Burned out


New Member
Hello everyone. This is probably the first time I've posted in months or so, but I've really been inactive in terms of anything related to flying whatsoever. I haven't even been in the air since last October, not because I've been unable to fly but because for some reason, I just haven't felt like it. And I think it may largely be due to the fact that I'm just not sure that flying professionally sounds like such a great idea to me anymore.

For one thing, there's no good place close by to fly that isn't very high dollar. The hourly rental rates of aircraft just keep going up, and up, and up and I don't see where they're going to stop. Where I used to fly, it now costs $90/hr for an older model 172. It wasn't that long ago when it was only $70/hr but now that's what renting a 152 costs. And with only about 170 hours total time, I just can't seem to justify spending god knows how much more time and $$$ to get a commercial certificate, and from then on work for poverty level wages for 10-15 years before finally being paid a livable salary. Then you have management always trying to cut your pay even further and screw you over however they can. If they could, they'd get rid of you completely because supposedly all that pilots have to do is let their computers fly the airplanes with a few pushes of a button, right? </sarcasm>

Then there's the whole issue of being gone from home all the time. Obviously being as young as I am I don't have to worry about supporting a family right now, but in the future I very well might have to. Being a stranger to my own family just kind of sounds, well, strange.

More than anything though, it just seems like whenever I take something I enjoy doing and turn it into a job, I lose the love for it that I once had. In fact, I think that's starting to happen already.

Is it possible that maybe I'm just focusing a little too much on the negatives here? I mean, who knows, I guess its possible that I could eventually regain the momentum I once had not too long ago. But, what if not? Well, all I know is that desk jobs typically treat people much more like a human being.
Think positive my friend! Everyone goes through somethin like this, stick it through, then you'll be able to look back and laugh at these times, even if it meens you have to live off Ramen.
Well if you want to hear a success story there's a guy from another forum who is 36, has had one of, if not the best aviation jobs out there for 7 years. That means when your 29 you could be flying a new Falcon 14 days a month and know what days you'll be off 3 months in advance. You'll be around you family for half the month. This guy got a whole month off and is flying brand new jets. Sounds good to me, just look at the good side of things
But if flying isn't somthing you like any more and don't enjoy it, don't do it.
Well its not that I don't enjoy flying, its just that I don't know if I would enjoy it if it were a job, specifically an airline job.

I have indeed wondered if the corporate/part 135 sector of aviation would be better for me than airlines. Sounds like the Falcon pilot you just described scored big time, but are jobs like that really all that common?
Well, all I know is that desk jobs typically treat people much more like a human being.

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No, they really don't.
I agree with pilot602 if you get a b#stard boss your job will be a living h#ll. I worked a desk job at a telecommunications company for a few months and desk jobs are overrated.
Paul G,

About ten years ago I felt exactly the way you do now and quit flight school for a desk job. Some desk jobs do treat you like a human and some do not. When you get that job that treats you like a human after a year or two new management will come in and change everything. As I have advanced in my career earning more $$$ I have had to sacrifice more of my home life. I currently carry a company cell phone and am on call 24 hours a day. Rent the movie Office Space and watch it several times. I have worked as an employee or contractor for many companies large and small and believe me that movie is more of a documentary than a parody.

Management at every company no matter the industry always wants more out of you for less pay. Go out and get your self a desk job and commit yourself to put a portion of your check aside. Then when or if you decide you want to go back to flying you will have the cash to finish your commercial.

Costs will always go up for everything. I have a receipt for an IFR equipped C152 and I was paying $38 an hour in the early 90s.
Paul if I were you I would read this:
Why we make excuses not to fly - not implying this is your situation but it could be some subconcious thing

Then I'd take two lessons with an instructor and make a final decision. You've spent too much $$$ to drop it just because you haven't flown for a few months; but at the same time aviation is too expensive to keep doing if you're not passionate about it. Just MHO.
Thanks for the input guys. I've been thinking for the past few hours and have come to believe that part of the reason I feel the way I do may partly be due to the fact that I haven't exactly been on to anything new. Maybe its time for a new airplane. To this date I have no other aircraft type in my logbook besides 152s and 172s.

