At 40 it can be done_ I did it!

redcell38

Well-Known Member
It can be done at 40. This will be a long read it is not to promote myself or my accomplishments although I do want to share it with people who will appreciate the journey because I really worked hard to get there. I also want to help those who are younger and older and make the decision about living out your dreams and how best to take start this journey and that you are not to old to start.
I had always loved airplanes from a very young age and new that I wanted to fly from my first flight in a 172. Watching the airplanes on final approach as the main runway path was right over my house. Building model airplanes and running outside to see the military jets screaming overhead.
I had finished high school and realized at the last possible moment from a teacher that you could actually go to college for a career in aviation. After looking into several schools I realized that I was missing one thing, the grades to get into college and also it’s kind of hard to decide you want to go to college 2 months before you have to register. (I am about to prove even a non achiever can do anything if you try.) I had decided to join the marines to get the discipline I needed to get focused on my life. I had registered for college and starting going part time. I then decided I was ready and it was time to go away for school so I found a small aviation program and moved south. I was in my last year of college and war had broken out in Kuwait so away I went. I had put my hopes and dreams on hold to fulfill my obligation as a soldier. It was the most exciting time of my life not to mention one of the best air shows you could witness up front. I had planned on being a Marine Corps pilot when I had finished college but something about being deployed away from home for so long made me rethink my long term dream , coming back from war at 24 I grew up real fast and re-evaluated everything about my life and what was really important.
I had come back to find the aviation program that I was enrolled in was closing. I had finished all the classes just not all my ratings. So here I was with a Private Pilot certificate and a bunch of credits in aeronautical science. I had hurried to finish my business degree and decided I may try federal law enforcement. While waiting for slots to open I had started my own business and over the years it had grown from a one person operation to employing over 15 people. Life was good I was married two kids making money a new house. I was pretty happy for the most part, but I could not look in the sky or drive by an airport without thinking what if, what if I took a different path..
It wasn’t until Hurricane Katrina came my life was turned upside down. I had to re-evaluate my whole life again. I had a business that I didn’t know if it was still in existence, I had at least 100k owed to me by different companies not knowing if I would ever get paid. I had lost over half of my work force and they would never return. I had then thought what is my back up plan if this all goes to hell in a hand basket, what I was going to do. I had a four year degree but what did I really want to do. Well my business remained intact and we had come back strong. I still wasn’t happy because deep down I thought what if this happens again what skills do I have that I can just pickup and leave and go find a job. I was also burned out because I had to essentially rebuild my company again without most of my key employees. I had made a decision from that point forward that I was going to go for it. I had found Jetcareers.com and really started looking around at all the forums and the advice good and bad.
I had noticed a local school was giving instruction in helicopters and thought I could do that. It wasn’t until I realized the cost of aviation training went through the roof over 15 years that I should have finished when I had the chance. I had decided to start systemically in getting current and then working on my ratings one at a time. I paid as I went I refused to take out a big loan. I started with my instrument airplane, then added my helicopter private. I had needed hours toward my commercial so I figured I could average out my helo rating to half of what it should cost. I then worked on my multi engine commercial.
After getting my commercial I walked right into the first company I could find and said here I am” JOE WET BEHIND THE EARS” with my multi commercial I want a part time co pilot job. I left my name and number and within a week I was called to sit right seat. I have in the past 5 months had many flights and built a reputation as someone they could call at the last minute and I would go. I was able to on most of the deadhead legs or part 91 trips get instruction and log some of turbine time. As I did this I also worked on my CFI and finished that and the end of this last summer. By the way, I busted my first attempt but did not quit or get discouraged, retested and passed.
