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sacamojus
Topic Author
Posts: 186
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:24 am

Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 2:04 pm

I am thinking about a career change. I would like to be an airline pilot, but I have some questions to see if it is even viable for me to do so at my age. My questions are....

1. I know airlines like their pilots to have a bachelors degree. I currently have a B.S. in Finance and I am finishing up an M.B.A. right now. Do I need to go get an aviation degree or will the flight training be sufficient?

2. I am 26 years old right now. Is it too late? Would I be looked over given my age when it came down to hiring?

I really do appreciate your insights. Thank You.
 
EMBQA
Posts: 7859
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 3:52 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 2:35 pm



Quoting Sacamojus (Thread starter):
Do I need to go get an aviation degree or will the flight training be sufficient?

No... any degree is fine. Actually getting only an aviation degree is a bad idea as you'll have nothing to fall back on when you get laid off... and in this business, you will get laid off at least once in your career..

Quoting Sacamojus (Thread starter):
I am 26 years old right now. Is it too late?

Nope... but the one thing you'll need is hours... lots and lots of hours.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
draigonair
Posts: 624
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 8:37 pm

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 3:41 pm

If you can start at an airline academy there is a chance you can start directly with that airline with minimal hours (usually second officer position on inter-continental flights).

Nick
cheers
 
sacamojus
Topic Author
Posts: 186
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:24 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 3:57 pm

Another quick questions. Do i have to move to my base or can I just hitch a ride? I currently live in Southwest Virginia, and it is really nice here.
 
swiftski
Posts: 1837
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 6:19 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 5:55 pm



Quoting Sacamojus (Reply 3):
Another quick questions. Do i have to move to my base or can I just hitch a ride? I currently live in Southwest Virginia, and it is really nice here.

You are way, WAY ahead of yourself.
 
Mir
Posts: 19491
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 3:55 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 6:02 pm



Quoting Sacamojus (Thread starter):
1. I know airlines like their pilots to have a bachelors degree. I currently have a B.S. in Finance and I am finishing up an M.B.A. right now. Do I need to go get an aviation degree or will the flight training be sufficient?

No, you're good with the stuff you've got now and will soon have.

Quoting Sacamojus (Thread starter):
2. I am 26 years old right now. Is it too late? Would I be looked over given my age when it came down to hiring?

Not too late at all.

Quoting DRAIGONAIR (Reply 2):
If you can start at an airline academy there is a chance you can start directly with that airline with minimal hours (usually second officer position on inter-continental flights).

Unfortunately, US carriers generally don't have those sort of things.

Quoting Swiftski (Reply 4):
Quoting Sacamojus (Reply 3):
Another quick questions. Do i have to move to my base or can I just hitch a ride? I currently live in Southwest Virginia, and it is really nice here.

You are way, WAY ahead of yourself.

 checkmark  Yeah, you may have to move to your base when you get hired on, but that's at least several years away right now.

It's also worth mentioning that you may want to be an airline pilot now, but after a few years of flying decide that you'd rather go for the corporate side of things, or that you'd really prefer to make flying a hobby rather than a career. So I wouldnl't be trying to define your flying career right now. Do your training, and see where you end up wanting to go from there.

-Mir
7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
 
sacamojus
Topic Author
Posts: 186
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2006 1:24 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 6:03 pm



Quoting Swiftski (Reply 4):
You are way, WAY ahead of yourself.

LOL, I know. I am just trying to get the short term and long term implications of this decision.
 
Alias1024
Posts: 2790
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 11:13 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 6:08 pm



Quoting DRAIGONAIR (Reply 2):
If you can start at an airline academy there is a chance you can start directly with that airline with minimal hours (usually second officer position on inter-continental flights).

That kind of program is common in Europe, but almost unheard of in the United States. The only one that remotely resembles that is Mesa Pilot Development, but working for Mesa is the kind of thing you don't wish upon your worst enemy.
It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems with just potatoes.
 
DingDong
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2007 5:45 pm

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 7:39 pm

Well, just to add to the fine advice given by others in this thread...

- Are you capable of passing a FAA Class I flight physical? You might want to arrange for this first off the bat before you get far, just so that if you can't pass, you won't have invested a lot of time and money into your original goal. You don't even have to start flight training to take this physical.

It's easy to arrange for one. Just look for an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner, aka a FAA-certified doctor) here: http://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/

It MUST be a FAA-certified AME. A regular doctor will not do, because they are not familiar with the very exacting medical standards the FAA wants information on, or of the FAA rules. Some of the AMEs will even be private pilots themselves! My favorite AME used to be a NASA flight surgeon and would ride in a T-38 jet with the Shuttle commander or pilot to clear them for flight before they departed Houston for pre-launch quarantine at KSC. Had some pretty good stories and mementos from those days.

