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Deciding To Become A Pilot  
User currently offlinePh0king From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 20 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4872 times:

I’ve recently been in the process of deciding whether or not to pursue commercial piloting as a career. However, although I love planes, there are a few things holding me back that are hindering my decision.


Here are my pros:


1. I love flying and I love planes – I work for the cargo division of a major foreign carrier at major west coast airport and I grab lunch in the terminals and watch the planes almost every day.
2. I love to travel and see new places
3. The prestige of being a pilot and the possible salary in the long run seems attractive.


Here are my cons:

1. I do not like turbulence and most especially air pockets – I cant the stand the feeling of having my stomach go up to my chest. As a casual flyer the possibility of hitting air pockets makes me anxious and edgy.
2. I have heard that pilots are exposed to cosmic radiation in the sky – How much are pilots exposed to? Is the amount exposed to dangerous? And if so, do airlines make an effort to restrict the amount of hours a pilot flies so that they wont be exposed to high levels?
3. My fear of crashing – after seeing so many crashes on television, theres always that fear that what if something goes wrong.

Are these normal fears? Any suggestions for how I can overcome these? With these fears do you think being a pilot is even possible or advisable.

Suggested from current pilots greatly appreciated.

22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLuisca From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4845 times:

Quoting Ph0king (Thread starter):
1. I do not like turbulence and most especially air pockets – I cant the stand the feeling of having my stomach go up to my chest. As a casual flyer the possibility of hitting air pockets makes me anxious and edgy.
2. I have heard that pilots are exposed to cosmic radiation in the sky – How much are pilots exposed to? Is the amount exposed to dangerous? And if so, do airlines make an effort to restrict the amount of hours a pilot flies so that they wont be exposed to high levels?
3. My fear of crashing – after seeing so many crashes on television, theres always that fear that what if something goes wrong.

if you are indeed going to pursue a pilot training, know the following:

1. There will be moments in your training that you will feel sick (wanting to throw up) like in high bank angle turns, stalls, spins, ground reference maneuvers, etc. If you have a substantial fear/discomfort, or a propensity to get sick, it can cause you problems. When I started training I almost threw up the first time I did a 60 degree bank angle turn. Also, if you do these turns in IFR training you will most likely get very dizzy. In regular flights, like Cross countries I have never gotten sick, I have never been dizzy in an Airliner also.

2. Never heard about Cosmic Radiation, Must be an Urban Legend. You will end your pilot career with hearing loss, that is guaranteed.

3. This can pose a serious problem, Many people have an irrational fear of flying, For me, I never had it, It is not something you can grow out of, the possibility of the plane crashing simply does not cross through my mind. I guess I am lucky. REMEMBER 80% of all fatal crashes are human error, so as long as you follow your training and fly smart, you will most likely retire after decades of succesfull, safe fliying.

Flying is very rewarding, although I am only halfway through my training, from what I have lived and from what others have, I can tell you, at least from my point of view, the benefits far outweigh the cons.


User currently offlineDrDeke From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 830 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4835 times:

It is actually true that there is radiation coming from space. The Earth's atmosphere blocks some of this radiation, so the higher you are above the surface of the earth, the more radiation you receive.

There is a very well-written article discussing the relative risk of radiation to an airline pilot at the following URI: http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q941.html

-DrDeke



If you don't want it known, don't say it on a phone.
User currently offlineAv8rPHX From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 713 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 4747 times:

The prestige of being a pilot and the possible salary in the long run seems attractive

Hate to sound like the negative one here, but I believe most that are employed with airlines in the US would agree with me, the "glory" days of flying for a career are over, there are very few jobs with "attractive" salaries, and the only people who really care if you are a pilot these days are other pilots, and even then its "you're airline is a bottom feeder, because xxxx, or I hear you guys fly old xxxx type planes,etc..


User currently offlineLPLAspotter From Portugal, joined Jan 2005, 682 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 4723 times:

Hey,

You might want to visit the forums at www.jetcareers.com

cheers:
LPLAspotter



Nuke the Gay Wales for Christ
User currently offlineFlyMIA From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7105 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 4679 times:

Quoting Ph0king (Thread starter):
3. The prestige of being a pilot and the possible salary in the long run seems attractive.


I still believe there is still some prestige. Walking in your uniform or just greeting the passengers off of talking to anyone and telling them your a pilot. But its nothing like it used to be. And High Salary is not going to happen. Highest I can think of is $150,000. That's after a lot of years with the same airline.

