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Would you do it again?

Old 21st Nov 2020, 03:02
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Would you do it again?

considering how aviation changed in the last years, would you become a pilot again? or a student pilot, considering the covid situation? would you also change the path?
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Old 21st Nov 2020, 17:21
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I would get a career that makes money first. Then throw that money into the bottomless pit that is aviation as a hobby /side career later. (well I wouldn't now but definitely what any newcomers should do)

Flying in any context is absolutely not transferable at all to other industries and should never be a first career.

I come from a privileged background and didn't have debt and found a job soon after my training. But it's not the first time I have to pick up the scraps when the flying world stops hiring and you have no other professional experience.
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 10:15
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would you do it again
It's the "again" that's the problem...times have changed, aka "the past is another country, they do things differently there".

I've just finished a multi decade career which encompassed flying past pointy things, military jet instructing, and then onto a few decades commercially, long haul, and command on a couple of Boeing's finest...and pretty decent T&Cs.

If I could cut and paste that career path then sure, I'd probably put it on the list of recommended careers.

Anybody starting now, going straight into the commercial airline world now is looking at T&Cs heading in a questionable direction, certainly short term, in many cases multiple decades of flying variations of PBN/RNAV type approaches - not really much "slipping the bonds"....and I rather suspect seeing the advent of single pilot Ops, even on large airframes......

I'd hesitate to recommend the job now to any bright or very bright young person...I'm in agreement with Hawker..they should at least get the money first and then either fly for fun or go into the career later, accepting all that brings with it.
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 14:10
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In my “alternative past”/fantasy future: I...

stopped spending money on training after my PPL/IR.
tried a twin for a couple of hours, and decided to stick with singles
bought a succession of 4-seat Pipers, before moving on to a nice IFR Cherokee 6
have now decided to stick with the Piston Malibu, rather than trade up to Turbine...
have 2500 hours instead of 20k, and fly the family on holiday twice a year...

Unfortunately, my 4th wife doesn’t like flying, i drink too much and i spend too much time at work.

Some things never change!
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 18:00
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A lot of it is just luck but....

I would do it all (well most of it) again in a heartbeat! Flying has provided me with an excellent career and opportunities that I could never have dreamed of in any other life. It provided a great standard of living and let me bring up a family whilst providing them with excellent opportunities. I have worked for great employers and many excellent colleagues and friends. I’ve shared laughs with people all over the world, and when times were difficult, had a team to share the workload with. For over 40 years work has rarely felt like work. I’ve seen every corner of the world, which would be wonderful in Itself, but also been able to share beers and laughs with fantastic people in all of those corners.

On top of all that, it has been a privilege to also have the opportunity to encourage and develop other people coming into this career. I have seen so many people do really well as they advance their own careers. I have even had the opportunity to fly with my own children in that role. Even if I isolate the worst occurrences, it has been a privilege to be able to experience them. For over four decades I could say “we live in interesting times.”

Certainly in the last 20 years, major changes have marched over the horizon and its true to say that the career aspect has become much more difficult for a great many people. Remuneration, terms and conditions, and certainly the “glamour” has all become much more difficult and very elusive. The advent and domination of the “low cost” industry models have encouraged a standard where the expectations rarely live up to the reality. There have always been cycles within aviation, but rather like battery charging cycles, it does seem that the industry becomes weaker with each one. This current pandemic has obviously been a catastrophe for a great many people, but it will subside to reveal the next reality of the next cycle.

as I say, a lot of it is just luck!.....
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 18:21
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Originally Posted by Hawker400
Flying in any context is absolutely not transferable at all to other industries and should never be a first career.
Have to disagree. Most of the skills involved in flying are highly transferable.
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 18:22
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Would I do it all again? I would have done a few things differently. Just a couple of adjustments here and there.
Admittedly, I flew in Australia which has a different pathway. I instructed, then did bush flying, coastwatch flying, a variety of regional turboprop flying. Came to the UK, turboprop night freight flying and now, best job ever, corporate jet flying (AOC and a roster).
Would I start now? Definitely not at 55!!
I would definitely advise newbies to get some life experience so they can appreciate the "dream" versus "reality".
Not necessarily a degree per se unless you want to work for a while and gain some experience.
Personally, a decent trade/skill would be very useful and definitely something you can keep doing as a side hustle.
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 19:32
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Capt Pit Bull

Sure they are.. Except no one gives a flying* crap about it.
*no pun intended

Pick any profession out of a hat and pretty much every soft skill you learn in an airline environment is needed.