Then call whatever AME you settle on and set up an appointment. The physical may take a few hours and is pretty rigorous. Bring along any information on special conditions or past surgeries or medications (past or current). To not provide a complete and truthful accounting of your health is enough to disqualify you from flying in any capacity if you're busted by the FAA.

- The Class I medical must be renewed annually. You need only a Class III to learn how to fly, but you probably want to at least try a Class I for your initial physical because that way, you'll find out if you have any disqualifying medical condition. Sometimes the AME finds previously undetected issues during an exam. You're not going to be flying for airlines if you can't pass a Class I physical. So it's good to know right now if that's the case.

- Do you have any convictions, especially if it involves drugs or alcohol, or restrictions/revocation of driving privileges? This will need to be disclosed, and yes, it may result in a denial of a medical certificate or 2-12 months of waiting while the FAA medical folks at their Oklahoma City HQ researchs your medical exam results and application, and makes the final decision. If this information is not truthfully disclosed and the FAA later busts you - you won't be flying. So don't risk it.

- The Class I exam is extremely rigorous and leaves no stone unturned! Checks about 50 different things. By the end of the exam, the AME is going to know your body better than you do. Big grin

- Prepare carefully for the day of the exam by not eating or drinking stuff with stimulants -- coffee, some teas, Vivarin pills, tobacco, etc. Avoid stuff high in sugar since that could throw off the urinalysis (which primarily checks for medical conditions such as diabetes).

- If you wear contact lenses or glasses, make sure to bring them along.

- You're going to have to report all medications you're taking; that's BOTH prescription AND non-prescription!

- Stay out of trouble; this goes a long way with the FAA and future employers such as airlines. I.e., no drugs, no alcohol abuse, no DUIs, etc. The idea here is that to operate a $100+ million flying machine that could weight as much as 1.2 million pounds with hundreds of people's lives at nearly Mach 1, they want someone who is dependable and can make good judgement calls, including in their personal lives.

- Buy the airman's bible, the FAR/AIM manual, from just about any pilot shop or any place online (including Amazon) for about $12. For legal reasons, you MUST have the current year edition. I buy a new one every year so that I don't get dinged by the FAA for failing to obtain all possible information. I personally guarantee you that it will be extremely dog eared well before you step into an airliner as a first officer. Get used to finding things in it and get used to reading and interpreting it.

- The FAR/AIM book also comes in handy before you even schedule the flight physical. See part 67 for more information about what exactly the AME is going to be looking for as well as conditions that are disqualifying amongst other key bits of information.

For starting out as a PPL student, you're probably going to be studying Part 1, 61, 67, 91. For eventual airline flying, likely either Part 121 or 135 when the time comes for these training. Other parts applies for different types of flying or different types of certificates or ratings/endorsements.

- The first half of the FAR/AIM consists of the most common FAR (Federal Aviation Regulation) parts, and the second half consists of the AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual). The AIM is chock full of things you need to know about how to fly, including things like runway lighting systems, common procedures, military fighter intercept procedures, tower light gun signals, airspace classification, ATC procedures, and all sorts of good stuff in there.

AIM is more like 'how to be a pilot'. FAR is more like 'what rules and standards the gov't wants you to comply to, to the letter'. Both are important and are complementary, which is why they're often published as a single volume.

The FAR half is good for putting you to sleep if you suffer from insomnia. Big grin But it's honestly full of good information. Don't be intimidated by its sheer size. You don't need to absorb all of that, and you'll only need to learn specific bits at any given time. It'll all sink in eventually, I promise. AIM is easier reading and can be read bit by bit as time permits - say, lunch breaks, over dinner, before bedtime, for 10 minutes in the morning, whenever.

- The more you know about flying rules and operations, the faster your flight training will go -- and cost you less, too! So get your ground school work out of the way before starting flight training. Some FBOs offers a ground school course one or two nights a week for x number of weeks at a reasonable price if you prefer classroom-style stuff. Or you can do your own ground school course via reading books and watching DVDs. I like to suggest the Jeppensen Private Pilot Manual hard-cover book, Rod Machado's book, and sometimes, also the King DVDs. Each person is different with their own learning strategies and strengths.

- If you're just not meshing well with a particular CFI, don't be afraid to gently request a different CFI (or explore a different FBO). YOU are the paying customer, and CFIs/FBOs have seen this issue numerous times and will understand.

