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Opportunity or Setback

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  • Opportunity or Setback

    Looking for advise from the folks in, around, or retired from the industry. Really, how did you get to today, and was the juice worth the squeeze.

    I have a college fund from the VA, which will pay for the majority of school, plus housing. I recently enrolled for UAA professional piloting program. Now, my goal isn't to become some airline pilot. I just enjoy flying, and want my commercial, CFI is a plus that I would use. I'm not wanting to make a "career" of it. I know that pilots really struggle for the first 9/10's of their career. I enjoy teaching (I was an instructor in the military), love aviation, and want to be compensated for more than just half a tank a gas.
    I am fairly new in real estate, making decent money, and see the potential for big money down a short road. I'm not driven by money, just the things i can do with it, and aviation is not cheap venture. I'm getting resistance from people close to me for leaving a good job with great money, to go to school, for an industry that suffers and pilots are abused. They tell me about people they know that are in the industry that dont like it, or are leaving it.
    I want to hear the truth here, about how thinks really work in life.

    I have the choice of setting myself back 4 years in my new career, so that I can get my ratings, and a degree (really not that useful)
    Stay in my career, make money, and have to pay for my ratings, and take who knows how long to complete the ratings I seek.

  • #2
    screw the school, go 61 and save a lot of money and time.
    The winner isn't the person with the most gold when they die, but rather, the person with the most stories.


    • #3
      As a mid-career airline pilot I question my choice of careers everyday. Pushing the thrust up for takeoff and landing again is tough to beat. Being gone and all the crazy ups and downs of the industry...not so great.

      The perfect flying job would be to have what most consider a "normal job" but for a company that has a really cool airplane you could fly a few times a month and maybe have an occasional overnighter.

      I have 2 kids and though I want to teach them to fly, I will not encourage them to become a fulltime professional pilots.

      Just my $.02


      • #4
        Best way I've heard it said:
        Get a well paying non-flying job with a good schedule that allows you to fly YOUR way on YOUR time with YOUR airplane and you will still love aviation when you are an old man.

        Tounge-in-cheek remark, but truth is its alot more fun to fly my planes the way I want, when I want than to fly for the man. (the other side is flying someone else's junk, in crappy weather, in the middle of the night)

        I'd stay in real-estate, if I were you.

        Complete flight training on the off time (part 61 as advised above) and buy the plane you want.

        Good luck either way.


        • #5
          The VA requires part 141, so 61 ain't gonna work unless you pay for it yourself. Take a look at my 4 posts (Monguse) at for my take on Alaska bush flying.


          • #6
            for my .02c...

            If you're not real passionate about flying - if you haven't been bit by the bug.... you could get sick doing the hard yards for little reward to get you started.

            For me - I'd want the job rather than private flying - I enjoy the challenge of adverse conditions when you need to get people out, or get supplies in, and the reward you get from look on tourists faces when you've just given them a scenic flight they will remember for the rest of their lives.

            I spend a lot of time and effort to find a little work that gives me that buzz.

            Is it worth it?...... for me.... hell yes.


            • #7
              Even if you go 61 the worse part is working towards your private because you really are hamstrung until you get that private. I work as a chemical engineer and have a flexable schedule and plenty of money to cover it but the FAA does not make it easy to get that initial private licence, your writens expire, your solo's expire and in alaska your flying season is short unless you want to fly in winter.

              I have a super cub in my family and have to jump through way more hoops than my dad did and WAY more than my grandfather did, back then you just had to fly the plane, take off and land safe. Now you have all these constraints on manuvers and failure points that are not really about safety. I will be more excited to get my private pilots licence than my professional chemical engineering licence lol (not really but its like getting released from jail so I can go fly the family cub without worrying about my solo or writens expiring, if i dont want to fly I dont have to and if want to I can but as a student you HAVE to fly before stuff starts expiring and it takes the fun out of it).

              I would not quit your day job to fly full time, becasue your not going to want to fly in the winter anyways, I dont even like getting out of my truck to walk to the grocery store in the winter let alone fly in a marginally heated cockpit if it has heat at all.


              • #8

                I agree with you regarding Alaska bush flying being more interesting as a job, although it has been fairly scary quite a few times in the distant past. Winter storms over open water bring on the pucker factor (Prince William Sound and the outside of the Kenai Peninsula). No forward visibility, storm force winds, blizzard conditions and really bad looking water beneath always bring on the thought, "What the hell am I doing here?" as the engine runs at automatic rough.

                Nevertheless, definitely challenging at times, especially hauling parts to broken down commercial fishing vessels and transporting commercial fishermen to and from their boats between openers and closures on the Copper River flats, Bering River area, Controller Bay and Prince William Sound in almost any kind of weather. In more recent times, the flying I did was mainly tourism related and flying in truly horrible weather was not a factor except for very rare exceptions.

