Real Answers from Real Pilots

Sense of accomplishment

I am currently an engineer working in the industry. I enrolled for ATP flight school last August but had to drop out before my start date due to an issue with my current job. I have contemplated being an airline pilot sense before I started college 5 years ago, but am now really tired off all the engineering jobs I’ve had and want to get out from behind the cubical. My biggest concern with changing careers like this (besides the money) is the repetition of the work. I’ve flown before, and fly in a passenger seat regularly. It has the been the highlight of my life getting to be around planes as much as I have and enjoy every second of it. But as with any passion, doing it over and over again, it eventually becomes work, just a job. How to you keep the passion alive? In engineering I get to create things and develop robots and see a result from my work. This gives me a sense of accomplishment, but it is draining me and I find myself always looking back asking my self what it could’ve been like if I could’ve followed through with ATP. But flying is in essence just a taxi service. Where to you find a sense of accomplishment in your career. What does it mean to be successful in a career where you can only advance so far?

Anthony,

Interesting post I must say. On the one hand you say how “you’re tired of engineering” but then you say how it “gives me a sense of accomplishment”, which you fear flying will not despite it being “the highlight of your life”? Anthony the questions you ask are the intangibles my friend. What it mean to be successful can and often is something very different for everyone. Some measure their success based on income. When it comes to aviation many measure it based on hours in their logbook, size of their aircraft or number of type ratings. The point is success is something that must be defined by you. From where I’m sitting I consider myself to be very successful in my field (and my life). You say can only advance so far? I started flying recreationally, became an instructor, Regional FO, Regional CA, Major FO, Major Widebody FO to my last award of Major CA and instructor. Personally I consider that quite a lot of advancement in the 14yrs I’ve been flying professionally and I’m not done (still need Check Pilot and Widebody CA, maybe?). I get paid well to do something many can only dream of and something I truly enjoy (despite the repetition). How I don’t get bored and keep my passion is by a ALWAYS challenging myself to improve my performance (that’s being a professional) and never forgetting that people LITERALLY trust me with their lives. Something I honestly don’t think many new pilots recognize. The vast majority of jobs on this planet afford you the luxury of coming to work and not doing your best. Show up, do the minimum, punch out and repeat. It’s ok. In my field if I have a bad day I can end up on the 6 o’clock news, have a movie made about it and become the subject of criticism for decades. The fact that I don’t is how I define my success. The fact that I look forward to going to work is how I define success. The fact my family takes pride in telling people what I do is how I define success. BUT none of that means a thing if your definition is something else. I believe you need to figure out how YOU define success and then figure out how to accomplish it.

Adam

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Anthony,

If you are already thinking of flying like a taxi service then you might want to think really hard before investing a lot of time and money into changing careers.

Flying professionally involves a lot more than just flying airplanes. In my twelve years as an airline pilot I have flown all over the world, flown four different kinds of jets and got to work with a lot of really interesting people. One of the ways that I have stayed engaged is by changing airplanes every few years and exposing myself to new kinds of flying. That being said, I have been back on domestic flying for the last several years and really enjoy it. I find a sense of accomplishment in getting people to their destinations safely, in various weather conditions and while also confronting all of the other issues that we face in the industry.
To echo what Adam said though, your sense of accomplishment has to come from within, it can’t come from your job. I enjoy flying, but I can think of numerous other careers that I would enjoy as well. Find what drives you internally and build off that.

Chris

I am not trying to belittle the field by calling it a taxi service. I have been debating this career with my friends and family for over 5 years now. When I mention it to them, they ask how could I do that. How could I be just a “taxi driver”. I’ve just hear this field called that for years now. And you’re right. Saying what success is is quite personal. I understand that. I am good at what I do now, but there are other things that I’d rather do as well. just like Chris said. But I became an engineer because it paid well. It just turned out that I did a good job at it. Aviation is just one of the things where I get butterflies just talking about it, if you know what I mean. I don’t know. I really like the idea of what the career can give. Every day is a nice day since you fly above the clouds. Plenty of time off. Lots of travel. Good pay. Not being stuck in one place. Office in the sky. flying. Operating amazing machines. etc. I did the intro flight with ATP and loved every second of it. I guess I am just afraid to leave my very comfortable life right now in fear I would be bored with a career flying, cause from the outside looking in, it seems like the career is defined by going from point A to B and back over and over again. How do you maintain that sense of excitement once the newness of getting to fly wears off? In the mean time I am ripping my hair out (figuratively) from boredom at work because even though I make good money, I do not like my job and dread coming in to work every day. Why am I so afraid of jumping into a career that I am excited about.

