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Social Factors In Commercial Pilot Training  
User currently offlinehappy-flier From Canada, joined Dec 1999, 299 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 8 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3634 times:

For those members who began their flight-training career path through the regular flight school path—I’d like to get an idea of what effect, if any, the aviation culture had on your entry into the profession.

A perception that I have had for a while now is that the aviation world—even at the ordinary flight school, or entry, level—is somewhat of a closed world. There is often an air of exclusivity that seems to turn candidates away rather than welcome them in. There is this kind of cutthroat, individualist feeling to the whole thing. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but I’m willing to bet that this is pretty common in North America.

What’s interesting is that you can go to a flight school and even though you demonstrate interest in investing in their programs, and are able to talk about aircraft, systems, navigation, etc., you sometimes get this sense of it being like a gated community, with little "follow up" on their end. Maybe it’s just me, but I have always found the pilot’s world an extremely hard world to penetrate.

Obviously, not everyone has had such an experience, but for those who did and ended up training despite it—were there any difficulties in crossing that invisible threshold? Was your flight school enthusiastic about training new pilots?
We talk about attitude being an important personal quality; I think it’s also important on the industry side. Maybe so many want to get in, that the industry is saturated?

I’d be fascinated in hearing any thoughts on this little mentioned sociocultural aspect of getting into flying.


May the wind be always at your back . . . except during takeoff & landing.
8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMiercat From Turkey, joined Aug 2010, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 3399 times:

My father who was a captain in Turkey had trouble breaking into the American piloting community, so much so that he ended up retiring. To be honest, I don't believe that it's like this in other countries particularly European ones where you've got cadet programs or schools like E.N.A.C in France.


Happiness is V1 in KEWR
User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 3374 times:

Quoting happy-flier (Thread starter):

A perception that I have had for a while now is that the aviation world—even at the ordinary flight school, or entry, level—is somewhat of a closed world. There is often an air of exclusivity that seems to turn candidates away rather than welcome them in. There is this kind of cutthroat, individualist feeling to the whole thing. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but I’m willing to bet that this is pretty common in North America.

I never got that feeling. And I went to an aeronautical university, not a smaller mom and pop school where you'd think they'd be even more open.

I felt at home at my school, and welcomed. I knew I belonged there the second when doing the campus tour, a plane flew overhead, and even though it was just a random Cessna from the school, EVERYONE walking outside looked up at it. I've never been anywhere else in my life where I've felt such a sense of belonging. Everywhere I was before that I'd always be the only one that gave a damn about aviation. So it was refreshing to find a place with many people had a common passion.

Quoting happy-flier (Thread starter):
Maybe it’s just me, but I have always found the pilot’s world an extremely hard world to penetrate.

Even way before I was a pilot I always would walk up to airline pilots as a kid and chat them up. Not once was I turned away or told to get lost. I even got to ride jump seat several times because of it.

I really don't see what's so impenetrable about it. It's not like aviators are some kind of secretive society or some fraternity trying to hide their shady hazing practices from the public.

Quoting happy-flier (Thread starter):

were there any difficulties in crossing that invisible threshold?

No such thing from my point of view.

Quoting happy-flier (Thread starter):
Was your flight school enthusiastic about training new pilots?

For the most part I would believe so. The vast majority of the faculty at my school were former aviators and many while being older they still had that same love for aviation as us students had just as we started going and they loved to share their stories. A handful of them though were clearly only teaching there as a means to an end.


User currently offlinemanfredj From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 1132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3175 times:

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 2):
I never got that feeling. And I went to an aeronautical university, not a smaller mom and pop school where you'd think they'd be even more open.


I coudln't agree more. I also went to an Aeronautical University. From day one, I found my peers engaging and more than excited about becoming pilots. Even students who were in the business or engineering field of aviation were enthusiastic about their careers.

As for the teachers and professors, I couldn't have asked for a more educated and professional group. The education was top notch and their enthusiasm is what kept us interested in learning more. As a matter of fact, a day doesn't go by where I wish I was back in school.

Perhaps you are confusing the "job" with the profession. I remember several occasions walking into the flight line getting ready to fly and encountering a less than happy instructor. Don't forget these guys have 7 or more flights a day with students who are just learning to fly...in some cases they haven't even looked at their school books. They don't know any frequencies, how to talk on the radio, or even how to keep the aircraft straight and level. After a lousy day, the last thing a pilot wants to do is talk about flying.

I admit, I have come across some pilots who have incredibly arrogant attitudes....but this is the case in any industry where someone believes they are the best at what they do. I can see how these types could outshine the nice ones stricly because they are so rude. Bad attitudes tend to stick with us more than good ones.



757: The last of the best
User currently offlineN6238P From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 509 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 3047 times:

I'd like to say this industry is perfect but its not. I can't speak for everyone but I can speak from personal experience about the social barriers that the op is asking about.

I did 5 years in a university aviation program starting as a 0 hour pilot ending as a part time CFI. While the students and instructors welcomes underclassmen with open arms, there always seemed to be a slight sense of competitiveness the hung over the airport. At the airport, everyone was friendly to each other, but at the end of the day, I guess that was a different story. I'd be a liar if I said clique's did not exist. I know they did, I was a part of several. It is hard to avoid it but its just what happens sometimes. In a training environment, there will be students treating their private pilot ground school like the Top Gun competition. I don't think anyone wants to see someone else get a job over themselves and about two years ago, at least when I was still going through school, more peers than not, including myself saw new pilots as just one more person trying to take their job.