- Once you have a medical certificate issued, sign up for a DUATS web account which will allow you to receive official FAA weather briefings online. It's a good idea to get that access squared away early on. You'll need the medical certificate number to get this set up.
DingDong, honey, please answer the doorbell!
 
DingDong
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2007 5:45 pm

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sun May 03, 2009 8:25 pm

A few more comments...

- Try to pick an AME that does tons of flight physicals per month. They will be far more familiar with dealing with the FAA as well as the special issuance procedures and quirks, and less likely to spend time on issues that aren't meaningful. These busy AMEs generally are knowledgeable, quick, and in a better position to help you with dealing with the FAA medical guys if an issue comes up. They're not going to be doing anything that wastes your time -- or theirs (or the FAA's).

But ultimately, doesn't really matter so much. Any AME will do. If possible, ask local pilots for their recommendations about an AME in the area. That's how I found my current AME, years ago. I prefer my AMEs be pilots if at all possible since that gives them greater insight into 'the other side' but it's not a hard requirement for me.

Once you pick an AME, try to stick with him/her, as that will make things easier for subsequent physicals. But not required.

- The usual sequence for getting to an airliner seat goes roughly something like this:

Obtain private pilot certificate (aka 'PPL')
Obtain instrument rating
Obtain commercial pilot certificate
Obtain multi-engine rating
Obtain flight instructor certificate to become a certified flight instructor (CFI)
Obtain airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate
Build hours as PIC in both single engine and multi-engine aircraft, usually as a CFI working at a FBO
Work for a regional to build turbine time
Work for a major airline's mainline operation as a newly minted first officer on a bigger jet

You'll eventually likely need to build some turbine time after you've got the ratings you need. This is where you'd likely be applying to a regional airliner to build turbine (whether turboprop or turbojet) time. Most folks uses regionals as a stepping stone to the majors (or to a different flying job, not necessarily for a major passenger airline such as a charter jet operator) once they've built up enough total time and multi-engine + turbine time.

You may be able to get a first officer job at a regional without an ATP certificate but you're not going to land a job at a major without one. So at some point, you're going to get the ATP, one way or another given your career ambitions. ATP's good to have; the standards are stringent and you will truly be 'one with the aircraft' in making it do as desired since the allowable tolerances for passing the FAA flying exam are very tight. Smile

- Be under no illusion that this process takes some years and a lot of your time and money. In fact, some of the worst flying jobs you'd ever do will be working as a majorly underpaid CFI or as a regional airline pilot. These in particular are fairly demanding work. This is why you need to absolutely love and live/breathe aviation to get you through this phase.

- You're not likely going to be able to make enough money to live or pay the bills while being a CFI or a regional pilot. So it is strongly recommended that you have access to money you can use to make ends meet during that part of the flying career. Going to be eating a lot of beans for a while. (Does help if you have a spouse with income or if you can live with parents in the area for a while. Either can help make ends meet.)

If you're building hours for an airline flying career, you're likely going to need to be a full time CFI and regional pilot. This is why it's essential you either have some money to live on, already, or can majorly cut your monthly expenses (eat beans and rice daily, share a place with several roommates, drive a cheap, used car that's reliable, etc). Not likely you're going to be able to do that kind of flying as a part time or side job. This is probably only for a few years.

- If you don't pass the Class I medical, an airline flying job may not be realistic. BUT you can still always go for a Class III medical and enjoy flying as a private pilot (with any rating you'd like tacked on). It is also possible to do some flying for hire where the medical cert class doesn't mean so much, such as doing geomapping or photography flying on a contract.

Bottom line is, no matter what, you can learn to fly and either fly recreationally or fly for a living.

- DO NOT work for airlines (regionals or not) that employs scab or union-busting labor because it is a scarlet letter that is good as kiss of death that will follow you around everywhere you go for the rest of your career. I've seen applications thrown in the trash by the chief pilot due to this. Don't do it, no matter how easy it is to get a job at such places and how strong the temptation is.

Heck, scab pilots often ends up a) not getting jumpseats when flying on other airlines, b) am essentially forced to hide their identification badge and other marks when walking in uniform, c) may have to walk between gates outdoors, d) be added to private blacklists that's checked in various situations, e) have to deal with an enormous amount of anger and ridicule from the rank-and-file elsewhere. Scabs has a dead end career as far as mainline airline flying careers goes; career will be DOA if you go down this route.

Research any prospective airline you work for very, very carefully to ensure this isn't one of 'those scab places'. Your career depends on you getting this detail right.

