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Becoming a real pilot, and other aviation opportunities


Flyboy
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Flight sims are a lot of fun and I love it, but it's not the real thing and won't pay the bills. I got my private pilot license in college, went on to become an Air Force pilot (large aircraft) and have flown for the airlines since 1995. I've already been helping one person interested in a pilot career and thought there might be others, so I thought I'd start this thread for anyone interested in aviation as a career or hobby. There are several of us here that have real life experience, either as a pilot or other area in aviation (mechanic, flight dispatcher, drone ops, etc.), and thought this could be a place for anyone who wants to ask questions or get some advice either on this thread or PM.

And even if you don't necessarily want to go into aviation as a career, I would highly recommend at least taking $200 or so and going up for an aircraft demo flight with an instructor (even better if you can do an aerobatic lesson) so you can get a little hands on experience. It just might enhance even further your love and view of online sims also!

In the meantime, here is a good site for info on pilot stuff, including information on individual airline companies (salaries, work schedules, etc.) and a forum discussing it all.

www.airlinepilotcentral.com

www.airlinepilotforums.com

 

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I want to piggy back onto this to back up the point about not discounting support roles:

 

Especially if you have any medically disqualifying ailments but really love aviation- sport piloting or working via aviation in a non med req position like flight dispatching Is a fantastic idea

 

The whole industry is hurting for people right now. I went from 0 RL aviation experience to Part 121 aircraft dispatcher in about 5 months and I'm netting a salary in the 40-60,000/,yr bracket with zero experience in a rural state. 

 

Go for it go for it go for it now before the demand curve starts to level out or other people get ahead of you.

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FWIW,  I had a 25 year old guy with 588 hours TOTAL time. He was hired to sit right seat on a Phenom 100  (EMB-500) he is not a required crewmember because the owner operator is Single pilot typed so anyone can sit in the right seat. No medical, no license...  i.e. a paying passenger. 

They are paying him $100,000 a year. He will log time (don't ask don't tell) and improve his skills and time and then be in position to get get typed in the jet in the future. 

EVERYONE with an airplane is making money right now. IT has to be seen to be believed. A friend of mine went and got his G-650 type ($100,000 type rating) and he is making $8,000 a day and that is NOT the top pay. Captains flying the Phenom 300 are making $2,000 a day contract flying. 

AMR ENCORE is paying $120,000 sign on for someone with NO license at all...   go from ZERO to HERO in 4 years using that bonus to pay for your training. If you already have a PPL they knock off a big chunk of cash... I THINK it is $20,000.... if you have the MEI they knock off another $4,000

This will not last forever... and the guys in it right now are .... well...  a lot of them are acting like this will be the way it will be and better.  Nope.... it is cyclic and it will come back down... but right now.... it is a gold strike. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ludwig said:

This will not last forever... and the guys in it right now are .... well...  a lot of them are acting like this will be the way it will be and better.  Nope.... it is cyclic and it will come back down... but right now.... it is a gold strike

Definitely not like that when I got started. When I got out of the AF I went to Horizon and had to sign a two year contract. When I left after a year to go to Airborne Express I had to pay over 2,000 for leaving early. 

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yeah in the late 70's into the 80's there were about 200 guys for every job opening. If you wanted to make it  you just had to shut up and do it. If you didn't want to... that was fine there were 199 behind you that would be happy to take your place. Training contracts are still out there, a great many of them can't be enforced and others are quite proud of their record of attaching the costs of training and getting it back if someone leaves early. 

It is a whole different world now, I never thought I would hear the things I hear today. We flew because it was the only thing we wanted out of life... and today I hear "If I could make this much money doing something else I would, I am only here for the money."

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52 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

It is a whole different world now, I never thought I would hear the things I hear today. We flew because it was the only thing we wanted out of life... and today I hear "If I could make this much money doing something else I would, I am only here for the money."



Sure wish I could buy a house off of the passion I have for things - maybe I'd have something to show for my miserable useless life lived up to this point. 

I don't blame people for doing it for the wage, especially if they have the money for the training when the cost of training is so high. 

Life is crazy for everybody the last 3+ years, the 1500 hour rule is as huge hurdle to overcome if you want to start flying commercially, as well. Lots of shifting factors to consider. 