There's this other flight school in Fort Collins that, despite being here for as long as I have, I have yet to fly with them. They're expensive, but not quite as expensive as where I came from. They have a C177-RG that I might be interested in learning to fly.

So I think I'll take Ed's advice for the time being. Thanks for the link too man, I always enjoy reading Rod Machado writings.
That article was great!.
It felt like Rod Machado got inside my head and put it in writing...
The thought of flying VFR is worrying me more everyday, to the point that I'm considering filing IFR even in perfect WX and for short distance hops...
A lot of accidents here in FL and, like the article says, people with a lot more Hrs/experience/certs/etc than myself.....
Sorry for the "bad vibe", but after reading that article I had to say something.
Allow me to offer my thoughts....

You talked about how you can't justify spending all the money and time on your training. That's a fair concern. What I wonder is if you're focusing too much on the destination, if you get my drift. Ask yourself this question (which I can't take credit for): "If I spend 20 years trying to fly anything I can get my hands on, will I have had a successful career as a pilot?" It's been said many times that flying isn't something that people do "for the money". So perhaps you need to ask yourself why you want to fly in the first place.

For myself, I will spend a fortune on training etc. Not because my goal is to work as a pilot, but because a) I love to fly and b) when people fly with me they deserve to fly with a highly trained pilot. Not just someone who got his PPL and stopped. With that in mind I'm considering going to FSA just for the quality training. Is that crazy? Perhaps, but I know that I'll be a better pilot for it, and my family deserves that.

Next you talked about how management is always gunning for you as a pilot and how desk jobs treat people like humans. It doesn't matter what you do, management is always gunning for you. When you work for someone you're a liability to them. Someplace where they throw money. Take a look at any big company and you'll see the first thing that gets cut when a company goes into cost cutting mode are all the things for the employees (training, perks, etc.) and then the employees themselves. So unless you plan on working for yourself you're never going to escape that. As far as being treated like a human being...I guess it probably depends on the job, but I'll warn you now, if you wanted to be treated like a human...don't go into IT. There are night when I don't sleep because my pager and my phone won't stop ringing. And after I've been up all night I'm expected to be in the office ready to go. I've had everything from Sunday Brunch to Christmas Dinner interrupted by my pager. They even wanted me to take it with me on my Honeymoon. I know what you're saying, "That's just where you work." Yeah maybe, but my friends who are in IT at other companies have it worse. In fact one of my friends doesn't know that he'll have a job in a few months because management can't get their sh*t together. I've had friend newly married who were suddenly relocated to China or who travel almost every week. The final insult are the people who's jobs are being shipped to India and they have to spend their last months training their replacement.

This kinda goes along with your statement about not wanting to be a stranger to your family. I figured it out one day I spend 36 hours a week with my wife, and most of those hours are spent sleeping. So pilot or desk jockey neither place is a bed of roses.

What I've asked myself time and time again is what would I get out of bed in the morning for? I'm still working on the answer, but I know that I spring out of bed when I have a lesson scheduled and not when I have to go to the office.

One final thought. Work at something that makes you happy. Not something that pays the bills. It's been shown that people who work at jobs they hate die off much younger than people who love their jobs. If you want have a family you're going to need to find someone who supports you're goals no matter what they are. And perhaps you decide to be a pilot and have to spend time away, but if you're happy who cares? Look at Doug and Kristie. It's workin' for them. Having a family and working a job you hate in the name of money is miserable...take it from me...and in the end your family ends up not wanting you around.

So if I were you I'd evaluate what really makes you happy and go from there.

Good luck.

To expound on what Nauga said: I would consider the process the golden moments in flying. Truly, when we all get to where we want to be most just continue to look up the path for the next step. If you focus on the path and wonderful the learning and the experience is, you may just find yourself with an amazing job sometime soon. WHen you get there you may lament the fact that "those were the golden years", back when it was hard and you were learning so much everyday.