Except the only one that actually matters. And that's the direct industry knowledge.

Time management, risk assessment, team oriented environments, multi-tasking the list goes on....

None of these will get a job outside aviation that pays even remotely close because it doesn't qualify you as any thing other than what should be expected of a well educated applicant .

There were multiple articles and even ones that were quite motivational for people to consider employing pilots but at the end of the day, why would a company hire someone without industry knowledge?

So back to my first comment and OPs question.

I would get a proper money making professional career, even if just a few years. Then burn my money flying, if it becomes a career (and yeah I quite enjoyed the past decade I put in it) then you have a plan B in you pocket that no one can take from you.

Last edited by Hawker400; 22nd Nov 2020 at 20:03.
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 22:32
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Myself, I would undoubtedly do it again. I love flying and have always found it a worthwhile career path, even if it involves a lot of personal sacrifice and compromise with many things in life. I guess that you need to have an inclination towards it to genuinely enjoy it. Just like most wannabe doctors or teachers don't choose their professions because they're the best paid, most straightforward or anything like that. It's just what they want to be doing for a living because they find it more meaningful and satisfying to themselves than anything else.

I don't regret the path I chose, which effectively makes flying my second career. I'm also a qualified engineer, holding a decent degree and relevant industrial experience. I knowingly chose to do it that way back in the day, even though it delayed the flying by a couple of years, because I wanted to have a plan B and also a somewhat broader professional development. Even now, some years into it, I'm thinking of signing up for some form of part-time postgraduate study in finance or asset management for the sake of becoming better positioned for airline management roles.

Would I recommend a similar approach to new entrants? Totally yes. Please, please, don't get frustrated by the fact that someone is already a Captain by the age you're just starting your FO line training because he went into flight school straight out of high school. Your career is a 40-odd-year-long marathon. You will have enough time to enjoy flying and a couple of years won't make that much difference to your long-term progression. But those years, spent working on something else, can give you a lot of advantage in many ways. It's not just the hugely important plan B. Having a broad knowledge base and a well-rounded personality can open up many career doors that can be combined with flying. The vast majority of airline post holders I know have some significant background in other fields, be it maintenance, finance, management, corporate security, IT or whatever. Moreover, it will give you so much more to talk about in that first airline interview! So, don't take the present climate as the death knell of your dreams and goals. Use the time to recovery wisely and you'll end up in a much better position long-term.
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Old 22nd Nov 2020, 23:04
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Never. I would go into medicine.
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Old 23rd Nov 2020, 04:56
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Well said Buddy! Some common sense amid the storm
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Old 23rd Nov 2020, 10:58
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Very nicely said!
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Old 23rd Nov 2020, 11:44
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Well said either. I would go into Law and business. Much more opportunity and there is an added bonus of not dealing with airline management! I love flying and being a pilot but cant stand the industry. I would probably fly King Airs on the side part time in a charter capacity or medevacs etc to give me my 'flying fix' and be content.
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Old 24th Nov 2020, 11:02
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So much of this game is down to luck - and specifically luck with timing - that everyone will have different experiences. Ask 10 pilots and you’ll get 15 opinions.

Me, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But . . .

(a) I had more than 10 years in a previous (office based) career, so know only too well the crushing monotony of a 9-5 job, not to mention the stress of the daily commute and the pressures of working with big financial numbers in a target based organisation. It gives me perspective when I consider the merits of flying for a living.

(b) I have been very, very lucky with my timing. Landing my first turboprop job and getting a foot in the door just before the financial crash, getting a jet job in the Middle East and building priceless experience when there were very few options back home, and somehow ending up a long haul pilot in a big legacy carrier, joining right in the middle of a huge recruitment bulge. And luckiest of all, being on a fleet that is not only still flying, but actually quite busy.

