Real Answers from Real Pilots

What kind of hours are you putting in a month as a pilot?

My name is David and I am retired Military and am thinking of using my GI Bill to get through flight school. I would love to get my commercial pilots license, but I am almost 50 so I know I have limited years left. I flew while in the service, just not behind any controls and I do miss flying.

I have been retired for about 3 years and I have been putting in over 50 hrs. a week at my current job. I am going to be moving to Arizona and looking for a new start. Some of my buddies have been talking about becoming a pilot and have told me all the great reasons why I should. It sounds great, but I know there has to be a side that I don’t see. We talk about the positive side of things, but what are the down sides?

What are the down sides to being a pilot? Hours, pay, getting the seniority you need to move up? Can someone shed a little light on this?

David,

The biggest downside is the time spent on the road. I routinely spend twelve nights per month in hotels. Keep in mind though that I also have about fourteen days per month off. These are days that are totally free of obligation, they are purely my days. With that in mind, I think the time spent on the road is balanced out by the days off.

I suppose that it does take some time to build seniority in this industry, but that is the same anywhere.

You came to the wrong place though to hear bad things about the industry. All of us mentors are here because we love the job, I really have to struggle to see the downsides of the industry. This job has enabled me to live a very comfortable life and I really enjoy doing it.

You will not be able to use your GI benefits at ATP as the government only allows such for part 141 schools. ATP is a part 61 school. Just keep in mind that 141 schools operate like any other government entity, can be very cumbersome and actually end up costing more money than a part 61 school.

Also, keep in mind that airline pilots must retire by the age of 65, so your time is rather limited. It is reasonable to think you will get hired at a regional, but you will most likely not be able to get hired by a major airline in time.

Let us know what questions you have.

David,

I’m with Chris and I don’t even mind the time away as I can only take so much of anybody (including my family!). I get paid very well to do something I would gladly pay to do. I fly a state of the art airplane to some amazing places I never thought I’d ever see (let alone fly myself to) and most of the time I’m sitting next to my friends. I rarely work more than 15days a month and 5 of those days I’m usually off in other countries.

Honestly the only people I know who complain are those who’ve never had any other job as a point of reference and would rather be home not working at all.

Adam

I miss the traveling I did when I was flying. I don’t mind the travel at all and having that much time off to myself and family would be nice. I guess you have to have the seniority to get that time off?

I don’t understand the Part 61 or part 141, so I will have to do a little research on that.
I guess I need to weigh the pros and cons to starting out so late. Having only 11 to maybe 13 years to fly doesn’t give me a lot of seniority, but I would be flying so that is a pro.

Thanks for your input.

Dave

So are you saying it takes about 15 years to be hired by a major carrier?

That is an answer with some widely varying numbers. From start to finish, it can take as little as four years, to as much as 15 or more years to get to a major. Although I would speculate that the average is 8-10 years. But again, there are so many different things that can affect one’s career progression that it can be very difficult to really make a good guess.