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Earl Williams

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2002
What a great site! I feel like I'm sitting in a HUGE pilot lounge, and can ask questions I've always wanted to ask, and in general just absorb all the expertise and experiences from everyone on this board.

As a newcomer to this forum, I apologize if I'm beating a "dead horse" with my post (something tells me that this topic has been raised before!). However, as many of you have already done, I'm contemplating making a huge change in my life, and would sincerely appreciate any insight, whether good or bad, that all of you may be kind enough to add.

I'm 32, have my bachelor's degree, and have pretty much had it with my current "corporate world" career. My lunch consists everyday of sitting out on a park bench and watching the big heavies take off out of the airport...and just dreaming of what it must be like to be THAT pilot. I'm in meetings day-dreaming of what it must be like to pilot a King Air, or a Citation. Yes, I'm obsessed with aviation...just like we all are.

Having recently received my PPL, I was planning on attending the Mesa Program...until 9/11 hit. Maybe in hindsight I shouldn't have cancelled out, but with the state of aviation at that time, I just couldn't take the chance of dropping every penny I had (and many that I don't) without knowing if aviation was going to "pop out of this". Well, aviation is indeed making a comeback (relatively speaking) and, once again, I think about "the dream" every waking minute it seems.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get to the majors, as I realize there's much more than just qualifying for the "minimums" in order for one to get hired. However, and maybe I'm wrong here, I feel that IF I can get paid to fly...well, life would be **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED** good! Whether that be flying in a Baron, or a King Air, or (in my dreams) a 747, I can only imagine what it would be like to fly for a living.

So, I guess I'd like to ask everyone here (and I'm sure some of you were/are in my shoes) if I'm being realistic in thinking that flying for a living is "all that and then some" (pardon the cliche!). As much as I would love to continue with my current career, and continue to make a decent living while flying recreationally...I can't. For those of you who quite simply cannot stand going to work everyday, you understand exactly what I'm saying. And maybe there are pilots that can't stand going to work everyday. I can't imagine that would be the case, but, then again, I simply don't know.

I apologize for this lengthy, rambling post, but any insight any of you may have would certainly be appreciated!

Thanks for everyone's time, and fly safe!
First, ask yourself if you have a year's income stored away. Yes? OK.

Now get your commercial and instrument and initial CFI in an accelerated program, saving you time and money.

Begin instructing, adding the II and MEI ratings, building up your earnings as you become less dependent on that year's worth of money we discussed. Quite a few people buy their own plane and lease it back to the school where they work. This helps to build time quicker, and gives you a lower-cost airplane to fly for fun. As the market recovers, you can invest the remainder (hopefully, the vast majority) of that money in a good mutual fund.

As you approach 1200 hours you can go with a bona fide SIC program, such as AirNet, or finish your 1200 hours for a freight or charter job, or even a regional line when hiring recovers. By the time you turn 40, you should be ready for the job you want in aviation, perhaps even sooner.
I agree with most of that, but I am not a big fan of accelerated training. I think you get more out of your training if you have "days off" inbetween lessons. For instance, take a flight, take a day off, take a ground lesson, etc. etc.

Although accelerated training will get you your certificates faster and probably cheaper, you won't learn as much. Some will argue this point, but I believe it to be true. When you have days off in between, you can really absorb the knowledge, review it... because a lot of stuff you aren't going to understand the first, second, or third time you review it.

With that said, if you love to fly, then rushing through your training is not what you want to do. You will start to not enjoy it. I say over the next year, continue your day job, save up some money, and do your flight training. At a nice comfortable pace you can get your instrument, commercial, multi, CFI/II/MEI all in a year (if you have the money).

Then, spend a year instructing, or somehow building your time to 1200-1500. Apply for some regionals and you should be able to get a job. By that time (2 years from now), the regionals should be hiring at a steady pace. The growth potential for some regionals now is tremendous.

But listen, if you have a wife and kids, it is going to be very very hard on you and them. It is harder to start on an aviation career when you are 32, but it is far from impossible.

