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Need advice for teenager pilot

farmboysc

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Jan 26, 2009
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First off, I'm not a pilot & know very little about it. My son is 19 & has about 160 hrs of flying total. He has 35 multi-engine, 25 turbine, & 22 instrument hrs., & he has worked & payed for 75% of the cost.

He wants a career in aviation. This is where "we" need advice. He ask to go to a flight school. DCA came out, along with American Flyers?. We live in SC. I don't know if school is the right thing compared to just chipping along . It's a hard schedule trying to build hours & work. Chipping along would be cheaper, but he wants to fly NOW. What do you think ?

He thinks a 2 yr degree (in criminal justice)is enough?? I don't know. I think he needs a 4yr in buis. management.?

The goal is a good career at what he loves. He wants to get his CFI,CFII, & comm. ratings.

As far as character,etc., he is top notch. Very sociable,respectful,confident, & mature kid. Made good grades & won alot of awards in HS. He has a CDL & hauls grain for a local farm right now. He is very experienced on heavy equipment.

What would you do ? Thanks in advance, Steve
 

JungleJett

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Focus on a 4 year degree in something NOT aviation related. This is not a very stable business and having a good backup plan is important. He can fly in his spare time....
 

erj-145mech

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I agree with JungleJett.

Someday, he may bust a medical, and having a fall back career plan is prudent.
 

ditchpilot

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diversify

Your son is right on track thinking law enforcment / aviation. My friends who fly for fish and wildlife and law enforcement have never missed a pay check and are eligable for full retirement after 20 yrs. Your son needs to check with your state police and see if they have a aviation wing. Some of the federal agencies (ie. DEA,FBI, Fish and Wildlife) will even pay for his pilot training. Hope this helps.
 

Coool Hand Luke

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Your son is right on track thinking law enforcment / aviation. My friends who fly for fish and wildlife and law enforcement have never missed a pay check and are eligable for full retirement after 20 yrs. Your son needs to check with your state police and see if they have a aviation wing. Some of the federal agencies (ie. DEA,FBI, Fish and Wildlife) will even pay for his pilot training. Hope this helps.


+1 on ditchpilot's advice. DHS has a great need right now (and will continure to) and lot's of funding...as long as he won't mind the desert southwest.
 

Amish RakeFight

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Make sure he gets his degree. The industry is cyclical and he will eventually be out of work at times. Make sure he understands the seniority system broadly implemented.

Have him do some safety pilot work to build his hours for free, while working towards commercial minimums.

I'm not a fan of those pilot mills. Part 61 breeds more diversity in planes, instructors, techniques, etc. IMO, a better learning exprience. If he has the Private and MEL, and half way to the instrument rating, he's almost there. A combined CFI program (CFI, CFII, MEI) can be had for about $5K.

He may want to fly right now, but no one is hiring and pilots are being furloughed left and right while some outfits shut down completely. If he completes all his ratings and instructs, by the time hiring begins again, he'll be in a good competitive position.

Good luck and keep the questions coming.
 

legendskid_44

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AmishRakefight is right. part 61 is the way to go, I did one of my licenses part 141 and hated it. seems like i was rushed through it, they just wanted my money and get me done, and i barely could ask questions.

Since the job pilot market tanked, its a good time to get your degree now and fly on the side like CFIing. Always a good thing to fall back on something if happens down the road.

Wish i could have gotten my degree in something other then aviation.

PM me if you have any questions, i just came out of college.
 

Lead Sled

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Steve,
There are a lot of us here who have been in your son's shoes. You're asking the proper questions.

Let's talk education first. In today's world, pilots have got to have a university degree in order to be competitive in the job market. Period. Can you get a job without one? Of course, but you have to understand that most employers - corporate, airline or other - if given the choice between two otherwise equally qualified individuals will almost always go for the person with the degree. I have seen this time after time after time. In today's job market, where there are literally hundreds of applications for every opening, the competition is especially tough.

When it comes to university courses, I'd recommend getting a degree in something that you can fall back on and support yourself and your family if the aviation thing doesn't work out. Like the old saying goes, you don't necessarily want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Pilots get laid off, furloughed or lose their medical. It happens to pilots everyday and it's a shame when it happens and you aren't prepared.

As far as what to get a degree in, I've never heard of a case where it made any difference at all. Your son could get a 4-year degree in the proverbial "Underwater Basket Weaving". However, it probably would be much wiser to get it in a field where you can earn a living if you ever have to leave aviation for whatever reason. (There's really not much demand for underwater basket weavers these days.) A 4-year degree in Airplane Flying (Oops, I mean Bachelor of Science - Aviation) will probably have limited value outside the world of aviation. Additionally, I've never know a case where one pilot with a degree in aviation was given priority over another pilot with a degree in any other field. In my particular case, I have a degree in Business Management. During my career I’ve only worked with a couple of pilots without a degree. My current chief pilot has a PhD in Business Management. I’ve worked with a couple of MBA's, several business majors, an electrical engineer, music majors, education majors, the whole gambit. The important thing is that each of us could make a viable living outside of aviation if we had to.

