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The Other Side Of The License  
User currently offlineFly727 From Mexico, joined Jul 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 16
Posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4105 times:

I was reading in the non-aviation forum the "Sponsor a pilot" joke-thread. I found it funny and sad at the same time. The general conception of the aviator is still one that relates him/her with snobby attitudes and excessive paychecks.

There is a popular say among pilots (at least in Mexico):

I wish I could have as many girlfriends as my wife thinks I have;
I wish I could make the money my friends think I make; and
I wish I could fly as great as I tell them I do.

Let me focus in the second statement of this say; the one that does not depend on my behavior with the opposite sex or with my flying skills. Let me show you all who don't believe me, only one tiny little part of the other side of the license....

I'm a pilot that is getting increasingly frustrated for running out of options. I realize that I really don't have the right to complaint that much as I am still what could be called a newbie, rookie or low-timer aviator. As a fresh new pilot I finished my training full of hope and determination to get a job as soon as possible. Even though I knew I counted with a lot of resources to face the long-existing job crisis (not only money but knowledge, experience in other fields of the industry, strings to pull in case of needing them, etc) I brained-washed my self, put my feet down to earth and convinced my self that it could take maybe one or two years to start making money out of my exorbitantly expensive career.

It's been one year since I graduated and got my licenses converted into my country's ratings and tickets (which by the way, has been one of the most bureaucratic nightmares ever). I am right in the middle of my own two-year time limit. So far I have explored every possible job opportunity, from small air taxi companies to cargo and passenger airlines, banner towing, etc. I have joined countless websites and enrolled in a lot of programs, e-mailed dozens of Chief Pilots and Human Resources departments, delivered more than 50 resumes and 500 business cards. I have visited both local and distant FBO's, met a lot of people, traveled around the country and... still nothing. Just a few hours as a non-paid co-pilot in a single-engine Cessna 206 (which by the way do not legally or technically need the copilot) just to stay current and as fresh as possible. And yeah... for it a lot of @$$ kissing is needed. Been there, done that. I'm sick of the rumors that fill the internet and of the hangar-talking that only confuses people "I heard X will be hiring" "I think Y will expand" and others like these. I don't even log into my messenger any more just to avoid both my furloughed and never-hired friends. We don't have anything else to say to each other but spreading the gossip and rumors of never coming true projects.

The pilot's profession -despite that on my appreciation might be the best in the world- it is so devaluated and underestimated that it is hard to believe that once, not many years ago it was exclusive of brave distinguished men and women. We now literally beg for a job, accept barely legal working conditions and many times risk our lives in either poorly maintained equipment or flying in deteriorating weather conditions.

“What does it take to get hired?” the non-pilot reader may ask. Is it that difficult? On top of everything one need a lot of preparation. The exams are really hard and demanding. As an example… to apply for a FO or Flight Engineer position, the airlines here (including the regionals) test you with more difficult ATP, Jeppesen, and foreign languages examinations. Once hired many more will come, including rides in full motion simulators of aircrafts that you have never ever flown before (although you have a 30 million-dollar complex machine in your living room). Medical and psychological examinations every now and then. Getting sick is like a luxury that you can not afford in this profession.

I know several academies across the US that offer First Officer Programs that take you from 0 hours to the right seat of a commuter turboprop such as the EMB-120, B1900, etc. This is right in the edge of what I consider fair, as you get to fly the commercial metal for some 500 hours and getting at least a little money back for your job. After the 500 paid hours flown as a FO you either get hired or the chance to be interviewed by a regional. Unfortunately these examples are the exception to the general rule, as in the majority of companies, they expect YOU to have their aircraft type-rating. They simply do not want to pay for the initial training. If you don’t like that idea, you know where the door is; they couldn’t care less as they have hundreds of resumes to choose from. Believe me, that kind of training isn’t cheap and just increases slightly your chances to be chosen among the crowd. I’m stuck with 2 type-rating trainings that came out of my pocket, and I’m still unemployed. The only difference it has done so far is that I’m less naive and that I do not trust in anyone that easily.

