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Chances of getting on with a Major....

k2774

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I know I'll get the "anything is possible answers," but I have a question regaurding my future. It's been my dream since a child to become a pilot for a major airline, and I currently have about 425TT/18M at age 35. I also have a MS in Physics and have been accepted into a few PhD programs in physics.

My question is.......provided I continue to shell out thousands of dollars to work through my ratings ang forego the PhD program, do you think I will have a chance at getting a good "return on my investment" by getting on with a major......or any lucrative flying job for that matter?

Although a dream, I'm trying to rationalize of shelling out $30-40 on flight training, and the furthest I can go is to a regional or small cargo carrier.

What would you do if you were in my shoes.....I guess that's the gist of my question. Thanks in advance for the responces.
 

mrtoy2

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The return on your money in terms of money would definately be much better going the PhD route. I would ask yourself if flying is more important than financial security. You might find it in aviation at a major but the chances are somewhat slim at this point. The industry is cyclical though and currently we are near the bottom of the cycle. Depending on how quickly you progress through your training and subsequent hour building, you might make it during the upswing. But don't count on it. Right now the safest bet on continued employment in aviation lies with the cargo carriers. If you want to fly boxes at night, that can be rewarding. There are carriers making money now but you can't predict the future easily in this industry so what is happining now might not be what will happen later. Your masters and PhD degrees will help you be more competitive with other applicants but are not needed with line operations. Cudos to you for getting that education though and best of luck with your career whatever you decide. I hope that helps.
 

spacecadet

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K2774:
I made a career change from physics to aviation. You have a tough decision to make. I'll send you a private message.

Regards
 

LR25

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k2774 said:
I know I'll get the "anything is possible answers," but I have a question regaurding my future. It's been my dream since a child to become a pilot for a major airline, and I currently have about 425TT/18M at age 35. I also have a MS in Physics and have been accepted into a few PhD programs in physics.

My question is.......provided I continue to shell out thousands of dollars to work through my ratings ang forego the PhD program, do you think I will have a chance at getting a good "return on my investment" by getting on with a major......or any lucrative flying job for that matter?

Although a dream, I'm trying to rationalize of shelling out $30-40 on flight training, and the furthest I can go is to a regional or small cargo carrier.

What would you do if you were in my shoes.....I guess that's the gist of my question. Thanks in advance for the responces.


If you have a promising career all lined up that will not leave you on the edge of bankruptsy like the airline biz, than I would say thats the direction you need to go.

This aint the mid to late 90's, nowadays its like winning the lottory(or a $7000 737 type)to get that "airline" job.

I bet by the time most of us in this industry will retire, we will all be at the controls of a regional jet eekin out a living, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Let your college education work for you, and then go buy yourself a nice shinny airplane and let aviation be a hobby.
 
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radarlove

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k2774 said:
I currently have about 425TT/18M at age 35. I also have a M in Physics and have been accepted into a few PhD programs in physics.

What is your earnings potential as a PhD in physics? As far as I know, good paying jobs where you would want to live for physics PhDs are about as scarce as major airline jobs are, if not more so.

do you think I will have a chance at getting a good "return on my investment" by getting on with a major......or any lucrative flying job for that matter?

Silly question. Do what you love, don't make life choices based on "return on investment", otherwise you'd be in chemical sales. Answer your own question: would you do this job for free? Either the physics or flying? Pick the job you'd do for free, then every cent you earn will be an excellent ROI. And take me seriously, working for free is pretty much what you have to do to make your way up the ladder, at least effectively working for free.

Although a dream, I'm trying to rationalize of shelling out $30-40 on flight training, and the furthest I can go is to a regional or small cargo carrier.

That's some of the best flying in the world. Major airline jobs include great pay, nice hotels, perfect equipment and zero autonomy. Other words: boring. Why do you suppose so many major pilots own their own airlplanes? Hint: it's not because they think it's a good investment. If that kind of flying doesn't appeal to you, then don't bother with the career.

