Real Answers from Real Pilots

Asking for advice, I love to be a pilot

Hello sky people.
It is a pleasure being here.

Background:
I am 27 years old, I live in Kansas (very close to the air capital of the world), finished my Bachelor degree in computer science in 2012, and started my career as a software engineer, recently I started my master degree in software engineering, and advancing very well in my job and making a decent amount of money per year (More than $70K).
I started to love the sky life 7 years ago, and I used Microsoft flight simulator, struggled to fly and land but I made it to advanced levels after reading so many materials, tutorials, and videos.

My question:
I love to be a pilot, I am seriously considering it, and I am not worrying about the pilot salary at all, but:
Seniority, Schedule, Furloughs, social life (family and friend), …, these are scary negatives of this profession, worth it ? does the love continue ? or at some point it will be sort of routine, boring stuff that I do every flight ?

Hello Merwan,

First and foremost, while MSFS is a wonderful tool, that’s what it is, a tool, it’s not a plane. You don’t say if you have any actual flight experience? (and no, advanced levels of MSFS nor sitting in the back going on vacation don’t count). If the answer is no before you consider making any major changes to your life you really need to up. Until you do the rest is really moot. You say you “love to be a pilot” but until you actually go up you honestly don’t know.

Ok now let’s get to your question, and the answer is yes, no, maybe? As you may be aware seniority is EVERYTHING at the airlines and effects many of the factors you mention. Schedule, furloughs, time home or away, vacation, pay are all directly related to seniority. Yes when you start you schedule may be lousy. You’ll probably be away from home more than you like, forget being home weekends and holidays etc etc etc. until… you guessed it you build some seniority. While the airlines are having some of the best years financially in history and furloughs are unlikely, this industry can and is cyclic so there are no guarantees. Will you ever be furloughed? Answer depends on your seniority, junior guys get furloughed, senior ones don’t and so it goes. So for the rest of your questions is it worth it? Does the love continue? Does it get boring? For me the answer is a resounding YES it’s all worth it, YES I still love it and NO I don’t get bored but if you ask someone else? I know pilots who do not enjoy their jobs and complain constantly how bad it is. Personally I believe if you truly have a passion it will remain as it has with me and those that don’t, well they don’t and it’s just a job. The reality is only you can answer those questions for Merwan.

Adam

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Thanks Adam for your reply,

I went to take an intro flight, but it was so windy, rescheduled it to next week, and gain it was snowing heavily, I thought well, that might be a message for me to go away, but I didn’t. I went up, it was wonderful, I loved it, and it wasn’t challenging at all.

Merwan,

Welcome and thanks for the introduction. The points you bring up are valid ones, but to a point they apply to almost any other profession as well. You can get laid off from any job, any job can have you working long hours that impact your social life. I have never felt that aviation has had a negative impact on my life, on the contrary the money that I make and the days off have enabled me to do things that people with “regular” jobs could never do.

Yes, after awhile the flying can have routine moments, what job doesn’t? But after twelve years of flying, I still get excited every time I fly. I have my favorite cities that I love flying into and my favorite places to go while I am there. I haven’t found myself getting bored yet :slight_smile:

Chris

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Chris,

Thank you so much, your comment inspired me.
I’ll be more than satisfied after 12 years of flying, It will be okay to me if it gets boring after that, but I believe my passion will servive more.

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Merman,

Great :slight_smile: Let us know what other questions you have.

Chris

This is so generous Chris, Absolutely I have more questions.

  • I see people go to ATP and spend some time until they get the minimum required training and hours.
  • As you might know, I am a full time software engineer, so there is no way for me to join ATP or any other as a full time student, I need to keep this job to fund my training. I have no other source.
    What are the alternatives that I have, I mean how can I get the 1500 hrs (flight instructing ? what else ? )
    Note: I live in Lawrence, KS, 2 hours from Wichita ( I assume every pilot knows where Wichita is).

Merwan,

While full-time training is the most efficient route there are pilots who train part time (evenings and weekends). Just know it will take you mush longer to get your licenses and ratings (not to mention building the 1500hrs). It’s not simply a matter that you’re not flying everyday it’s also that flying skills are learned and built upon. Pilot skills are perishable skills which need to be reinforced with consistency. Not saying they can’t be learned part-time but the longer you go between lessons the more that is lost. One more thing to consider, at 27yo you’re looking at a potentially long career in aviation including the potential for some very nice income as a senior Capt further down the line. While $70k is a “decent” amount of money, senior airline Capts are now earning over $300k a year. Every year you delay is one less year of making that money which is over 4x your current salary. What I’m saying is if there’s a way to suck it up now it will pay for the sacrifice many times over in the future.

Adam

Adam,
As always, inspiring and motivating responses. Many times during the last years, when I hear that a 16 years old has started her PPL training, I feel like it is too late to start, but not anymore. I’ll start and do whatever it takes to live the dream.

The school in my town is a little bit small, the highest level of training is instrument rating.
And I believe the 1500 hours should include certain type of airplanes and/or engines.

As an opinion, is it better to start here, and finish the rest in a larger school in Wichita, or make it all in Wichita. Any difference ?

Thanks,

Merwan,

There are of course some fine small schools but you point out one of the biggest problems people who want to be professionals encounter going local. They often have limitations. You will need a multi-engine rating as well as your Commercial license and your Flight Instructor ratings not to mention most Regionals have multi-engine min time requirements in addition to the 1500hr total time. Even if you get the rating most places won’t rent you a twin and if they’re not giving instruction in it you won’t build that time as an instructor.

Personally as I said, I’m a fan of consistency. No sense doing some training then stopping (losing some if not all of what you’ve learned) and then picking it up again. I’d wait and find the right school to do it all.

Adam

Merwan,

I went to a local school for my Private license, it was a disaster. It took me way too long because some piece of the puzzle was always missing. Either the CFI wasn’t available, one of the two airplanes was broken, or some other unforeseen issue kept pushing things back later and later. That experience is one of the primary reasons that I chose to find a big flight school that knew how to turn out pilots.

Chris

OMG, That is critical, I took it easy.
Huge thanks Adam and Chris.
I should never let my passion blind my eyes.