How widespread is the resentment of ab initio pilots?


New Member
I am going crosseyed from reading about flight academies that take you from 0 to FO in under two years. One minute I'm on the way to Farmington (or Orlando, or etc..), the next minute I'm back behind my desk at the bank.

What do professional pilots really think about these graduates? I've read some downright nasty and hateful stuff from the guys who had to instruct, fly pipelines or haul checks to build their time. Are they just jealous or are we killing their pay scale, taking their seats, yada yada yada?

If I had a choice, I'd rather get along with the people I work with.
There tends to be some resentment. I am one of those low-time pilots, but thankfully so far I myself have not experienced too much blatant prejudice for being such. Like any profession, there are professionals who behave as such, and there are others who have a permanent chip on their shoulders. Most of the pilots I worked with had the attitude "hey you're REALLY lucky; I wish it was like that when I was looking to get hired." Of course, there were some who openly despised us low-timers.

One of my friends at my airline actually had a captain who had it in for him, since he was a low-timer. This captain was/is one bitter ass. The stereotypical captain from hell. It was my friend's 3rd trip after having completed IOE, and the captain told him at the beginning "I hate low-time pilots, I am against hiring them, I've told management as much but they don't listen to me." He harassed my friend the whole trip, and gave him a really bad eval on his probationary report. My friend's flight qualifications were subsequently revoked, and he was sent back to the training center. Fortunately, he called the union, and they helped straighten the mess out. My friend was exonerated, record cleared, and the captain and domicile chief pilot had their asses chewed out for not handling the situation properly. The captain, BTW, has a reputation for being an ass, and about 2 weeks later was again repremanded for behaving like a child: he got into a yelling match with some rampers and gate agents. Talk about someone who needs to be fired for bad attitude!

So, yes there is resentment out there. It also depends on where you go. At my airline, as more low-timers were hired, people became more used to us. Also, if you are paired up with someone who has a thing against low timers, and if you fly well with that person, after a few flights he/she may realize that his/her prejudice is unfounded. As they say, performance speaks for itself.
As already mentioned, in any industry you will find digruntled, opinionated jerks. However, any of you that have read many of my posts know that I started pursueing a flying career in the early 90's and times were MUCH tougher in the aviation industry then than they are now. So bad in fact that I, and many others, left aviation and then later returned. I think many share my opinion that I envy the young folks just getting into the industry. I think the opportunities are much better than when I first tried to get in, even after 9-11. I think what bothers me the most is the fact that I have ran across many people at the beginning of their aviation careers and seem to have this attitude of "entitlement". Many seem to feel that since they have spent some time and money getting their ratings, and sometimes a degree, that they should be able to walk right into an airline job flying an RJ (or better) with quick upgrade times to the left seat and on to a major a couple of years later. Well, if that happens, I am happy for the lucky ones. However, now that the industry has slowed down, I hate to hear these people moaning, groaning, and whining. If the "dues" that the industry is requireing involves flight instructing, pipeline flying, or whatever... suck it up and go out and do it. These people might even have some fun and possibly learn something at the same time!

I don't want anyone to misunderstand me. I am not one of those who are bitter about the lucky low timers who make it on the fast track. I am one of those who is sick of hearing the low timers cry about not being one of the lucky ones and having to pay some dues. If I came across a chance to advance myself and career, I would definitely jump at an opportunity that was right for me. The key is to not complain when those kind of breaks don't come your way. This has always been considered a "pay your dues" industry. If you enter it expecting short cuts, you may be very disappointed. Like everything else in this business, you need to hope for the best and plan for the worst. If things go well, by all means my congratulations. But, if not, suck it up and pay your dues with a smile on your face. Afterall, next to astronauts, our "offices" have the best views in the world and the scenery is always changing!

And by the way, there are alot of things worse in the world than flying checks. I am having a ball. Sure, I look forward to the day may paycheck is a little larger. But, I must be old school. I am apparently going to have to pay my dues and keep a sharp eye out for opportunities along the way. I the mean time, I am going to have as much fun as possible.

Be well and fly safe.
Eas /ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif
great question! (long)

thanks for asking that question!
I'm in the same boat you are...and I've had that sort of uneasy feeling about attitudes towards ab-initio pilots for a while, but never knew how to approach the subject here.

to the posters: thanks for answering that question! Lots of valuable input.

I guess my take on it is that I have met and had extended conversations with 3 professional pilots about actual training routes. (I've met a few more along the way, but we just talked about planes)... Obviously, this is not a representation of the professional pilot population, but like the other postings on this thread- this might help to enlighten you. The first pilot works for AirCanada as a Check Airman who flew the line for 20 years before going to administration. The Second was an assist cheif pilot and Capt for ACA (a division of United, I think). The Third was a FO for USAir, flying the B757. The 1st guy grabbed me by the shoulders (he was a little crazy, I think), and said--"get going, dammit! get into some ab initio training program as fast as you can-- if you love it as much as it appears- start now-- and listen up boy- you don't EVER leave the line- no matter how much they want to pay you-- don't you EVER LEAVE THE LINE!" Then he rambled on, cursing the airline industry, etc. Funny guy...

The Second Pilot was a little less talkative, but he told me, as a hiring mgr for ACA, he really appreciated the ab-initio training that came out of Flight Safety. He told me to go and get my PPL (which I am doing now), somewhere-anywhere, and then go on down to FlightSafety to finish up. He said it was important to get the PPL before committing to an ab-initio program, b/c then I would know whether flying was really for me. But he didn't seem to have any resentment to ab-initio training.

The Third Pilot was an old guy who seemed to have fallen into a hiring drought after he got out of the AF. He talked awhile about ab-initio programs and how they can really save a lot of time, etc. and that "flying is flying- no matter where or when you do it". He mentioned that he had "lost a lot of seniority by going into the AF and it was hard to find work for a long time." But then he said-- 'given all of that--i wouldn't trade it for the world". He recommended getting into an accelerated program as soon as possible, so if in fact hiring froze, I would still have time to fly in other areas of the aviation industry...

All in all- sorry this was long-- the bottom line that I found was this: Fly your a$$ off with a quality program and in the end- the most professional pilots will respect you because you share their common passion (AirCanada guy to name one). Just convey that passion in your professionalism and attitude in the cockpit. It doesn't matter where you learn how to fly, the attitude can't be taught.
Mr • that Martin described has opinions that don't really matter...too bad he put the FO through the ringer like that, though.

Just my 2 cents...
Good Luck!