The Pilot's Graveyard

Joseph II

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Those of you who are flying professionally, do you really enjoy flying as much as when you were working towards your private in a Cessna 152?

Those of you who don't fly now, did you loose your dream, did family or financial obligations kill that dream for you? Do you think about it every day? Do you mind "flying the desk"?

Those of you in the regionals, Was it really worth all of that sacrafice to get where you are today? Can you just not wait to get "the hell" out of those small airplanes so you can finally fly some big iron? Do you always grumbe about contracts and unions?

Those in the airlines, is it what you dreamed of? Do you guys also only grumbe about contracts and unions? How about your family, or did you loose them in a divorce? How do you feel about having a wife and kids at home *and* a girlfriend in a different state? Did you imagine you would end up that way? Did you actually pay off your flying loans (if you didn't take the millitary route)?

I'm 25, married no kids. I have my CFI with 0 hours dual given. I currently work at a desk job (which happens to be at Jeppesen a company that is allegedely known as the "Pilot Graveyard" because of so many Commercial/CFI pilots work for them who have all lost their dream for flying). My wife understandibly wants to "start a family" (me too) but I fear getting locked into my present job because of the committments of children/house/debt expenses.

Am I alone with this feeling of severe anxiety? As if I'm just inches away from being stuck doing something I don't want to do for the rest of my life. I also wonder why people who have dreamed of flying for a living end up bitching constantly how they want to "make it to the next bigger airplane" once a compnay actually gives them a paycheck to float around above terra firma.

So please, tell me what you think.
 

norskman2

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Don't fly because you want to fly. Fly because you HAVE to fly. See ya in the air.
 

Bluto

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Trapped

Any decision you make will have consequences. If your family is your top priority, you will have to accept that as an airline pilot, you will probably not spend as much time with them as the dad next door. You are never stuck in a job unless you choose to be. It drives me crazy when I hear people whining about being "stuck" at their regional jobs. Take responsibility for your life. Whatever career you choose it'll cost you. Decide if the costs are worth the benefits for you. No one else can make these decisions for you.
 

Huck

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I started at the regionals relatively late, at the age of 29. My wife is a saint and supported me by working full time. We put off having our first baby until I was close to upgrade (he was born during captain ground school!)

You can raise a family on a captain's salary, but f/o's are gonna need a working spouse, I'm afraid.

As far as enjoying it - a Fedex guy I know said it best: the regionals would be a blast if you knew precisely how long you were going to be there. The flying was great, the people fun, I even enjoyed taking care of passengers. I averaged about 800 hours a year, and sometimes flew 8 legs a day. It was a blast.

Now I fly cargo- long legs, back side of the clock, sometimes only 2 or 3 landings a month. But a hand-flown visual approach is still better than sex, and standin' em up at the beginning of the takeoff roll, pointing down 12,000 feet of runway and knowing you're gonna use most of it, is a thrill I can't adequately describe.

Most folks who have to fly end up flying. You just can't be happy doing anything else. Like Dr. Ruth says, "If it feels good, do it!"
 

A1FlyBoy

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Happiness is where you are, but at least in my case, its with ANY type of airplane in a flying capacity. Flying is the only thing I want to do and I've had non-aviation jobs to help me get to where I am help me 'spool up' this career.

CFI gigs and other initial aviation jobs will, in most cases, require two jobs to stay afloat. It can be discouraging at times and make for friction. Its also difficult when others don't comprehend all of the obstacles, and hoops we as pilots have to jump through to get where we want to go. Its a long hard road.

I've had a very patient girlfriend, she had gone back to school for a masters degree, but now is in a job, ready to marry and is talking about kids. I'm at the point where I can get flying jobs, but have to chase them and move around. Makes for difficult choices...

I know this, I NEED and WANT to fly. It's who I am.
 

Draginass

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Yes, flying professionally can be fun, but professionally you have to realistically look at it as a job and making a living for your family.

As in life, you can't want something too much, or it will consume you. Take the stars out of your eyes and make a plan for your flying career and family. Starting out civilian is really tough. If you're married, you'd better have a spouse that can help support the family for quite a while. Flying is a harsh mistress.
 