Quoting Ph0king (Thread starter):
2. I love to travel and see new places



Quoting Ph0king (Thread starter):

1. I do not like turbulence and most especially air pockets – I cant the stand the feeling of having my stomach go up to my chest. As a casual flyer the possibility of hitting air pockets makes me anxious and edgy.
3. My fear of crashing – after seeing so many crashes on television, theres always that fear that what if something goes wrong.

I not a huge fan of moving around a lot either. I can do roller coasters and all and I have never really been airsick. But from what others pilots tell me is you will get used to the motion and your sickness will go away. You would be surprised how many pilots at first did get sick and some still do on occasion.

3. I am always aware that crashing is a possibility but I never really think about it much except for Takeoff. But I am a passenger. I don't know what's going on. Its different when you are in the flightdeck knowing everything is going well. Unless you are the luckiest man in the world every pilot will face some emergencies in their flying time. An engine failure, fire, gear problems all of the above. When emergencies do come which they will you don't have time to be scared just time to react. And yes 80% of crashes are human error so just don't make any major mistakes.

Being a commercial pilot is a hard challenging, fun and rewarding job. But its not for everyone. Unless you plan on going to the air force you going to have to give a lot of money for training. And also ALOT of hard work. After that you can fly for a regional or 135 freight airline and make 19-22,000 your first year or two until you fly Captain for a few years making $35-$50,000. Than apply for the majors. Its a long hard road but if you really love it than go for it. There is so much more to know but not enough time for me atleast to say it.

Quoting LPLAspotter (Reply 4):

You might want to visit the forums at www.jetcareers.com

That is a GREAT  Smile Site. Use it. It should answer all your questions.

I am in the same boat as you except a bit younger I hope to start PPL training soon and be up in the sky also.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineJFKLGANYC From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 3376 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 4658 times:

I wasn't a big fan of drops and stuff on coasters before becoming a pilot either. DONT WORRY ABOUT IT!

I started training and b4 I knew it, I never even thought about stuff like that. Also, I can tell u that the "losing ur stomach" feel in a drop has a occurred to me like twice in 2000 hours of flying! It is not a coaster up there, trust me.

If I was thinking about being a pilot now, the biggest thing I would think about is the state of the industry. What will it look like in 5, 10, 15 years?

PJ


User currently offlineAirbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 8184 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 4648 times:

Better yet, once you get your license you can move abroad like many pilots i know flying 777's/747's in Asia only a few years after obtaining their license. It sure beats hanging around here an eternity waiting to move up the ranks on one of the majors. I bet you EK will be hiring a ton of pilots really soon, if they continue growing the way they have.

User currently offlineFlyMIA From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7105 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4611 times:

Quoting Airbazar (Reply 7):
I bet you EK will be hiring a ton of pilots really soon, if they continue growing the way they have.

Yea and EK will get tons of 4,000 hour jet type rated pilots too. And for the Asian Carriers you still need a good amount of time to get on there airlines.
Remebember Qaulity of hours not quanity.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineSonOfACaptain From United States of America, joined May 2004, 1747 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4598 times:

My opinion on the matter: none of those questions matter. The question you have to ask yourself is do you have enough love and passion towards becoming a pilot. It is a long, hard, and expensive road, and since you are past the military, you will have to pay for it. It is going to be tough. Training is going to be long. You are not going to be able to pay for that training until a long time down the road. The industry sucks, the glory days are over. There is no security. The industry is super fragile. You will have long days. The list continues on and on and on. (BTW, you will get use to the turbulence and out grow your fear)

But with that said, there is no other job I want. Love for the "job" is the only thing that is keeping me on the course. I feel that is what is going to be the feelings for every pilot down the road.

-SOAC



Non Illegitimi Carborundum
User currently offlinePlanemanofnz From New Zealand, joined Sep 2005, 1675 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4598 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

How much do airlines like EK, SQ and CX pay their pilots compared to smaller airlines like NZ and not as profitable one's like EI and IB?

User currently offlineSuperD From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4567 times:

1. You'll get used to turbulence in time. At first it will be unnerving in a light aircraft, then you'll hardly notice it. When you start instrument training and flying inside clouds you'll again be unnerved by it...and then you'll get used to it. There's nothing wrong with feeling queasy or nervous when you start flying. It's nothing to feel ashamed of, because many student pilots have the same issues. By the time that you're flying light twins, you'll hardly even notice light chop. Eventually you'll fly through air that passengers call "very bumpy" and call it "light chop".

