Real Answers from Real Pilots

Fixed wing or helicopter?

Hello everyone! First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to field my questions. It is very much appreciated.

I’m 53 years old with no experience. I have the time now to train to be a paid pilot. I am aware I would have a short career at low pay if I were to ultimately be hired by a regional airline. That’s fine with me because it’s really not about the money as much as it is about making the most of life.

I have two questions:

  1. What are the chances of actually being hired at my age upon completion of the training?

  2. Is it wiser to consider becoming a helicopter pilot?

Any insight is greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

Respectfully,
James

James,

  1. This is a fairly common question these days. The answer is your chances are good. If you start NOW with an accelerated program you could be hirable in 2-2.5yrs making you 55-56 which leaves you 9-10yrs worth of flying. Now that’s obviously not much for full career advancement but for the Regionals, who are short on warm bodies, if they can get 9-10 yrs out of you that’s generally better than they’re going to get from some young guy who’s looking to jump ship ASAP making you a good investment.

  2. Helicopters are cool and fun to fly but there’s only a fraction of the jobs for helicopter pilots as there are for fixed wing. Factor in ALL the military guys who never transitioned to fix wing grabbing the bulk of the best positions (news, sight seeing and law enforcement) and you’ve reduced your chances for employment significantly. At your age unless you’re looking to start your own business I’d be thinking fixed.

Adam

Thanks for the quick reply. I greatly appreciate the insight.

Respectfully,
James

By the way, is the FAA physical a concern? I’m in good health overall. I
understand corrective lenses are allowed for the eye exam. I’ve heard some
people say they didn’t do well on the color blindness test but there are
alternative tests…? Thanks again for your time.

James,

If you are in good health, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. These are not NASA physicals, the standard is much lower.

Chris

Thanks for the reply. Good to know.