What would you do if you were in my shoes.....I guess that's the gist of my question. Thanks in advance for the responces.

I think you've already made your choice and you've chosen academics. When I was in my early 20s, my burning desire to fly was so evident that I used to get teased--I would go anywhere, anytime for free for an hour of multi. You apparently won't.
 

dixieflyer

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The way things have been going, you will make more money at the regionals.
 

SneakyJake

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There still are a lot of different types of flying jobs out there. Some people aren't in it for the security, more for the lifestyle. I think that the quality of life it provides suits some more then others. More important then money or stability is the freedom to travel and fly. It is a good time for starting out, quite a few jobs available. Just not careers.
 

k2774

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I knew I would'nt be able to avoid the sarcasm, but "radarlove" I don't think you haven't the slightest clue as to what the career outlook for a physicist is. please explore www.aps.org, www.doe.gov, www.nsf.gov. We're all not college professors. We work at the national labs, for the government, and even for the airlines. We can even apply to the astronaut program.

YOU HAVE TO MAKE SOME LIFE CHOICES BASED ON THE "RETURN ON INVESTMENT" UNLESS YOU WANT TO GROW OLD BROKE. I WISH I DID LIVE IN A DO WHAT YOU LOVE KIND OF WORLD, BUT I DON'T. BECOMING A PHYSICIST IS NOT AS MUCH OF A GAMBLE AS TRYING TO FIND MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT IN AVIATION......AND I DO ENJOY BOTH. ESPECIALLY WHEN I DON'T HAVE AGE ON MY SIDE AND THE INDUSTRY IN THE SHAPE THAT IT IS.

SOMETIMES I WONDER IF SOME OF YOU LIVE IN REALITY. WOULD YOU OR COULD YOU EVEN LIVE OFF OF 40-60k A YEAR UNTIL YOU'RE SIXTY.....ALL WHILE RAISING A FAMILY, SAVING FOR RETIREMENT, TAKING CARE OF ELDERLY PARENTS. AND NOT TO MENTION ANY OTHER LIFE EMERGENCIES THAT MAY ARISE. SHOW ME WHERE THIS IS POSSIBLE, AT THE SAME TIME LIVING A COMFORTABLE LIFE, NOT LAVISH, AND I'LL SIGN THE DOTTED LINE.

I know that I have choices and I realize that it might be a risk. AND BELIVE ME, I WILL ANSWER MY OWN QUESTION. I'M JUST TRYING TO GET MORE INPUT FROM INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE IN THE INDUSTRY SO THAT I CAN MAKE A MORE INFORMED DECISION.
 

Yank McCobb

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I guaran-dam-tee that your latest post, in which you ridicule, belittle, and shout at someone trying to provide you with a non-sarcastic post of information as he sees it is going to go FAR in getting you ANY more responses at all.

Besides, no one knows what this industry will look like by the time you are ready to compete for one of these "major" jobs. Therefore, only you can decide if it is "worth" investing time and money in the pursuit.

See ya.
 
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GuppyPuppy

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I was just looking at my annual statement from the Social Security Administration and it wasn't pretty. I started flying at 19 and paid for it all myself. At 26 I started working as a CFI. At 28 I got my first flying job (VFR part 135), at 30 I got a job with a regional. At 31 I got on with one of the top 5 cargo airlines and at 34 started with United. I have been furloughed for 2.5 years and now have a decent, not great, job.


At each step of my career I believed I was making good decisions and thought I was always moving on to something bigger and better. I probably wouldn't have done anything different given the information I had at the time. I'll be 40 in a couple of months and have never made over $56,000/yr. In fact, I never made over $20,000/yr until I was 30.

Airline flying is a fun job...quite boring at times, but overall still fun for me. However, it is a job now and not much of a career. In the 12 years that I have flown professionally I have probably averaged about $28,000/yr. I have missed many holidays, birthdays, etc... I long for the days flying a Cherokee around on a great day for no reason. Since I'm married with a mortgage and have a few mouths to feed, I can't justify spending the money (about $85/hr) to rent a C-172. To me that type of flying is fun, airline flying is a job.