Don’t call me pessimist. I’m just another hurt professional that sadly sees how the industry I love so much is not what it used to be when I fell in love with it some 23 years ago at the age of two. Don’t call me ignorant neither just because the only thing I know and that I’m certain of is that I will eventually get there. Maybe one, two, three or 20 years from now if I see you I promise to be humble as now; but if not, and you think I look down to you, forgive me (us) , please do; I might be in ecstasy for my blessed job or maybe I’m day-dreaming in a better tomorrow.

What do you think ? I'm crazy or what?
Ramon Marin.

There are no stupid questions... just stupid people!
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 4018 times:

Dear Ramon -
What you wrote is the sad but true situation in which many pilots are today, and I intend to answer to your note... but you put it very well, and I wish I had an hour or so to answer, right now... but I will, tonight or tomorrow...
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineOlympic A-340 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 780 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 3974 times:

I have to be honost, this post is incredibly sad but true. I'm 17, and I've recieved my PPL/multiengine rating, and I am now working on my instrument; however, all I hear from people is, "Why on Earth are you spending so much money to become a .......pilot?" It seems like I hear more admonitions than congratulations on this accomplishment. Aviation has always been my passion; even when I was 2 I remember I had planes all over my playroom. It seems that aviation has gone from being a glamarous institution to one step below a worldwide bus system  Sad. I only pray and hope that the aviation industry can make a turnaround from this current state.

User currently offlineJBirdAV8r From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 4503 posts, RR: 19
Reply 3, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 3950 times:

Olympic A340,

While aviation may never go back to the glory days it once saw, if it's in your blood...like it is in mine, and it sounds like it is in yours...you'll be damn proud to be any sort of pilot you can be!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

I think the general consensus among most hardcore pilots these days is that if they were in the job for the money, they'd be doing something else. I know I would. But hey...what's the saying..."Find the kind of work you love and you'll never work again"....I live by that saying!!

I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 3912 times:

If you want to be a pilot then be a pilot. If you're doing it for the money then, my friend, you're probably in the wrong business. Personally, I believe that the days of the highly (over) paid airline pilot are, if not over with already, will soon be gone forever. Just take a look around you, American institutions like Pan Am, TWA, etc. are nothing but fond memories. Airlines like United and American are struggling to avoid bankruptcy. I have a couple of friends that either have been or will shortly be furloughed from American. They were told that they can expect to be out for SEVEN (!!!) years. My friends, their airline career is effectively over. Few, if any people, can tread water for that amount of time waiting for something that may or may not even happen. Even our esteemed colleague, Skipper, once had what he would have considered the "perfect" job - flying for Pan Am. I doubt if, back then, he would have ever guessed that he would end up living in Argentina.

Guys, look at the airlines that are turning profits - you won't see many $200K+ pilots there. It doesn't take a Harvard MBA to see the trend and figure out where we are headed. Do I believe that the current industry slump will correct itself? Of course I do, these things have always been cyclical. Do I believe that there will be $250K+ airline pilots who only work 13 days per month? Sorry to burst you bubble. IMHO, today's market won't allow that. If you're dead set in making the airlines your career then you'll need to be prepared to make the same kind of commitment that guys like Skipper have had to make. The good news is that there are career paths in aviation that are just as fulfilling and rewarding, you just have to look for them and recognize them when you find them. The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.


User currently offlineFutureualpilot From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2642 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 3876 times:

The pilot industry is obviously sturggling as you pointed out, and while its sad, I agree witht the other threads. The market stinks right now. I know if I were going for the airlines at this point in time(not old enough or enough hours yet) I'd be in it for my love of flying and my dream of flying for the airlines, obviously not the $$$.

