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Underpaid Pilots Are No Comfort To Trave

flint4xx

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Posts
374
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Six months after 9/11, we are increasingly called upon to stop being prisoners at home and hop on a plane in the name of God and country: country now a synonym for our economy, finances eclipsing all of American accomplishments and glories.

An alien landing here now might mistake us for the biggest big box store on the planet, without being at all reductive to reality.

If someone hasn't already sponsored a constitutional amendment seeking to add the late, great Sam Walton as a constitutional signatory, it's time someone did.

No disrespect intended to Thomas Jefferson, but it was Sam who refined life, liberty and happiness down to its true essence:

Bigger, better and more of it - for less!

As Queen of Luxe-for-Less, I'm all for anything that forwards the cause of conspicuous consumption at less than cost.

What with $199 airfare to London now offered, there isn't a terrorist in the world who could have scared me off that deal.

But I did flinch a bit on Sunday, during a television ad for a flight school in the Greater Hartford area:

"Bored by your current job?" the announcer asked. Call now, and soon, you too could have a glam new career as a pilot for a lot less than you'd think.

He sounded like those car insurance guys on the radio who guarantee you the lowest rate regardless of how many crashes you've caused and the number of points on your license - and I can personally vouch for those promises. .

So the moment I woke up on Monday, I started canvassing local flight schools on their tuition.

The average cost, based upon quotes from several schools regarding the cost of fulfilling the Federal Aviation Administration's training requirements (in other words, a bit less than average, since average people take more than minimum training to catch on): For a private pilot's license, $8,500.

For an extra 50 hours to be instrument-rated, another $7,000.

For a commercial license permitting you to do small plane work such as flying banners or writing smoke trails for malt liquor companies over beaches and carnival sites, add an extra $35,000.

As for the flight instructor's license enabling you to get commercial airline work: $168,000.

Sum total being $218,500. Cheap?

That's skyway robbery!

The beginner's return for which would be a base salary of $17,000 a year plus a bit extra per diem, bringing you to $18,000 or $19,000 to start, according to Chris Pierson of Northwest Airlines' corporate communications office.

That's presuming you land a job at say, Northwest's Mesaba commuter division - extremely unlikely, as they haven't been able to afford a new hire since last fall, according to Pierson.

Are you taking this in? Because I found it hard to.

An expensively trained civilian technician or honorably discharged military pilot qualifies for food stamps and all the American Pilots Association is asking the feds for is guns in the cockpits?

I'd be pleading for another Big Cheese Giveaway, like the one last sponsored when the federally subsidized dairy industry's stockpiles were dispensed to the poor: Please sir, may I have some more Gouda?

With no disrespect to airline hires, haven't we learned enough about what happens when federal employees work too hard for too little money under tense conditions?

It's called "going postal." I, for one, feel no need to learn what "going pilot" might mean.

Guns? So they can stick up the local food pantry? These men and women need raises!

And I'm not talking about Northwest's offer of 4.5 percent increase with an opportunity for future negotiations when the industry picture brightens up (nor singling out Northwest, when there are far worse airlines to work for).

Aren't the guys flying the planes as important as the guys working the X-ray machines, federally employed or not? Shouldn't they be making decent money from the get-go?

And if this is what Northwest pays its rookies, what about companies such as American Trans Airways?

"Oh, given their past record, they're a safer airline to fly than any of them now - they're being so closely watched by the feds," my boyfriend tried to reassure me.

Oh, yeah, watched by the feds. And he wasn't kidding, either.

He'd just booked two flights, one through ATA, another through a similarly small carrier to save money so he could visit a gravely ill friend on the spur of the moment. I was praying for one. Now I'm praying for both.

And also remembering to put in a good word for Northwest's striking pilots.

After all, I didn't forget to buy flight insurance for Jos, just in case.

It was never one of my "luxe for less" best bets in times past, but knowing what I know, it's got my Golden Tight-Fist seal of approval - as I'm sure it would Jos'(presuming he knew the policy I took out on him existed).

But why worry him? Bad enough seeing his expression when I reminded him to tip the pilot generously. "You want me to tip the pilot?" he asked incredulously.

In the name of justice and prudence, yes. Because if can't buy a decent life on what we're willing to pay them, we can hardly expect them to risk their necks to save ours.

E-mail: tellamy@courant.com

I got this from CTnews.com
 

bobbysamd

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Nov 26, 2001
Posts
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Hmmmmm

Good points, but where does he get some of his information? $168K must be a misquote, even for the expensive schools such as ERAU.

What is extremely rich about this is that flight schools are going the way of the local career schools we have here that advertise when Oprah's on. You know the ones, that advertise a well-paying career as a big-time Medical Technologist. Please!! :rolleyes:

By the way, did Kit pay for that ad?
 

TriStar_drvr

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Joined
Nov 27, 2001
Posts
427
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American Trans Airways? This is why our management in their infinite wisdom decided to drop the American Trans Air name and just go with ATA. We're constantly getting confused with Air Tran.

I think we should be called "Unknown Airlines" since all I ever get are blank stares when I tell people who I work for.
Then I get the usual questions: "Is that part of American?" or "Oh yea, you used to be Valujet" or "Is that a cargo airline?"

Oh well, at least the author of that article got one thing right. We do start out at food stamp wages...
 

Bluestreak

Fitty-Six F100's rock
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
375
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Miller
I feel yer pain.....

TriStar_drvr said:
American Trans Airways? This is why our management in their infinite wisdom decided to drop the American Trans Air name and just go with ATA. We're constantly getting confused with Air Tran.

I think we should be called "Unknown Airlines" since all I ever get are blank stares when I tell people who I work for.
Then I get the usual questions: "Is that part of American?" or "Oh yea, you used to be Valujet" or "Is that a cargo airline?"