From there I got my single engine add on commercial and a few months ago my CFI. 3 years later I now instruct 2 days a week and 2 days during the weekend and co pilot when needed. I make pretty decent money on the side now flying part time and in the process deciding do I really want to make this my full time career. My business allows me to not be there all the time or flexible with my time. This can be done with the right job where you are flexible. I now get calls by several other companies who need copilots every now and then. So there is work out there.
It has taken me 3 years from the time I decided to “GO FOR IT. “ There was about 10 months of that I had stopped to build back up my funds to pay for it all. I had worked hard every night studying for the writtens and really worked hard toward my CFI rating. Instead of coming home every night and watching TV I studied, I would leave aviation books in my car and at stop lights I would look up another fact. I had done this while running a business, having a wife and 2 kids, not being wealthy, commuting an hour each way to work every day.
My goal right now is to gain experience and when I get to the magic numbers needed to go big time I will then decide if I am ready to make the full move. For now I enjoy teaching flying, I enjoy looking at that person when you say go ahead and take it in the pattern by yourself. For now I just enjoy it to sit at 23 thousand feet and look down at this great country roll on by, or to see the sun rise from the darkness it has all been worth it.
I have learned many things on my journey and here they are for the young and old. I am no expert and there is still much about this industry that I am learning but here are some observations I have made. I have only had the opportunity to fly corporate and charter so I don’t know much about the other flying jobs in this industry.
1. This one I cannot stress enough. Do not go into debt to get a job that does not pay well or may not be there when you get done. Do the math, a loan of 50-60k for an 18-30k job is going to take a long time to pay back. Get a degree or a skill that will allow you to make money to pursue this career or any other career path you may take in life. If you are young go to college get a good paying job with a degree or skill set that you can take anywhere, i.e.. Teacher, accountant, nurse, engineer. If you can’t afford college, go to a trade school and learn a trade. If you are old and hate your job or want to make more money, go to college part time and put your effort there to make more money than pursue aviation, no age is too late. I have a 65 year old student right now so it is never to late.
2. Be careful what you wish for you may like flying now or think it would great, you might think you want to do it long term, but in the end it is a job like any other. Except this one doesn’t pay that great unless you get the experience and that takes a lot of time. I hate to say this but it can get boring sitting around in hotel rooms, waiting at FBO’s and deciding what fast food place you are going to eat at.
3. If you are married and decide to do it. Sit down with your wife and tell her what to expect. She may put up with the first month or two, but you will start to see that it will wear on your family. You may even hear her say “so how long is the flying thing going to go on!” When you do get a job although it is exciting for you on the first few trips don’t brag about where you go, You may be excited but she will not be happy that you are not home.
4. If you have children and a family do not neglect them and DO NOT PUT them in debt to pursue your dreams, you brought them into this world it is your responsibility to take care of them and be there for them.
5. You will be away from home a lot if you are used to coming and going as you please or working a set schedule it probably will not be the career for you. This is true if you are flying corporate or 135. The rich people who own the aircraft or charter take vacations and trips when you would like to be on one with your own family.
6. If you are really young and you can think about joining the military let them help pay for your college. If you are young and someone is handing you a boat load of money to go to flight school and you don’t have to pay it back, then go to one of the immersion programs. If not, find a good local flight school with good equipment and very organized and pay as you go. The hours you require to get you there in the long run are all the same.
7. Hours matter in flying experience matters, however so does your attitude if you have a horrible attitude and can’t take the life, can’t show up for work don’t bother wasting your time. I have had the privilege of being a business owner so I know what it is like to have people work for me. I know what to look for in employees. I have only done this a short while but have been offered jobs flying and non flying jobs in this business because I am willing to do what it takes. If you show up for work you are already 50% better than most of the workforce out there.
This is my story and my insights, I want to encourage anyone for whatever it is in life you want to do, you need to make a plan and GO FOR IT. Flying really is the best feeling in the world and is worth the sacrifices you will have to make.
 