I don't know your individual story other than what you've written, but I would suggest not getting into the airline industry. Too unstable, and the salaries just keep going down.

Good luck with your decision.

GP
 

Capt.LongThrust

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Guppy,

Well said. I think many of us, me included, have a similar story to tell.
 

Big Beer Belly

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k2774 said:
I know I'll get the "anything is possible answers," but I have a question regaurding my future. It's been my dream since a child to become a pilot for a major airline, and I currently have about 425TT/18M at age 35. I also have a MS in Physics and have been accepted into a few PhD programs in physics.

My question is.......provided I continue to shell out thousands of dollars to work through my ratings ang forego the PhD program, do you think I will have a chance at getting a good "return on my investment" by getting on with a major......or any lucrative flying job for that matter?

Although a dream, I'm trying to rationalize of shelling out $30-40 on flight training, and the furthest I can go is to a regional or small cargo carrier.

What would you do if you were in my shoes.....I guess that's the gist of my question. Thanks in advance for the responces.


My suggestion is to stick with a physics career. Given your age/low time, you already know you're a bit late to the aviation career game. Realistically, you're looking at another 7-10 years to acquire the skills/flight time in order to make you "competitive" to be hired by a major. Furthermore, this industry, like so many before (steel, manufacturing, medicine) is undergoing a revolution of sorts.

There is currently an abundance of qualified pilots willing to work for wages that pilots of previous generations deemed inadequate. Given this pilot supply/demand inequality, look for pilot wages to continue to deteriorate. Furthermore, not only are pilots today willing to work for obscenely low wages, but (IMHO) they are EAGER to lower the profession by being almost "giddy" about the opportunity to clean the aircraft, service the lavs, and "help" re-stock the soda/peanuts. In short, as I'm sure you are already aware, this "profession" is headed in the toilet.

If it matters at all ... I am steering my children as far away from aviation as I possibly can. BTW ... I've never been a big believer in doing "what your heart" or "what you love" ... or whatever the clever cute little phrase du jour says. If you are supporting a family, you have a duty to provide for them as best you can ... your personal "heartfelt" wishes come second.

YMMV,

BBB
 

StaySeated

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I have been flying 121 for the past 8 years and I have been working for the past 2 years in a seperate career path setting up my "b" plan. This industry has made a fundamental shift in the past ten years with the advent of new technologies and alter ego carriers, and it is definitely not a shift for the better. Not only has EVERY airline on the planet drastically decimated labor costs but the "lottery money" in the form of pensions and DC plans have all but disappeared. Your career earnings as an airline pilot will pale in comparison to every other "professional" trade or expertise and you will also bare the burden of funding your own retirement. I wish you luck, but as mentioned above, the last thing I would endorse as a career to anyone is aviation.
 

HAL

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Quite simply, yes you can do it if you want to.

I was in exactly your positon 10 years ago. 34 years old, science degree, about 450 TT and 22 ME. I had a CFII and had been looking for a job for a few years. Nobody had been hiring around Seattle since the first gulf war, then finally the market opened up and I found a job as a CFI. Now I'm on with a major - albeit furloughed from my first 'major' job - but loving every minute of it. It is worth it, and I haven't found any bias against my age.

If you want the dream, get your ratings, and get a job as a CFI or anything else that will build time. In probably 5 years or less you'll be knocking on the door at your carrier of choice, resume in hand.

If you have any questions or want more detail, feel free to PM me.

HAL
 

PAPA FOX!

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I'd like to state my feelings about this matter. Some might consider my analysis nievely optimistic. Before I go into detail however I'd first suggest getting all your certificates and ratings at a local FBO. You will probably spend less than half as much $ to go from PVT to MEI that you would at Delta Connection Academy or ERAU. Since you have a degree you all ready have one box checked on whatever major you want to apply to!