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1 hour ago, TedsOnMeds said:

the 1500 hour rule is as huge hurdle to overcome if you want to start flying commercially, as well. Lots of shifting factors to consider. 

It's only required for Part 121 flying (135? not sure), and I think some companies can waive it down some with special circumstances I think. But there are many other commercial jobs available that don't require this and will help build time.

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I'll have to check the FARs but I believe a part-141 registered flight school reduces it down to 1000, and you can have a "Restricted" ATP with your CFI cert as low as 250 or 500 hours(?) . That's what people who start in airmail like FedEx feeder often use. It's a decent job and helps your flight chops a lot while building hours. 

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Yes 135 has the 1500 hour rule but also correct they are finding ways around it. The companies are taking pilots with 1200 (old school) not sure how that works but I hear the word waiver bandied about a lot. FlexJet is sticking to it, I just trained a girl that had 1200 and I asked her why she wasn't appying and she said she put in to Flex and they immediately said No. I was surprised and she sheepishly told me the next day (because I gave her the old "Make them say NO" speech....  Flex called her the next day and said... WAIT.... when you get 1500 call us. Intersectional politics in hiring is alive and well and she will be snapped up in heartbeat. 

My record for checking out low time pilots is a girl from Houston that had 168 hours TOTAL TIME and she is type rated (crew) PIC in the jet (which her boyfriend owns) She wanted to start logging PIC. 

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Make it stop!!! It's beginning to feel like I got the shaft in my professional career  😫.

Just kidding (sort of). I'm glad that things seem to have changed for the better.

I'm wondering how automotive techs are rating, in compensation, in relationship to aviation techs now. In my day, the car guys made at least as much as airwrenches and usually even more with much less risk. (If you botch the job on a car, it's much more likely that they just pull to the side of the road and give you a shitload of grief). Every time a plane took off, after I had done work on it, there was always that questioning in my mind... "Shit, am I sure I saftied that fuel filter?". That's why we always try to have a second set of eyes on the work performed.

Still, we're all human (to one extent or another)... (Think about that the next time you board that aluminum tube  🤣).

Happily retired now!

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5 hours ago, Vonrd said:

Make it stop!!! It's beginning to feel like I got the shaft in my professional career  😫.

Just kidding (sort of). I'm glad that things seem to have changed for the better.

I'm wondering how automotive techs are rating, in compensation, in relationship to aviation techs now. In my day, the car guys made at least as much as airwrenches and usually even more with much less risk. (If you botch the job on a car, it's much more likely that they just pull to the side of the road and give you a shitload of grief). Every time a plane took off, after I had done work on it, there was always that questioning in my mind... "Shit, am I sure I saftied that fuel filter?". That's why we always try to have a second set of eyes on the work performed.

Still, we're all human (to one extent or another)... (Think about that the next time you board that aluminum tube  🤣).

Happily retired now!

After my 2 years of Ford apprenticeship from 2017 to 2019 I graduated at $13.50 an hour as a journeyman with all my ratings.

 

An old friend now manages the shop we went to school at - the Lube lane kids are on $20/hr now apparently. And great for them !!! Wish it wss that way when i was there. Can't imagine how much a master tech makes. 

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9 hours ago, Vonrd said:

Make it stop!!! It's beginning to feel like I got the shaft in my professional career  😫.

Just kidding (sort of). I'm glad that things seem to have changed for the better.

In this industry, things can change dramatically overnight. I've seen it swing both ways in this industry. Right before 9-11 there was a huge hiring boon and several people at my company left for United, Delta, etc only to find themselves out on the street a few months later. Not to be discouraging, but to encourage others who want to get in to do it soon but also have a backup career/skills you can fall back on if things go bad. There is a competition and good times for pilots today, but that won't always be there.

I thought this was good advice given by a guy on one of the pilot forums:

"I have been around the flying business long enough to see it go boom-bust-boom with a long period of blaaaaah interspersed in there when the retirement age was raised from 60 to 65. I have generally made my career decisions by asking myself the question, "Do I want to be there if the music stops?" Because the next bust is coming. The music always stops, but nobody knows when it might happen. Nobody foresaw the late 90s hiring boom going bust at the end of 2001. Nobody made their career plans based on five years of stagnation due to few retirements and minimal hiring.
We may already be in a recession. Where will you be on the day it's officially called? Will you be happy in that seat if you're in it for several years?"

