Opinions Please

I think Warren Buffet said 'I am successful because I take risks when others play it safe, and I play it safe when others take risks.'

Now, would a pilot, at this current time, who gets 30k or over in debt for flight training, fit into this statement? My friend, and Air Canada pilot, said he did all this training in the post 9/11 environment, and got his job by taking advantage of the fact that less people were willing to take on flight training at that time, so when the industry re-bounded he was basically first in line, and now has enough seniority to survive this current round of layoffs.
Or, is it better to just be a PPL guy and fly for fun and have another career on the side? (I recently got my PPL :)
To be honest, it's hard to make heads or tails from this vantage point of what real pilots go through, or what the future holds. Personally, I have never seen an unhappy pilot, but my perspective may be skewed.
 

Alchemy

Well-Known Member
I did the same thing as your friend.

I soloed right before 9/11, and did most of my training in the 02-03 timeframe. By the time '04 rolled around I had been instructing for awhile and it seemed like every regional was beginning to hire. Got in on the front side of the wave, upgraded in two years, and held my seat (so far, knock on wood) through the initial round of furloughs in the ensuing downturn. I sacrificed in other areas of my career (education, although I'm still working on it) in order to make that happen. Don't get me wrong, I certainly haven't "made it" because let's face it, I'm flying at a regional, but I'm happy with the position the timing put me in (99% luck).

With that said, I think the 04-06 regional hiring boom may have been a one time thing. It was driven by masive regional jet orders which were placed in the late 90's and early 2000's. I don't see such fleet growth occurring again during this downturn or at the beginning of the upswing. The current fleet of airliners in the US seems more than adequate to meet demand, if not too large (note the parking of older regional jets and 2nd gen 737's which is becoming widespread). Future hiring will be almost exclusively due to retirments at the "legacies", and the resulting attrition from the regionals, I think. Retirements are a much slower impetus for job creation than large aircraft orders.

I would advise you to strongly to at least consider other careers, if you have other talents. I never really had a choice, as I committed so much of my energy to aviation early on. In the end you have will probaly be happiest in a job you enjoy, and that certainly doesn't have to be piloting, although for many it is. In aviation, no matter how good your luck may seem at first, you're eventually going to hit hard times. There are quite a few pilots out there who I would describe as "unhappy", and there is no shame in flying as a hobby. For most pro pilots I think, there is no question, flying is what they want to do.
 

skydog

New Member
There is a general consensus that "luck" and "timing" are what controls a person's success in this field. That's B.S., and here's why. If luck has a definition, it is where preparation meets opportunity. The successful people in this or any other profession worked hard to prepare themselves to be able to take advantage of an opportunity when it came along. I would even go so far as to say that preparation creates opportunity. How many stories have you heard about someone being in "the right place at the right time?" Why do you think they in that "right place" at the "right time" to begin with? I say it was because they were preparing themselves.

In regards to timing: it is true that, because of the time they entered this profession, some people enjoyed a successful career, while others, hired at another time, did not. In that sense, I suppose timing has some relevance. However, it's not like you or anyone else has any control over the events that shape the airline industry. Your Air Canada friend did not know that a bad time was coming; he just took advantage of it when it came along, so he could be prepared when the opportunity came.

To succeed in this or any other career, you need to educate yourself on it. I'm not just talking about learning to fly and earning certificates. I'm talking about learning about the business of commercial aviation. Flying airplanes may be "fun," but that's not why they are flown. Aircraft are business tools; operated for a specific reason. The better you understand that purpose, and the pilot's role in it, the better prepared you will be to succeed in this field.
 
Excellent responses. Thank you both. I'm off to my FBO soon to continue my night rating.
Even though I got my Commercial/Multi IFR student loan approved, I have heard a lot of people tell me, including other pilots I know, 'give it back'.
They also told me even if I pay as I go, rather than pay a flight school just put the money into a RRSP. Basically, it is like planning the funeral of my potential flying career. hehe
Working in Asia for a long time, I met a lot of pilots over there who made more money than I could sneeze at and also throughly enjoyed flying. I was jealous of them and wanted to have a lifestyle exactly like them.
But coming back to Canada I see so many, even working pilots, struggling month to month. Basically, it is a gamble of being like the pilots in Asia or being my like flight instructor who made 10k last year of almost full time work (he has been flying for 30 years too)
I guess it is something to consider long and hard.
 