The grass is always greener proverb is all to accurate, enjoy the path getting there.

Well, all I know is that desk jobs typically treat people much more like a human being.


No, they really don't.

[/ QUOTE ] being that hubby is the pilot and i'm the "behind the computer at a desk all day" girl... i completely agree!!!!
I think we've all been through this, for whatever reason. For me, it's often the airplane itself that leads me to stop caring about flying for a while. For example, flying a C172 for many hours on end can get extremely boring, as I'm sure others agree.

Personally, I'm flying one around right now working on my Commercial ASEL, and man is it booooring. I can't get excited about this stuff. Why? I've just gotten out of a twin doing IFR. The point is, flying a very familiar aircraft in a relatively non-challenging situation can lead to apathy about flying. My suggestion? Go see if you can't get checked out in that shiny Mooney across the field. Go rent some twin for a few hours, and go log some actual.

I know I'm probably preaching to the choir, but these are the kinds of things that get me interested in flying again. Go do something exciting, and see how it works for you.
Well, all I know is that desk jobs typically treat people much more like a human being.

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[Lumberg]mmmm...yeahhhh...you see...that's where I'm going to have to sort of...go ahead and disagree with you...[/Lumberg]

One week at work in an "office job" I billed a total of 120 hours. That doesn't include any of the commute time. My salary equated to $1.50/hr. The three weeks before and after that one I billed 80 hours, and my salary jumped to equaling $3/hr. This was for an unsuccessful new business pitch, and the owner of my firm just muddled a weak, "...but, thanks for all your efforts" after a scorching 2 hr rebuke of the team's performance. I quit a week later.

I don't mean to whine about all of that, but I think something to consider is that ANY job has the potential to suck the life right out of you. I think you should ask yourself what you value and if the majority of the time in your life will be spent in pursuit of these values.

As far as the state of the economy goes, here is something to think about. I'm only two years younger than Doug. I chose not to pursue aviation out of the same circumstances with the economy/pilot pay/demand. It didn't look like it would ever pay off. I now have alot of wasted years behind me making a living in a way that I don't enjoy much at all. Had I thought positive and went for it then, I'd probably be flying a pretty nice corp jet by now. But I wrongfully made a financial-based decision.

No job is perfectly fun all the time, everyone in every field has got some part of their job they don't like. I think that whoever told us that we were supposed to love work was on crack. There will be struggles, boredom, plateaus, and so on.

The important question to ask is when you add up all your time you've spent working, will you be proud of it? Will you feel like you got out of it something close to what you wanted?

I can see what flying and dealing with pilots/maintenance/ATC everyday will bring to my life, and I like the thought of it. There is a certain honesty to it all that has been lacking from what I currently do.

I imagine that you haven't flown for much of anything fun yet. Take a trip somewhere you've never been or like you say, try out a new plane-or maybe an aerobatic lesson would scramble your cookies enough to make you feel better. I've spent time in CO, and there's a hell of alot of good stuff to see in the air there!

good luck and I hope you fly soon if it's what you really want to do.
Riiiiiiiiiiight,,,,,um-kay (Lumberg)

Hey Paul, I'm going to be completely honest with you. Let me first say, I don't know you and I haven't talked with you in person, so I may be off base but I don't think so. Here goes,,,,,,

If you are burned out with 170 something hours, you seriously need to evaluate your situation (which I know you're doing). I mean, you've barely started the journey. I could understand if you were a CFI with 1500 hours of dual given, ready to pull your hair out. That would be perfectly understandable. But with your amount of time and experience, I can't possibly understand your position.

If you have it in your blood and possess what it takes, at this stage of the game, it shouldn't matter how hard it is. In other words, the passion and desire should still be there, thriving. This is where I think you are lacking (from what you said).