Oh well, at least the author of that article got one thing right. We do start out at food stamp wages...
I can ident-i-fy,my Brother-when I tell people I fly for US Airways Express,they'd invariably say "Oh...is that like freight ?" No surprise,really,as the last time I saw an Airways commercial ("US Air begins with You-oo..") ,another Bush was in the White House.We need a catchy slogan to give us an identity-United has "Friendly Skies",Delta "Loves to fly,and it shows"-whadda we got ? "The Peanut,Pillow and Blanket-Free airline",that's what.Oh,I forgot-"Carrier Of Choice"-as long as your choice is a Dash or Dornier.
 

La Rue

Member
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Mar 5, 2002
Posts
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2150
Why heck… be proud that you’re at least identified as a pro-pilot. When I went back home just about everyone I saw who asked me what I was doing now equated corporate pilot to a private pilot.

I was even asked when I plan on getting my commercial license so I could go and fly a jet for an airline.

Trying to explain any facet of aviation to a layperson is bad enough… explaining it to an idiot is like wrestling with a pig, and what makes me even more angry is the number of self appointed “experts” who somehow wind up on the news or in an article explaining this or that, it is blatantly wrong but is reported as the truth.
 

BigFlyr

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Posts
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Hey TriStar_drvr... I know what you mean... I have yet to work for a company that is recognized by the general puplic as an airline. Ameri-who?... Miami-what?... "I fly cargo" "Oh, why don't you become a commercial pilot?"... "Why don't you apply with UPS, they're hiring"... Face it, the general public doesn't have a clue. So unless you get hired by DAL, UAL, AA or NW... chances are you're going to get blank stares! It's never going to change. :(
 

AAflyer

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Nov 26, 2001
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Same Doo Doo different color

Everything is game when you talk to the ignorant.
So you fly for American. You look young, so when are you going to be the pilot.
" I thought I was the pilot"
" You have to get more experience and get older before you make
captain right"
" It is seniority based"
"what is seniority"

And the proverbial news caster who is also a pilot ( I wonder what experience he has)?. You ever notice when an accident happens they always refer to the pilot (singular). I thought there were two of us?

AAflyer
I am rambling, I need another cup of coffee!!
 

Beer&Brauts

This is Oklahoma Football
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
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202
Total Time
Enough
When people ask me what I do I simply tell them "I work in aluminum tubing." This avoids all of the aforementioned stupid questions and generally just results in a blank stare and an "oh"

If they do find out I work for Air Wisconsin and start asking the stupid questions I tell them I fly cheese around the country. Trying to explain how regional airlines work to people is about as easy as a physicist explaining the math behind the space-time continuum to me.

Of course, if you're single and picking up barflys just tell them you're a 747 captain at United.
 

Ted Striker

Piece of the Portfolio
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**CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED**, I thought I was the only one that used the "I transport aluminum tubing" line. Newman!
 

AWACoff

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Beer and Brauts,
I have been reading about space/time and assorted subjects while on furlough. If you're interested, try "Wrinkles in Time" and any of Stephen Hawking's books "for dummies". It's fairly easy to understand...it's the comprehension part that's tough. I hate watching all the pilots getting younger (relative to my space/time of course) while I sit here on the ground relatively motionless.
Enjoy you extra 10 to the -34th second you've saved;)
 

Pickle

grumpy puppy
Joined
May 8, 2002
Posts
381
Total Time
no mas
BigFlyr said:
Ameri-who?... Miami-what?... "I fly cargo" "Oh, why don't you become a commercial pilot?"... "Why don't you apply with UPS, they're hiring"...

Okay, so this is a little late, but...Ameri-who? Must be AmeriJET!! I was there 12/95 to 10/99. How about you???
 

jetexas

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2001
Posts
833
Total Time
8000
I figured my salary out a few years ago. As an Eagle FO, (which I still am of course) I was paid less than a dollar per flight per passenger. I wonder if the average passenger knows this "Sure I'll fly you safely 400 miles through that weather to land at IFR mins,... but first, you got 90 cents??? That's less than a hotel van driver gets tipped.
Why don't I quit? Nah, nothing beats a sunrise from up there. Besides, UPS or Fedex will call me anyday now, right?
 

Britpilot

Gear Lifter
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Apr 23, 2002
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Ted Striker said:
**CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED**, I thought I was the only one that used the "I transport aluminum tubing" line. Newman!


:D I always say ' I am In High Speed Aluminum Tubing" that really throws them. Of course there's the old standby ' I am a Locomotive Engineer" this one usually gets lots of respect.:D
 

JediNein

No One Special at all
Joined
Apr 28, 2002
Posts
1,256
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53 wks
I give a slightly different answer to the "what do you do" question. Flight Instructor still sounds impressive in some circles. Every question I answer that changes someone's opinion on those dangerous rich man's toys is at step to keep one more airport open.

Someday the answer might be "I manage assets, typically none worth less than 50 million." :D

Fly SAFE!
Jedi Nein
 

skydiverdriver

Senior Member
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Nov 26, 2001
Posts
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I once heard of a 747 captain who told people that he drove an 18 wheeler. He said the plane had 18 wheels. I tell people I operate heavy equipment. They usually stop at that.

Don't you hate it when you go to work in uniform, and someone asks you how much it costs to fly to Phoenix? Don't they know that I don't pay to fly? Did they think that people handed me cash, and I stamp their ticket when they get on the plane? I love my job, but some of the questions I get are pretty funny.

Of course, one time after doing the posflight on the CRJ, this guy came up to me and thanked me, and shook my hand. I said why, and he said he was afraid to fly, and he really appreciated the work I do. Then his wife walked up with an infant in her arms. That just made it all worthwhile.
 
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