Real Answers from Real Pilots

Starting over

Hey everyone I am new to the forum and wanted to get started by posting. My name is Daryl, I’m 36 years old and I am from northern Canada. 20 years ago while still in highschool I decided I wanted to be an airline pilot. I did all the right things, learned French and Spanish (became conversational in both), completed my PPL and night flying and qualified for a flying scholarship from my air cadet squadron. It seemed I had the world by the tail.

A few years later I met a lady who was a bad influence and my life became a series of poor choices and excuses. I became a lost soul.

Fastforward 15 years to last week: my now wife qualified for a trip to Mexico through her work and we went to Cabo San Lucas for 7 days. When we got to Cabo I asked the border guard a question in Spanish and my wife looked at me befuddled. In 9 years together she’d never heard me or even knew that I could speak Spanish.

While sitting in seat 19B on the tarmac waiting to depart coming home my wife looked at me and asked if I was sad to leave. I looked at her and I almost had tears in my eyes and said no but there’s one thing wrong with this aircraft. She said what’s that? I said I’m supposed to be the guy flying it.

After we landed in Edmonton we got to talking and I said you know it’s like talking to that guy you know who once had everything going and snorted it up his nose or threw it all away - except I’m looking in the mirror. My wife started to cry and said it was hard to hear me talk like that. I said it was like somewhere along the way I forgot my passion and today I was punched in the face with it.

That was 3 days ago and all I can think about is flying. It’s consumed me like a disease and all I can think is WTF did I do with the last 15 years of my life? And more importantly do I want to be here 15 years from now asking the same question? I gotta do it - flying is happiness for me.

Here’s the challenge: I quit training in 2003 when I didn’t finish my degree and I haven’t touched an airplane since 2009. Before that I hadn’t flown since 2007 when I did checkrides and circuits for night and daytime flying.

What would it take to get myself back on the right path? Basically go sign up for ground school, rewrite the PSTAR, do a recert course? Realistically at age 36 I don’t really have time to go complete a 4 year degree and 2 years of flight training to get going. Is it worth it to pursue without the degree? I want to fly but I’m afraid of getting stuck at the $30,000 a year level. It’s not all about money but it is something I have to consider before making the final decision. I do have a wife and young son to consider as well.

I would welcome any input.

Thanks

From previous posts that covered similar issues, going through ATP training, and then finishing your degree online while you’re working for the regionals would seem to do the trick to get into the majors afterwards.

Daryl,

You mention having made several bad choices, before we go any further, what nature are these choices? Do you have criminal convictions?

Also, this website is geared towards pilots in the US, we are not terribly familiar with Canadian requirements.

Chris

No. I am 100% clean and avoided any criminal history. I have more or less decided to go for it but I’m weighing some of the major issues, mainly because it is not only me now as I have to look out for my family as well. There are issues surrounding how to acquire the education I need, how to make sure bills continue to get paid, probably issues with relocating for work purposes. When I was 20 it was easy, now there’s a lot more to consider.

I am actually in a pretty good position now, other than that I do not enjoy my work. I work a 15 on 6 off schedule so I can definitely work flying into that.

What I’m considering is that realistically I would have 8 to 10 years from now until I were eligible to fly for a major, when you factor in training and time as an instructor and then time with a regional carrier. If I signed up with Athabasca University I could even pick away 2 courses a semester and have a 4 year degree by then. I’m thinking maybe to just stop talking and start doing. Piece by piece as a work in progress.

Daryl,

I wish you the best in all of this. As you are in Canada, there is not much that we can offer you in the line of advice.

Chris

Thanks. I’ll give a little background from when I was younger. I decided at age 16 that I wanted to fly. I was an air cadet and came home one day from familiarization flying and told my mom that I decided I wanted to be a commercial pilot. My dad told me that he had a friend (Gary Grant was his name) who he went to high school with who was the head pilot for Air Canada and he still owned a house on the lake close to where I grew up.

So dad called Gary and told him to let us know next time he came to town. A month later we went for dinner with him and he basically told me what he would want to see if I was applying to him.

He said you need a degree. He said he doesn’t care if it’s in basket weaving but you need the credential. Not all airlines require it but by not having it you reduce the potential employers considerably who would be otherwise willing to hire you. He said in his case he couldn’t even entertain an application without it unless you have a military aviation background. The other thing here in Canada is it’s a bilingual country and all of the airlines are required to provide service in both English and French. Gary said that while it is not strictly a rule that you as the pilot have to be bilingual, having a second language will make you a much more preferred candidate because the airline has to have bilingual service available at all times.

The other thing he told me is to look to build 3000 hours. He said most people think of 1500 as their starting point but realistically you’re going to spend 500 training, then your 1500 hours for your ATPL and then another 1000 hours to be eligible to sit in the left seat.

These were the requirements 15 years ago. I assume they haven’t changed. - Though writing this post has kinda answered my own question.

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