Please provide advice to father...

FCO

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My son's goal is to be a pilot -- ideally, regional and eventually with a larger commercial airline. I am a college professor and welcome his desire to pursue his dreams. That said, I don't know much about that career path since I took the traditional academic route and I do not have the funds for him to earn his licenses from while in high school. Much of this seems like piece meal where one earns licenses at one place and a degree (if wanted/needed) from another place... and then still the student comes up short with necessary hours and needs flight time for even a starter position that requires a minimum of 500 flying hours. He's a very good kid with a B+ average and a good head on his shoulders. Aviation is the passion that never went away... he dreams this stuff. What path/program do you suggest when he graduates from high school?

Thanks,

TJ
 

Amish RakeFight

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Have him attain a college degree in something other than aviation. An aviation degree does not really matter in terms of getting hired. A college degree does. It adds one more check to the application. The reason for a degree outside of aviation is that the industry is highly cyclical and most career pilots are out of work several times during their career. A degree in something which would provide more resilient income is essential if he plans to ride out the waves throughout his flying career.

Outside of a university or the military, he can attend either a part 141 or part 61 flight school. The part 141 program is theoretically more structured (this can vary from pilot mill to pilot mill), but lacks in many other aspects. Part 141 training requires less overall training time compared to what is required of a part 61 program. They also tend to be "all-inclusive" deals, where they take you from student to multiengine commerical pilot flight instructor. The differences are minimal. From what I recall, a private pilot certificate requires 40 hrs part 61 and 35 for part 141. Most pilots need much more than these minimums to successfully pass a checkride. The minimums are set forth by the FAA. Depending on where you fly will have a great impact on how expensive things can get. Most 141 programs have flat rate pricing, but many times students who are barely capable or prepared are sent on "canned" checkrides with their own in-house examiner who passes them.

Part 61 can involve what might be called an FBO operator which provides flight instruction. You'll find many small flight schools or "mom and pop" type operations at your local field, althoguh they are disappearing fast due to the dire state of the industry. Another benefit to go part 61 is that you're exposed to a broader training landscape. Typical pat 61 training will involve having to fly with different instructors for each rating. this has the advantage of learning different techniques from differnt pilots of varying experience. You'll also fly many different types of planes as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that in order to get hired at an entry level job requires a minimum amount of multiengine time. In general, most pilots (regardless of training route) end up with their CFI, CFII and MEI without much multiengine time. ALLATPS is a 141 program where the students fly the majority of the program in multiengine airplanes which is their biggest selling point.

Anyway, there's so much to cover in terms of the how and what. Hopefully others will chime in and fill in any gaps I've missed, which is plenty. Ask some follow up questions, if you will, and you'll get more targeted answers.


Best.
 

FCO

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Flight schools do not offer financial aid or low interest loans, which is why I felt a college or university would be best. Another thought: get the licenses and hours and work for a regional first... then earn a BS/BS to apply for the larger airlines. I wonder if an Embry-Riddle or Delta Academy might be a good idea.

TJ
 

Amish RakeFight

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Flight schools do not offer financial aid or low interest loans, which is why I felt a college or university would be best. Another thought: get the licenses and hours and work for a regional first... then earn a BS/BS to apply for the larger airlines. I wonder if an Embry-Riddle or Delta Academy might be a good idea.

TJ
Beware the university route for flight training. It takes a lot longer to acquire the individual ratings and will cost you more in the end. ERU is overrated and Delta Academy is not a university. They are just like ALLATPS and other pilot mills. Aviation is full of glossy feel-good ads with "guranteed" FO jobs. Don't fall for the hype.

Trying to get a degree while line flying can be tough. He's better off going to school concurrently with flight training on the side.

One more thing, he should purchase one of the flight simulator programs like MSFS, along with a yoke. Being able to practice at home on a PC will cut his flight training bill in half, especially when it comes to earning the instrument rating. PC sims work best when used for learning the various instrument procedures.

BTW, in terms of funding, Sallie Mae which was a highly visable and big player in the loan market for pilots is shoring up their funding for flight training. I belive they will continue to accept applications for loans up until May 8th.


http://www.aopa.org/training/articles/2009/090331sallie.html

Sallie Mae slashes flight training loan business

By Ian J. Twombly

Responding to what it calls “difficult market conditions,” Sallie Mae announced via letter to select flight schools recently that it is significantly reducing the amount of flight training loans it generates.

Although the reduction is thought to be significant and widespread, the company wouldn’t comment on how many schools will be cut from the loan program.

“Due to difficult market conditions, we have found it necessary to focus our resources only on those schools that generate sufficient volume of approved loans to justify the expense of maintaining this manually intensive program,” said a spokeswoman.

The effective date of the termination is May 8. Applications submitted up to that point are being processed, according to the letter. Students are encouraged to speak with their flight school manager for additional details on whether or not financing will be available through Sallie Mae.

AOPA reminds members that if offers an alternative financing route through its Flight Training Funds Program.

The Program doesn’t require students to use a particular school; even private instructors are eligible.
March 31, 2009
 

mynameisjim

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Flight schools do not offer financial aid or low interest loans, which is why I felt a college or university would be best. Another thought: get the licenses and hours and work for a regional first... then earn a BS/BS to apply for the larger airlines. I wonder if an Embry-Riddle or Delta Academy might be a good idea.

