Laid off from desk job, so back to flight!

Jake8078

New Member
Hi All, I'm looking for some solid advice. Here's my situation:

I've been flying since I was 14 at a local FBO. I have always loved it and have always intended to make a career out of it. I went to ERAU in DAB for my freshman year of college, completely on private education loans. While I was down there I realized how bad the airline industry had gotten and that a career in aviation would be very difficult to pay off another 3 years of attending there, as I would be in debt over $130,000 upon graduating. I decided to move back home and transfer to the University of Connecticut where I've been studying for a BA in Anthropology.

I was lucky enough to immediately get a desk job working for Pratt & Whitney, running a training program for our suppliers the last 3 1/2 years. Meanwhile I was going to school part-time, as P&W was paying for my tuition, which kept me from having to take out more loans (I'm in the hole ~$45,000 already with a Key Alternative Loan for ERAU). The plan was to finish my degree while working at P&W and when I was done I would have enough time to finish my flight training. However, I was laid off last Wednesday. I still have access to paid tuition for a year, and will be done with my BA end of July.

I have my PPL and had completed my IFR training part 61. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to take my checkride for it, so will need significant refresher training (it was 3 1/2 years ago). Rather than get a new job, unemployment should keep my finances at bay, as I am currently living with my parents. I can use all this extra free time to begin continuation of my flight training immediately. However, I will need to take out more financing to fund my training.

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for funding. I am aware of Sallie Mae's career training loans, but am wondering if anyone had good success with any other competitive options that maybe aren't as well-known.

Any other comments and advice about this would also be appreciated. I am anticipating some people will probably ream me for getting into more debt with such a shaky career field. However, I already have over $50,000 and many years invested in this so far. I love it, and am pretty good at it, and it's what I want to do. So why not another 6-12 months of training and another $10-15k?? I was ready to jump out a window at my desk job just to get some flight time! :)
 

MikeFavinger

Hubschrauber Flieger
Sorry to hear about your layoff. I was *almost* hired at two different UT companies - they have some absolutely amazing benefits from the education benefits you mentioned to an actual retirement plan.

The only advice I'll give besides trying like heck to get back under that UT umbrella ;) is to read a lot. Don't just read the views you agree with - also read those ones that discourage loans and discourage airline careers. Try and weigh the merits of each fairly, apply them to your personality and situation, and decide for yourself.
 

ZapBrannigan

Old School
and don't become addicted to Facebook. I did and it's a massive timesuck... wow. Can't believe I just burned 3 hours between FB and JC.
 

ljg

Well-Known Member
Wait, I don't mean to sidetrack the thread - but you were laid off and still retain educational benefits for the next year? Wow.

What's your time period for obtaining your ratings? If you get your Instrument, Commercial Single and Multi's, and your 3 flight instructor tickets, then flight instruct for a few months, you might position yourself perfectly for a industry-wide thaw where hiring would resume. Personally, I would be hesitant to flight train at the moment given the considerable difficulties in obtaining private credit. The freeze in hiring across the industry complicates things further if you are aiming to do this training quickly. If you do decide to fly, prepare yourself knowledge-wise and the instrument training will probably come back very quickly for you. Good luck. 1 year free tuition, man.
 

Jake8078

New Member
In the last week, I've decided I'm definitely going to do this. I was actually able to get in touch with my former, really great, instructor and friend who is also going through a career change. We're starting sunday. I've been hitting the books and the IFR knowledge stuff is coming back quickly. I'm hoping to actually have my rating by the end of the month. As far as the CPL, we're going to do it part 141 and I'm hoping to also get at least the first CFI rating as well, all this before the summer.

Yes, they gave me a fairly generous severance deal as well. They are a great company benefits-wise, but upper-level decision-making at UTC has caused a lot of frustration with me personally.