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exeagle

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Speaking only for myself as a furloughed pilot, I miss flying professionally more than you can imagine. My job right now is at a desk, and I can't imagine doing this for the rest of my life. I am so ready to get back to flying, that I can barely stand it! I know alot of fellow furloughees who are in the same boat. Even though I'm temporarily not flying, I know that all the sacrifices I have made to get here will be worth it. In fact, those of us hired in the past 2 or 3 years have really had it easy compared to the guys before us in the early 90s, who were hardpressed to find a cfi job, instructed for 2000 hours or so, then prayed for a 135 job. good luck!
 

Saabslime

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As far as the "time with the wife and kids" thing goes.......I have to disagree with Bluto. Your average 9 - 5 dad sees the family maybe a half hour in the morning before heading to the office, then maybe an hour or two of QUALITY time before hitting the sack, and weekends. I on the other hand (being mid-seniority) usually have 3 - 4 days off during the week where I have all day with them.

About your question of the airlines being all that I dreamed it would be.....yes and no. It does get routine like any other job and isn't the glorified lifestyle most people who have no experience in the industry think it is. Long hours, short overnights, fast food on the run. And yes, pilots do complain about mngmt, the contract, growth, pay, the list goes on and on but thats something that won't change so you just don't let it get to you. Then there are the times when its everything you thought it would be. Flying an approach in a blinding snowstorm down to minimums knowing you have the equipment to do it safely, watching the sunrise from above an overcast, and the look of admiration and wonder in a little kids face as you pass them by in full uniform is priceless.

I think that feeling of anxiety you have about being stuck in your current position is because flying is in your blood. Its just not something you can explain to somebody who does'nt have it. You know you won't be truly happy doing anything else, so like somebody else said......just fly. When you fulfill your own needs, you'll be a better husband, a better dad, and a better person all around.
GOOD LUCK AND FLY SAFE!!:cool:
 

English

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Saabslime is very wise. I agree with everything said.

When I am faced with decisions affecting my career and family, I take the view of me lying in my death bed (yeah I know, a little morbid, but bear with me here) reminiscing back through my life, and hearing what regrets I would have about my life. No one ever says, "I wish I had done more work at the office". Following one's dream and not spending enough time with loved ones are always at the top of a dying person's regret list.
 

PHX767

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You have to do what's right for you. I made some choices based on a wife and family that I had at the time. I commited to them and got out of the service, they eventually left, and I was not real happy.

So I started flying a bit later than most - age 39. Did all the ratings, CFI, regionals, yadda yadda - eventually ended up at the dream job. Even while furloughed right now, I am still happy because I am doing what I want - fulfilling my dream, my destiny, my desire.

I will be able to look back and say, it was hard but I had a great 2 careers.

Lemme tell you, there is nothing like pushing the levers up and hearing those Rolls Royces howl for you.
 

hyper

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The wives usually leave, the jobs come and go, but the planes are always there. I tend to go for the "sure" thing (tongue in cheek).
P.S. Don't tell my wife I wrote this :rolleyes:

P.S.S. I'm very fortunate to have watched the shuttle launch from 6000ft, descending into JAX from the Northwest as the sun was rising. That should keep me from bitchin' for the next few months. ;)
 

peepsmover

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Fly Lips Off

First your spouse has to be supportive to pursue any dream, if not, tell her CYA. Keep in mind that you may not even achieve your ideal pilot job. So long as you are prepared for that reality but heck there are no warranties in life, you know what the "pilots graveyard" has to offer. Still don't forget that there are numerous other pilot jobs that have more pluses than minuses, like Customs, FBI, Forest Service, Lifeguard, Military, etc. Finally, I have been privledged to fly with guys who were just months shy of retiring from 30 plus year careers, and they still loved the job...even though they had been forloughed for stretches of time totaling 10 years. As for me I am glad that my "desk flying" days are gone...for the moment at least! ha! Being able to fly a challenging mission and then relaxing in some cool watering hole afterwards talking with a fun crew, or or checking out some neat sights, certainly makes up for those long day/short layover trips from hell. "The road less traveled" says it all.
 

dsaviation

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It is all about having a life. I was in the military for 9 years then did a few years of corporate while waiting for a job with the majors. Got the majors job and then got furloughed. During this furlough I have been able to keep busy with contract flying. Here is my two cents.

The military got too beaurocratic as you gained rank. You couldn't just keep flying and then retire. They wanted you to "broaden" your career (read desk job).

