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What Should I Choose?

Old 2nd Jun 2013, 14:52
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Question What Should I Choose?

Hi All,

I have been interested in aviation from a young age and now that I am in the final years of schooling, I am at a loss as to whether I should firstly, become a Pilot or Air Traffic Controller. I live in Perth, Western Australia and am not poor but not rich either. The pathway options I have considered are as follows:

1. Train as a ATC'er and then save up to become a pilot.
2. Take out a loan and go to a flying school once completed secondary schooling.
3. Go to university and complete pilot training.
4. Become a cadet pilot with the airlines eg. REX, VIRGIN AUSTRALIA
5. Join the RAAF.
6. Do a career as a ATC'er.

I would definitely prefer to become a pilot and I would also appreciate information on which types of ATC are preferable and your opinions on it. At the moment, I am looking at TOWER.
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 21:52
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Here we go
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 22:01
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If you really want to fly, why settle for being an ATC- no disrespect to ATCers, or to being an ATC.

Becoming an ATCer first won't help your actual flying career more than starting flying as early as possible.

Of your 6 options, No 5 is best for your pocket, and anecdotally can set you up well for civilian flying career.
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 22:38
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It would be wonderful if it were that easy. The RAAF is not an easy gig to crack and the failure rate of those who actually make it to pilots course is not small either. I don't know about REX or Jetstar but the Virgin cadet program is extremely competitive with only a small number of positions offered. There is also no news of when or if they will even run another course.

What I'm saying is, you may not be able to sit back an choose your desired path.

It does not sound like you have a true passion for flying. I decided I wanted to be a pilot at the age of 5. I'm not sure why as I'm the only pilot in the family and I never met any pilots until I started flying at the age of 16. At no stage was anything other than actually becoming a pilot an option. There was no second best. I worked hard, saved money over 4 years and paid for the lot myself.

I looked for work and moved around the country many time including 3 years in PNG. Today I'm a WideBody captain and can think of nothing I'd rather be doing and love going to work. Will you truly love your job if your working in ATC or will you find yourself looking out the window thinking, I wish I was doing that. Once you find a girlfriend or boyfriend and settle down, the kids arrive and there is a mortgage you can say goodby to any dreams of flight. Do it now whilst you are young and have no ties or obligations.

I just bought a new car and the car salesman once held a CPL. He then got married, couldn't afford to live on casual wages, was forced to give up and get another job to support his new family. He never flew again. He has been selling cars for the past 15 years now.

Don't settle for second best. Have a back up plan ie the RAAF may not accept you for example. Have a goal and work tirelessly toward it until you achieve it and never give up no matter how hard life seems or how difficult the task appears. It will get easier and when it does it will all be worth the hard slog.

My advice is to go to University and do an aviation degree. Apart from my flying credentials (which only mean something in the pilot world) I have no other recognised qualification. If I ever lost my licence, I'm not qualified to do anything else. Many jobs these day require a degree of some sort and I have nothing!

I started working at the age of 13 and began saving for my future flight training. I gained my PPL whilst completing year 12. I then worked for another 4 years to obtain the funds to pay for the rest.

You should be working and saving now. Beg, borrow or steal the rest as they say, do the uni course, enjoy a few years in GA ( the most fun you will ever have flying) then start applying to the airline if that is your goal.

It's a long long and most difficult road ahead. You will watch your mates go off in different directions, have more fun, earn a lot more, travel, drink, chase girls/ boys all whilst your still slugging away flying some heap of junk out of some community in the NT earning almost nothing and living in poverty driving a 1984 Gemini (canary yellow). Fast forward 10 years and those same mates will be looking at you with envy.

Last edited by fmcinop; 2nd Jun 2013 at 23:00.
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 01:17
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Great post there, sums it up nicely from a pilots point of view.

From an ATC'er:

I got my PPL first, joined the 'dark side' as support staff, plugged away on the CPL & Instructor Rating (you can do that while shift working). The opportunity came up to 'convert' to ATC so I took it. Later completed my ME-CIR. Lots of workmates during that time were doing their licences because the shift work allowed it. Quite a few are airline flying now. They were single minded about becoming a pilot much like the fellow above.

ATC is a great career, even more so than when I started, there are more opportunities to do something different within or take your skills overseas if you wish. You can certainly fly part time if you find the right gig. You'll need approval from ASA to do it but you'll get the approval so long as it doesn't interfere with your day gig. Some rated ATC's left when they scored airline jobs (not many).

You can stream straight into Tower or En-route, en-route will see you in either Melbourne or Brisbane. I think there are tentative plans for one centre only. Tower will take you to heaps of different locations, some remote. I know the philosophy has changed in the Tower stream to moving people around to broaden their experience.

I love the flying but when it came to working as a pilot, it took the fun out of it, my perspective only. I still 'work' as a pilot (part time), I've found the right gig though

Good luck!
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 04:18
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Thanks Guys, I understand now that you kinda have to strike while the iron is hot. Do you have any recommendations as to flight schools at jandakot? I have heard positive reports about Minnovation?
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 07:29
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Jack, you sound like you made the right choice for you going the ATC road.

Likep may find he/she also prefers ATC. Having spent half my life away from home I can see the appeal. If he/she really want to fly though, maybe it's a great way to earn money and learn what it's like from the other side of the radio which is something we could all do with. The main issue is time. By the time you train in ATC etc and qualify, you could be a year into an aviation degree. I'm not suggesting a job in ATC is not worthwhile, just that the sooner you start flying the sooner you start the progression up the ladder.

I guess as an ATC you can dabble in flying when you feel like it. I can never dabble in ATC.

Last edited by fmcinop; 3rd Jun 2013 at 10:02.
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 10:48
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I was very lucky, I got a taste of full time flying & didn't like it. That left me with more choices! I'm qualified at other things & believe in back-up plans. I've got a fair few mates airline flying both here & overseas, they all love it.

All good, I know you're not dissing the 'other side.' One thing I observed in all of them is if you are not 200% committed you won't get there!
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 10:49
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Go to a good school who is busy. Head down bum up. Tow the line. Get your instructors rating, be eager for work and watch your career takeoff
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 11:36
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...now 'JR' that could almost be construed as whinging but for the sake of brevity (as time is money) we shall leave it at that buddy
I didn't know you had any mates 'JR', YPJT must be yr best one

I guess it's good to see some young bucks still dreaming of aviation as a career, I also guess that the dream is alive & well in an industry that's nothing like it was years ago when flying was actually prosperous

Wmk2
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 11:51
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If I had my time again I would go for option 2 or 3 if the coin is not a problem. Flying just about every day makes it so much easier to learn.
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 12:10
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Thanks for your replies guys. I know of quite a few people (friends of family members) who are qualified pilots who have had difficulties getting a job and have had to resort to instructing. Another is a senior first officer at Cathay who has held the position for ages and still rarely has a go at actually flying and is still waiting to become a caption. Do any know what the career prospects are with the airlines at the moment. I notice that all the regionals require 1500 hrs minimum experience. As this is the absolute minimum do most who get jobs with the airlines have quite a bit more experiece?
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 12:27
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if you are serious about line flying, have a good look at the sharp cadetship, good luck
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Old 3rd Jun 2013, 12:40
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Luke. Choice of a flying school is a very personal decision, based upon your personal preferences and requirements. You will not get your answer here.

Go talk to Minovation, give them your details and consider their recommendations.
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