I need a career


New Member
I am 30 years old, and married with 3 daughters. I am looking for a new career as a pilot. The reason for this because I had a work-related back injury in Feb. 2000 which later led to surgery (fusion) in Dec. 2001. Other than my back, I'm in pretty food health 20/20 vision and a slight high pitch hearing loss in the left ear. When I get a Dr release in 3 to 9 mos. Will the back problem or hearing keep me from flying with the airlines?

I will be able to use my VA benefits and will receive money to go back to school for a new career. We do not have any bills other than a van payment and the regular utilities each month. Right now I make less than 30 k. a year. From the research I have done so far there are 3 options for me; 1) go to a college or university and get a degree then attend a flight school to obtain any more licenses, and build time. 2) Pay 50-60 k. to attend one of the academies (Pan Am, ComAir, Sierra, ATA, etc:) 3) Find a local flight school, maybe not as well known. Get my license from PPL to MEI for half the price, then work as a CFI to gain the hours and experience then work on a degree. Right now I'm leaning towards #3. I have two schools in mind one is Airman Flight School in Norman Oklahoma, because I'm from a small town 30-40 minutes away from the school and both mine and my wives parents, live in this town-So we will have babysitters. I will be able to attend school full time and my wife can work. The cost of living in Oklahoma is less than in TX, AZ, CA, FL.

Has anyone attended Airman Flight School, and how was it?

The other option is Tyler International School of Aviation. The price is about 5k more than Airman for the Professional pilot course but they have an Airline pilot fast-track course. Any info or advise I could get would be greatly appreciated.
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Will the back problem or hearing keep me from flying with the airlines

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Quite possibly.

You are aware that a Captain has to maintain and pass an FAA first class flight physical every 6 months, aren't you? Very few jobs require that for continued employment.

I'd suggest going to see an FAA doc and seeing if you can pass the first class flight physical (not a II or III class) before spending any money on this new career adventure. You'll also likely have to pass a company physical as a condition for employment.
Your back could very well be a problem, if not for the medical exam for the reality of an aviation career. I have no back trouble to speak of, but after 8 hours a day of teaching students in airplanes my back doesn't feel all that great.
Airplane seats are not the most comfortable chairs around (lazyboy didn't design them) I don't know the extent of your injuries but would you be able to sit for extended hours with acceptable discomfort?
I'd recommend getting a first class physical and then starting training.

I had back surgery in high school and still have a metal rod in my back. This has caused me no problems with certification, training, or flying. (My surgery was corrective for scoliosis.)

My personal recommendation, from being on both sides of the fence, is to start training locally, then finish at an academy. Get your private license and build enough cross country time for your instrument rating locally, then go to an academy for instrument and multi training.

I have also put my answers to a lot of common questions on my website.


Good luck.
Another option to consider, education wise, is online degree programs. You can finish these programs at a faster pace generally. This way you can stay at home at an FBO doing your flying and do your classes online at the same time. This is if you want an aviation type degree. There have been several discussions on the forums about what type of degree is desirable for the airlines. Any 4 year degree will suffice for the majors (Delta, American, Southwest, FedEx, UPS, etc.). Many folks have suggested a non-aviation degree to fall back on. Personally, I'm getting the aviation degree, because my "back-ups" do not require field-specific degrees. Just some food for thought. Of course, clear up those medical issues first. I also can vouch for the lack of comfort in aircraft seats. After a few hours you will have some lower back pain. I really don't think that you'll have major problems with getting a medical, unless the surgeon opposes it. If you're taking medications though, the process becomes mucho complicated. It may ultimately come down to how well your back handles being seated for long periods. Good luck, and welcome to the jetcareers forums.
Personally, I'd take the extra money I'd be spending on an academy and spend that taking online degrees or a traditional program for your family.

The "inevitable" does happen to a lot of people during a career and if you're knee-deep in the middle of a good career in aviation and you bust a medical or get your license yanked by the FAA, you'll be happy to have a degree to fall back on! It honestly happens way more than people realize which is why I say GET THE DEGREE!
Doug, I REALLY wish you'd quit sitting on the fence on the whole "degree or no degree" issue.
I would just think it makes sense to have a backup, so I am not going to beat that dead horse anymore. However I will address the other part of your question about Tyler's airline fast track course. I am not discrediting Tyler or any other school that has a right seat, fast track, direct program, or whatever they want to call it. Don't believe that they can put you into the right seat of an RJ with 500 or 700 hours of multi. A few years ago yes they could have, but nowadays that "guaranteed job" is not a paid job, is only good for a certain amount of hours, or is an internship. While you may get an interview and get hired. Your class date mey be a year from the time you get "hired", maybe more. Not to discourage you, but let's be realistic, there are still plenty of pilots on furlough for the airlines with which schools promise you an interview . So my point is by the time you get hired you could have spent less money and the same amount of time, and just flight instructed. FWIW
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Doug, I REALLY wish you'd quit sitting on the fence on the whole "degree or no degree" issue.

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Yeah! Maybe I'll make up my mind on the issue one day!