After obtaining the MEI with around 250-300 hrs total time I would build as much time as possible as quickly as possible by applying to flight schools that have a steady supply of students. In addition I would look into instructing at a school with Multi Engine training so you could build at least 100 hrs of Multi Time.

In my opinion I would bypass all but a few of the regional carriers. When you reach 600 hrs and 50 hrs Multi I would try to get on with Scenic Airlines or after 1200 hours and 50 hrs multi some of the freight operators that have quick upgrads to pilot in command in turbine aircraft like Ameriflight.

At scenic you will upgrade to PIC very quickly flying the DHC-6 and a little longer at Ameriflight in the Beech 99. Since you want the majors to be your ultimate goal this turbine PIC time is pure gold. Most of the majors have a MINIMUM requirement of 1000 hrs of turbine PIC time. 2000-3000 hrs of turbine PIC time is competitive for SWA, UPS and Fedex.

Flying for Scenic or Ameriflight WILL be a lot of work with long days and you will not have the so called glamor of flying jets with fancy avionics and flight attendants and you will have to be willing to relocate. However you will achieve your ultimate goal in less time usually than going directly to a regional. Also the pay at Ameriflight and Scenic will be significantly better (lower 40's to upper 40's respectively) than at the regionals.

This is the path I would recommend. Not only is the pay better there but so is the job security. Both companies are hurting for pilots. Again after flying at either company for 4-5 yrs with 2000+ turbine PIC it is very realistic to get on with SWA, UPS or Fedex. After 4-5yrs some are just upgrading to Capt at many regionals. So what is better, 4-5yrs in the Right seat of a regional jet with a shot to upgrade to captain, or 4-5 yrs in a turboprop as Captain with a shot at the right seat at SWA?

There are the only things that WILL get you ahead in this profession!

1) TURBINE PIC
2) POSITIVE ATTITUDE
3) NETWORKING


As far as the profession going down the toilet I would slightly agree but mostly disagree. In 1999-2000 when the music was playing I knew it would stop. Musical chairs if you will. Even before 9/11, some of the legacies were showing subtle but clear signs that storm clouds were on the horizion. If you wanted to become a pilot and make 300K and have off 19 days/month and compare it to the wages now then I would say the profession has gone down the toilet.

On the other hand I am optimistic when I look at how SWA, Fedex and UPS have managed to not only stay a float but be profitable year after year. It tells me that this industry still has hope and promise for those willing to tough it out and work hard.

I ABSOLUTLY think pilots ought to stand up for what they are worth but it is irresponsible to say they are cheapening the profession by being satisfied with 150-200K for a 10 yr major capt. On the other hand, demanding 250-300K I think is unrealistic and would do more harm than good to the pilots.

I can probably count the number of jobs on one hand where you have off 16 days/month and pull in 150K+. Doctors? Nope. Lawyers? Nope. Real estate commissioners? A big maybe.

Whatever you decide to persue, DO go with your dreams and don't look back. You only live once and I would hate for you to be stuck in "voluntary prison" behind a desk 60 hrs/week and everytime you look longingly at the cumulus clouds through the only window in the office on a beautiful afternoon, get the painful itch to fly and knock yourself around and say to yourself "if only I had acted on my opportunity 10 yrs ago I'd now feel whole, content and spirtually secure!"

Hope this has helped. GOOD LUCK MAN!!!!
 
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Big Beer Belly

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HAL said:
Now I'm on with a major - albeit furloughed from my first 'major' job - but loving every minute of it. It is worth it, and I haven't found any bias against my age.

If you want the dream, get your ratings, and get a job as a CFI or anything else that will build time. In probably 5 years or less you'll be knocking on the door at your carrier of choice, resume in hand.

