:

At Southwest, almost all the pilots have military experience. At teh flight training center, all the pilots in the new hire class get to send in a frame that includes pictures of their choice to be put up somewhere for everyone to see (it's great scenery, there are probably around 1000 framed pictures up here at the Flight Training Center and at Headquarters). Almost all of the frames have pictures of the pilot standing next to his or her military a/c, or a picture of their Air Force/Naval Academy graduation, or an in flight shot of their military a/c. It's pretty cool!

Do you like movies about gladiators?
User currently offlineILSApproach From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 410 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (11 years 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 1773 times:

I would bet that there is a very high percentage of ex-military pilots flying commercial airliners!

I'm going to take a stab at a percentage...........60-70%.

What does it really take to become a commercial pilot........hours, hours and more hours. The military is a very inexpensive way to get those hours and the instrument rating. How much you think you'd spend in a Cessna to accumulate that amount of flight time.............WOW!

Granted you have to be rated on specific aircraft and sim training, but how much easier would it be if you racked up say 10,000-15,000 flight hours in the military. I would think better than the average Skyhawk pilot.

Working for the railroad these days(me)..I bet 2/3 of the guys I work with are ex-military. Businesses like to hire them for their professionalism, most people I've met out of the military are upstanding, responsible individuals also.

Every year for the last 20 years or better I go to Jamaica(doesn't look like this year!). I distinctly remember a flight from MSP to MBJ on T9. Those pilots put us on a postage stamp on a descent like I've never had. Felt like we just grabbed the wire on an aircraft carrier..................sure enough the CPT, F/O and F/E (727) all had "FLY NAVY" bumper stickers on their flight bags!!!

I smuggly told them "nice landing" on the way out...........they all just kept grinning like children. It was great.............even better when they let me pull off a couple of flight deck shots!

Just an observation by an amateur. Easy on me guys!! LOL

User currently offlineAa717driver From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1566 posts, RR: 13
Reply 9, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1692 times:

Having military experience guarantees one thing--the person is a known quantity. He or she had to go through a prescribed sylabus and career path.

I flew with several combat veterens from Viet Nam. One of them bagged a MiG-21. They are generally pretty good to work with.

But, keep in mind, there are good military pilots and there are bad military pilots. I've run into a few who couldn't find their butts with both hands. Same with civilian pilots, too.

What I've heard from most of the military guys is that a successful transition to civilian flying is 100% attitude. A classmate of mine at TWA was a former F-4G squadron commander. He had the best attitude. A crashpad roomate was a F-14 squadron commander. He was a D!CK! He still thought he was in the Navy and in command. Did I mention he was a D!CK?

I've spent a lot of time on the jumpseat at SWA and I've rarely seen anyone with a bad attitude. I think that's why they don't crash airplanes and have such a "can-do" attitude. IMO.TC

FL450, M.85
User currently offlineMaiznblu_757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 5112 posts, RR: 46
Reply 10, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1682 times:

There are a ton of Air Guard pilots that fly the big airliners during the week, and get into an F-16 on the weekends. What a life. It would piss me off if my squadron converted from F-16's to C-130's though!

User currently offlineRG828 From Brazil, joined Jan 2004, 582 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1664 times:
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Lots of War vets go commercial - if not most.

I've met countless Vietnam war vet who fly with Delta, though most of those I really know have retired. A good friend of mine retired from UA a few years ago (777 MIA-based) was an EC-121 commander in Vietnam, in his early 20's.

Another DL Captain was an A-4 squadron leader in Nam, his war tales were most interesting.

Another good friend retired from DL flying 727's flew F-4s there as well, but he did'nt like talking about it much.

Rick Drury - the Airways magazine columnist - who I've met on several occasions, flew A-1s in SE Asia before joining Flying Tigers, and is now retired from flying MD-11s with FedEx.

Lots of books out there about post-WWII airlines and their war-experienced veterans, I envy their flying careers and I respect them all.