Life is better when you surf.
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3803 times:

Sad facts I would like to point out to you...
(1) Being selected and hired is not always a question of qualifications and experience (if you have the minimum required), but rather WHO YOU KNOW...
(2) When PanAm went bust 1991, I sent 250 resumes (CV) but none of them got me hired anywhere... I got a contract of 1 years with Cargolux, because I knew the chief pilot personally, was not even interviewed... Same thing when I got hired here in Argentina... I knew the right people...
(3) Nowadays, becoming a pilot, is not a question on "how good you are", but really "how rich are your parents"... and as the candidates are so numerous, how low a salary can you survive with, as a co-pilot with a local airline...
(4) Right now, the people who laugh their way to the bank, are the so called "training academies"... if they offered a F/O training program for the Space Shuttle at $1 million... there would be idiots to buy that training.
(5) The basic requirement to occupy the RH seat of - say a 737 with ANY AIRLINE in the world - is a CPL/IR with multiengine rating, and successfully complete the 3 or 4 weeks-long F/O training program... that pilot might, at that time, have as little as 300 hours total flight time in his logbook...
(6) We have 3 young individuals like that, hired last year, their daddys or their uncles are "high level" in this country, politicians, or upper management of the oil companies... One of them failed his initial tests 3 times, he trained in Florida, at whatever academy, and received a beautiful framed certificate. Most important, they even wear uniforms and stripes at that academy, very important to improve training excellence...
Believe me, I am as frustrated as you, not to be able to hire those young pilots who are well qualified, and I judge to be the best candidates...
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineBravo45 From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 2165 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3728 times:

Though all you said might be the truth in exactly the way your mentioned it, there are ways to get around this low in the industry as many experienced pilots have indicated here. Having listened to a lot of people on the net and spoken to a lot of pilots and aviators wishing to be pilots (like me), I have firm faith that there always will be people trying to come into the industry no matter how bad the situation gets (can't even imagine a worse situation than this, I might add) for the sole reason of flying and not money. Believing in this I am about to start my training from 0 here in the US.
May God Bless us all.

User currently offlineFly727 From Mexico, joined Jul 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 3717 times:

Absolutely right and I'm happy for you and for those that feel the way you do. If someone's trying to get into this because of the money, little-left glamour or simply 'cause daddy is a pilot and they have no other choice... well... good for them. In the medium-long term they will get filtrated, tired and disappointed of the hard-working (but incredibly rewarding for us) environment.

Skipper mentioned something I missed in my first whine-reply  Big grin: There are tons of guys that will pull the strings they have in order to get a job. God forbids those have a genuine passion for this career because if it is like that it will get even harder for the rest of us. It's true that this industry is ruled by the "who you know is who you are" law, but it is also true that there is nothing impossible here. One, like all of them have a couple of arms, legs, eyes, a brain and a butt to fly an airplane. You just have to play your cards right.

RM  Smile

PS. Believe me about the butt thing; it is specially needed when landing. Part of your Center of Gravity. LOL Big grin

There are no stupid questions... just stupid people!
User currently offlineBravo45 From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 2165 posts, RR: 11
Reply 9, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 3688 times:

...........because the worst day of flying still beats the best day at work.

User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3681 times:

"...because the worst day of flying still beats the best day at work."

Several years ago the was a quiz published in our local Sunday supplement that asked questions that a person could use to determine if he/she had a drinking problem. I don't drink so I don't have a drinking problem, but I took the words "alcohol" and "drink" and replaced them with "aviation" and "flying". I found out that morning that I was an aircraftoholic. For most pilots, there is something intoxicating about being at the controls of an airplane in flight and the fact that someone is actually paying you to do it is well, you know what I mean. I have to agree with the previous post, it doesn't matter what you do for a living or how much you make as long as you can look forward to going to work every morning. I would absolutely hate it if I ever had to get a "real" job.

Now, about your previous quote...

Not true. If you have a bad day flying, you've had a truly bad day and more than likely you were wishing that you were anyplace but in a cockpit. That's why they pay us the big bucks.