- Good luck, and have fun. Let us know how it works out.
DingDong, honey, please answer the doorbell!
 
iairallie
Posts: 2326
Joined: Thu May 20, 2004 5:42 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Mon May 04, 2009 2:55 pm



Quoting Sacamojus (Reply 6):
LOL, I know. I am just trying to get the short term and long term implications of this decision.

Your long term is more of medium term. Medium term you may have to move to your base city. Long term working as airline crew means once you have the senority to hold a bidline you can commute and live anywhere you want to.
Enough about flying lets talk about me!
 
ALexeu
Posts: 1447
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:01 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Mon May 04, 2009 3:43 pm

I am currently studying an aviation degree at college and I am thinking about becoming a pilot. However I don't like the way aviation threats family life (pilots spending a lot of time away from their family). Also many people compered pilots work with the bus driver (especially in the future), I don't want to spend my life flying a computer!!
Another issue is that one needs 50000$ to get ATPL.

Any opinions about this? Any idea or tip is welcome.

cheers, Alex
 
AirWillie6475
Posts: 2372
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:45 pm

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Tue May 05, 2009 9:27 am



Quoting Sacamojus (Thread starter):
I am thinking about a career change. I would like to be an airline pilot, but I have some questions to see if it is even viable for me to do so at my age. My questions are....

1. I know airlines like their pilots to have a bachelors degree. I currently have a B.S. in Finance and I am finishing up an M.B.A. right now. Do I need to go get an aviation degree or will the flight training be sufficient?

2. I am 26 years old right now. Is it too late? Would I be looked over given my age when it came down to hiring?

I really do appreciate your insights. Thank You.

I am an airline pilot. Albeit not flying for Fedex or Southwest or Delta. But I am an airline pilot at an airline in which assuming you spend another 50K will get to join. The profession has been on a death spiral and the cockpits are filled with the disgruntled. Quality of life has gone way down. With all due respect, with all the qualifications above, you ought to have your head examined if you intend on walking away from all that to becoming a pilot to which you will live in poverty and will take years to make up for the money lost to what you would have made 1st year working at an office. There are thousands right now flying that would give anything to be in your position and qualifications. I rarely post anymore but had to give my 2 cents. By the way the degree is pretty much not a requirement for entry level flying regional airlines because you are just labor. When you get to more respectable flying for the majors or crop you'll most likely need it but you're not going to have to deal with that because those jobs are becoming rare to none at all.
 
draigonair
Posts: 624
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2000 8:37 pm

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Tue May 05, 2009 10:33 am



Quoting AlexEU (Reply 11):
I am currently studying an aviation degree at college and I am thinking about becoming a pilot. However I don't like the way aviation threats family life (pilots spending a lot of time away from their family). Also many people compered pilots work with the bus driver (especially in the future), I don't want to spend my life flying a computer!!
Another issue is that one needs 50000$ to get ATPL.

Alex, if you are already thinking about the negatives then im not sure if being a pilot is for you. Its a long and big investment to get there and you really need to have a good motivation!
Im almost done with my training and i cant wait to get started. Its a big investment but once you get started you should be able pay off your loan (this is more a situation in Europe)
Indeed you may not be home much, but suppose you were a good buisness man, then traveling is also part of the job!

Good luck!

cheers Nick
cheers
 
ALexeu
Posts: 1447
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:01 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Tue May 05, 2009 2:13 pm



Quoting DRAIGONAIR (Reply 13):
Alex, if you are already thinking about the negatives then im not sure if being a pilot is for you. Its a long and big investment to get there and you really need to have a good motivation!
Im almost done with my training and i cant wait to get started. Its a big investment but once you get started you should be able pay off your loan (this is more a situation in Europe)
Indeed you may not be home much, but suppose you were a good buisness man, then traveling is also part of the job!

Hi Nick,
I am certainly thinking about positive side more then negative, but I don't want to spend all of my time and money for something that is perhaps different then what we think it is! That's why I want to take all pros and cons and to decide about my carrier. Many pilots told me that PPL is just enough for those who love aviation, which is why I want to hear more opinions, and I hope that there are still positively motivated pilots.

Cheers, Alex
 
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tb727
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RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Tue May 05, 2009 2:54 pm



Quoting DingDong (Reply 8):

- The Class I exam is extremely rigorous and leaves no stone unturned! Checks about 50 different things. By the end of the exam, the AME is going to know your body better than you do.