I really don't understand all the negative comments you said about the airlines or aviation employers. You haven't even been in that position and you're already worried about it? Why? If you love it and want to fly for a living, then go for it! Otherwise, you need to choose a different career, and I know you're already contemplating that. I also don't understand all the stuff you mentioned about being treated badly.
YOU choose where you work! YOU decide. If you end up being treated badly, go work somewhere else! What's the big deal? You will find this in any industry. I've been flying for a living for several years and have worked for two companies. Both of them treated me great and the environments are professional.

Obviously, you're already somewhat enlightened to this business. It also sounds like you've received some very bad info. I would suggest doing what Ed recommended. Go flying a couple more times and see what you think. However, (in my opinion) if you still feel even the slightest bit they way you do now,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,find a different career. It's going to get a lot harder than it is now and you will pay your dues (you already know that).

Anyway Paul, I hope you take all this the right way. I sincerely wish you the best. Take care.
I guess I should take back what I said about desk jobs. I'm gonna try to get scheduled in the Cardinal with an instructor later this week. We'll see if that does anything to get my juices flowing again.

I'm all confused. Now that I think about it, its possible that what I'm feeling right now may not even have much to do with aviation at all. I'm just feeling paranoid right now because I know people who just graduated from college recently who are just going through hell. A good friend of mine graduated from school a year ago and still hasn't found a job. Then there's people I know of who are struggling just to be able to pay their rent. I guess I'm just too scared of myself being in that position someday. Right now I'm lucky enough to not have to worry about it because I'm still in school.

I have to admit too that I don't have much experience in the work force. Not too long ago I quit a retail job because it basically fit the description of the no good type of job described in my initial post. Perhaps I'm incorrectly assuming that any flying jobs I have are going to be that way too.

I am a CFII with 1200 hrs total.

There is a lot of job unsecurity in flying. You could be a pilot with 5000 hours, jet time, etc. and one day your blood pressure shoots up and, guess what, your medical is gone. If you're in your 20s, it's not late to find a different carreer, but what if you're in mid 40s??

How about if you make a silly mistake by, say, getting distracted and getting close to an a/c in the pattern? Or taxiing in a gusty wind conditions, drifting to a snow bank and damaging the prop? It goes to your record, and, the bad news is that getting any flying job after that regardless of your experience will be a challenge.

Not that many people mention this in this forum but there are way too many pilots out there. Look at all these shools across the country that produce CFIIs every month. With all the CFIIs and retired USAF pilots there are not enough airline jobs out there. Most pilots would fly for nothing. Just give the a/c and they will fly for free. No wonder that starting salaries in regionals rival that of flight instructors.

In my flight school we get a lot of CFI resumes, yet we hired only 2 in the past year and half. There was even a furloughed B-757 FO with 7000 hours looking to instruct in Skyhawks.

No matter what aviation enthusiasts say, office job bears a lot more job security than flying (It's like on of those myths that flying is safer than driving, btw. I am not talking about airline flying
). The question is, do you enjoy it and are you willing to take the risk of choosing an aviation career path ???
I'm just feeling paranoid right now because I know people who just graduated from college recently who are just going through hell.

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I think that you probably just need to put things into perspective. The job market is tough all over. Highly qualified people are having trouble finding jobs, so someone right out of school will have an even harder time.

Perhaps I'm incorrectly assuming that any flying jobs I have are going to be that way too.

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Maybe, but maybe not. I find that more often than not your gut instincts are correct. That may sound discouraging, but don't look at it like, "well I guess I shouldn't fly". Look at it more as "perhaps I need to examine why I feel like this". You may find that you still love to fly, but you just feel like you're in a rut.

I tend to take a break from something when I start to feel burnt out. After awhile I start to get interested in it again. It's like you build up a tolerance. So once you "detox" a bit you start to crave it again...or have the energy you once had.

If I were in your place I would be taking a break and using the time to reevaluate my goals. If after you've stepped back from it for awhile and you find you want out. Then fine, you can always go back.

One final thought. Perhaps you're feeling like you're under pressure to get the job, get a family, etc. etc.. Maybe if you "decide" in your mind that you're done, you'll relieve the pressure and flying will start to be fun again.