2. Yes, they have documented elevated levels of radiation in airliners at high cruise. Since flight crews don't usually have their hair falling out (except for some captains I know  Smile) and cancer striking them at 40, I wouldn't worry about it.

3. Education is the best remedy for fear. The more you fly, and the more you learn about flying, the less you worry about crashing. In fact, you're more likely to go out the other side and not worry enough. This is why complacency is such a problem. After years of flying without a real emergency, many pilots do unconsciously start believing that nothing really bad could possibly happen on their watch.

I wouldn't worry about #2. It hasn't yet been a problem for the thousands of men and women that work in the air. If you're truly worried about how you're going to handle 1&3, I'd suggest saving up some money and taking lessons at your local airport before committing yourself full-scale to flying. A few lessons should be enough to tell whether your fear gets less with each flight, or whether it's going to be overwhelming.


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9481 posts, RR: 52
Reply 12, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4525 times:

Quoting Ph0king (Thread starter):
1. I do not like turbulence and most especially air pockets – I cant the stand the feeling of having my stomach go up to my chest. As a casual flyer the possibility of hitting air pockets makes me anxious and edgy.

I was the exact same way. I just earned my private pilot license and have no aspirations to be a pilot for any reasons other than just casual fun.

Anyways I was extremely terrified of turbulence to start out with. I just hate falling. On my first few flights I wondered if I would be able to stand it. But then my instructor did something that forever cured me. He flew into an area with some very bad turbulence in our little Cessna 172 (near two moutain peaks) and then he took his hand off of the control wheel. He continued to leave his hand off the wheel for a full minute. I was terrified that something crazy was going to happen as we were rocking and rolling. However the plane continued to fly. It flew straight and level. It taught me a huge lesson. The plane wants to fly. It was built to fly. Turbulence might bump you around, but in a plane like a C172 it might tip you back and forth, but the plane will correct itself. After that I lost my fear of turbulence. I might get a sweaty palm after prolonged bad turbulence, but am perfectly comfortable with it now. It is just rocking you back and forth as if you were a car on a gravel road. The unpredicatibility might make you nervous, but the plane will fly.

As for other things, I hate stalls. I can demonstrate them and recover from them, but I still hate them and would never do one for fun. I know other pilots that have gone their entire careers and still don't like stalling the plane. The dropping feeling might not be something you like, but you can get around it and just deal with it if you just take a nice deep breath.

Now if you have motion sickness, then that is a different story. You might have trouble overcoming that as it isn't something that is purely psychological.

Overall becoming a pilot will conquer your fears.

As for the money side of being a pilot. Don't do it if you want cash. To become a commercial pilot at one of the higher paying airlines in the United States takes over ten years before you have a sustainable decent income. So many flight instructors and other regional pilots need second jobs because the pay is not good. It takes many years to get the experience and move up the seniority ladder. Now on the other hand, there is a desperate need for pilots in other parts of the world. India has a shortage of pilots as well as other countries. If you can go out and rack up the turbine hours somewhere else, you would be in a much better position to get a sustainable job in this country.

[Edited 2005-10-21 05:57:47]


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineKiwiinOz From New Zealand, joined Oct 2005, 2165 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4504 times:

Quoting Ph0king (Thread starter):
2. I have heard that pilots are exposed to cosmic radiation in the sky – How much are pilots exposed to? Is the amount exposed to dangerous? And if so, do airlines make an effort to restrict the amount of hours a pilot flies so that they wont be exposed to high levels?

A have a few good friends who are pilots. Apart from a bit of hair loss, and the odd times when all their bodily fluids run green, this doesn't seem to bother them much.

As with any profession, the more you learn about those cons, the easier they will be to deal with.


User currently offlineDb373 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 237 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 4498 times:

Here's my question: Is it true you need 20/20 vision to become a pilot, or is that just a myth?


Keep Delta My Delta
User currently offlinePh0king From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 20 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4477 times:

Thanks for all your replies. It certainly helps to know that i'm not the only one with these concerns. I will certainly give jetcareers.com a shot.

I'm two years out of college and have considered joining officer program for college graduates in the air force. Its a 10 year program, But i hear the training in the military is the way to go. Of course the one thing that holds me back from going this route is risking my life. I'm not saying i dont want to defend my country, but certainly there are more important things that i'd give up my life for. Is anyone familiar with how this program works?