As far as the lay-off, this may be the best thing that ever happened to me! I've recently heard about the anticipated openings in the industry starting mid next-year, so this is just perfect timing, aside from having quite the class-load this coming Spring semester and summer. I'll have my BA by end of July, however, and I should have enough time to be a CFI by then. As far as credit, I have a pretty good score, but what should seal the deal is my father said he would co-sign for the career training loan. I've estimated that $15,000 should be enough to cover everything.
 

Flying Ninja

Need More Flight Time!
Jake,

Glad to hear you're continuing your education in both aviation and that BA (which is very important regardless of what career path you choose). At the end of the day, it's all about money and how you plan your finances. $15k isn't bad and since you're going the CFI route, you should be okay. However, since you've held a desk job, you may not want to close that door just yet to pursue a career in aviation. If you can do both, you will have a much better income and still enjoy flying on the side. If you really want to pursue a career pilot gig, I HIGHLY suggest that you carefully analyze the situation. Regional pay is a joke compared to what you were likely taking home from P&W. With the instability of the airline industry, I'd keep my options VERY open. I hate to bad mouth the airline career path but all things considered, unless money flows freely and you have no limit to this resource, it's a lucrative path to walk down, and you seriously need to consider possible scenarios carefully. Be realistic too. If you can't fathom living in a bad neighborhood eating ramen noodles and near begging for your next meal as a worst case scenario, you may want to reconsider. I'm not saying it'll be that bad, but I know that scenario exists. Who knows, maybe the airlines will get their ducks in a row by the time you're ready to move on from the CFI gig.

In any event, my only advice to you is to stay debt free as soon as possible and stablize your income/finances as soon as possible. Do lots of research and ask lots of questions. You're going to run into a lot of optimists online, but consider whether these optimists are so positive because money isn't an issue for them. For the rest of us who have to earn every dollar, getting into the airline industry is very difficult.

Best of luck!
 

Jason

Well-Known Member
and don't become addicted to Facebook. I did and it's a massive timesuck... wow. Can't believe I just burned 3 hours between FB and JC.
You too, huh?? I even look at Facebook on my phone now. Between JC, Facebook, and LinkedIN - I waste a considerable amount of time online everyday!


Jake8078 - before you make any decisions, you may want to call Sallie Mae (or whoever you're going to use) and make sure that you can even get the financing for flight training before you commit to anything. My wife works in financial aid and Sallie Mae (and all of the others) aren't in the 'giving mood' that they were a few years ago. The requirements for non-title IV (private alternative loans) lending have tightened SIGNIFICANTLY and I'm afraid you may have a difficult time getting a loan for flight training - especially considering that you currently have no income and already have $45K in debt.

Jason
 

Jake8078

New Member
Hi All,

Thanks for all your input. Actually, working for UTC they were paying me a salary very comparable to a starting regional pilot. They got me cheap, because I didn't have my degree yet. I took the job because the education benefits and experience made it an offer I couldn't refuse.

I'm well-braced for the situation financially, as I'm 22 and recently moved back home with my parents to save money. As a result, my living expenses have been drastically reduced. My father also said he would co-sign for the Sallie Mae career training loan, and his credit and income should definitely be enough. He is doing what he can for me, because he knows it's what I really want to do. That being said, they weren't able to chip in a penny toward my college tuition or anything - I've worked for every dollar. Therefore, I'm used to living pretty cheap and am okay staying at home for a few more years. The money I should get from unemployment insurance should keep my loans and other minor finances at bay while I train.

I start tomorrow!

Thanks,
Jake
 

aloft

New Member
What's your time period for obtaining your ratings? If you get your Instrument, Commercial Single and Multi's, and your 3 flight instructor tickets, then flight instruct for a few months, you might position yourself perfectly for a industry-wide thaw where hiring would resume.
"A few months" worth of instructing will not position him perfectly for when hiring resumes. There is a metric crap-ton of pilots whose gobs of experience will put them at the head of the line. There's been a pretty significant paradigm shift in the industry recently and anyone starting now should expect to instruct for a year or two--which was pretty much the norm 10-15 years ago.
 
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