I dont know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone
User currently offlineBucky707 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1030 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 1602 times:

I flew in the Gulf War and now fly for an airline. Does that count?

User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (11 years 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 1493 times:


who do you fly for and what are you flying?

User currently offlineILSApproach From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 410 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (11 years 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 1480 times:

So, my estimate of 60-70% is probably a little low......I thought so.

There are definately the good and the bad as with everything.

F16's on the weekend!! No doubt about! One place I always spot at airports are ANG F16's, but some are not easily accessible pre or post 9/11. Most seem to be buried away from the action.

I can think of a bunch that you can still get close to...................but I won't go there for the obvious.

Sunny and 87deg at MSP right now(5pm) south wind............steady parade of airplanes over the house...........life is good!


User currently offlineUAL747DEN From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2392 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (11 years 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1458 times:

I herd a funny story from a guy that flew in the reserves, he said he had the best possible carrier that he could being a pilot. He got to fly every aircraft that he ever wanted to and loved it. After he was done in the reserves he became a commercial pilot. After about 4 years of flying, he was doing another typical flight and looked out the window. He said that he could see the wing and the engine and he just all of the sudden said, "I wish the damn thing would catch on fire and blow up so that we could do something!" He said after that day the airline helped him to get out of there just as fast as he could. He went on to sell aviation insurance and was able to buy some old war aircraft and fly them for years to come!

User currently offlineOttoPylit From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (11 years 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1455 times:

I would say about 80% of major airline pilots are former military, and most would have some sort of experience as far as either active combat(Nam or Gulf War) or related combat patrol experience(Operation Northern/Southern Watch over Iraq). Most airline pilots you will find either quit the military after getting hired, or fly in the Guard or Reserve.

I just read the book "Dustoff", by Medal of Honor winner Micheal J. Novosel. A former WWII B-29 pilot who became a Southern Airways pilot until Vietnam erupted. When the Air Force balked at sending a Lt. Colonel(Novosel) to Vietnam, he quit and enlisted in the Army as a Warrant Officer! He was probably the oldest man to be selected as a Warrant Officer and flew dustoff evacuation missions during the early years of Vietnam, flying Huey helos and winning the MOH. After 2 tours, he retired in 1984.

So there is one example of a war pilot going commercial. Just in this case, he went from vet to commercial back to vet.

User currently offlineLifelinerOne From Netherlands, joined Nov 2003, 1958 posts, RR: 7
Reply 17, posted (11 years 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1377 times:


I also know some cases where things are the other way around... My uncle flew the DC-10 with KLM and Martinair and now flies the DC-10 with our air force......

Another uncle of mine was a Fokker testpilot and now flies a Fokker 50/60 for the RNLAF....

So, as you see, there's life after civil aviation!! Big grin


Only Those Who Sleep Don't Make Mistakes
User currently offlineBucky707 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1030 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1323 times:

I fly for Delta, 767

User currently offlineAa717driver From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1566 posts, RR: 13
Reply 19, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1281 times:

No, Bucky, the Gulf War doesn't count. Saddam really wasn't a threat to anyone. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...  Insane

Seriously, thanks for your service and hold the line on pay!TC

FL450, M.85
User currently offlineGMUAirbusA320 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 243 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1251 times:

It's amazing to see all the ex-military pilots in the air. When I worked the gate for B6, I couldn't belive the agents when they'd say they couldn't deal with some of the pilots because of an attitude. After having to handle many of the situations, I found lots of them didn't have "attitudes" but rather they were ex-military guys. I've learned from my dad (20 years U.S. Air Force) and my dabble in ROTC, that some of those guys lived by the books. Because of their actions, they've done a great deal to ensure the saftey of millions of passengers daily. I feel a little safer knowing the guy behind the stick has military experience (combat or not). Although, I have known a few to push the limits...hahahaha


User currently offlineAa777jr From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 1201 times:


What did you fly in the Gulf War, just very interested. Thanks!


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