I hear from everyone how expensive going to flight school is. I guess just to get all your flying hours in is around $20,000USD?

It is interesting to read all your stories about tubulence. I remember when i was young i always loved to fly w/o fear until one day i took a flight on PR from HNL - MNL. About halfway into the flight we started hitting some crazy turbulence. I loved it until i began to see the overhead bins shaking like they were going to fall. . . this was during the days that PAL was still flying the 747-200's. And then all of a sudden out of nowhere the plane rattled left to right and then dropped. . .or at least i thought it did. I remember grabbing the chair in a death grip, my stomach going up to my chest and the feeling of pain and weightlesness. All the folks in the back who were sleeping began
yelling like it was a roller coaster ride. This was the first time i ever experienced an air pocket. . . the memory has gone on to stay with me for every flight i've taken. . . well i've certainly gotten better with time.

When you say sickness on turns, is it because of the g force? I mean i typically dont get sick on planes.

As for cosmic radiation, i guess i got a little paranoid off of a friend who told me pilots have their flight time restricted due to exposure to the suns rays. I was even more paranoid to read an article of solar storms. Is anybody familiar with these. I heard if these occur, planes are advised to fly at lower altitudes, but does this really happen?

BTW, when folks say the industry is bad and unstable, I'm assuming this is because of all the bankruptcies that have been occuring along with companies such as United who have taken their pensions away from their employees. I guess bankruptcy equates to layoffs, low pay, and no pension. Am i right? But I also hear that many pilots will be retiring in a few years???


User currently offlineFVTu134 From Russia, joined Aug 2005, 173 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4417 times:

There are a few things to consider, and maybe a few opinions I can give you..

1. Flying, and especially flight training doesn't come cheap. Complete programs with some of the reputable flight schools come at about 50 K last time I checked. If you're an American you'll have the advantage that they have some airline-preparation programmes which you can enroll in which would prepare you for the airlines at the airlines' expense (just the last part). Selection depends on how well you do during training.

2. Be prepared to move. As a pilot I love flying anything and have flown both airplanes and helicopters. But a low-houred pilot needs to compete with fighter jocks who have between 4000-6000 hours behind their belt so if you really want to fly then be prepared to go anywhere in the world where they will take you, even if it means flying 727's in in Guatemala (which I would love by the way). Building experience can be interesting.

3. Forget Romance. The glory days are over and even though a pilot is still well respected, they exhuberant salary days are over. You'll still do well but it's not the same like 10 years ago.

4. Airsickness... well I can give you my opinion but probably few people will agree. I believe that airsickness occurs when what you see doesn't correspond with what you feel. When learning IFR, you'll feel a lot and you'll even have to tell yourself that your body is lying to you because the horizon on the panel is horizontal. I've had times early in my flying when sweat was running down my neck and my stomach was feeling it was going to explode. My solution : learn some elementary aerobatics. Beside the fact that it's fun, it will grow your confidence and teach your eyes and stomach some coordination.

5. The military way. Well for most people that isn't an option. Of course you can try, but have some modesty because for every 1.000 people there are about 5-6 who get through initial selections. I believe they start with eye tests. Military flying is absolutely the best way of flying. The salaries are not bad (although not fantastic either) but the flying is the best you can get. If you have a chance to go that way it would be a good start.

6. The radiation stuff... well sounds like there are more stories like that, like UFO's and Ghost's and things like that. There is radiation everywhere in our atmosphere. Question is "how much?". If it were not healthy to fly up there, believe me.. millions and millions of people wouldn't be risking to fly up there, especially the "sue you" society which is called USA.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck with your choices and post a pick from a 777 cockpit when you get there.  Wink



who decided that a Horizon should be HORIZONtal???
User currently offlineZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 7084 posts, RR: 12
Reply 17, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4371 times:

Quoting Db373 (Reply 14):
Here's my question: Is it true you need 20/20 vision to become a pilot, or is that just a myth?

Your vision need to be able to be corrected, aka you can wear glasses but must meet a certain standard with glasses on.

As for turbulence, you get used to it after a short while  Wink


User currently offlineBahadir From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 1772 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4359 times:

Quoting Ph0king (Reply 15):
I hear from everyone how expensive going to flight school is. I guess just to get all your flying hours in is around $20,000USD?