At the airline you are just a number. Just like you were saying, guys "grumble about contracts and unions." There are people out there that have no fun at all flying and don't have any concern about getting fired because they won't get fired for being a bad pilot. You only get fired for "normal" company things (late for work, drinking on duty, stealing from the company, etc.), the union will get you out of everything else.

I've been lucky to keep just busy enough (9-10) days of work per month. I can say, "no," when I want and still make enough to rent that Warrior once in a while when the weather is too good to pass it up. We'll see how long this lasts and I don't know what I'll do when the airline gets around to recalling. I could live like this forever.
 

TurboS7

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I had a 12 minute notice the other day to go to Kuwait. I ran home packed and left a love note to my wife. It said, Gone to Kuwait will call from New York. Five days later I am home with some great memories of a beautiful night over London. An intercept over France by a Mirage, and 8 inch shrimp for lunch in Crete. I love it all , the good the bad and the ugly.
 

Twotter76

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It sounds cliche but I have to say it - the absolute worst long crappiest, most legs, IFR to minimums day is so much better than any other job that i've ever had that I cant ever compare the two. Whenever I have a week that I dont fly I start itching to call ops and see if they will give me something. Seeing the northern lights go bright red and cover the entire sky and bathing everything around us in a red hue was just one of the amazing experiences I actually get paid for.

I think that flying is one of those few things that just grabs people and wont let them go. Its like crack in that respect (so I would assume), and I wont ever be able to get enough. Family is important but so is your own happiness. If you are doing something that you know you dont want to do now, how are you going to feel about it in 5 years? 10? 20? No thanks, I love what I do and believe strongly in having no regrets. Oh yeah and I dont know any pilots anywhere that dont bitch about pay and hours, I know I do ;) .
 

bobbysamd

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Bad cliches v. flying career

You hear the one about men wearing their grey suits, leading lives of quiet desperation? I didn't get that exactly right, but you get the idea.

Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?

You only go 'round once in life, go for the gusto (apologies to Schlitz).

Think of it in those terms. Now, I'll put it in my terms.

I had loved airplanes since I was a child and had always wanted to learn to fly. I put it off for years because I had unstable work situations and no money. Finally, just over twenty years ago, at age 31, I started.

I found that I really enjoyed flying and I pursued ratings because I wanted to be a good pilot. In 1987, at age 36, I heard about a pilot shortage. I always thought that a guy like myself could not be a professional pilot. However, two guys I knew who were sharp people but still very ordinary people had gotten commuter jobs. One was a career changer, just like me. The other was gifted in many ways but was meandering through life until he started to fly. I thought that if they could do it, I could do it. A good regional airline job is all I ever wanted.

I tried, but the best I ever did was to flight instruct. Do I regret that I tried? Not for a minute. No way. Absolutely not.

I look at it this way. I was paid to do something that I wanted to do and enjoyed - fly airplanes (although my students did most of the flying). I did something that many people only dream of doing. I gained a great deal of satisfaction in doing my job; I have students who went on to fly for regionals and majors, and maybe I influenced their success in some small way. I came away with some very rich experiences. Perhaps I fell short of my aspirations - but, I got to do it!

Another cliche: You'll never know unless you try. Good luck with your plans.

PS-I like Twotter76's comment above about how flying grabs you and never lets you go. It's true. Keep that in mind.
 
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TurboS7

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If you are a pilot you fly, you get a job flying and that is what you do. It will take you all over the planet so tell your wife to keep her bags packed.
 

Jepp2Jet

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Elrey says....

This is JAD speaking to you....

The other 50 people that applied for your same job, who are re-fueling the same jets they once flew, might not have much pity for your plight. I on the other hand do..lol, just remember the 3 year wing clip and set your priorities for the goals that you first intended to accomplish.. and watch out for the high speed low flying marshmellows.. :p
 

nightrider

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I feel your pain

I got married a couple of months after I graduated from college. The next year we added another mouth. A little girl. I didn't make much money, but I still couldn't afford to take the pay cut to go to the commuter (where all my friends had all ready gone). I guess I sort of felt cheated, in ways. I didn't think I had a chance to make it to the majors. I stuck with it, and six years later I started class for my first choice major.

I don't like to give advice, but I would say don't add a family unless you can be happy in the place you are in.

Good luck
 
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