Real Answers from Real Pilots

Am I passionate enough to be a pilot?

Hello everyone and thank you for looking at my lengthy post. I am desperately in need of advice.

I’m a 25 year old college student who has recently dropped out of graduate school in the Physical Therapy field. I had to let it go because in this time and age, my student debt would have peaked at $150K by the time I finished. I’d be 57 by the time I paid it all off, and living tight. That was in no way reasonable nor sustainable, and it stressed me out to the point where no, I was not enjoying PT at all. It was not worth it.

I’m now looking at a variety of careers that I have always had a personal interest and/or curiosity in. Piloting being at the forefront. What I want to know is: just how did you know that piloting was right for you?

While I have always had a strong interest in piloting and greatly enjoy airports, travelling and being a passenger in commercial planes, I’m not sure if I’m “passionate” enough about piloting to completely submerge myself into it. I’m unsure if I will completely and utterly adore every moment like some (not all) pilot friends of mine have seemed to say I need to be in order to be successful in this career. It’s frustrating. The mere fact that the whole “I know in my heart without any inkling of doubt that this career is for me” is absent makes me pause.

Yes, I daydream at times of flying, more now than ever. I get excited at the thought of being a pilot, but as of this moment, I know literally nothing about flying and what will be expected of me upon starting a flight program (if I start one) other than what I’ve read here and on the ATP website. So I can’t accurately say if I will actually enjoy it or not.
I realize that like every job, there will be things I dislike. But I don’t know if the pros outweigh the cons. I’m not a fan of the large amounts of sitting pilots do, while also being away from home days at a time. Sounds like getting to the gym is difficult. But, simultaneously, piloting also sounds like it has so much potential to feel like you’re not working at all- but simply flying and being free. I love that.

However, with my current bachelor’s degree in Pre-Physical Therapy, it does transfer nicely to other medical professions that I too am interested in, get excited thinking about, but not hardcore passionate about either.

In summary, I’m basically hung up wondering if I’m passionate enough about piloting and have the drive to be successful. Getting into graduate school for PT was no cake walk, so I know I’m a hard working student and have the willpower to do the studying. But, I just want to enjoy my job.

Thank you for your time.

Only you can answer that question for yourself… if you’re motivated by income, this is not the easier way to get there.

I knew ever since I was a kid that flying fascinated me. Not just the concept of air travel— I wanted to learn how to fly. I did everything that I could to come close, even starting a career in airport planning and airspace analysis, but that was always the long second best choice. I had a chance to start training for my PPL and was very challenged by the process—it required me to be always prepared and on my game to perform safely. Even though some of the maneuvers made me nervous, I pushed through that knowing that with practice comes skill, and with skill comes confidence… I wanted that PPL accomplishment more than anything in the world.

I’ve said that already in another thread…if in doubt, take a few lessons with a local instructor. You will quickly realize if that’s your calling. I have not yet met an airline pilot that chose flying as a “safe fallback career”. My two cents…

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Jordan,

I knew that piloting was right for me because I had a feeling inside that that was what I wanted to do for a living and nothing else would suffice. It is just a feeling and you either have it or you don’t.

I would encourage you to spend some serious time on this forum, reading not just posts, but the articles and looking at our schedules. You also should take an introductory flight as that is the only real way to see if you will enjoy flying.

I can’t tell you whether or not this is the job for you, only you can decide that.

Chris

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Jordan,

As was mentioned only you can answer this question. You say you’ve always “had an interest”, “find yourself daydreaming” etc but none of this pondering ever motivated you enough to get off your butt and give it a try? I’m frankly confused. I often think it would be great to practice yoga but wonder do I have the balance, strength or flexibility? BUT, If I was to consider quitting my job, taking out a business loan, finding a empty storefront and opening Adam’s Hot Yoga Studio BEFORE I ever attempted a class to see if I enjoyed it (let alone survived or had any aptitude) you’d say I was crazy and you’d be correct. While taking a lesson or 2 may or may not give you a better indication as to your level of “passion”, it’s definitely a good start.

Adam

No need to be confused. As mentioned, while I had an interest and “daydreamed” about flying, my butt was incredibly busy working towards graduate school. In case you are not aware, graduate school is extremely rigorous and competitive. I did not have the luxury to do more than think about piloting until now after I dropped out of grad school due to expenses. My whole mindset until now has been physical therapy. Now that PT is no longer in the picture, other interests have been allowed to enter my focus. These other interests however, have not been looked into until now so forgive my lack of “getting off my butt”

Nothing to forgive. Jordan my friend, trust me I know about rigors of grad school, as well as many other time consuming labors and responsibilities of life. I also know where there’s a will there’s a way which reflects directly on the title of your post “Am I passionate enough…?”. When there’s a passion somehow we manage to find the time. I meant know offense but I still find it curious you’re considering a potential career change, have doubts regarding your level of interest, but couldn’t find 2 hrs to go to your local flight school and give it a try? The good news is you dropped out and now can and most definitely should!

Adam

Hey Jordan, I believe if a incredibly STRONG desire is there you will make it happen. This Aviator field is mentally strenuous while training and can at times be uncomfortable. When I started my Private Pilot 141 flight training all 30 of us were going to either fly Airlines or Military-only three of us made it to some form of larger turboprop/jet. Did they all lose their passion, no, it just became too much, too hard, that is what all my classmates shared with me in the late 80’s. I don’t doubt your ability. Our life continuously changes and our desires change. You mentioned finances-it cost a lot to become a Airline pilot. That being said I don’t believe there is a better way to become a Airline pilot than thru this program. In my current career I am a 14 year RN but I got my ATP back in 1994 via Part 61 and 141. My desire has never waned for flying but many kids and the desire to be home everyday changed me. Think of it this way, you live once-what have you got to lose? One last thing-flying is just plain fun.

Jordan,

I understand where you are coming from, but it helped for me to separate emotion and objective hard facts and there was one hard fact I could not deny. I personally ran through a mental exercise, sitting at my office desk at my previous career, I imagined if I were to continue that life as a corporate consultant what that would like in 20 years, more importantly how would I feel after 20 years of being in that career. Every time I ran through that exercise, I came to the same conclusion that I would never find the fulfillment or satisfaction no matter what I did in that job. Now you could say that I can achieve my dream of flying planes for a living and still not find that fulfillment, but at the end of the day it is the only thing that I have known to have been obsessed with since childhood, and that was a concrete fact for me which I could not overlook, therefore it was worth taking the risk and “going for it”.

I think it’s important to create a mental image of how you want to be going through life 5, 10, 20 years down the road. I could have maybe reached a high level corporate position, but I knew at no point in the future would I have been able to sit at that desk, looking back at life,and feel a sense of accomplishment that would truly have me feel that I did something. I know me flying planes is not going to change the world, but it brings a positive change within myself which in some way, even if it be small, brings a positive change to the world.

Hope that helps. Best of luck!

Regards,
Pranav Mistry

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Thank you very much everyone. You have given me a lot to think about. I’ll go ahead and take the introductory flight that ATP offers and go from there.

Cheers,

Jordan