Real Answers from Real Pilots

Intro and questions

Good morning all! My name is Jonathan and I live in Queens, NY. I would like to start off by saying this forum has greatly helped with making my decision to pursue my dream career. :+1:t4:

So, let me give you some brief info on myself. I’m 24 and I currently work for Delta Airlines at JFK as a Ramp Agent. I’ve been here for just about 5 years, and I would say I have a pretty good understanding on how the aviation field is. Growing up, living in Queens NY seeing aircraft fly over my house was a normal thing, and I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a pilot. However, I would not label my family as very wealthy so it always seemed out of reach. Now that I’m a little older it definitely seems attainable. After high school I went straight into Vaughn College, (aviation College right here in Queens) to pursue my Airframe and powerplant lisences, but after about a year I realized I do not want to work on planes for the rest of my life and I would much rather fly them. I told myself I would go back to college to get a “ regular” degree in business to keep my options open. So, here I am, in my last year of college and thinking about taking that leap into ATP to pursue my dream in Januar2019.
So, time for some questions. ( brace yourselves) i understand that the ATP program is very fast paced and requires a full time commitment. However, do you guys think it’s a good idea to leave Delta airlines? I do have a small business that my brother and I have started and the income could hold me up for the 9 months while I’m in training. But I can’t help but think leaving Delta would be a mistake. Do you think staying with delta ( even as a ramp agent) gives me any kind of advantage?Furthermore, I do have the option to take my exam to get my airframe lisence. I know it isn’t necessary, but does having that lisence give me any sort of advantage?

Thanks in advance,
Jonathan

Jonathan,

Welcome to the forums and thank you for the detailed introduction.

Your question about staying with an airline is one that we get frequently from people like yourself who already work for an airline, but not as a pilot. The answer is yes, you absolutely need to leave your job and there are three reasons.

The first is that if you plan on attending ATP, you simply will not be able to work and go through flight training. The demands on your schedule will be too much, your training or your job will suffer and you will end up either doing poorly in training, or having attendance issues at work, neither of which is good.

The second thing is that airlines want to see flight time. It is great that you have worked for them, but loading bags is very different from flying airplanes and really does not relate in any way. The airlines want to see pilot’s licenses, flight time, and for the majors a college degree. No other experience in aviation really matters as it does not apply.

The third reason comes back to time. Think about it, how long are you going to hold onto the job at Delta? Until you finish flight training? Until you are a CFI? Once you are at a regional? It just isn’t possible, or wise, to try and work two aviation jobs at once. Once you decide to become a professional pilot, you need to focus solely on that.

I would not waste any time or money getting your A&P. Again, focus on being a pilot.

Let us know what other questions you have.

Chris

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Thanks for the quick response Chris!

I agree 100%. I know it would be nearly impossible to do. I just figured maybe the regionals (like endeavor) would like that I’m familiar with the industry, and culture of Delta which would give me some kind of competitive edge. Wishful thinking huh?

Another question. I’m also exploring the option of going down south to Clearwater Florida to enter ATP. I have a buddy that graduated from ATP on Long Island here in New York, and he mentioned that New York has some of the worst flying weather which can delay training quite often. Now, to be clear I am not trying to accelerate the process, and I am patient,but I would obviously like to finish as soon as I can. Also, I’m asking because ATP on Long Island is about a 90 mile commute everyday and in Clearwater I would be staying at my cousins house which is only 3 miles away. What do you think? Would it make a difference where I train in regards to completion time?

Thanks,

Jonathan

Jonathan,

Chris is dead on in all his points. The only thing I would add is have you spoken to anyone at DAL about your plans? I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I fly for Hawaiian and we will (on occasion) give employees from other work groups Leaves of Absence for educational and career development (including flight training). I have no idea if Delta has anything like this BUT in this hiring environment and IF you’ve been a solid employee it might be worth asking.

Adam

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Hi Adam,

I have not reached out to anyone about my plans but that is worth asking for sure. You just reminded me that DAL also offers some kind of scholarship program as well. I will definitely look into this and keep you guys posted.

Thanks,
Jonathan

Jonathan,

The airlines will see that you already have airline experience and appreciate that, but you already have that box checked and don’t need any more agent experience. At this point, you need licenses and hours.

I wouldn’t give the weather at a particular location too much thought. Every region of the country has its good and bad months, over nine months it all balances out.

The commute however is very y worrisome to me (for you). Ninety miles per day in Long Island traffic could easily be 2-4 hours per day in your car. That is time that would be far better spent studying or resting. My vote is to stay with your cousins and be as close to the training location as possible.

Chris

Adam,

Even if Delta offered a leave of absence, I do not see the point in somebody taking one as it just postpones the inevitable of quitting. At some point, the leave will run out and Jonathan will be faced with either trying to balance two aviation jobs (which is impossible) or choosing to go back to being a ramp agent, which he isn’t going to do. The only possible advantage to a leave of absence would be if it allowed some form of benefits to continue during the leave.

Jonathan,

No matter what you do, make sure that you follow Delta’s policies exactly when quitting or taking a leave. I know a woman who was a flight attendant at Continental, she went out on an extended leave for flight training and somehow managed to not extend her leave or properly quit when the time came, as a result she shows as being “fired” from Continental. Well, several years later she went to apply to United (CAL and UAL merged) as a pilot and was not able to be hired because she had previously been fired from the company. So whatever route you take, make sure you do it correctly.

Chris

Jonathan,

Again I agree with Chris a 90mi commute is really not doable. Go south young man!

Adam

Definitely does seem like a no brainer to go down South. But that gives me another reason to stay with Delta so I can fly back to NY on weekends for $free.99 haha. I may be able to give away almost all of my shifts, because I only work 24 hours a week ( Part time) at least until I get my CFI then I would certainly part ways with Delta.

I have a lot of thinking to do, and I will take all of your input into consideration. Thank you

Jonathan

Hey all, Just wanted to send a little update.

I had my intro flight yesterday! It was my first time flying and I am now, officially hooked. We flew above Long Island at around 2500 Ft, then came down to around 500 ft and flew along the beach. We also did a stall and one steep turn, it was pretty awesome. It really was an experience of a life time.

I spoke to the instructors there and they explained everything in detail and suggested that I commit to a start date so I can get started with all my written exams until I’m ready to enroll.

Glad it went well congrats!

Look at that glass!?!? When I took my intro flight all we had was a compass and a half empty gin bottle with a level line! :wink:

Adam

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I am glad it went well, Hopefully just the first of countless flights for you :slight_smile:

Chris