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What would YOU do?

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Earl Williams

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2002
I was hoping to get your advice and collective wisdom on my situation. I'm currently working in the advertising agency biz (gosh, I hate admitting that!) and am routinely pulling unpredictable, late hours, and oftentimes weekends. I'm certainly not complaining...that's just the way this business is. I know I want to eventually...one day...achieve my dream of flying for a living, yet being 32 realize that the clock is ticking.

Fortunately, for the last several years I've been penny-pinching, and saving up every dime I could in hopes of accumulating the sufficient funds to complete my training (also helps that I'm single with no family to support). I'm not "there" yet, but will hopefully be soon. I didn't want to start training and have to stop, or routinely post-pone, due to a lack of funds. So, I pretty much reverted back to my college days of eating ramen and not buying a lot of stuff in hopes of saving every cent I could for future training purposes.

Anyhow, back to my question. With my work hours the way they are, I'm having severe difficulty scheduling flights, and am lucky to get 2-3 flights in per month. As I'm currently beginning work on my Instrument rating, I'm finding that I'm having to continually re-learn the previous lesson based on this lack of continuity. And given this schedule of flights per month, am thinking it's probably going to take another 3 years to get the remainder of my ratings (realizing that, after that, I'll still need to instruct for XX years in order to eventually get 135 min's)

If you were in my shoes, would you (a) keep the current job and continue to fly sparingly in working toward the ratings, or (B) once you have the funds, quit the job and work towards the ratings full-time? (while maybe picking up a part-time job so the well doesn't run completely dry in the process).

Thanks in advance for everyone's replies...I really appreciate it!

If you ask me....

I would get the ratings as quick as possible and start instructing ASAP so you will be able to get a 135 or 121 job when the industry is on the upside. So I guess that means quit the job if you are sure that you want to fly for a living.
If you don't mind outside work, look at working at the local FBO. I get good discounts on my flying, am always at the airport, and am always thinking of flying. If it were me, I'd quit (training is not working as it is). It's just my opinion. Good luck.:D
that's how I'm leaning

thanks for the replies...I feel the same way. Of course, when I bring up the concept of quitting my job/career in hopes of pursuing my training, friends and family outside of aviation want to throw me in a straight-jacket and lock me up in a padded cell! I guess that's why I'm starting to hang out more and more with fellow pilot wanna-be's! :D

Some of the pilots I've talked to have recommended the same approach...get some job...ANY job...at the local airport and start making connections and getting totally immersed in aviation. As long as fuelers don't have to wear a suit and tie, I'm totally up for it! (can't wait to permanently get out of this monkey suit!)

I'd quit the job and do something more flexible. In fact, that's exactly what I did 5 years ago. I've never been happier than the day my old boss took my brand new company car and all my files and gave me my last decent paycheck. I then waited tables at a place that let me work around my training schedule.

Train at a good FBO if you can. You'll save at least $20,000 over a 141 school if you do it right. Plus you'll be able to work that new, flexible job.

In general, people in flight training either have the time or the money. It's tough to have both. I realized that the time was more important and was able to secure low interest loans for the financial side. My personal opinion is that the industry will be in an upswing by the time you are ready to start looking at airlines. Get on it.


by the way, all my family and friends thought I was insane also, but they let me give it a shot, waiting to see me fall flat on my face. Now they are all begging me for buddy passes.
Full-time job v. Full-time training

I did it the way you are trying to do it, although I had been flying for several years before I decided to switch careers. At the time I really had no choice. I needed my day job to pay for my lessons and training. I only needed to earn my multi ratings to be finished and ready, but pay-as-you-go doesn't always cut it for serious-minded training.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have found a way to quit working, finish my two multi ratings, and have gone back to college for a B.S. in Aero Science. I didn't think I needed another B.S. to go with my other four-year degree because I figured I had that square checked, but, looking back, I feel that I missed out on a great deal of learning and education.

Having said all that, if it were me, I'd leave full-time work and flight-train full time. You will build momentum if you have even just three training activities a week. Momentum will eliminate much of the repetition.

Good luck with your FULL-TIME training.
All I can tell you is that I was (and still am) married when I quit a job making $38,000/year to pursue flight training.

It was scarry as hell, but it was what I wanted to do.

I did get my Commercial and CFI-A, I haven't been able to use it.

I must be a product of bad timing eh?

I sorta lucked out and currently work for Jepp but I don't like it. Flying the desk sucks especially after you've spent a LOT of money in training to have it slowly fade from disuse.

Good luck!
Do it MAN! You won't regret. Wait tables, work at a FBO but get your ratings. If there is one thing I have learned is that its all about hours and timing. I worked a data entry job, flight trained and went to school. Its just now that I've got my AA and a steady flying job flying 20 or so hours a week. I have a my CFI CFII MEI and all, it was difficult but worth it and I think *some* of the tough times are over.
Go for it...

Go for it, buddy. You want to catch the industry on the inevitable upswing in 2 to 4 years. The airline industry is not going away, and 37 or 38 is not too old to get into it, although I'd hope you'll be able to make it to a regional for your requisite hours before that age so you're ready to go when the majors hit their stride in the next swing of the pendulum.

Good luck...and remember, flying beats working any day.


You are in the same position as me three years ago. Same age, same time etc., with one exception. I am married and have children.

Definately, if you can afford it, train full-time. You will be much better off in the long run. I trained part-time around family and work. It took me 2 years for the instrument, commercial and cfi. Training part-time there were times I went two weeks or more without flying.

Good luck, you won't regret it.

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