It is a terrible way to look at things, but when the market was at the bottom, that's just the sort of thing that was going on. The best thing I can say, in a large training group, this competition will exist. I will say this about this, once you get out of this high stress training environment, it gets better. When I graduated and got out into the real world, I found my peers and I turned more into trying to help each other out stay in this business rather than trying to get ahead of each other. It was a weird situation in college. Eventually I guess myself and others grew up and matured.

I remember my first week of school, someone else living on my floor in the dorms coming into my room and going "pssshhh I got 20 hours already" upon finding out I had zero time. This crap went on for a bit, but it happened. At graduation, this same person was one of my closest coworkers and now both of us keep in contact trying to help each other out.

Moral of the story I guess is anyone who tries to keep other new pilots out of this industry really isn't providing much to this industry to start with. I grew up a lot in this business and I'm still a rookie for the most part.



To actively root against anybody is just low, and I hope karma comes back at you with a vengeance
User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3014 times:

Different folks responded with different perspectives so I'm not quite sure whether you meant breaking into aviation period or as one fellow posted breaking into another country's aviation market. Both are quite different. When I was learning to fly I never saw any kind of barriers or snobbish attitudes. The first lessons I had in a J-3 Cub were with an instructor who also scared blackbirds off of rice patties, certainly not snobby job. I was around a lot of young guys like myself trying to inch up the ladder with ratings and experience. Now as far as moving countries, I had only one interesting experience. I was looking for a job while flying some part time charter. I happened to fly up to Montreal and went in to talk to the Chief Pilot of a pilot service co. that manned several corp jets, most I had type ratings for. After our little chat the fellow was very nice and commended my ratings and experience but in the end said he would only hire a Canadian pilot because there were, at the time, many Air Canada pilots furloughed. I was disappointed and left but really can't blame him for his decision.

User currently offlinespudsmac From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 302 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2794 times:

Like several of the above posters, I went to an aviation university. When I came here, I was amazed by how many people shared the same love for aviation that I did. I found all kinds of help and support for training. As I started to become more perceptive of things around there, I began to notice some competitiveness. I was annoyed by them, but understood them at the same time simply due to the the saturation of pilots here. Because of supply and demand, it makes it tough to get into instructing and commercial flying because there's always some other guy willing to undercut you just to get hours. It makes it hard for me to fly since I'm not really trying to build hours, I just enjoy teaching students. This undercut mentality was not just limited to flying, it also applied to girls (same reasons as flying). It seemed that everyone at my school wanted the same thing, flying and girls, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get them.

Now on the other hand, I instruct off campus. I do it not because I don't think I can on campus, but I like how it's much more relaxed and welcoming than the pilot factory on campus and I don't have to whore myself out to get a job. I am as supportive as I can be with my student and any other pilots at the flight school. I realize that without them, general aviation is in danger. Without maintaining a strong GA industry, the industry as a whole will suffer. I don't look at my students and other pilots as competition, I look at them as supporters.

I was at Sun-n-Fun on Saturday and I was talking to some people from a college in GA that has an aviation program. I started off just asking them their fleet size, student base, and how busy the aircraft were, if they were losing instructors to the airlines, etc. They were excited to talk to me until I asked them if they were going to be hiring any instructors and that I was one looking to maybe work for them. The immediately became defensive and told me there was no point in even applying because they only hire in house and won't hire me because I didn't go there and on and on. I was kinda disappointing in how they wanted to prevent me from working there. I see where they are coming even though I do not agree. I'm not going to apply there anyways since I don't want to live in the middle of nowhere.

I do think there are some barriers, but should be able to be overcome with some persistence.


User currently offlinehappy-flier From Canada, joined Dec 1999, 299 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 2706 times:

Thanks to everyone for your input. It was interesting to read your experiences.

My original feeling was that it is difficult to break into piloting as a career because mentoring has always seemed to be so lacking; this coming from the perception of competitive individualism (i.e. it's a competitive field, so mentoring and cooperation are counterproductive).

But, maybe this is different based on where one is, and that's the sense I'm getting now.



May the wind be always at your back . . . except during takeoff & landing.
User currently offlineWingscrubber From UK - England, joined Sep 2001, 852 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (3 years 7 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2620 times:

I wanted to become a pilot years ago. I an air cadet and was going to join the RAF but changed my mind after I realized that my eyesight wouldn't be good enough, instead I trained as a mechanic and flew sporadically, but could never afford to commit to 'becoming a pilot'. It just came down to money.

After I tried the mechanic thing I went to uni to get an engineering degree, that ultimately led to my career here in the US which enabled me to finally get my PPL at the age of 25.

Now that I'm mainly flying a desk, and only flying in an actual airplane when I have dollars to burn, I still sorta wish I could have been a pilot, but I know there's no way a job with the airlines would be paying the same I'm earning as an engineer at my age.

I'm kind of appreciative of the fact that when I get into an airplane I'm not 'at the office', and it's always enjoyable, always on a sunny day, just flying for fun, whereas I presume even career pilots who LOVE aviation must get sick of flying sometimes - or if not sick of the flying itself, perhaps the long hours and regularly being away from home.



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