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I am a bit saddened reading all of this. Honestly when I got out of the military and started flight school I was getting told the pilot shortage is here and it is only gonna get worse. I heard over and over that it was the best time to get started, but without a loan, VA benefits, or the types of offers being offered now I just could not afford to fly as much as I wanted to, and my flight school was simply too small for the amount of students trying to fly. It was seriously difficult to get scheduled for anything more than twice a week, and being weather dependent we would get grounded a few times a month typically.

I also struggled with the instrument ground school quite a lot, but it probably did not help I had significantly less time than most of my classmates when I was doing it. Supposedly, you should have been able to finish you PPL during a single semester, but I only had 30 hours, about half of what I needed, by the end of that first semester. Maybe it would have been different if I had searched for a training contract or something, but I think it was just really volatile, and likely would have required me to relocate which I could not have done at the time.

Since then I have had some medical issues, and although I do not think it should ground me, I am not sure if I could get a 1st class medical at the moment which sort of rules out trying to go for one of those training contracts. I only have 44 hours PIC total too, so I am not sure how bad they need people, but it seems like 44 hours just wouldn't be enough even if I could get the medical.

Gliding seems really fun and cheap, and I am really excited to start dipping my toes in, but I would be a flat out liar if I said it seemed as cool as flying a jet. I wish I could go fly for an aggressor training company or something, but I think I am just starting too late to make that a reality. I am only 28, but it seems like unless I could fly on a daily basis I would never make up the hours. It took me 8 months to accrue 44 hours, so I have no idea how people are building up literal thousands of hours to start their careers.

I love flying, and I really would love to do it regularly, but gliding seems like the only way I can actually do that, and I am really hoping I love it. At least I have my cool ass jets to fly with you guys!

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If you can get a medical, ENVOY will pay you to train and go from ZERO hours. IF you have your PPL it's worth $20,000 of the upfront money straight to your pocket, if you don't want the MEI that is another $4,000  Send them your information and let them explain it to you. 

Uhh... believe me....     they want you. 

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1 hour ago, Ludwig said:

If you can get a medical, ENVOY will pay you to train and go from ZERO hours. IF you have your PPL it's worth $20,000 of the upfront money straight to your pocket, if you don't want the MEI that is another $4,000  Send them your information and let them explain it to you. 

Uhh... believe me....     they want you. 

Do you have a link or something I can take a look at?

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Quote

Umm... what if you're 67 years old?  I'd gladly start anew... 🧙‍♂️

 

Hey Vonrd.... we are parked in the same hangar mate....  NO real help for you there.... but if you have the basics.... yessir.... they would stick your butt in a corporate jet and pay you handsomely.  Commercial/Instrument/Multi-engine... they want to talk with you. 

Shadepiece....  A buddy of mine (Airbus Captain AA) took his son out and did the demo flight in a 172. The deal was $120,000 for training....  from ZERO to HERO....  exactly as has been described to us. That money goes to YOU to pay for your training. IF you have the PPL already, they knock $20,000 off the cost of your training. If you do not want the MEI (only need it if you were going to open a flight school and teach Multi-engine.) they knock off another $4,000  Talk with them, they will be happy to hear from you (believe me)  The jobs are EVERYWHERE...   they even want my old lardass.  NOT DOING IT....  I played out all my rope a LONG time ago. I will watch the yougsters make all the dough. 

 

Cadet Program | Envoy Air

 

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8 hours ago, Ludwig said:

 

Hey Vonrd.... we are parked in the same hangar mate....  NO real help for you there.... but if you have the basics.... yessir.... they would stick your butt in a corporate jet and pay you handsomely.  Commercial/Instrument/Multi-engine... they want to talk with you. 