Naluryder

New Member
Amen brother!! I'm 36 and still persuing my flying dreams at my pace as well. It's awesome to know there are others out there just like you and me. I passed the 200hr mark now working in part61 just need 10.1 hrs more to meet my instrument pic/xc requirements. My goal is to obtain my instrument rating and be ready for my commercial checkride at the same time. I made the decision three years ago to also follow my flying dreams. I would like to do my own part 135 gigg in the near future..one step at a time...thanks for the insight and the encouragement.
 

ElyJs

New Member
I had the same enthusiasm as a 600 hour CFI, wish I had stayed. The regionals will suck the life out of you and the major jobs are a carrot that most will never reach. I encourage those with other skills to remain a GA pilot/CFI. The regionals are the big suck.
 

3green

Well-Known Member
I encourage those with other skills to remain a GA pilot/CFI. The regionals are the big suck
Ditto on that statement. I've never been more abused as an employee than I was flying at the regionals. Sorry to rain on the positive thread. Rant over...
 

Naluryder

New Member
Ditto on that statement. I've never been more abused as an employee than I was flying at the regionals. Sorry to rain on the positive thread. Rant over...
Hopefully the regionals is not my only choice? I dream of running my own part 135 operation,piggy back off of my friends cert. I've always had an entreprenuer drive..anyhow it's sad that some of us are doing it for the money only,yes we need to make a good living but the other half is for the love of flying..If the regionals suck so much why not look towards corporate or overseas?if you can't get to the majors?if a change is required then make the changes to where you want to be. I know that I have a hard and long road ahead of me but I will continue to stay positive and continue to press!! It's all in your attitude towards life..
 

3green

Well-Known Member
anyhow it's sad that some of us are doing it for the money only,yes we need to make a good living but the other half is for the love of flying
Trust me no one is in it just for the money. There are alot easier ways to make money than working your arse off to get all your ratings, passing airline interviews, completing groundschool and flying the line. Your "love of flying" isn't going to pay your food, housing, or bills. We all love flying that shouldn't even should be in doubt. QOL does mean something. And moving to another country just for a job is a stretch for those with roots in country. Having to move to another country just to make a liveable wage in the same job you have in the states is a big statement on the state of the industry in the US.

Redcells points in the original post that started this thread are spot on. Either way congrats Naluryder on working hard and having a positive outlook. You've got the right attitude to get where you need to go in aviation.
 

Qgar

New Member
Great read and advice, Redcell! You may have encouraged someone who might not have done what you did. I, too, am a career-changer and thank God everyday that I had the courage and support to "go for it." Were there people who thought (and still think) I was crazy for going into aviation (I'm a FA) at 50 years old? Absolutely! I think I've changed their minds, though, when they see how happy I am. (Most of the time anyway---there are some horribly bad days in any profession.) :panic:

I've said it before and I'll say it again--JetCareers is one of the main reasons why it happened. The information, insight and encouragement I received from several members of this website as well as friends already in the industry for years is what made my decision easy. :rawk:

Fear of the unknown, especially when families are involved, is overwhelming. However, I think a happy spouse/parent makes a better one. Good for you that your spouse was/is supportive!
Again, thanks for your observations/experiences. You may never know how many people you've helped by doing so. ;) :bandit:
 

Naluryder

New Member
Trust me no one is in it just for the money. There are alot easier ways to make money than working your arse off to get all your ratings, passing airline interviews, completing groundschool and flying the line. Your "love of flying" isn't going to pay your food, housing, or bills. We all love flying that shouldn't even should be in doubt. QOL does mean something. And moving to another country just for a job is a stretch for those with roots in country. Having to move to another country just to make a liveable wage in the same job you have in the states is a big statement on the state of the industry in the US.

Redcells points in the original post that started this thread are spot on. Either way congrats Naluryder on working hard and having a positive outlook. You've got the right attitude to get where you need to go in aviation.
3green I totally agree with some of your points and I may be a bit naieve because I'm not there yet..flying the lines but I will find a way somehow to make it work for me..if not with the airlines then solo do my own gigg..I know some of us have families and moving out of our country is a big leap but if QOL is so bad at the regionals then why not take the leap? Anyhow..we are all different people so I can't asume that we all think the same way..but if I were at the regionals and had the tt of over 3000hrs then I'm looking at other airlines around the world , that's just me. I would be selective and see if I can fly in the countries that have safer flying records, Europe or Japan. By the way once I reach the 3000tt I will surely look these folks up.. www.hawaiiaviation.com they seem like a good contarctor to fly for? Thanks for the positive feedback..I hope this economy starts picking up? I need to be where you are at next Fall or Spring 2010...lol...
 

Naluryder

New Member
I've said it before and I'll say it again--JetCareers is one of the main reasons why it happened. The information, insight and encouragement I received from several members of this website as well as friends already in the industry for years is what made my decision easy.
I second and third that...JC forums even to this day really has some great insights and encouragements...thanks Doug!! for creating this place.
 

jbail3p

Well-Known Member
Awsome Post! Thank you. Sometimes it is so hard to get through the gloom and doom. Don't get me wrong, i appreaciate all the REAL info that i have found here. But there were times i was ready to pack it up and say to hell wit it. But thanks again for the awsome post.

Semper FI. :yeahthat:
 
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