Real Answers from Real Pilots

Husband and wife both pursuing flying career?


(Brian Mangum) #1

Hello all,

My name is Brian. I am 40 years old, a doctor, and have been working in the field of international health for the past 15 years from the Caribbean and Latin America, to Africa and now the Pacific.

I am not new to the ‘dream’ of becoming an airline pilot, and have thought about it for years. In fact, Adam may remember my wife and I from when we met at the Alani resort on Oahu about two years ago. Adam provided some great insight and encouragement which was much appreciated.

After many years, my wife and I are preparing to make the big career change. My wife will go first, since she already has her private, and I will hold down the financial fort. The plan would be that when she gets picked up by a regional (2-2.5 years), we will have enough money saved that I can make the move.

I’ve read the forums, the website, have asked questions in the past, and for the most part understand the process, including the risks; but I do have two questions.

First, is the prospect of having a wife and husband both pursuing aviation, what with the need to sit on reserve and then the prospect of building up seniority, an unrealistic proposition?

Second, how difficult would it be to live on Oahu and commute?

I realize there are a number of factors here, such as seniority, holding a line versus reserve, as well as the airline and base to which we need to commute. However, I was hoping to get some general input. Obviously, if this was the goal we would look at regionals that have bases on the west coast.

The reason I ask, is that we have four kids that have been raised on islands. My wife and the kids are currently in Fiji, where she is working; while I am in Pohnpei (along the famed ‘Island Hopper’ route for Chris; I actually have questions about that and GUM as a base in the longterm, but I’ll save that for later). The kids have not been on the mainland in six years, with the closest being annual trips to Hawaii, and I fear culture shock. We have lots of friends on Oahu, and the kids (and parents) handle the Hawaiian lifestyle quite well.

Many thanks!

Brian


#2

Brian,

Welcome to the new forums. Your situation is unique in that both you and your wife want to enter the field at nearly the same time while having children. I can think of several pilot or flight attendant couples and they do make it work, but entering the field at the same time with children is one that I have not seen before. I am not saying that it is impossible, far from it, but it will take some creative scheduling to do.

I will let Adam speak to the commuting from Ohau to the mainland, but I can tell you that commuting in general can be tough. I find it to be worth it as it allows me to live where I would like.

How old are your children? What are your questions about Guam?

I look forward to working with you.

Chris


(Brian Mangum) #3

Hi Chris,

Thank you for the quick reply and the information – it is very much appreciated.

There would be about 24 month lag between my wife starting and me starting. So the hope would be that by the time I followed, that she would have some seniority and would be holding a consistent line. But of course, as you said, it would take quite a bit of coordination. We have four kids: 14 (boy), 12 (boy), 8 (girl), 5 (boy). They’re good kids – very malleable, used to travel, having parents away, etc.

I’m based in PNI, but travel on United between HNL, MAJ, KWA, KSA, TRK, GUM, and even over to SPN and ROR. Not surprisingly, I have thought about attempting to get on with a regional that has a flow-through agreement with United. Most of the UA crews, and I believe they are all former Continental like yourself, seem very happy. There’s even Cape Air, which is the United regional between GUM and SPN, as well as in the Northeast and the Caribbean.

In terms of a base, how popular is GUM? Would it be difficult to get? Or, does it have the appeal of being quasi-international with American amenities and great beaches, and is thus more senior?

Thanks again,
Brian


#4

Hi Brian!

Trust all is well. I figured you’d be flying for Air Fiji by now? Listen I’m not going to lie. While your wife may accrue some seniority in a couple of years, both of you at a Regional with 4 kids in going to be quite a challenge. As far as the commute goes there obviously are pilots doing it but from what I understand it’s tough, particularly during holidays and vacation season. The last few times I’ve gone home to NY to visit family I’ve had to take the jumpseat. As a Regional pilot your priority would be behind all the mainline carrier’s pilots and there’s really no Plan B, 2-3 leg option. Is it doable? Anything is but definitely tough. I think a better plan would be for you and your wife to try and get a local gig with Transair or Mokulele. Both will hire you with way less than 1500hrs and you’ll be home every night. Build your time there and then try to make the move to Cape Air etc. The problem is its a very popular option with all the local pilots but definitely worth pursuing.

Adam


#5

Brian,

I think that with children of that age you are likely going to find that your situation isn’t practical. As Adam pointed out you are looking at a very complex and heavily trafficed commute, with no back ups. Your wife will not have hardly any seniority in 2-3 years, so attending flight training during this period will be rough. The only way I see you having any reasonable quality of life is if you all move back to the main land, at least for the next several years.

GUM is a rather easy base to get, it is not very desired amongst the pilot group as it is so far from the US. Many times it has unfilled vacancies and new hire pilots get sent there. I don’t think that you would have any problem getting assigned there. If not at first you would get it rather soon.

You mentioned that you were 40, and going to wait until at least 42 to start training. As I am sure you are aware the FAA mandatory retirement age is 65. With your plan you are looking at entering the industry at 45, leaving you 20 years left to fly. You might find that you have a hard time getting on at a major with that amount of time. I am not saying that it is impossible, it certainly isn’t, but it will be tough. That being said, there is certainly nothing wrong with a career at the regionals, in fact many pilots chose to stay there.

I hope this doesn’t come across as being overly negative, I am not trying to convey that at all. I just want you to have very realistic expectations before you decide to fully change careers and enter aviation.

Chris


(Brian Mangum) #6

Hi Chris,

As always, I want to thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions – very much appreciated.

I also want to thank you for your honesty. It does not come across as ‘negative’ at all; rather, it is good to have the unvarnished opinion of those who understand both the positive and negative aspects of the industry.

As I mentioned, my wife is also a doc, and so I could actually be the one to attend flight school. The only reason we had discussed her going first is that she already has her PPL. That is something we will need to consider, or whether she truly wants to pursue the career as much as I do; or if she would be happy staying in her current career path while I changed.

Thanks for the information on GUM. I am not surprised that it is not popular, being so far away. Of course, that could work in my favor if I am able to make it to a major such as United. As you mentioned though, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a career at the regionals, enjoying the perks of seniority without having to start over at the bottom.

Once again, thanks for the advice.

All the best,
Brian


(Brian Mangum) #7

Aloha Adam!

Great to talk to you again. It sounds like things are still great at Hawaiian. As always, thank you for the honest advice; you know I appreciate it.

I wish I was Fiji Airways. Although, they are trying to eliminate all of their non-local flight crews over the next couple of years, so all of the Aussies and the few Americans are starting to look elsewhere.

I figured the commute would be difficult, even with all of the daily flights to the west coast. Mokulele would be an awesome choice – especially with the thought of being home every night. Of course, as with everything else in life, I’ve come to realize the key is being flexible. So if we need to make the move to the mainland to be closer/living in base, then that is what we will have to do.

As I mentioned to Chris, we will need to consider which of us wants the career more, and then focus on that person. We had thought about sending Tami since she already has her PPL. But honestly, she would probably be just as good with staying in her career path, coming back to the States, and letting me chase the dream. I’m the one that constantly reads, and dreams, and comes up with plans involving a flying career.

Anyway, as always, thanks for the help.

Brian


#8

My pleasure as always. Keep us posted.

Adam


#9

Brian,

Anytime, I am glad that you are finding this site to be useful.

Having a PPL is only about a two to three month advantage. I say whoever wants it most goes first, and I suspect that is you :slight_smile:

Chris


(Brian Mangum) #10

Many thanks to both of you… I’ll keep you in the loop.


#11

Anytime, keep coming back with your questions.

Chris