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Rewards of being a pilot Vs. Reality

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Rewards of being a pilot Vs. Reality

Old 1st Mar 2012, 22:34
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Exclamation Rewards of being a pilot Vs. Reality

I am in need of some immediate advice. If you have a minute, please read on.
In order to fully understand my situation, I have to start from about 7 years ago, when I was in high school. Going through high school, my dream was to be a pilot. My plan was to get into the navy and go through their flight training and fly airlines when I get out. As everyone knows, not all dreams become a reality. When I was testing into the U.S. Navy, they broke the news. I had scored high enough on the test to take any job the navy had to offer (including fighter pilot), but on my application I had put that I was color-deficient. The recruiter told me that if I was colorblind I could never be a pilot. I ended up dropping out of high school and picking up a job in a restaurant.
Eventually I got my GED and made good money as a bartender. I tried to go to college but I couldnít find any career path that I would like to go into as much as I wanted to fly. After switching degrees 3 times I am now on route to become an immigration attorney. I have a job as an assistant for a law firm and make just enough to live off of, but I need the experience.
For my fatherís birthday, my mom bought him a surprise acrobatic flight lesson in a T6 Texan. I was to take him to the airport and tell him that I was going for a tour. When we get there and he finds out, he tells them to pull out both airplanes because I was going to fly also. While heading back to the airport, the instructor tells me I should take flight lessons. I had played with simulators for years, so maybe I did well.
Back at the ground I told him that I would love to take lessons, but I think Iím color-deficient so I canít be a pilot. He tells me that it is not a reason, as long as I can tell what the colors are, it doesnít matter what I call them.
I came back a week later in the evening and he asked the tower flashed the light gun to see if I could see the lights. Since I was able to distinguish what they were, he told me that this is what I would have to do to become a pilot and it would have no restrictions.
It has been 6 years since I was told that I could not be a pilot, so I know that Iím behind. Just to make sure my nothing else will hold me back, I signed up to take a medical exam in 2 weeks.
If I had found out that I could still be a pilot 6 years ago, I would not be stuck between a rock and a hard place like I am right now. I am expecting my first baby in 7 months, and I am getting married this month. A pilotís license is obviously a financial burden, but with that aside, my biggest concern is being able to support my family. I plan on taking back my bartending job which would give me the income to go to flight school and get the hours I need for a commercial license. What I want to know is, how long will it take for me to go from a commercial pilotís license to getting a job to support my family.
If you are a pilot with years of experience, or if youíre someone who just got a job as an airline pilot. I would like to hear your opinion and stories. I would like to be a pilot now more than ever, and it feels like it is so close, but if I waited too long, then I want to know now if this is something Iím going to have to pass up. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 23:02
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Morv, I take it from your post that you are over here in the USA. In which case you may want to check out the Airline Pilot Central forums, I won't post a direct link here as I don't want to upset the mods, but Google it. They are geared more towards US pilots whereas PPRuNe is more of a European forum.

Regarding your ambitions, if you love it then by all means go for it, however, go in with your eyes wide open. I fly for one of the biggest airlines over here and we are hiring like crazy at the moment in anticipation of the increase in experience that the FAA will require all airline pilots to have from next year. Gone are the days of getting a job with an airline with 250 hours. From August next year you will be required to hold an ATP and have at least 1,500 hours of flight time. That equates to about two or three years of full time, intense flight instructing or general GA flying on incredibly bad pay. At my airline we have just raised our minimums for hiring from 900 hours with 50 multi to 1,200 and 200 multi. The nearer we get to the new rules coming into force next summer, the higher our hiring minimums will go.

If and when you get into your first airline, it will be a regional. The first year pay is very poor at about $23,000. Depending on which company you go and how hard you work you can make about $50,000 from your second year onwards. The industry in the USA has been stagnent for a very long time and there is a huge number of very experience pilots sitting in the left hand seat at the regionals desperate for the chance to go to the majors. The projected pilot shortage is unlikely to affect the majors, it might not even affect the regionals. If you are coming into the industry now I would take the time to really do your research and be prepared to possibly be stuck at the regionals for the rest of your career as the majors outsource more and more of their flying. There's a ton of great information on the web site I mentioned above, and fltops.com is also worth checking out.

Whatever you do, I wish you all the very best of luck. If you love flying as much as you say you do, then I'm sure you'll get there eventually. Just make sure that you make the right choice for you and your new family.
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Old 2nd Mar 2012, 16:15
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Lightbulb Research results

Thank you Drakestream for your reply,

All the information you've provided has definitely given me a good starting point on my research. Following up on my first post, I would like to show the information I've found so far:

First of all I would have to pass a class 1 medical.

Assuming that I pass my next step would be to get my commercial license and work up hours to get into the airlines. With my situation, time is working against me. I've talked to someone from one of the major pilot schools here in the U.S. who gave me some an option.

There is a 5-6 month course which takes people from Zero hours to a commercial license (Private license, and instructor license included). After I complete the program I would have: 270hrs logged flight time, 115hrs Multi-engine, 105hrs single engine, and 50hrs simulator time. In addition they say that I am guaranteed a job as an instructor upon graduation (earning $1800-$2000USD per month). I asked him how he can guarantee all the graduates a job, and he told me it's because they make much more than what they pay. I guess it sounds reasonable, but like you said, I need to go in with my eyes open. As an instructor, he said I would work 7 days a week and get 80-100 multi engine hours per month. I would do this until I get the hours and experience to get hired by a regional. From their records, they say that most pilots earn in the neighborhood of $35,000 in their 2nd or 3rd year at the regional level.

To me, this sounds like a promising option, what I want to know is if the price is worth it. With everything mentioned above included, their price is $65,000 (USD).

If I were to pay separately for the licenses, testing, flight rental, instructor time, fuel price, and anything else that might be included, it would probably come out less than $65,000 (I need to do some more research to find out exactly how much). But if it saves me a year or two in flight time, and they guarantee me a job, does it sound like it's a good deal?

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