Anthony,

Let me be frank, I’m (we’re) not here to convince anyone to be pilots. We’re here to guide those with a dream or desire. If you believe you’ll be “bored”, it’s “defined by going from point A to point B, or the newness will wear off” then don’t do it! Please! Honestly the only thing that spoils my day is sitting next to someone who believes it’s “just a job”.

Speaking of “just a”, I’m not sure who family and friends “believe” they are (or maybe it’s you?) but NOBODY on this planet is “just a” anything (what’s wrong with being a taxi driver? or a fry guy? or any other honest work?) and NO ONE is better than ANYONE else. You obviously didn’t grow up in my neighborhood, if you had that would have been smacked out of you years ago :slight_smile:

Adam

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That’s just the thing. I’m trying to not be a just a job guy. That is why I’m here. I grew up in a town where everyone has just a job. I guess it is hard to shake and the fact that you interpreted my response in that tone is quite the eye opener. That is probably getting too personal for this site and outside the scope of what this forum is suppose to be. But I came here trying to get motivation to get a job that I actually care about and to see how other pilots take pride in their job.

Anthony,

Not trying to make this personal but when you make sweeping indictments based on superficial observations you open yourself up for criticism. Once again you come in with this incredibly bold, presumptuous and demeaning statement that “I grew up in a town where everyone has just a job”. And your basing this statement on what other than YOUR myopic view? It begs the question what then is not just a job? The question is rhetorical and is really just a variance on your opening statement of what’s accomplishment and success? There’s a Japanese word “shugyo”. It literally translates to austere training or training with a purpose (which in reality can be argued is the ONLY way to train or DO anything). A person can be anything from your poor taxi driver, a teacher, garbage man, doctor, lawyer, YES airline pilot or anything else you can name. If that person takes pride and does that job to the best of their abilities there is honor in it and a sense of accomplishment and success but if they don’t there can be none and any vocation can (and will) be “just a job”. Again I encourage you to look to yourself for something that YOU take pride in and can do with a purpose (it might take a few tries). I think you find when you do you will get that sense of pride and accomplishment you seek regardless of how that’s viewed by someone on the outside.

Adam

This is exactly what I am talking about. You’re defending your job. You
care. You take pride in your work. That is what I see so little of on a
daily basis my entire life. Whether or not you’ve taken a dislike to me
because of how I worded things in this thread, it doesn’t matter to me. It
is refreshing to see enthusiasm. I keep coming back to airline pilots
because it is one of the few things I speak highly about when people ask
me. Getting a picture of what the day to day life is when you actually
become a pilot is where I have to ask difficult questions like this to
people who live the life, like you. I really appreciate you taking the time
to be constructure with me and say what you wanted to. Our conversation has
not pushed me away from wanting to try this career, but I will continue to
look for motivation.

Anthony,

I don’t dislike you, I’m not trying to push you away from aviation nor am I defending my job. I’m defending EVERYONE’s job and I’m simply telling you it shouldn’t matter what I or your family or friends say or think about what you do. The only opinion that matters is yours. No one should be able to cast a negative light on what you do NOR should anyone be able to motivate you. If I could somehow write a compelling piece with eloquence and conviction about the joys of aviation and inherent nobility of the profession as a means to allow mankind to shred their Worldly constraints, erasing manmade borders, expanding global relations and allowing cultural interaction, aiding in the distribution of medicine, providing sustenance to barren regions and facilitating and catalyzing scientific study of all disciplines by creating mobility equally so a mother could hold her child and every man can explore beyond the wildest dreams of Columbus and Marco Polo, at the end of the day if you think it’s boring, then to you it is and that’s all that matters, to you.

Peace out

Adam