[Edited 2003-10-20 16:38:40]

User currently offlineBeowulf From Singapore, joined Jul 2003, 748 posts, RR: 13
Reply 11, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 3659 times:

Hi Fly727,

I don't want to be a party pooper, but right now it is generally hard to get hired - even if you have the right qualifications.

A friend of mine who has a Ph.D. in computer science had trouble finding a job that paid well and was interesting. Another of my friends was unemployed for over a year despite having an M.B.A. *and* job experience.

9/11, Gulf War, SARS, ... these events hit the whole aviation industry pretty hard. As Skipper wrote, in the end it depends who you know. And if you don't know anyone, you're screwed. But the bright side is that everything that goes down comes up one day (at least it used to be).

Even if it's hard, keep up your spirits. If you appear to be frustrated or "in need," you won't even be asked to come by for an interview. Try to get to know people, start networking. I believe that networking has become (or maybe it has always been?) more important than "just" qualifications.

Anyway, stay strong and don't give up! As the song goes, "Always look on the bright side of life ..."

Rgds. from VIE,

User currently offlineBravo45 From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 2165 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (12 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 3625 times:

hmm...... I guess you are right Jetguy about my previous quote, I am sure I am wrong when I find myself thinking that the situation in which we cannot quote this, will have a strong reason or "mistake" if you will, on the part of the pilot to actually get him into that position in the first place (tons of factors). But anyways thanks a lot for the correction. Happy contrails.

User currently offlineFly727 From Mexico, joined Jul 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 16
Reply 13, posted (12 years 7 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 3521 times:

Beowulf: I appreciate your comments. I know that nowadays getting hired is more a matter of who-you-know than how well prepared one is. Despite that, I trust that there will be a moment in which this bumpy ride will stabilize. I totally believe in networking and keeping up my spirit. No matter what, I know there's a place for me in this business and I believe in my goals, therefore I won't stop until I achieve them.

Skipper: How about things in Argentina? Doesn't seem to be better than Mexico's situation, does it?

RM  Smile

There are no stupid questions... just stupid people!
User currently offlineBeowulf From Singapore, joined Jul 2003, 748 posts, RR: 13
Reply 14, posted (12 years 7 months 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3478 times:

Hi Fly727,

It was discussed in another thread in this forum "Class 1 Medical" a little further down http://www.airliners.net/discussions/tech_ops/read.main/71937/ that it certainly is a good idea if one has another option besides "just flying." Today this seems to be true for all areas of work.

Although I work for an airline now (I am a data cruncher who comes up with nice reports and statistics telling the superiors how much we win or loose), I have studied something totally different (Int'l Relations). My dream and goal is to be another Richard Holbrook or the like, but in the meantime I do something different. In fact, I think that's good and put it under "professional work experience" on my CV.  Smile

Long story, short answer: Keep your goal/dream in sight and see what you can do until it comes into reach.

CU L8er,

User currently offlineNormalSpeed From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (12 years 7 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3456 times:

Every day, I drive by a prestigious institution of higher learning here in the Boston area. I see the students walk from class to class. I have been, at times, envious of them. They seem to have their futures "all set," to borrow a local term. They have a first-class ticket to the dream job of their choice. But then I say to myself, "how good could it be? They don't get to fly." And I'm right. I think about the moments in time when I considered myself the luckiest person on the face of the earth, and many of them were inspired by flight. Would I go back in time and trade them for security? No freakin' way! One of the nasty biproducts of security is boredom.

Anyway, Jetguy and 'skip said some very good things (as usual.) The industry is cyclical. It will come back. And I am also confirmed aircraftaholic (I just can't live without aircraftahol) with no sign of recovery in sight. And all those training academies are indeed laughing all the way to the bank (I was lucky--I got away with only putting in a fraction of the money that others pay to reach the CFI level.) The fact that all these training "academies" are so expensive has really bothered me at times. Sure, they need to stay in business too, but $30K? Come on! These schools upset me. The disrespect their lifeblood, the students. They don't care if the pilot-in-training has a good experience or stays in flying for a long period of time. They just want the quick payoff. If I ever have occasion to run a flight school, I will do things differently.

