No one said it would be easy!


Well-Known Member
"The road to my goal"

Well, no one said it would be easy. But here I am, a CFI with all but the CFII and MEI completed. I'm where I wanted to be two years ago. Have I realized what its taken me to get this far? I do a little more now than before because of the hardships that I"m enduring. Since I had a steady good paying job on the weekends, I never really realized how difficult flying can really be financially. Now that my sole source of income is aviation, I find it difficult to survive. by that I mean, treat my girlfriend to a simple thing such as lunch.

Some of you senior guys that have been doing this a while are saying welcome to the club, and "get used to it", well I must admit it is not only embarrassing and humiliating, but I also am at a point in my life like no other before. I've always been provided for by either my parents or had a job thats supported my expenses, but now I find myself struggling to keep my head up high because my bank account has sunk down low. And I have to admit, its not just that but rather the feeling of not being able to provide when my girlfriend and I go out. I was brought up to always be a gentleman and open doors, and pay for dinner, and as some of you may not have experienced this yet, but not being able to for me is a hard thing to accept.

I now can see why so many pilots have had divorces. First, I thinks its because they are away so often, secondly, they have to endure the hardships of not making any money for a long time. I mean you really have to love flying to want stay in this business at a time like this. Sometimes I can see it in her eyes, wondering how we'll be able to ever be on our own, if things continue this way. Thats what scares me the most! Wondering if shes going to hang in for the long run. I hope she does.

How have all the guys before me done this? They must have been through the same things that I'm experiencing now. Maybe and most likely worse. How much worse can it be? Huh. Have I seen the bottom? Whats more to come? What if I;m 35 have two kids, and mortgage, and a couple of cars, and I get laid off? What then? Should I consider myself lucky that I don't have to face kids at a time when I struggle to face myself.

I've come this far, and I can't give up now. A few things I've realized in the past few years is I have to stop saying, "in six months when ______ gets finished, I'll finally be happy and done!". You have to live for today, because before you know it, you've lived your whole life saying this and have never had the chance to enjoy it like your suppossed to.

When I'm up there with a few of my students, looking out the window during climb out, just living in the clouds for that brief moment, while the student is sweating and his hearts racing at a million miles per hour, I think to myself, this is what its all about. There are no words to describe the feeling. But my one wish while I'm up there is that I hope that I'm able to do this for the rest of my life and be able to live a normal life doing it.

The inspiration that I need is slowly starting to wonder if shes made out for this type of life. And the true test will be if I can go on with out her. The reason why I attach aviation and her together so much is because you could say she got me into aviation. I would never be where I"m at today if it wasn't for her pushing me to realize my dream. And I guess you could say that without her being there, is like losing 50% of the dream.

One thing I can say is whenever I walk upto the bank teller and make my $120 deposit for one weeks pay, I open my wallet to find my Commercial pilot certificate and Certified Flight Instructor Certificate. And thats what makes me feel like my money has been well spent!

So to some of you guys out there, I ask.......what types of hardships are you enduring, or have endured? I'd like to hear the stories of determination and sacrifice to not only get myself going, but to keep other students aware of what they're getting into!


That was a good post man. A couple of things really hit home with me.

"in six months when ______ gets finished, I'll finally be happy and done!".

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That's how it's been for me for 18 months, and it's about 3 weeks I'll have all my ratings up through MEI. And I'm left with the, "Now what?"

My wife and I were just talking this morning, and she was saying that it sucks that it takes sooo long for you to start making money once you catch on with an airline. You graduate law school and bam, six-figs. Not in the flying biz. She's saying, I'm not even worried about the house thing, but what about when we have kids. Am I going to have to work? We don't want her too, we want her to be a stay-at-home mom.

Anyway, just wanted to say that your post probably resonates with a lot of people here.

I open my wallet to find my Commercial pilot certificate and Certified Flight Instructor Certificate. And thats what makes me feel like my money has been well spent!

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Can't wait for that feeling.

Take care y'all

As a student who is also trying to earn his ratings, I got over the money issue a while ago. Poverty is a way of life and I don't really mind. Personally I'll do whatever it takes to keep flying....even if it means living in a cardboard box and eating nothing but beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

On the dating front I'm lucky to have a girlfriend who will pay for everything since she has more money than me. It's kind of demasculating at first but after a while you don't mind anymore.
I'm in the same boat with Surf. Married. Have talked about having children, but when???