One thing I notice about a lot of people who feel like you, and are around your age, is that they catch the flying bug and immediately want to switch their careers. I can't imagine it being that easy.

If you don't have a family (no wife or kids), it will be a lot easier to do... but if you do have a family, how does your wife and kids feel about you being away for an extended period of time? Or how about you not making much money for the next 4 years?

I know a few guys your age that have wanted to start a flying career, but found it is too much strain on themselves and their family. So they end up buying a plane and enjoying aviation at it's finest.

The most important thing I would say is, if you have a family, have a serious talk with them about all this. Can you all live on $19,000 a year? Because that is what you will make your first year at a regional.
I did the same as you, working as an accountant for 4 years before diving in head first. I got all ratings in about 1 year, flight instructed for about two years, and then went to a regional for a little over three years.

I got my dream chance at a major, got furloughed and am now working as an accountant again!!! The whole process was about 5-6 years from PPL to right seat in a 737-200. I would recommend trying, because someday ( as it sounds like you all ready are) you will ask why did I not at least try.

I would do it all over again, and someday I will get back so don't take that as me trying to scare you away by being furloughed, just reality of this industry. I am one of the fortunate with other skills besides flying.
"All" the airlines do accelerated training. Memorizing everything on an E120 down to every PSI, PSID, etc. in a week and a half isn't easy. It can be done. It's not easy but it works. Don't poopoo accelerated training. Some can do it....others can't. You won't make it at the airlines if you can't.
Just my Opinion and a ham san'wich
thanks everyone!

Thanks to ALL who replied to my (rambling) post...I really appreciate it!

Among the MANY things I've learned so far in aviation is that fellow pilots are always more than willing to provide meaningful advice, and their own tales of how they "made it"...which is extremely helpful to us "low-timers".

Fortunately, I am still single, and knowing a few years ago that a career-change was in my future, started to prepare for it financially. So, already being a bit frugal, I've kind of started scaling down and preparing for the lean times ahead. I need to keep in mind that the first job (or two, or three!) won't be paying too much, so I can't expect to re-capture funds that I drained during training.

I've thought about the accelerated route, and was planning on going to Mesa (was supposed to start this month)...and then I've recently thought about the All ATP location here in town. But, since 9/11, it just seems that there's really no rush to get everything done...may as well take my time and enjoy the ride. Yet, I also know that hiring will indeed pick up again, so I should prepare myself accordingly.

I'm really excited about the future...I know this will be the most challenging/exciting/frustrating thing I've ever done. But I have a feeling my first flight in a King Air, or Falcon, or whatever...will make it all worth it!

Thanks again for your replies...I think I'm gonna actually do this!

Go for it. affter dragging my ass for a few years I got my private 10 yrs ago slowly getting my other tickets I finally started to pursue flying at 30yrs old as a profession. that was 5 yrs ago, last june i got hired at EJA .

You will have to make some serious sacrifices the first few years. To me the sacrifices where worth it. Its a childhood dream for a lot of us and they pay us to do it.


Actually, Mesa may not be such a bad idea. I taught there and know a little about the program. Unlike P-F-T, Mesa is ab initio training, which you have to get somewhere anyway, and it really does give people a quick way to a regional.

A lot would depend on Mesa's hiring needs. I thought I read about furloughs there; maybe someone can clarify. In any event, you very well could complete the program, mind your Ps and Qs and get "the interview," do well, and be placed in a hiring pool. Being in a pool is something like being in airline limbo. You don't know if and when you'll get a class date and you're not sure what to do.

I agree with Generaltso that accelerated training may not always be the best. You need a break from training sometimes. Although it is flying and ground school and you love every minute of it, you can become oversaturated and not get as much out of your training as you should. The opposing view has merit, too; accelerated training is more like the real-world airline environment.

You're not too old right now but if you wait much longer you will be. Take it from someone who knows. Of course, your first flight in a kerosene-burner will be worth all the hard work, but you'll also find it was worth it even the first time you turn props on that Baron or Seminole.

Good luck with your training.
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