TJ
Annual tuition including room and board:

Embry-Riddle Total, flight students $48,693

Harvard, Total $49,361



http://www.erau.edu/admissions/estimated-costs.html

http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/CollegeDetail.jsp?collegeId=1251&profileId=2
 

partypilot1

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There are multiple factors that come into play when determining how to get to point B from point A, in an aviation career (market timing is everything and is uncontrollable, just be ready).
I strongly recommend going to college while attaining primary flight instruction and flight instructing after primary complete and still in college. It's not easy but he will learn that sacrifices must be made to be successful in aviation, lots of them. It's not the route I chose but everyone I know who did it that way seem to learn the industry before diving in head first.
The best advice is, just take it one step at a time. Primary, PIC flight time, Multi PIC, stuff on your resume to side you apart from the rest.
Sometimes your ahead of your pilot buddies, sometimes your behind, the race is long and in the end, it was only with yourself
 

FCO

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Praise the Lord! For all the times I have scorned my son for "playing" on that computer, maybe there is some good to it all. He IS the master of MSFS with a yoke. Thank you, once again!
 

Amish RakeFight

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Praise the Lord! For all the times I have scorned my son for "playing" on that computer, maybe there is some good to it all. He IS the master of MSFS with a yoke. Thank you, once again!
While he waits on the sidelines, have him pick up a copy of the FAA Private Pilot PTS to use on his PC. The Practical Test Standards (PTS) booklet is issued by the FAA for each certificate and rating that which requires a checkride. He should begin to go through the Private PTS and learn what manuevers are required and the tolerances needed. For example, he should be able to hold heading within +/- 10 degrees, altitude +/-100' and airspeed within +/- 10 knots.

If you go to www.faa.gov you'll find the PDF versions of all the FAA handbooks from private pilot on up as well as copies of the various PTS guides.


Here's a link to the various Aviation handbooks:
http://www.faa.gov/library/manuals/aviation/


Here's the link to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook:
http://www.faa.gov/library/manuals/aircraft/airplane_handbook/
 

legendskid_44

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Check your PM. Rakefight is right, pick up the beginning of your sons aviation library with a Private PTS
 

lowtimedriver

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My hat is off to you for caring enough about your son to inquire here. You will get excellent advice here and one thing is for sure, there isn't a bunch of better people in my opinion than pilots. You must be a great Dad.
 

FCO

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Thank you so much; you made my night. I will go to the edge of the earth for him. As I always tell him, if you try in life, I will support you in your hopes and dreams.
 

Lynxman

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Def try an push the degree outside of aviation first I'm kicking myself for not doing that the first time around. Along with doing the training pt. 61 it saved me money and in the end put me ahead of my peers by alot.
 

Princedietrich

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Other things to keep in mind, for further down the road, are the more "non traditional" routes of professional pilots. The most common route that many of us took is the instructor to regional to major path or perhaps the military to major path. But there are many more ways to fly an airplane, get paid to do it, and perhaps have a heck of a lot of fun in the process. Sightseeing airtours, traffic watch, pipeline/powerline patrol, aerial mapping, banner towing and flying jumpers are all more or less "entry level" piloting jobs. From there you can move on to charter, cargo, corporate, crop dusting, fire bombing and of course the airlines. Granted, some of these more advanced jobs can be difficult to get into and carry some considerable risk.

Bottom line is to make sure he keeps an open mind and doesn't get locked into the mentality that he has to be left seat in a triple 7 to be happy (although it does help in terms of being financially sound).

Another point I want to make is in regard to 141 training programs. While there is very little difference in the minimum time required for private pilot in 61 versus 141, the REAL difference comes when you get to commercial. Under part 61 the minimum is 250 hours, but under part 141 the minimum is 190 hours: 35 minimum to get private, 35 minimum to get instrument rating, and 120 minimum to get commercial. In theory, this can get you to the point of being able to fly for a living in less than 200 hours.

Definitely look into the university programs because a college degree will do nothing but help his career, but I personally would shy away from Embry Riddle. Nothing against them but they're just too darned expensive, as a previous poster mentioned you could almost go to Harvard for the same price.
 

ualdriver

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My son's goal is to be a pilot -- ideally, regional and eventually with a larger commercial airline. I am a college professor and welcome his desire to pursue his dreams.
I don't know how old your son is, but if it were my son, and he truly was serious about becoming a professional pilot, I would really have a "heart to heart" talk with him. I would explain to him that he is going to be carrying alot of debt when he graduates from college and completes his training. Far more debt than other professionals (I'm assuming you aren't going to be able to help him with his education as you didn't mention it. Correct me if I'm wrong). I would explain to him that while carrying that high debt load that he is going to have to expect very low salaries for the first few to several years of his career. Everyone is poor when they finish their professional training and college, whether you're an accountant or a IT guy or whatever. The difference is that other professionals can expect entry level salaries in the 30's and 40's and if they do well, can expect raises and career progression. Pilots can expect entry level salaries in the 20's and perhaps won't make more than 30K/year for the first several years of their career- all while trying to service 10's of thousands of dollars of debt. There is a huge oversupply of pilots in the market right now, there has been for at least the couple of decades I've been in aviation, and unfortunately low salaries reflect that oversupply.