Also, I really liked what JbirdAV8r said:

"While aviation may never go back to the glory days it once saw, if it's in your blood... you'll be damn proud to be any sort of pilot you can be!"

Damn straight.


User currently offlineNormalSpeed From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (12 years 7 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3450 times:


Hey, one other thing: This is a really good thread. Thanks for bringing this up, becuase it's something that all of us young guys (and even some of the old, according to 'skip) have thought about at one time or another.

Hmm... 727... that reminds me that I need to do some studying for my ATP written, which I have to take by the end of this semester or I fail a class. I think I'm going to take the Part 135 test, just for the kicks and giggles. Lucky for me that I know enough already to answer the questions correctly.

Anyway, my whole point is to take some time to "smell the roses." Count your blessings, name them one by one.

I think one thing that really helps me stay excited about flying is that I have some goals other than flying jets. For example, I'd like to get my CFI-Glider, as well as a the ASES (floatplane, for the uninitiated) add-on to my commercial, as well as the high-performance and taildragger sign-offs. I want to get a DC-3 type rating. I want to get a Gold Seal for my CFI. I want to shed ice with pneumatic boots. I want to see stars in the daytime and the curvature of the earth (ok, so that's a jet-related goal, but hey, a kid can dream, right?)


User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3176 posts, RR: 9
Reply 17, posted (12 years 7 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 3434 times:

Yeah, it is a tough time. But it's getting better. And if you are like me and don't want to fly for an airline you're in a little better shape. A lot of people that were furloughed won't wait 7 years to get recalled and have dealt with it before. Now that they are older because these cutbacks went way up the senority list, they'll put their family first and get a job that is more stable. The people that are left are the ones that are approaching the age of 60. They'll be required to retire soon.

I'm a senior at a university with a part 141 flight school. We've lost a couple instructors to the regionals recently. The cycle is starting again but I think that if you want to fly for a major you're going to toil for the regionals for a much longer time that you would have in the past. If you're one of those guys that are paying for time where you fly for a company that is making money off the cargo in the back and from you, I have no respect for you because I'm not one of those rich boys and I'll have to do it the hard way. I hope you know that you're only making it harder for all of us.

Olympic A-340, you're 17. Don't worry dude. If you're that young, get your instrument ticket and find a nice twin and get as many hours as you can afford. You'll be set.

User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14968 posts, RR: 61
Reply 18, posted (12 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3408 times:

It is the same situation within the whole aviation industry. Us engineers get constant pressure to risk our licences to sign off A/C with "slight" problems.
Face it: In a company which´s name I won´t mention there are a lot of statistics: One for maintenance delays and another one for opened and closed deferrals for each station. You defer an item per MEL to get the plane out on time, you get bad points because you opened a deferred item, because it would make the company look bad with the FAA, you try to fix it you cause a delay. I´ve been told by a former supervisor when I got sent to an outstation "not to dare to ground a plane there, just ignore the fault or pencil-whip it". You need special tools you don´t get them, try to improvise and get the job done, and I´m not talking about a small almost bancrupt local airline. I´m talking about a major international profit making carrier. It annoys me that today a car mechanic earns more than an a/c engineer, without doing all the graveyard shifts, without the responsibility, without having to work outside in all kinds of weather.
IMO the low cost carriers are ruining the market. If a flight, for example from STN to BCN costs less than the taxi ride from the city out to the airport there must be something wrong. Airlines can´t save on fuel, insurance, ATC fees..., they save on staff. But pay peanuts get monkeys. Sooner or later there´ll be a price to pay....



Je Suis Charlie et je suis Ahmet aussi
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