Man you are going to the wrong AME! lol

Here is my two cents about airline academies also known as paying to get a job. Don't do it. If you really do want to fly and get the most out of your experiences, take the traditional way. I've trained a few guys that paid to get the job pretty much with only the basic requirements and minimal hours. They are pretty much wasting their time and should have stuck with flying for recreation.
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
zappbrannigan
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 7:41 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Wed May 06, 2009 11:54 pm



Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 12):
With all due respect, with all the qualifications above, you ought to have your head examined if you intend on walking away from all that to becoming a pilot to which you will live in poverty and will take years to make up for the money lost to what you would have made 1st year working at an office. There are thousands right now flying that would give anything to be in your position and qualifications.

With every ounce of due respect to yourself, and while I can understand the above statement, it doesn't apply to everyone in his position.

I left an AU$100K/year job, with a degree in another field that would also have provided a fairly lucrative career path, to become a pilot. This was a conscious decision based on more than my material standard of living and projected bank balance over the next 10 years. It simply came down to this - aviation is the only thing I have a true passion for. For those that love flying but are really in the game for the "lifestyle" an airline job will provide, then it may be a bumpy ride, with some regret along the way if you've left something very well-paid. For me, the bumps are all part of the adventure, and I have no regrets whatsoever about taking the path I did (and for the record I'm still in GA, so I'm not yet living the "lifestyle").

I was living the "airline lifestyle" previously, and can honestly say that's not why I'm here now - it'll just be a nice perk when it happens.
 
OffshoreAir
Posts: 128
Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 4:56 pm

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Fri May 08, 2009 10:18 am



Quoting EMBQA (Reply 1):

No... any degree is fine. Actually getting only an aviation degree is a bad idea as you'll have nothing to fall back on when you get laid off... and in this business, you will get laid off at least once in your career..

What kind of aviation degree do you mean? I have an aviation degree and I have plenty of other options in the aviation world and outside it as well. In fact, I can not think of any aviation degree's my college offered that committed them to just being a pilot, or to just one specific profession. Can you clarify?
OffshoreAir
 
RaginMav
Posts: 335
Joined: Tue May 25, 2004 5:22 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Fri May 08, 2009 1:37 pm



Quoting DingDong (Reply 9):
- Be under no illusion that this process takes some years and a lot of your time and money. In fact, some of the worst flying jobs you'd ever do will be working as a majorly underpaid CFI or as a regional airline pilot. These in particular are fairly demanding work. This is why you need to absolutely love and live/breathe aviation to get you through this phase.

- You're not likely going to be able to make enough money to live or pay the bills while being a CFI or a regional pilot. So it is strongly recommended that you have access to money you can use to make ends meet during that part of the flying career. Going to be eating a lot of beans for a while. (Does help if you have a spouse with income or if you can live with parents in the area for a while. Either can help make ends meet.)



Quoting Zappbrannigan (Reply 16):
aviation is the only thing I have a true passion for

Sacamojus, I hope you see the recurring theme here. Those of us who know from experience are giving you fair warning: This career path can be tough, and there will be times where the only reason pilots stick with it is their passion for flying. If you don't have that kind of passion you will either A) quit, go back to your [quite promising] business career, or B) continue flying, grumpy and underpaid, until you are forced to retire at 65.

If you become a pilot, you will be underpaid for much of your career, you will fly in conditions you may not be completely comfortable with, you will spend almost as many nights in a hotel as at home, you will spend hundreds of hours sitting two feet from a person you can't stand, you will be un/under employeed at some point, and you will miss birthdays, aniversaries, dance recitals, kindergarden graduations and mother's days with you family. Are you prepared to deal with that?

I don't mean to scare you off from a fun and rewarding occupation. These are things I wish somebody would have told me when I first though I wanted to become a pilot. Shame on me, though, I just didn't know who to ask.

Best of luck!
 
zappbrannigan
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 7:41 am

RE: Specific-How To Be A Pilot

Sat May 09, 2009 12:34 am

Good post, and to throw another 2c in, my final bit of advice is that if you decide to go ahead with the flying career path - and only you can determine whether this is a good decision or not - then go into it with the mindset that you'll give 100% to your career, no matter what, and you'll take the good with the bad with a smile on your face. Can't speak for the US, but nearly all pilots I've met/worked with in Oz who've had this attitude have been well employed in a reasonable amount of time. The guys/girls who found themselves in a never-ending dead-end world of backyard GA employment were generally the ones who went in with the wrong attitude, went in with a pre-conceived view of "entitlement" to an airline job after X years (very common with young pilots with plenty of cash but no real world experience), or who fell in a heap of depression any time things got tougher than what they'd hoped.

This is not to say there will be no bumps - but I'm a firm believer in this industry, by and large, being what you make of it.

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