Real Answers from Real Pilots

Should I give up my dream to be a pilot?

Hi there,

My name is Soren Bliss-Miller, and I’m a 22yr old from Washington state. I’ve wanted to fly for as long as I can remember, but always thought it would be unattainable. I’ve worked a few jobs, and done a little college. Recently I’ve been looking into different careers as the sheet metal trade isn’t a long term deal for me.

ATP sounds like it has an amazing program, and due to my wife’s salary we could probably scrape by the 9 months of training.

But there’s one problem… I love my town, my family, and my state, and know my wife is the same. Is there any hope for someone entering the industry without SENORITY, to be placed in his/her home region?

Or should I keep looking.

Thank you :slight_smile:

-Soren Bliss-Miller

Soren,

I’m actually a little confused by your post and question? I’m sorry if I sound harsh but here goes…There are many people who dream of flying from a young age only to discover they will quite literally NEVER have the opportunity. Some don’t have the skill or aptitude, others it’s physical but in either case it simply will never happen for them, ever. While I understand and appreciate you “love your town” I suggest that if the thought of moving (or commuting) for a time is inconceivable to you then perhaps it never was a dream and simply something that sounded cool?

Adam

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Soren,

As someone who realized my dream of flying later in life I think you have to ask yourself if you would truly be happy by passing up on your dream or if you would always wonder and wish.

If you are near Seattle I think there is a reasonable chance of getting based there fairly soon depending on what airline or regional. I’d say try to do some research or ask about how long it takes to hold Seattle as a domicile. Skywest publishes seniority on their pilot hiring page and they have a base in Seattle and a mentor on this site. Delta, Alaska, Horizon, And Compass also list Seattle but I don’t have data on seniority to hold those.

My 2 cents.
Ryan

Ryan,

While I’m not trying to discourage anyone, Soren clearly states he wants “without SENORITY, to be placed in his/her home region”. While there may in fact be a “reasonable chance” there are no guarantees. While the environment is fantastic right now will it still be in 2yrs? I believe it will be, the shortage is in full effect and shows no signs of letting up BUT understand the word is out and training is once again on the rise. Does that mean pilot’s will be fighting for jobs like in the past? I don’t think so BUT as the supply increases the airlines will not be able to accommodate everyone’s first choice of base (ATP itself can no longer guarantee a location and this is for paying customers). As the supply increases you’ll also see the airlines getting more selective. What that means is even if a pilot wants to fly for SkyWest AND SkyWest has a base in SEA that’s junior there’s no guarantee SkyWest will hire that pilot. So after 2yrs of training and instructing if Soren finds himself in the same position as thousands of other pilots who didn’t get their first choice of airline or base will he think he should’ve kept looking? That’s the question?

Adam

Adam

Completely agree with you. No guarantees in life or the airline business, especially when you haven’t even been hired or are qualified yet.

Ryan

1 Like

Thanks for the advice Adam,
I realize my question may sound a bit naive and abstract. I’m excited at the prospect of going through ATP, and I’m definitely willing to commute a distance (Like your friend in Florida, although I don’t understand how that’s economical) I just don’t want to uproot my wife from her job at the moment.

Something you may be able to answer, would be if there are “trends” in saught after domiciles? So maybe the Seattle area would have a lack of pilots because many want a station around LA?

And is there often enough local airlines hiring to patiently wait for something close?

Thank you very much for your time.

Soren,

It’s not a question of naïve or abstract, it’s simply a matter that sometimes (not always) dreams require some degree of sacrifice to achieve and that sacrifice can take many forms. The fact is I’d say at least half the pilots in the country commute. You know why? Because flying was/is their dream and they get paid well to do something they enjoy. They’re willing to compromise and sacrifice so they can live where they want AND live their dream. As for the expense pilot’s can jumpseat to work for no cost and crashpads can be had for minimum expense so the economics of it are seldom prohibitive. That said no one wants to commute but it’s the price they pay.

As for domiciles what makes them desirable is what makes any place desirable (ease of getting to work, climate, cost of living etc). I don’t know the particulars of SEA but I know here at Hawaiian we have a large number of commuters from SEA so I have to believe the airlines with bases there would have even more pilots living there (vs LA which is expensive, has traffic etc). What you need to understand is airlines staff bases based on THEIR needs not yours and again there’s ZERO guarantee you’ll get the base you want right out of training (as I mentioned ATP will no longer guarantee your choice of location to instruct which begs the question if you won’t relocate how will you build time once you finish your training?).

I’m not trying to paint a dark picture but you need to be realistic about what this career is and isn’t. I get a sense you want someone to tell you YES if you wait around eventually you’ll get the base you want. The fact is you may BUT it may also take a while. You could get hired, get told you’ll be staying in SEA and due to staffing etc not end up there. Will you quit? I have a dear friend who’s been based in CLE for over 20yrs. Well his airline announced they’re closing that base this year. His ENTIRE life is in CLE. His home, career, family and his wife’s too. Guess what? He’s either moving or going to be commuting and he’s at the TOP of the seniority list.

Your original question was “should I keep looking?”. Only you can answer that question but if the chance that you may not spend your entire career at the location of your choice (or any of it for that matter) is a deal breaker then this may not be the job for you.

Adam

Soren,

Keep in mind though that the airline industry is dynamic, what may be a base right now might not be in the future. The industry is full of pilots that commute from former bases. I would plan on being flexible with location, but that could also mean being willing to commute from Seattle to another base if need be.

Chris

Soren,

Coincedentally, an example of the dynamics that Chris and Adam are talking about is our SEA domicile here at SKW. The base used to be very senior when it was exclusively CRJ. A few months ago, when we started taking deliveries of the Delta E175s and the base needed an increase in staffing, SEA dropped to the bottom of the list regarding seniority and pretty much all the new hires were sent there. Fast forward a few months, it has mostly stabilized in that area and more senior people transferred into SEA from other domiciles and it is no longer the most junior base for the E175.

So basically if you were in the right place (training) at the right time (last fall), you could get SEA without any seniority. Right now it looks like the most junior FO in SEA is a November 2016 hire.

Hope that helps a little bit…

Yarden