I am married to an INCREDIBLE, understanding woman who knows how to make a dollar stretch a long way. She, like me, grew up on the lower end of the economic spectrum, so living that way now or in the very near future won't be anything new.

Right now, while I'm still working full time and training part time - I still make a pretty good living. We're comfortable.

HOwever, we've discussed the lean times ahead and have already started making sacrifices - even though I probably won't finish all of my ratings for another 9 month or so - if not longer.

We got rid of cable. Don't need it. Miss the hell out of it.
We got rid of cell phones. Don't need them. Miss the hell out of them.
We try not to go out to eat more than once a week IF that.
We are going to drive our current vehicles until the wheels come off - then find some cheap wheels and keep on driving them until THOSE fall off.

We, too, have had that same conversation, Surf. We don't understand how a profession that has SO many restrictions and could ultimately lead to a position where you are charged with the safety of HUNDREDS of lives - is held to a higher standard than doctors - yet, can make so little.

But, we don't go into it for the money do we? Not at first anyway.

Good post. I can't tell you how much that sounded like me 20 years ago. I had some of the exact same feelings and thoughts you are having now.

This is also why I can't help but roll my eyes when I hear a mid life career changer talk about getting all their ratings and being hired by a major in a couple of years. If only it were that easy! They really have no idea what they're getting into.

Flying is a love affair and a way of life. In the beginning, it's not something you take on as an after thought on your road to the majors or is it your basic 9-5 job. The road can be rough and it can be long. It can also be very rewarding for those who persevere through the bad times.

I also can relate to going to the bank and cashing my $50-100/wk paycheck after spending 12hrs a day 7 days a week at the airport CFI'ing and eating at Mickey D's when I could. I can't tell you how many times I questioned what I was doing and asking myself if it was all worth it. Obviously, and fortunately for me, it has been, but there were no guarantees and things could have turned out much different.

Divorce rates are high not necessarily because of low pay but from the sacrifices of being away from home so much and the long road for most in realizing their dreams. The pay may get better for you over time but the job still requires you to miss a lot of family functions and has it's own unique set of problems. Your spouse has to be a very independent person.

I thought while instructing that I would be much happier and better off when I was hired by a commuter airline...I wasn't. Living on $13,000/year in a small 2-bedroom apartment in NY with 5 other f/o's was no fun. I then thought I'd be happier when I upgrade to Captain and I could begin to enjoy all the effords...didn't happen.

The pressures, responsibilities, schedules and still low pay ($25,000/yr) as a Capt had me once again looking for bigger and more lucrative pastures. I again thought I'd be happier if a major would hire me and all my problems would simply vanish. Wrong again! Each move I made in my career, while solving some problems brought with it a whole set of new problems to overcome.

The struggles never stop. There will always be something which weighs heavily on your mind such as family, financies, schedules, health, mergers, furloughs, retirement etc. Right now you are "paying your dues". Keep your chin up. Stay focused on your goals. It's okay to get down every once in a while but continue to brush yourself off and keep going. Hopefully, someday, you'll be able to look back at this point in your life with a sense of pride and accomplishment that you achieved your goals the old fashion way...hard work and commitment!

It's nice to know that there are people out there who are going through pretty much the same thing I am.


It is comforting to hear those words of encouragement from a seasoned professional like yourself. It helps give us youngins some perspective.

Let's keep our chins up

Very good post mrivc…

There is so much negativity in the industry with low pay, time away from home, threat of being furloughed, medical complications, and a host of other bad things that can, and sometimes do happen.

In the midst of all these negative thoughts are two very positive feelings that weigh especially heavily on my decision to continue pursuing flying as a career. First, and quite simply, is the wonderful act of flying itself. When I’m aloft, my mind is free of all worry and concern for that 1.5 I put on the Hobbs. Secondly, it has been my experience that the people associated with aviation, for the most part, are great to be around. There is truly a tight-knit brethren in aviation that I haven’t found anywhere else…

We all just need to keep our heads up…

“Persistence breaks resistance”
When I'm aloft, my mind is free...

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YOU'RE "aloft"??? I thought "aloft" was "aloft" - you know - the guy that flies out there on the west coast and posts here on JC???

Sorry - kidding - continue - discuss...