Shadepiece....  A buddy of mine (Airbus Captain AA) took his son out and did the demo flight in a 172. The deal was $120,000 for training....  from ZERO to HERO....  exactly as has been described to us. That money goes to YOU to pay for your training. IF you have the PPL already, they knock $20,000 off the cost of your training. If you do not want the MEI (only need it if you were going to open a flight school and teach Multi-engine.) they knock off another $4,000  Talk with them, they will be happy to hear from you (believe me)  The jobs are EVERYWHERE...   they even want my old lardass.  NOT DOING IT....  I played out all my rope a LONG time ago. I will watch the yougsters make all the dough. 

 

Cadet Program | Envoy Air

 


So I've been talking to Flyboy a lot and throwing around the idea of going to flight school myself. The Discovery flights I've done so far my instructors have all said I have the basics down already from the sim; would an accelerated (but very expensive) program like this or ATP make sense for me? I don't think I'd be able to train super extensively in these programs while also sustaining a full time job, that's my primary concern with a lot of them.

It'd probably take all 7 days of the week to go from 0 hours to fully licensed in 8-12 months like a lot of them advertise, I can't imagine that leaves any time left available for full time employment 

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2 hours ago, TedsOnMeds said:


So I've been talking to Flyboy a lot and throwing around the idea of going to flight school myself. The Discovery flights I've done so far my instructors have all said I have the basics down already from the sim; would an accelerated (but very expensive) program like this or ATP make sense for me? I don't think I'd be able to train super extensively in these programs while also sustaining a full time job, that's my primary concern with a lot of them.

It'd probably take all 7 days of the week to go from 0 hours to fully licensed in 8-12 months like a lot of them advertise, I can't imagine that leaves any time left available for full time employment 

I just flew with an FO over a week ago who completed his training in about six months down in Tampa area while working. He spent 70k to do it, but now his first year pay is 70k and he'll easily double that in the next few years so good return on investment. Another FO about a month ago spent a year to get his ratings while paying for it and working (he is six feet eleven and gave up a possible NBA career to do what he's always wanted to do). Like like Ludwig said, now there are opportunities to have other people pay for your training also.

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21 hours ago, Shadepiece said:

Since then I have had some medical issues, and although I do not think it should ground me, I am not sure if I could get a 1st class medical at the moment which sort of rules out trying to go for one of those training contracts.

I have known others who thought this but were surprised when they finally went in and were able to get their medical. Never assume! The worst thing that can happen is they say no, but even worse is not to ever know if they might say yes and you miss the opportunity. The key here is to go to the right flight doc. Some of them don't care, so you have to find the right doc who will work with you and has real experience working with the FAA. These docs are also usually recreational pilots themselves with a love for flying. If you are interested, we could PM and we can discuss this further. I could probably help you find a doc like this in your area through the sources I might have (union, pilot forums, etc.).

21 hours ago, Shadepiece said:

I am only 28, but it seems like unless I could fly on a daily basis I would never make up the hours. It took me 8 months to accrue 44 hours, so I have no idea how people are building up literal thousands of hours to start their careers.

28 is certainly not to old to start!!!! I've known people 10 years older than you start from nothing and change to a pilot career. Plus, did you know that the Air Force is now waiving the pilot training age from 28 to 32 (one of our new pilots just got accepted to the AZ National Guard for KC-135 training who told me this)? They don't think it's too old. Look at it this way - lets say it takes you six years before you land at your final "major" airline (training, building hours, etc) and now you're 35. That means if you go to 65 you have 30 year career worth several million dollars! So no, you are definitely not too late. The key is to get going and get in now while the opportunities abound.

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I see guys getting started (zero time) in their 50's.  You have to realize that the aviation industry is EXPLODING as in ANYONE with an airplane is making money.  These people are DESPERATE. 

Good grief, not only did they give ENVOY the highest pay scale among AMR non-AA  (f/0 +6% Capt. +10%) but if you do NOT have an offer from AA in FIVE (5) years, then you go to MAX pay at Envoy as in 20 year pay.  That's insane, but also a way to keep older guys that don't want to transition to the main carrier and start all over (it's a load, I was an instructor on the MD-80 for AA) 

Not hard to find this stuff:

 

Airline Training Programs™ / ATP Flight School

 

Industry-Transforming pay for Envoy pilots | Envoy Air

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