JaceTheAce

Well-Known Member
My advice is this: Do what you want to do and don't let anyone else tell you that it's not possible, even in this economy.
 

machnumber

Well-Known Member
My advice is this: Do what you want to do and don't let anyone else tell you that it's not possible, even in this economy.

Thats the best advice you could be given in my opinion. If flying is what you really want to do, do it. don't worry about the economy because in time it will turn around. So when it does having a good amount of time in your log book would be a good idea.
 

Trip7

Well-Known Member
I would start my training and do it slowly. Right now is an excellent time especially for freshman at aviation colleges. There will be a huge hiring boom in 2012 if the world doesnt end IMO.
 
Ahhh, the December 21, 2012 theory. That would be a bad day to be flying.
Scientifically, there are huge pole shifts every 26,000 years, even Einstein agrees.
2012 is when the next one is supposed to be.
I wouldn't even know where to set my compass rose or how to work a fixed card ADF if that happened.
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
Ahhh, the December 21, 2012 theory. That would be a bad day to be flying.
Scientifically, there are huge pole shifts every 26,000 years, even Einstein agrees.
2012 is when the next one is supposed to be.
I wouldn't even know where to set my compass rose or how to work a fixed card ADF if that happened.
It'd be a bad day to be IFR, but VFR I think it'd be something to see from the air, I mean hey, if you're gonna go, you might as well have a decent view.
 

SoCalAprch

Well-Known Member
Ahhh, the December 21, 2012 theory. That would be a bad day to be flying.
Scientifically, there are huge pole shifts every 26,000 years, even Einstein agrees.
2012 is when the next one is supposed to be.
I wouldn't even know where to set my compass rose or how to work a fixed card ADF if that happened.
Would the pole shifts affect GPS systems?
 
My flight instructor, a firm beleiver in the 2012 theory, says that GPS would be unaffected, but his very technical explanation was lost on me. It was an hour in groundschool well spent :)
In theory, if this event happened, Brazil would be like north canada, and north canada a tropical resort.
 

Inverted25

Well-Known Member
When looking at future jobs I think part of it you need to consider what kind of flying you want to do. The airline jobs are the hardest to get because they are considered the most glamorous and the majors are usually the best paying aviation jobs. Now cargo on the other hand you should be able to find a job but the top out in pay is way less. 50% less in some cases. But if your willing to fly cargo their should be a job aviabile. Again maybe not a great paying job but no one gets into aviation to get rich. So it just depends what you want to do. I want to fly cargo so I feel that I will be able to find a decent 135 job paying 30's to start and topping out in the 60's or 70's if I'm at a good one. Now some will point out that FEDEX and UPS have the highest paying jobs in aviation yet you must remember even though they are cargo they are part 121 and they are the two hardest companies to get a pilot job at. I'm talking 135 jobs like Mountain Air Cargo and Ameriflight etc. There will be jobs out there it just depends what you want to do. If you strictly only want to fly airline then I say your going to be in for a tough road. But if you are willing to fly cargo then I think the outlook is a little better but as said before everyone in aviation comes upon hard times.
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
When looking at future jobs I think part of it you need to consider what kind of flying you want to do. The airline jobs are the hardest to get because they are considered the most glamorous and the majors are usually the best paying aviation jobs. Now cargo on the other hand you should be able to find a job but the top out in pay is way less. 50% less in some cases. But if your willing to fly cargo their should be a job aviabile. Again maybe not a great paying job but no one gets into aviation to get rich. So it just depends what you want to do. I want to fly cargo so I feel that I will be able to find a decent 135 job paying 30's to start and topping out in the 60's or 70's if I'm at a good one. Now some will point out that FEDEX and UPS have the highest paying jobs in aviation yet you must remember even though they are cargo they are part 121 and they are the two hardest companies to get a pilot job at. I'm talking 135 jobs like Mountain Air Cargo and Ameriflight etc. There will be jobs out there it just depends what you want to do. If you strictly only want to fly airline then I say your going to be in for a tough road. But if you are willing to fly cargo then I think the outlook is a little better but as said before everyone in aviation comes upon hard times.

Alaska Central Express has some of the best pay in the industry for a 135 cargo job.

FOs start at $25/hr
Upgrade takes 6 mos to a year

Captains start at $50/hr and receive a $2/hr pay raise every year topping out at $60/hr, then a cola.