HAL


Dream? ... oh for Christ's sake ... 121 flying is managing a bus in the sky, at best. "Dream" is something with an afterburner. IMHO, flying (real true "flying") is in something with a climb rate nearing 30,000 fpm, "gaining" energy is as close as lighting the afterburners, and giving the darn thing back to someone else to fix and fill with gas. Without sounding arrogant, once you've flown anything resembling "high performance", you're are spoiled for life. It's always the civilian guys building RV-"whatevers" in their living rooms and bragging about 160 mph cruise, 3g capability etc... These two worlds are so different and the chasm so great, that I hesitate to even enter this conversation without starting another civilian vs. military debate.

IMHO, HAL's opinion is just dangerous enough to tempt someone (uninformed) into entering aviation and making a HUGE mistake (sorry HAL ... not meant as a personal attack). HAL gambled on a troubled carrier (Hawaiin), I'm guessing got furloughed and then hired by ANOTHER troubled carrier (America West) ... both poor long term prospects. The ONLY stable major airlines are SWA, UPS, and FedEx ... IMHO. Even SWA will face pressure for future wage concessions as their fuel hedging contracts run further into the future (IMHO).

This industry is headed into the toilet. There are too many pilots willing to work for blue collar wages and this will depress pilot earnings for a generation or more. 25+ years out ... look for single "pilot" (emergency only pilots) ... similar to today's subway "operators". Stick with a government job in the hush - hush sector in physics, my friend. More stability, less stress about providing for your family.
 

GuppyPuppy

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I would like to add that I believe that timing is everything in this "career". It took me 15 years of flying and 5000 hours before I got on with United. I know others (some were my students) who got their CFI, got on with a regional and were hired at a major within five years. You really need to understand that these folks got in at a time when the demand for pilots was at a historically high level.

So, you may hear from some on this board that say "go for it". Just as you need to know that I think I got into this industry in a bad time, others who will post here got in at the perfect time.

Nobody can predict what will be happening five years from now, but I will tell you that there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of pilots who are younger and more qualified than you. Please understand that I am not trying to talk down to you, but merely pointing out that you will have a long road to a major if you choose to pursue this path.

Realize that there are airline pilots now working with nearly twenty years under their belt (at the same company, mind you) who are still on reserve. Yet there are also those at majors who started flying in the mid '90's. Each of these pilots thought they were making the best decision at the time to accept employment with their carrier. I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I got hired by United. I was on top of the world. I went from making nearly $115/hr to $19/hr within a few months. I went from winning the lottery to slave labor in the blink of an eye

Don't think that the airlines will furlough again because the economy is improving and airlines have cut their costs? All it will take will be a few nutty rag heads and the industry will quickly be in the proverbial tailspin once again.

I think when a retiring airline pilot looks back at his/her career, most will view their experience as 90% luck, good or bad. Are you willing to gamble at age 35?

Cheers!

GP
 

radarlove

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k2774 said:
I knew I would'nt be able to avoid the sarcasm, but "radarlove" I don't think you haven't the slightest clue as to what the career outlook for a physicist is. please explore www.aps.org, www.doe.gov, www.nsf.gov. We're all not college professors. We work at the national labs, for the government, and even for the airlines. We can even apply to the astronaut program.

Whatever.

If physics is so great, why give it up? Why would you ask if you should trade it in for a grueling, low-paying career if you think so highly of it?

Personally, I'd rather get my testicles smashed with a ball-peen hammer than work in a cube on a computer with a buzzing flourescent light above me, but that's me. I also made my life choices a lot earlier than you did. Being accepted at age 35 into a PhD program might impress your parents, but I know exactly how long it takes to finish and how few actually do, so you'll be in your mid-forties looking for your first job, competing with the 28 year-old PhDs. And yeah, sure, the market for PhDs is smokin' hot...not.

YOU HAVE TO MAKE SOME LIFE CHOICES BASED ON THE "RETURN ON INVESTMENT" UNLESS YOU WANT TO GROW OLD BROKE.

Yeah, and you haven't gotten around quite yet to making them. You're late out of the gate and your attitude makes me think you should be a bit cautious about rolling the dice in a career that is so based in personal contacts. Right now, if I knew who you were, I would NOT write a letter of rec for you. How's that feel, your first airline contact already doesn't want to work with you?

