Leaving active duty for ASU aviation

g_mau18

New Member
Aloha! I have been in the air force for 6 years now, I feel like my work and schedule suck, but I don't know anything else. I work in a passenger terminal and I work 5 days a week. Wake up at 3 get to work at 4 and work 12 hours or more. I have a full ride through asu with the gi bill, so I would have no debt at all. Is it really as bad as they say it is? Will I be living in a shack surviving off ramen noodles? Perusing these forums is really discouraging!
 

Adobo Pilot

Well-Known Member
Unless you can live at base, then YES! IT IS! Even bases change constantly as well. Commuting is not impossible, but there are far better options out there especially if you have a family or plan to. Those at the top will advise to keep pursuing your dream, but it is a different industry than what it was 20 years ago. Just my 2 cents.
 

g_mau18

New Member
Will I be able to maintain a proper diet and go to the gym through determination and proper planning?
 

Adobo Pilot

Well-Known Member
If you like crappy hotel gyms with most only having weights that go up to 25lbs and carrying extra baggage on your trips (ie: lunchbox for meals/snacks, gym clothes, gym shoes). I gained like 20 lbs being at a regional due to reserve life, commuting, lack of sleep, not being able to prep for meals due to crash pad roomies that would steal meals out of the "community fridge". After getting out, I am now in the best shape of my life. :)
 

g_mau18

New Member
Wow I was looking for some words of encouragement to make my decision a little easier, but this will complicate things...hmmm, try to commission instead maybe?
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
Aloha! I have been in the air force for 6 years now, I feel like my work and schedule suck, but I don't know anything else. I work in a passenger terminal and I work 5 days a week. Wake up at 3 get to work at 4 and work 12 hours or more. I have a full ride through asu with the gi bill, so I would have no debt at all. Is it really as bad as they say it is? Will I be living in a shack surviving off ramen noodles? Perusing these forums is really discouraging!
That depends on what "it" is. Do you mean commercial flying?

Obviously the answer to that depends completely on what type of job and at which rung on the experience ladder.

That being said, despite how much things may 'suck' in Big Blue, we are (were) all actually living in a big protective bubble. Free health care, decent pay and housing, and knowing when/where your next paycheck was coming from. The grass is not always greener outside.

The opinions you read on JC, especially, tend to reflect the experiences of folks who are pretty early in their professional pilot careers (first 10 years, give or take). Those are the hardest years overall in most aspects; finding a job, quality of life, pay and benefits, commuting, etc.

The short-sighted won't be able to see past that to the better days that can be beyond that. There's never complete stability with a flying career, but it IS better once you get to a certain level. It also has a lot to do with your own attitude as well, and what ultimately makes you happy. People who are looking to a job to complete them are never going to find it.

With respect to Commissioning, just remember that there are droves of unhappy USAF pilots who are waiting for the economy to change a bit so they can cut bait and run. That could/should be an indicator of what life is like there, too, although the same caveat about attitude applies. My career has spanned a great number of major upsets and let-downs, and I'm still chugging away and enjoying it (now in a non-flying capacity).
 

HVYMETALDRVR

Well-Known Member
I've been through more crap then some due to the bad economy... But put it this way, as a second yr airline FO I'll make about 30K in 2013 (I hope) pre-tax, I'm in the Reserves and have plenty of benefits and pay from there as well so it helps. I'm probably another 3-4 yrs from breaking 60K/yr if I stay with my current company as a captain or upgrade to mainline.

Plan on it taking you 3.5-4.5 years to go from PPL through all your ratings then to get 1500hrs so an airline can hire you. Then plan on making 30-40K/yr for at least 3 years after that. It will continue to go up from there, its a little far out after that to give a step by step but as the industry stands now it takes about 25yrs from finishing school to being an airline captain making 200k+/yr. That's assuming you don't get screwed by an airline bankruptcy or something either.

Mind you this is purely an airline pilot. The career paths of a corporate pilot, private contractor, crop-duster etc are different. No opinion being thrown on my part either, just calling it how I see it.

Good luck in your choice! :D
 

Adobo Pilot

Well-Known Member
I definitely agree with HVYMETALDRVR when it comes to commercial airlines! Even the mainline captains making 200k/yr don't have much of a retirement to look forward to these days. It is all subject to change, but make sure you have a plan b if you do choose to pursue that route.
 

JDean3204

Well-Known Member
I was in the same boat as you about six months ago, I will be completely honest. Your schedule in the military is cake man, because unless you are on duty or deployment status you get weekends/holidays off. Yeah you work 12 hours on shift at times, you will most likely do the same as a CFI , the regs say less than 8 hrs of flight time a day, that does not count all the pre-post flight and paperwork you do as a CFI. A few CFI's at my current location put in 12 hrs a day six days a week, and usually at very irregular intervals.

