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Joined: Sun Dec 05, 1999 3:34 pm

What Would You Do - (a Pilot Career)

Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:56 pm

Hi folks,

I have been thinking seriously about going to school to become a commercial pilot.

That career has always greatly interested me, and aviation remains a passion for me the same as it was 20 years ago.

Now, I had this same idea back in 1998, when I was 20. I got a Canadian PPL with a night rating, but unfortunately due to eyesight issues I wasn't confident that I could keep a current medical certificate. So, I stopped flying as I couldn't justify the costs otherwise.

Today I'm 32, but the career that I've had for the past decade (graphic and web design), has kind of fizzled. I still find it enjoyable, but job prospects are rough. I started going back to school this year to get a degree in Graphic Design (I didn't have one before), but I'm left wondering whether it's what I really want to do. In my mind, I came back to aviation.

Changed is the eyesight problem. In 2005 I moved to the United States with my wife, I hold a Green Card, and since my eyesight is 20/20 with corrective lenses, there is no eyesight issue any more.

My life is different now, being married with a son. But, my wife made it clear that she would support me if I wanted to do this, even if it means moving around our lives for a few years. She has a good prospect for a freelance career and is about to embark on that, and I have a relatively steady stream of freelance work as well. So, money wouldn't be a great concern.

But my main concerns are, at 32, what are my prospects? Is it too late to get anywhere really spectacular in an airline? Not that I wouldn't be happy flying an RJ, it's just that I have 787 ambitions.  

So. At a cross roads. I have a career that I've been perfectly happy with and experienced at for a decade, and due to a slow spot have chosen to return to school, probably getting out to many good opportunities. But I'm thinking that maybe I should go out on a limb while I can and aim at a career that I've been interested in for most of my life. Is it worth dragging my family along for a wild ride to chase an ambition that will ultimately end up changing the family dynamic, or should I choose the comfortable and well-known path that I'm already experienced in? I know it really depends what kind of individual I am and my family dynamics, but what would you do?

[Edited 2010-01-25 15:57:04 by cytz_pilot]
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RE: What Would You Do - (a Pilot Career)

Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:12 am

Quoting Cytz_pilot (Thread starter):
Not that I wouldn't be happy flying an RJ, it's just that I have 787 ambitions.

Well i'm just 20 years old, but I don't ever think you're too old to do anything. If you have the drive (and the money), you should start taking flight lessons again. Going back to school for for your commercial pilot's license, It might take a while but maybe in 10 years or so, those 787 ambitions will come true. The good thing is, a lot of these pilots that take the military route don't go commercial until late 30s or early 40s anyway, so you still have plenty of time. However you should discuss it with your family.
"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
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RE: What Would You Do - (a Pilot Career)

Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:31 am

I'd talk to as many pilots as you can before you make a decision. When I was in high school I wanted to be an airline pilot. Its just a tough profession to be in right now. You'll proably have to get your instrument, multi engine, and ATP ratings. It costs a lot of money to do that. You may want to go the corporate flying or fractional route. When your flying for a living it is very, very hard to find a job where your home on a consistent basis. Plan on spending at least half of the nights every week away from home. If I was married with children I would want to find something where I was home every night. Good luck.
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RE: What Would You Do - (a Pilot Career)

Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:27 am

Quoting Cytz_pilot (Thread starter):
but job prospects are rough.

Heh, if you think they're rough in graphic design, you ain't seen nothing yet... the aviation world, specially nowadays, is a pretty tough one to make a living out of.

Quoting Cytz_pilot (Thread starter):
my wife made it clear that she would support me if I wanted to do this, even if it means moving around our lives for a few years.

Yeah right, no disrespect to your wife, but I know women and after the first couple of moves I guarantee she will bitch about it.

Pilots have one of the highest divorce rates out there for a reason.

Quoting Cytz_pilot (Thread starter):
what are my prospects?

You may do corporate, IF anything. Fact of the matter is, by the time you're 40, there's still gonna be plenty of 20-somewhat year olds that could very well have as much or much more flight time than you.

Quoting Cytz_pilot (Thread starter):
Is it too late to get anywhere really spectacular in an airline?

I'm afraid so. Say you start training right now, flight instruct for a few years to build time, and if you're lucky you may end up in a regional by the time you're almost 40. By the time you're good enough to move up to a major airline, you could very well be close to 50. And considering mandatory retirement is at 65, you won't be an attractive candidate for an airline at that point.

So if anything flight instruct on the side, or try corporate. I'd say go the ATC route but you're above the maximum hiring age. If you get extra money laying around you could join a fractional for a Mooney or Cirrus and just fly for fun, but that's assuming you have a LOT of extra money to burn.

Sorry if I was a bit blunt but take it from somebody from the inside. The aviation world is pretty gruesome nowadays, long gone are the days when a being a pilot was a glamorous and respected profession.  Sad
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RE: What Would You Do - (a Pilot Career)

Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:06 am

If you've really got your heart set on working for a major airline, then you may well be entering the mix a little late. I've just recently started my flight training (I'm 28, although very different life circumstances to yourself), but I try not to be under any illusions as to my options once I have my CPL, ratings, etc. - one needs to be brutally realistic about these things. I suppose what I'm getting at is that if you're doing it purely for the love of flying, then go for it, but if you're doing it specifically because you want to fly for a major airline, then think twice (and three times and four times...) because it seems that you and your family would need to make a number of major adjustments for something that ultimately may be unobtainable.
When I die, when I die, I'll rot. But when I live, when I live, I'll give it all I've got.
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RE: What Would You Do - (a Pilot Career)

Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:09 am

I've never had such aspirations and, frankly, I'm glad I don't. The airline industry is volatile, meaning there's almost no job or pay security and for some silly reason if you're hired by another airline you have to start all over on the pay ladder. I can't think of another highly trained profession that has such little control over working conditions.
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RE: What Would You Do - (a Pilot Career)

Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:30 pm

My advice is don't bother. There are no jobs, aviation is currently closed until further notice.

Or so those scrooges at pprune would have you believe. You are certainly not too old to begin training and there is definitely no better employment prospects in aviation then there is in graphic or web design. It is really how deep your burning passion is, will you have regrets if you don't do it? At the very worst you could go through your training, get spat out of the other end and not get a job. Will this ruin your life? If the answer is yes I'd think twice, If you can still cope (which I believe you can) then give it a go. You have full support, you have flexibility and you can sustain yourself.

But crucially, it is down to you and you alone. Use the advice of others but do not swear by it.

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