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How to break it to employer?

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In Limbo
Nov 25, 2001
Here's the deal:
I'm furloughed from the regional I was working at. I am now working part time for a business flying their Cessna 414. The business owner is also a pilot, and we fly the plane together. I am becoming very annoyed with the business owner. He does not pay me (a very big part of the problem, UI isn't enough right now), and I'm not comfortable with his piloting skills or decision making process. He is only a private-instrument-multi, with enough money to own an expensive plane, but not enough experience to know his personal limitations (rich doctor/lawyer type thing). I am a CFI-I/MEI with far more experience then him. Which is partly where I come in; I am sort of the safety pilot when onboard, to watch over him and make sure we make it home safely. We split the flying duties, but operational decisions tend to be made by him (with much persuasion by me), such as route to fly, altitude, intermediate stops, etc. He basis these decisions on what is the cheapest, although maybe not the safest. Being that he is always acting PIC (due to insurance), I have little say in how things are done, without him whinning about how much it would cost. I am fed up with him, and don't want to be involved with the operation when something catches up to him. I want to move on from the job, but in these times, this is tough.

The real kicker is this boss is also a very good family friend. With any "employer" (is he a boss if i'm not paid?), if I felt this way about the unsafe operation, I would politely resign from the job and move on, in order to not burn past bridges. Which is what I want to do here, but the "friend" depends on me, and being a good friend, I can't just resign like I otherwise would do. He has been gracious enough to help me keep flying while I'm on furlough and unable to find another job, and I feel I owe him while I'm still around, but until I get recalled, or start another legitimate job, I'm kinda stuck!

The fact that I'm not paid for any of this really gets me going! My family and many friends who are also friends with this "boss" don't understand why he dosn't pay me. He is very well off, and could easily afford to pay me especially since I have no income right now. I origianally said I would help him out after I was furloughed when I could (only flying I could get at the time), with my expectation he would start paying me, but that has never happened. I would ask to be paid, but he has told others he doesn't pay me cause I'm just "helping" him out.

Any one have suggestions on how to deal with this. Do I simply tell him I don't want to fly with him anymore? Even though that would leave me without a job and him mad at me? I understand no matter what I can't be made to do anything I don't feel good about by him, and if it ever got realy serious, I will walk. But how do I tell him I don't want to fly with him anymore, and cause the least damage? I don't want to ruin the relationship, or burn past bridges (as I would like to be able to use him as a reference...), but want to move on. I am also concerned that he shouldn't fly by himself, cause he will one day get himself into a big hole with no way out. It's kind of a catch-22 for me...

Thanks for any advice! Sorry for the long post, but I needed to make sure I explained the full situation.

somewhere in the U.S.A.
I'd say "Bob" (not his real name...) "I really like flying with you, but I just can't afford to do it for free. Secondly, since I need to log this time, I have to charge you $20 per hour for flight instruction, and sign your logbook for each flight. If you can't pay me, I understand, but as a professional, I have to make a living, just like your accountant or your chiropractor. I hope you'll still come over at Christmas."
Yea something like that....I think he needs a little constructive criticism on his flying/decision making skills also. Go out for a beer and talk about your concerns. He should respect your concerns.
Loyalty v. your pilot certificates

If there was ever a violation when the two of you are flying, you'd be the one the FAA would tag, insurance considerations notwithstanding. You are the professional; he is not. I'm also thinking in terms of paper trail; is your name anywhere in his logbook? Is any time with this fellow in this airplane in your logbook?

A piece of paper is created any time money changes hands, so, it is just as well, in a way, that he isn't paying you. That way, an employer-employee relationship cannot be proven. I'm also trying to analyze it from a contractual standpoint; there has to be some kind of consideration for a contract to exist. I don't really know if flight time alone constitutes consideration. I am thinking of all of these things in terms of CYA.

To me, bottom line is this: Loyalty to this gentleman versus protecting your tickets. I value loyalty extremely high and, personally, I am always disappointed when loyalty isn't returned to me. Loyalty is an intangible; your certificates are not. They are your meal ticket. One false move and you may as well apply to Target. Accordingly, if you can't get this fellow to see things more your way, you should opt out. We're talking about your career and livelihood here.

I would think that with your experience as an AIRLINE pilot, this guy would want to drink up all of your knowledge. On the other hand, there are so many hard-headed types who feel that they are Chuck Yeager incarnate because they drive a big-time twin, or even a V-tail.

Hope these thoughts help. Lots of luck in dealing with an extremely delicate situation.
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Loyalty vs. Pilot Cetificates

That is very true. But your certificate isn't the most important thing here. Your LIFE is. Who knows how an abnormal/emergency may turn out if the only thing being accomplished is an arguement on what to do and who's going to fly the airplane. If this guy is as hard headed as I believe from the post, I believe you owe it to yourself to stop flying with this fellow if he continues to ignore your experience level and advice. A tactfull and polite approach will hopefully get your position across and open his eyes.