When it comes to flight schools, don't be mislead into thinking that you have attend an accredited aeronautical college or university or flight school. All any potential employer cares about is the ratings and experience that you "bring to the table", not where or how you got them. There is nothing special about a degree from a school like Embry Riddle, Purdue, UND or any other college or university. When you finish your training there you are not issued a special FAA certificate with a gold seal that says "Graduate of ERAU". Certainly, these type schools are good and highly respected. Their flight training programs certainly turn out good pilots. However, you pay a high premium for what you get. Is it necessary? Personally, I don't believe so. I have always felt that the CFI is the single most important factor in determining the quality of the training that you are receiving. Whether you select an aeronautical college or simply use an FBO's flight school or even decide to use a freelance flight instructor the quality of your training will be largely determined by individual flight instructor's skills, abilities, and experience. The best flight school facilities, training curriculum or the newest, best equipped training aircraft can not compensate for a mediocre flight instructor. Aeronautical colleges and universities certainly have not cornered the market on good instructors - they are where you find them.

It all boils down to what do you have to do to make yourself "marketable". In today's competitive job market everyone is basically a clone of everyone else. You need to try and find those things that will make you stand out from the herd if you know what I mean.

Finally, I would encourage your son to get his CFI certificate and to spend 500 to 1000 hours teaching. It will round him out as an aviatior. I'm sure that you will hear from many others with differing opinions and I wouldn't discount their input.
 

Princedietrich

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I don't think it can be said any better than what Lead Sled posted.

I will also agree with Ditchpilot. A ciminal justice/law enforcement degree would be an excellent boon. Not only would it open many more doors in the aviation world, it could make for a great backup plan if aviation falls through. My personal suggestion would be a combination of criminal justice and a business degree of some sort. I'm not sure how your local universities do it, but my alma mater had a 2 year Law Enforcement program coupled with a 4 year Criminal Justice program. You'd come out with an associate degree in LE and a bachelor degree in CJ.

Have your son keep a weather eye on government job opportunities because these can be some of the best in terms of pay, job security, bennies, and QoL.

Best of luck to you both. :beer:
 

AirCobra

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Since he has flight experience already I would say tell him to get his Certifed Flight Instructor Rating, then start college. American Flyers had a good program when I did it 18 Years ago (yikes, I am old). While in college he can instruct and build time on the weekends and get paid. When I was in college I worked in a campus office and a resturant while my some of my friends were building flight hours instructing. They were two years ahead of me in the job market when they graduated, and they were looking for airline pilot jobs while I was still sending out resumes for flight instructor positions.

The degree thing is important. All the professional pilots that I know that don't have degrees are working on them. A non-avition career choice is good also. Education, nursing, engineering, criminal justice, and Aviation Maintenance Management (where you get an A&P license) are all good choices.

I would also strongly recommend Air Force or Navy ROTC or Marine PLC. Its hard to get a entry level job as a pilot so a lot of guys graduate then try to get into the military so they can fly for Uncle Sam. Its a lot easier to do ROTC and get a commission. My advisor told me this in my Freshmen year and I didn't listen. It took me three years after I graduated to finally get picked up by the military.
 

farmboysc

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This info is priceless. Thank all of you for taking the time to respond. Hindsight is 20/20, & ya'll have alot of it. I'm still reading. Thanks again,Steve
 

eagle06

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Everyone is right. Definitely not an aviation degree (wish someone had told me that as I have one of the useless things). Im pretty sure from my time in SC that the state has both fixed wing, at least a king air i think, and rotary. Sounds like hes well on his way with his ratings and time so going to a pilot mill is probably not necessary. I would assume there are some banner towing operations along the coast. Augusta Aviation out of DNL in GA as I recall used to have some low time guys sitting right seat. Where in SC do you live? As for wanting to fly NOW I dont think he should be in any rush. With the current job market it probably wont make much difference if he gets all his ratings in 6 months or 12. Now is the time to get educated and position himself well for when the hiring picks up.
 

Publishers

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Good advice from all. The quick schools in my opinion are for the later in life people who may have the time and money and are moving on later in life for a new career. The fire hose approach is better as they do not have the time to teach for years.
I have a 20 year old friend who is teaching and going to both ERAU and taking courses in junior college. The jr college courses are the same ones he could take at ERAU but at half to two thirds the price.
At 22, he will have the college, all his ratings, and considerable time except turbine. Business administration would be my choice on the degree.
I had another young minority woman who sped through her business degree at local college and we got her in the Coast Guard. She was an instructor, worked in accounting at the airport, and made the C130 program. When she comes out, if she wants to, she will be right in.
 
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