If the dice had rolled the other way, I might have qualified when there were no jobs, or been made redundant (more than once), or lost a fortune to a rogue flying school.

This can still be a great job (and career), but it can also be brutal. Timing is everything.

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Old 24th Nov 2020, 16:51
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Very well said. I love flying not for the money, glory, glamor, etc. I love the subtle intricacies and dynamics of operating an aircraft. I wanted to make a career out of this interest. I wanted to join a flight school right after I finished high school. My family persuaded me to do otherwise. I'm glad I listened to them. I'm doing something similar to what you've advised.

I got a university degree and I've been working as a professional for a few years now. The intention was to build a decent plan B foundation before I tried to get into one of the cadet pilot programs available to me. Due to the unprecedented situation, that's going to be delayed for many years. Thankfully, I'll still have a source of income in the mean time.

A mate of mine went down the "modular" path after high school and is still unemployed. Another, who around the beginning of this year joined a cadet program, is also unemployed now as the program was terminated about a couple of months into the pandemic.

Sometimes things fall into place late for some of us. I hope as they say that the best things often come to those who wait! At the back of my mind, there is a thought to take up flying as a hobby. Depends on how things transpire over the next few years..
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Old 24th Nov 2020, 17:59
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It is a good question, particularly as I am now recently retired.
The straight answer is yes, but with some tweaks.
I'd have got my flying started both earlier (I started at 35) in my life and at least 15 years before 9/11 and the rise of lo-co really knocked the life style of the job to bits. There is no going back, but the way pilots were treated in the mid nineties (let alone the 80's) was so much better than they are now. I'm not talking money, the money is still there if you climb the career structure efficiently. It is everything else about the job that made it special that was lost.
If I had started earlier in life I would have been able to stick to a retirement age of 55. I'm firmly of the opinion (backed by scientific research) that the airline lifestyle knocks years off your lifespan. I'm out at 61 and very glad as the deep nights were getting too hard.
I wish I had done long haul in my 20's before having a wife and family. Being away a lot is damaging to your relationships. But you have to experience LH as a 30 year SH career is simply inconceivable in the industry as it operates today.
So, on balance I'd do it all again. But quite glad that I don't have to.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 04:56
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Never. Too many sacrifices for such a low prize at the end. Now days pilot life is a low life.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 08:29
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If the dream is to fly in the sky, listen to the sound of the engine roaring and smelling the avgas or jet A1 - the dream is still alive. If the goal in life at the age of 20 is a monetary one - look else where. Having had an aviation career so far (with another 2 decades to go hopefully) that see me living and working in two different continents (other than Europe) twice already, and having flown in a variety of airplanes and operations with all sorts if people from various cultures and enjoyed good and bad times through it all. Having lived and worked in Hong Kong a couple of times and seen other expatriate professionals, such as lawyers, bankers, doctors etc (not comparing academics) and how their lifestyle is - I would have chosen my path any day of the week.
CoS may no longer be what they used ti be - but flying a C206, a Caravan or a King Air in Africa wouldn’t have changed all that much - it beats the out of sitting in an office building with wall to wall mounted windows overlooking the Thames, counting beans or looking at the stock market on a screen. That after work beer with your pilot colleagues also tastes good - there’s still good stories to be told after a day in the sky. Horses for courses. A life in the sky is not for everybody - it does take a special character to survive.

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Old 27th Nov 2020, 15:15
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And this is why flying professionally is not for everyone. For those who dreamed of flying since they could walk - or remember it at least - they will follow through and make that dream happen (subject to other life matters of course) and they are likely the ones who will survive crises' and accept the terms and conditions required to fulfill that dream. Is it always easy in aviation? Definitely not - it's mostly a learning and humbling experience - but it's also a very rewarding job in its own unique way - if you have the capacity to enjoy it, that is. I've seen plenty of "pilots" who got the licenses and then hit the wall - ended up giving up on flying (after spending the cash) - simply because they lived on an illusion of what flying is - it's not a desk job and you can't hide behind your desktop if thing don't go your way. It's not a career for anybody. If money is the primary drive or concern - then chances are that a professional pilot career is not the right job for you - you need a certain dedication and "drive" to make it all work out.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 15:41
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Yes, I would. Over and over again.
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