If he still wants to do it, I would suggest that while in High School, he at least try to solo at a local airport. Almost all of us on this board were flight instructors at one point in our career. Many of us, unfortunately, have seen young people change their mind after actually having flown an airplane and seeing/feeling what it is really like. Some people love airplanes but simply aren't cut out for flying. He's better off making sure that he likes flying while he's young and hasn't made any major decisions about his college education path.

I would have him talk to a few airline pilots who have been through the very bumpy ride the profession requires. Don't let him talk to some angry, jaded airline pilot as there are many of them out there. Find a guy who loves aviation but has been around the block and will give an honest assessment of what your son might expect if he chooses this path. Profession pilots have extremely difficult career paths to a decent paying job. He needs to understand that.

You mentioned that you are a college professor. If I'm not mistaken, most college employees receive a discount if their children attend the college their parents are working at. If he can get a big discount for going to college where you are, I'd say get a degree in ANYTHING your college has to offer. Nobody cares about what a pilot's degree is in. They just want someone with a 4 year degree. I would sugggest NOT sending your child to an expensive private university like ERAU. It's a great program (I went there) but unless he gets some seroius scholarship money, you'll have way too much debt for what you get. As mentioned above, if possible, get a degree in something that he can fall back upon when he inevitably ends up furloughed and unable to find a pilot job. I wish I had done that.

After he gets the degree, I'd start looking at a good Part 141 program with possible connections to an entry level regional airline job. If it were me, nowadays I think I'd lean toward All ATP's (see banner ad on top of this page) or similar. The big schools usually have some sort of financial aid available, too, although I'm not sure what kind of interest rates are available. Or, he could use his "backup degree" we mentioned earlier, work his day job, and then obtain his ratings on nights and weekends. The disadvantage to that is that it will take much longer to obtain his flight ratings than if he just went to a structured Part 141 program to get them done in a timely manner. The other disadvantage is that sometimes guys get "comfortable" with that higher salary of their day job while flying on the side and have a difficult time giving up that day job for a flight instructor's low pay once that day comes.

Has he considered the military? I'd consider that route. There are many military pilots on this forum who could tell you about that career path if you ask.

It's good that you're asking this stuff on behalf of your son. If you or your son have any other questions, feel free to post or private message. You're getting good advice from the guys posting above me in my opinion. Good luck.
 
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Amish RakeFight

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My son's goal is to be a pilot -- ideally, regional and eventually with a larger commercial airline. I am a college professor and welcome his desire to pursue his dreams.
My friend's mother was a chemistry teacher at NYU and he was able to receive a tuition-free education.

Is there any possiblity that your institution offers a similar arrangement? If so, I would highly recommend that path. An aviation degree is VERY not necessary to go far as a pilot.
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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Read and reread Ualdrivers post. Spot on!

UALdrivers post is accurate...

The big question is who do we want flying US jets in US airspace in the decades to come?

If not Americans then whom?

If we don't invest in our infrastructure, our economy and industry, there will be undesirables flying our jets who don't care about our country.....
 

Jeff Helgeson

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3 factors for success

1. Four year degree

2. Licenses and ratings

3. Flight hours and work experience

Those three things are the main boxes that need to be checked to get a career job.

Most of the above posts have highlighted many of the issues with our industry. He won't walk in to a six-figure job out of college/flight school.

I would suggest getting the degree and the private pilot certificate.

Free tuition at the University where you teach would be nice. Take a summer and go get the private license at time-intensive school.

If that is not an option and if he were my son, I would strongly consider Purdue university. The have an excellent program. I have always enjoyed flying with their alumni.

Good Luck,

Jeff

 

Secret Squirrel

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I have flown with many FO's who were quick to discuss how they had over $100,000 in student loans from their flight training and college education. Unless you have parents to pay off part of that loan or you win the lottery, you will never get out from under that amount of debt on a pilot salary. In todays market figure a couple years flight instructing (under $20,000), A couple years flying freight if you are lucky ($30-40K). Then back to some regional with many years at low FO scales trying to build the illustrious PIC turbine (many years making under $40K). At what point in the first 10 years of your aviation degree are you going to start paying back these loans? These loans are not forgivable in Bankruptcy. You are looking at over $1000 a month loan payments. This is almost half your take home salary for a lot of your initial years. And realize this career continues to see a downward push on pay and work rules. This is not your daddy's airline career any more. Add onto all this cabbatoge, the multi crew pilots license, about 15000 furloughed pilots, and a sour economy and things are going to be going in the wrong direction for a while.

I seriously don't know how anybody can get into aviation anymore. I would say the only way I would do it is through the military If I had to do it over again knowing what I know. The only reason I stay is that I have a sugar mamma that has allowed us to keep a descent QOL and saved us during Furlough.

Good luck with you and your sons choice. But If he really loves to fly let him get his Private License and find a career that will let him get those $100 hamburgers.
 
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