IMO, there is nothing worse than being put in an uncomfortable position in an airplane. Your family, and this boss, will hopefully understand. If not, that's too bad. You know your limitations, and as I said before, you owe it to yourself, and only you, to do what's best for you and your safety. Your loyalty comes second to your safety and his. You can still be a loyal friend, just not in his airplane. The other posts here are all very good ideas.

Be carefull please!!
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something fishy

check out more thoughts on my "something fishy" post, but count me as disagreeing with the crowd on this thread. If you dont like the way your friend flies and feel strongly enough about it than dont fly with him. Be polite when you leave. Seems simple enough.
As Timebulider said, and if I were you, I'd make more of an issue of the fact you can't afford to fly for free anymore. Basically its the truth. You could tell him you need to spend 100% of your time now looking for a "paying" job. It certainly shouldn't offend him and should make him realize he's going to lose you not because of any disagreement or differences in your flying, but because of the fact you just can't afford to fly for free anymore.

It might also make him realize you might stay if he paid you and make him realize how much he needs you in the cockpit with him.

Good luck.
timebuilder, justApilot - your ideas are where I want to go with this. I feel like I'm being used by him right now. I am looking into another job right now that I expect to begin in the next few months, where I would be flying more, gaining more experience, and making at least some income. The time till then is the prob.

bobbysamd, bayoubandit - you nailed my feelings right on the head! My loyalty to him right now is what makes this tough, and as you said, uncomfortable. I want to fly with him, but I want to be more included in the decisions without him disregarding my opinions. It's just in these last 6 months, this hasn't happened. 208pilot brought up a great point: how am I to judge him when maybe I'm not even right? I don't think I'm wrong in my feelings, but what if I'm being too hard on him, or myself? I just want to be more included, and I don't see this happening (I've had 6 months to determine this). There are great pilots in this world that don't respect the opinions of the poeple they fly with, and that alone creates a dangerous situation, if not just for the pilot being left out of the loop. Everybody has something to offer (even the boss).

I have mixed feelings; I want to leave, but as I said in the original post, I want to stay to help him become a better/safer pilot. I may have come across in the first post kind of angry at him (It had been brewing all day) and wanting to leave him in the dust. However, at the same time, I feel I should use my flight instructing experience to help him become better and to learn his personal limitations so that he can stay out of danger. But then, I can't afford to work for free anymore.

I guess my best option is to ask to be compensated for the work I do for him, saying something along the lines of timebuilder's recommendation. I'll tell him I have something to offer, and that if he's not willing to accept it, that I need to make a living just like him and I'll be looking for work elsewhere (what I'm doing anyways). Thanks for all the advice, everyone's given me something to think about. I'll let you know how it goes.

somewhere in the U.S.A.

p.s. I hope he doesn't read this forum, otherwise the problem's already solved... :)
The way I see it is this guy is taking advantage of you BIGTIME. He's getting something(your help) for nothing(no money paid).

It sounds as though he's a successful executive-type of some sort. I bet he knows how much it would cost to fly with an instructor from the local F.B.O.(20-30 bucks/hour??) He'd rather just take you than pay the F.B.O. The guy is totally using you......I wouldn't feel bad at all telling him you are going to have to stop flying for him. Go with the one about needing to spend all of your time looking for a flying job. Tell him you will be driving from city to city visiting F.B.O.'s delivering resumes and this will take up most of your time. Also, because you have no income coming in, you need to get a part-time job (non-flying) here in town to make ends meet. Between these 2 activities you won't be able to fly with him.

I wonder if he went to the dentist......do you think he would pay him for the visit??? What about a lawyer or doctor???Of course he would because he knew he could not get away with NOT paying him. In the same light, you are a professional just like the dentist. The only reason he does not pay you is because HE KNOWS HE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT. He is taking advantage of your situation(being furloughed). He probably thinks you are desperate to get back up in the air, so he is doing you a favor, right??

This guy sounds shady to me.....who would not pay a pilot who is down on their luck and furloughed??? This is a time when you need the money big-time, being out of a job and all. Sorry, Mr. Executive, your gravy train has just run out. Kick this guy to the curb!!!!!!!!!
And another thing....

I forgot to mention one other item I feel may be a big reason into why he is not paying you- EGO.

I bet this guy has a pretty big Ego....If he started paying you he's afraid of this one item: It would appear to others that he's paying for the services of a more experienced pilot to help him fly his airplane. He would be afraid at what others may think about him needing a 2nd pilot for an airplane only needing 1 pilot.

If he gives you money he's admitting that he needs your help. By not paying you he's saying he could take it or leave it (your help). I bet you are much younger than him, too. He may have a tough time with the fact that even though he's the older executive, there is a more experienced younger pilot on board.

This sounds like a situation I found myself in while I was instructing in the early 1990's. The only thing different was that he was renting the airplane from the F.B.O. and paying me to fly along for "insurance reasons". Long story but looking back much of it had to do with his ego. (Cockpit decision making, being cheap to save on gas, weather decisions, etc.) I felt like I was baby-sitting most of the time.......

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