I WISH I DID LIVE IN A DO WHAT YOU LOVE KIND OF WORLD, BUT I DON'T. BECOMING A PHYSICIST IS NOT AS MUCH OF A GAMBLE AS TRYING TO FIND MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT IN AVIATION......AND I DO ENJOY BOTH. ESPECIALLY WHEN I DON'T HAVE AGE ON MY SIDE AND THE INDUSTRY IN THE SHAPE THAT IT IS.

As I mentioned earlier, it sounds like you've already made your decision for physics. Sounds sucky to me, but maybe that's why you came here for support.

SOMETIMES I WONDER IF SOME OF YOU LIVE IN REALITY. WOULD YOU OR COULD YOU EVEN LIVE OFF OF 40-60k A YEAR UNTIL YOU'RE SIXTY.....ALL WHILE RAISING A FAMILY, SAVING FOR RETIREMENT, TAKING CARE OF ELDERLY PARENTS. AND NOT TO MENTION ANY OTHER LIFE EMERGENCIES THAT MAY ARISE. SHOW ME WHERE THIS IS POSSIBLE, AT THE SAME TIME LIVING A COMFORTABLE LIFE, NOT LAVISH, AND I'LL SIGN THE DOTTED LINE.

Well it is, but only for us that made it to the top. Personally, I think you're not going to make it, but then I could be wrong.

I know that I have choices and I realize that it might be a risk. AND BELIVE ME, I WILL ANSWER MY OWN QUESTION. I'M JUST TRYING TO GET MORE INPUT FROM INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE IN THE INDUSTRY SO THAT I CAN MAKE A MORE INFORMED DECISION.

It sounds to me like you're looking to rationalize, not make your decision to sacrifice the next 5-10 years in a doctoral/post-doc world, making $2,000/month and doing what (exactly what) your advisor tells you to do.

If you came here to hear that the industry sucks, that furloughs suck the life out of you and that pay cuts make for divorces, then you'll find those opinions. On the other side, the time to get started when the industry is in it's worst convulsions, not when it's on the top of it's cycle. It's a cyclic industry. Already the job market at the very bottom (regional F.O. positions for low-paying companies) is as good as it's been in 10 years. By the time you'd make it through, the majors might very well be thriving again.

In my experience, it takes pretty much 15 years to make it from scratch to the majors, even if you went the military way, although some military guys take 20.

So you're thirty-five and just getting started--you'll hit the majors at 50 if everything goes right (and I don't have confidence it will for you, so don't take this as encouragement) and upgrade times range from 3 (AirTran) to 18 (AA) so it's possible you'll spend little, or no time as a high-earning captain.

So stick to your physics and cry in your beer about what could have been.
 

capt. megadeth

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Big Beer Belly said:
I've never been a big believer in doing "what your heart" or "what you love" ... or whatever the clever cute little phrase du jour says.

The majority of my life has been spent doing "what I love" and that is flying. I, on the other hand, am a big believer in this. In my opinion, it makes the difference between being miserable and being happy. There are definitely many many sacrifices that one makes for this career but IMHO it is worth it if you are doing what you love vs. something that just makes money. I am still pretty optimistic about the outlook though. Fortunately, I have been pretty lucky so far, so this probably has a lot to do with my views as well. Notice the word LUCKY.

Anyways, what you probably should do is look at the optimists on this thread vs. the pessimists. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. Good Luck with whatever decision you make.
 
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typhoonpilot

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IMHO, flying (real true "flying") is in something with a climb rate nearing 30,000 fpm, "gaining" energy is as close as lighting the afterburners, and giving the darn thing back to someone else to fix and fill with gas. Without sounding arrogant, once you've flown anything resembling "high performance", you're are spoiled for life.


You couldn't be further from the truth. Real flying is an open cockpit biplane with only needle, ball, and airspeed. What you described is fun, but it isn't real flying.


TP

Oh, K2774 stick with Physics and rent airplanes for fun flying on the weekend.
 
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