20,000 ? No. The people who tell you that you can get all your ratings for 20,000 are not telling you the truth. Most of the flight schools will quote you minimums. Like 40 hr minimum for PPL. I have yet to see people accomplish this under 50 hrs.

I own a flight school in Seattle area and even in the cheapest area of the country you won't get all your licenses for 20K.

Quoting Ph0king (Reply 15):

BTW, when folks say the industry is bad and unstable, I'm assuming this is because of all the bankruptcies that have been occuring along with companies such as United who have taken their pensions away from their employees. I guess bankruptcy equates to layoffs, low pay, and no pension. Am i right? But I also hear that many pilots will be retiring in a few years???

Retiring pilots is a nice sales pitch for flight schools.  Smile Don't believe it.. There are reasons why pilots get hired :
1. Attrition
2. Growth
3. They didn't apply to McDonalds :P

Seriously though, look at the attrition rate in majors. It's a normal level. Currently there are two majors hiring: Southwest and Continental. The first one is growing, the second one is suffering from attrition due to retirements and small amount of growth.

Regionals are growing like mushrooms on the other hand. Look at Skywest they have 200+ aircraft. If you get hired by them you will get paid 19/hr. That may sound like a lot to a college kid, but when you factor in the fact that you have to multiply it by 1000 instead of the 2000 of a 9-5 job to calculate yearly salary, it's barely enough to survive on.

Then again, you are young, you wont have mortgage, you can drive a beat up car, etc.

Make sure you do this job because you love it. You will have to put up with a lot.. If you have more questions drop me an email..



Earthbound misfit I
User currently offlineEK156 From United Arab Emirates, joined May 2005, 765 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4339 times:

I think the only constraint in becoming a pilot is the initial huge lumpsum of money that you have to fork out!!!

Otherwise the feeling of being up in the air in a cessna or a piper is exhilarating. It is absolutely amazing!!!! So if you have the chance, GO FOR IT!!!! You will love every single minute of it!!!

Cheers


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9481 posts, RR: 52
Reply 20, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4302 times:

Quoting Ph0king (Reply 15):
I'm two years out of college and have considered joining officer program for college graduates in the air force. Its a 10 year program, But i hear the training in the military is the way to go. Of course the one thing that holds me back from going this route is risking my life. I'm not saying i dont want to defend my country, but certainly there are more important things that i'd give up my life for.

With that attitude you probably won't make it in the military. Yes they can pay for it and military experience can be a good way to go, but you have to be 100% dedicated to it. The military isn't training pilots to go to civilian carriers after their minimum commitment or people that are not wanting active duty.

Quoting Ph0king (Reply 15):
As for cosmic radiation, i guess i got a little paranoid off of a friend who told me pilots have their flight time restricted due to exposure to the suns rays.

This is true. Sometimes restrictions are put on some polar routes when radiation levels can be unusually high, but this is not the norm. Pilots and flight attendants can be subjected to more radiation, and your cancer risk may go up a little bit, but there is nothing that I have hard to be proved as of now.

Quoting Ph0king (Reply 15):
But I also hear that many pilots will be retiring in a few years???

Yes, but there are three times that many ready to jump into an airliner at a moments notice.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineSuperD From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days ago) and read 4291 times:

As far as prestige, money, glory, romance, etc.....here's what I always say.

If you would be happy spending your career at a regional airline, go ahead and be a pilot. If that just doesn't sit right with you, I'd advise against getting into this industry. If you love flying and don't care how big or small your plane is, you'll have fun no matter where you end up or how much you're making. If you don't think you'll be happy unless you're sitting in a 747 or 777 flying overseas, then don't bother. Very few people are making it into the majors in the US these days.

On the plus side, the regionals aren't as bad of a place to end up. They aren't going to make you rich, but a few of them will pay enough after a few years to support a family in relative comfort. You won't be seeing a six-figure income. If making $100,000+ is important to you, stay far away from aviation.


User currently offlineLPLAspotter From Portugal, joined Jan 2005, 682 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days ago) and read 4281 times:

Quoting Ph0king (Reply 15):
I hear from everyone how expensive going to flight school is. I guess just to get all your flying hours in is around $20,000USD?

With the price of gass going up you will be lucky to get anything under $35,000. Some organizations like Flight Safety, it will be around $70,000. Also include food, lodging, etc. and it is quite an investment. Another drag (which I think is unjustified) are the pitifull wages earned by flight instructors (a traditional way of building hours).

cheers:
LPLAspotter



Nuke the Gay Wales for Christ
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