That doesn't sound like much, but consider the fact that you're pretty much guaranteed their to fly 1400hrs per year, yeah, you'll make some coin. Since you're getting paid flight not block, a 5 year captain is making around $80,000 per year, and a starting captain is making around $65,000 per year. Balance that with the fact that you'll be captain in 6 months to a year, yeah, good gig.
 

Inverted25

Well-Known Member
I will have to look into them. Do you have any specfics on what is competitve to get a job there? I imagine that they require that magic alaska time which I heard is hard to get if your not from up there to start with. Also what is the cost of living in that area? How much you make isnt what really matters its the buying power of your dollar in the region you live.
 

Captain_Bob

Well-Known Member
Upgrade takes 6 mos to a year...

Balance that with the fact that you'll be captain in 6 months to a year...
Where are the Captains going right now that are causing the quick upgrade? High attrition? Or are they just adding several aircraft & routes exponentially and have a dire need for pilots and CA's?

Bob
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
I will have to look into them. Do you have any specfics on what is competitve to get a job there? I imagine that they require that magic alaska time which I heard is hard to get if your not from up there to start with. Also what is the cost of living in that area? How much you make isnt what really matters its the buying power of your dollar in the region you live.
Don't really need alaska time for them, also, the cost of living in anchorage isn't really that bad, probably about the same as oregon, with housing being cheaper than portland, but fruits and vegetables being a little more expensive. They are probably full of captains right now, but chances are you could work your way in.

Where are the Captains going right now that are causing the quick upgrade? High attrition? Or are they just adding several aircraft & routes exponentially and have a dire need for pilots and CA's?

Bob
Both, growth is huge, and they're always busy, there is high attrition because many people show up expecting a 50-60hr per month flying job in easy conditions, which it is decidedly not. It will burn you up to be an FO there for the first 6 months (I know I worked there, but can't upgrade cuz I'm 20) just because of scheduling and the sheer amount of work involved (unloading 5000lbs of useful load in 15minutes, then loading 5000lbs of king crab takes its toll). Further, the approaches you are flying in actually dangerous conditions down to mins everyday takes a heavy toll on you. It is freight flying in Alaska, what do you expect, weeeellllllll, if you think scud running at 500AGL and 2 miles in a multi turbine airplane after canceling IFR ontop and finding a hole to get into a 3500' gravel strip with no weather/approaches/etc. is terrifying, stupid, or dangerous, then this is probably not the place for you, though most of the flying is fairly benign, the flying in south east AK, the flying to Dutch Harbor, and the scud running into bush strips is demanding and nerve racking. Schedule wise, in my last month there, before I finally found out that I couldn't upgrade and might as well move on, I had every flight I wanted (every one) the schedule I wanted (3 days on, 1 day of reserve, 3 days off) and the best part, at ACE you're home every night (100% of the time, barring a mechanical). The maintenance is excellent, with some of the mechanics being there or at MarkAir Express for over 20 years, the crews are great, and the management is decent. Also, the chrismas party was unbelievable. Open Bar + Free Cab Rides to All Employees = Wild Night.

In addition to carrying fish/freight/booze/etc. They are working on a Charter side, which occasionally carries pax, however, charter freight is their bread and butter. The training even for FOs is crazy, I felt like I was damn near qual'd for a type rating when I finished the FO ground in terms of how in depth the CP was in systems, and procedures. They make the airplane so easy to understand, and have years of experience to make things make sense. The type ride for captains (as my buddies who have recently upgraded will attest) is intense. The flying, btw, is all hand flying, with Autopilot in only one airplane, and its not very good anyway. The insides are fairly warm though in the winter, as the bleed heat works really well. FOs have to fuel the airplane (sucks I know) but no real work is required once you become a CA.

The outstations where the freight is unloaded are primitive at best sometimes, but you're not really there long enough for it to matter. All in all 8.5/10 in terms of how I rate it as a job in aviation, beats the hell out of making 18,000 your first year in the right seat of an RJ. There's no guarantee or union, however, when you fly 100-130hrs /mo there's no real need for a guarantee.

EDIT: By the way, I forgot, upgrade mins are 2000TT/1000 in type (B1900C) or 3000TT/500 in type. No direct entry, so you'd need to spend a couple months in the right seat even if you were a 3000/500 kind of guy/gal.
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
So no more 6 days a week all the time? If they changed the schedule then I'm all over that when the time comes.....
It took six months for me to get it, but yeah, in march I had the exact schedule I wanted. You just have to be patient there, and most people don't last more than 4 months or so.
 
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