                Herring spotting was fun too although the weather could be abysmal for herring openers because the Dept. of Fish and Game opened the fishery in regard to the ripeness of the herring roe and not in regard for the weather regardless of how nasty it was.


                • #9
                  Well, yes, for the GI bill, it needs to be 141, and you already need your private license, and its paid for, possibly in full. 61, the cost is all on me, so 141 it is.

                  I was a flight crew instructor (the guys/gals in the back; crewchiefs, medics, gunners, etc.)(not a pilot) for many years in blackhawks. almost 2000 hours fast, low level, bad weather. Alaska flying is the only thing that appeals to me. flying FL30 straight for hours, you'll catch me asleep.

                  After 9 years in aviation, as a mechanic, crewchief, now private pilot, I go home and read books, how-tos, magazines. I'm not going home to study how to be a better realtor, but a better pilot/mechanic. I think for that very reason, I may lean toward flights.

                  Real estate has flexible hours, but your output, is your income. thats where I am now, sure I can afford to fly on my own.... but when.

                  Rppearso, I actually enjoy flying in the winter. skis are fun, and the air is crisp. Heat?!, trust me, that citabria doesnt have much of it. Still worth every hour.

                  Now, this is me justifying what I want, if this where a perfect world. Grass is not always greener. so please, keep the reality check coming.


                  • #10
                    My .02c comes from talking to my friends who are trying to fly/currently fly/or have flown commercially. Providing for a family is very difficult while waiting to break into the industry. If you have a family it will be hard. If you don't have a family and want one, a career in aviation will probably delay that reality. I have a few friends who have had to relocate cross-country, several times, following the job opportunities. That can be difficult on a relationship. This is just a reality check, as you requested.

                    The other side of the coin comes from personal experience. If aviation is your passion... follow it. When I was younger, I wanted to fly more than anything I could imagine. But my dad told me, "They don't let girls fly." For real...he told me that. My heart broke and I didn't pursue it. I don't regret my professional career choice but I wish I had not listened to him and investigated the facts on my own. I guarantee you...I would have chosen aviation as a career! I fly now, but only for pleasure. My heart still yearns to fly professionally, but I know it will never happen. The passion never dies! (I just spent my 48th birthday flying around to nowhere and back!) Follow your passion while your still young enough to do it whole-heartedly. You can always go back to real estate later, but you can't go back to flying later.

                    To answer your the juice worth the squeeze? You'll never have the juice if you don't squeeze.


                    • #11
                      good advice by akdreamer. I fly professionally, and couldn't imagine having as much fun at work at a different job. Would I survive in another career, sure, no problem, but i wouldn't look forward to going to work everyday.
                      The family life does suffer with this job, as i am not home as much as a person with a 9-5 type job, but there are other folks with different careers that travel more than me.
                      I still do love to fly little airplanes, and Love teaching in the little ones just as much as instructing in the big machines, but little airplane flying is sooo much more fun, low and slow taking in the world is awesome!!


                      • #12
                        I will add my thoughts...I am almost at the end of an airline career(25 years) before that 10 years on military active duty flying everything from Scouts, to Mohawks, to C-130 and SAR...I now have a son wanting to learn to fly and I want to keep flying as long as I can pass a medical...He is in college and I have told him about the OPPORTUNITIES for flying Military and also Civilian. The point of my background is, you need to have a back up plan, (real estate?)...An investment in a degree in professional piloting thru UAA or any good school is a good start but getting all the tickets to follow your passion is just the start...There are going to be lots of folks retiring in the next 5 years and all reliable sources point to a significant shortage of aviators...that means the guys in the commuter/bush and regional jobs will be moving up creating even more opportunities for the new guys...But those same economics that create the boom can also cause the industry to self destruct as it seems to do every few years...If you love to it...let uncle sam pay for it and LOVE it...because that is the only reason to slip the surley bonds...


                        • #13
                          If you have a family it will be hard. If you don't have a family and want one, a career in aviation will probably delay that reality. I have a few friends who have had to relocate cross-country, several times, following the job opportunities. That can be difficult on a relationship. This is just a reality check, as you requested.
                          Very true.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TBLOOMA View Post
                            I still do love to fly little airplanes... little airplane flying is sooo much more fun, low and slow taking in the world is awesome!!
                            Thanks for putting a perspective on flying TBLOOMA. Your statement takes the sting away from my regrets, as little planes are the only ones I can fly


                            • #15
                              well, after many days of exhausting jury deliberation, I have concluded that I have a couple choices. However, the end result is that I have decided to pursue aviation. I do not yet have a family, and the fact that its paid for, the term "now or never" comes to mind. I've also invested time and money in my A&P, and just like piloting, its a perishable skill.

                              thank you guys/gals. the turn out was far better than I thought.

                              I'll see you in the air!


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