I too joined right out of high school, so when life sucked in the Navy I thought it was as bad as it gets. TRUST ME, it can get worse on the outside (not just in aviation). No matter how bad the schedule got in the military, you still get paid on the 1st and 15th, you still get medical covered and all else that I now realize I took for granted. I was deployed last year overseas and had maybe five days off in four months, but looking back on it when you add on deployment pay and per diem, it was well worth it. The last few months have been insane, the GI Bill does help with the pay, do not look at it as a "free ride" though. The VA only pays for time in school, not breaks that happen in between terms. So you should get a part time job to compensate for those periods, Now not very many jobs will only allow you to work during breaks. So you find yourself working heavy on weekends and some weeknights, while in school full time to keep the benefits, also while flying your behind off to get your ratings. So days off become scarce while doing this program.

In the last six months since I have been out and started flying/college, there has been times where after bills I am flat broke. You just have to tackle this challenge with the mindset that things will get better, it may not be for a while when things look up, years in some cases. So it is all about what you want out of life, for me I know that if I do not even try to make it as a pilot, I will regret it when I get older. Maybe things will not work out, maybe they will, but I can look back on this time saying I tried. I will also have some great experiences that will mould me into a better individual whether in or out of aviation.

I know that us veterans get it "easy" compared to those who go through flight training without the benefits, but for someone like you and me who are fresh out of the service knowing only service life, it is not a cake walk. If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me..
 

jskibo

Done
I'm not sure if they still do it or not, but when I was going to school they had a VA program that allowed you to work at a VA facility part time under a contracted amount of hours. Mine were contracted 250 at a time. I worked at the Marion VA hospital as a janitor. It was easy work as the normal guys didn't want me shortening their nightly runs, so I mostly was told to find an office and study. I never had to clean wards or anything other than the offices and clinic waiting areas.

They would send in a paper every 50 hours and I would get a check. It was only minimum wage, however it was 100% tax free so worked out OK. I could work basically whenever I had time to go in. Once the 250 was up, I would call and get another 250.
 

MercFE

Well-Known Member
I plan on going back to try to start a pilot career, post military, myself in the next couple years... Luckily, I'll have one additional thing going for me, retirement pay. I think this, the debt free trainings, and the other retirement benefits, will actually make it bearable for me to become a pilot at a low pay for a bit.

To be honest with you, everything everyone else has said is entirely true. A lot of people separating from the military don't think of all the "extras" that we take for granted. One thing I would suggest is to take advantage of one of your financial specialists within your command. Use them to help draw up a budget of what exactly your benefits are worth and compare it to what you're expecting to make once you reach that "dreamy" pilot gig making 20-30k starting.

In no way am I saying to not do it. I've had a passion for flying since I was about 8 yrs old, so I can understand doing something that you dream of. What I am saying is, go into it with as much information as you can. Have a plan, a backup plan, and keep your head on a swivel... Surprises will come at you on the outside!
 

So ILL

Weightless
yeah 1+ for the guys above. The college flying is no cake walk. I got out in 09 and have been flying/studying at SIU ever since. Even with the gi bill i work by butt off at nignt 3 days a week. The lack of break pay and stipend pay deposit lag make it really hard if you dont have a part time job. I wish the training would progress faster so i can settle back into a day job.
 

Hacker15e

Dunning–Kruger Observer
Even with the gi bill i work by butt off at nignt 3 days a week. The lack of break pay and stipend pay deposit lag make it really hard if you dont have a part time job. I wish the training would progress faster so i can settle back into a day job.
FWIW, there are lots of folks who work/pay their way through college without the benefit of the GI Bill, and make it work just fine.
 

AKcharger

Well-Known Member
Well if you have the option I'd stay in the AF, knock out you're school and as much flying as possible and retire THEN go after the flying gig. That's what I did and I can not put in words how comforting it is knowing that you always have a paycheck no matter what happens.
 

hook_dupin

Well-Known Member
I briefly looked at getting out, and I'm an O-3 with 10 years of service. I received job offers comparable to my military pay, but nothing came close in the way of benefits. I decided to just keep on marching towards 20. At the same time, I recently met an AF pilot who will be bolting for the outside the second his commitment is up...he's been deployed 11 times and is #3 on the list for number of combat hours flown. It greatly saddens me that my Air Force can get people that burnt out.

g_mau18: Have you looked into cross training at all? There's a few enlisted career fields that we simply cannot get enough of. Air Traffic and Contracting come to mind. Also, TA is a hell of a deal for Es...use that to fund as much of your degree path as possible while still in. Leaving the Air Force in 14 years with a Federal contracting warrant in the $10M range, a MBA, a retirement salary, and decent medical coverage will give you many many opportunities.
 
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