Plan B


New Member
Just wanted to relate a recent experience that I have gone through. Back in July I went down to FSI in Florida and enquired about obtaining my Single Engine Comm and CFI ratings. Was really impressed with the school and had my mind set on attending. This would mean selling the house quitting the job etc...In other words putting everything on the table and taking a big gamble. I currently work in the technology field and make decent money although this field is not safe right now too. Until this week had the house for sale and was really motivated to go to Florida in a few months. For some reason I was having a hard time dealing with a particular admissions person at the school. This person was very rude and acted if they didn't care if I came there or not. After this I decided on not attending although I still feel that FSI is a great school. It became very hard to justify putting all the money and other things on the line after being treated this way before even coming down there. With all this and the current economy I have decided to just stick things out here and finish up at one of the many FBOs located in my area. Anyone else out there have a similar story to share?
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
I have decided to just stick things out here and finish up at one of the many FBOs located in my area. Anyone else out there have a similar story to share?

[/ QUOTE ]

Personally, I think that's a very wise and safe way to go about it. In my opinion, quitting your current job which pays the bills and "selling the farm" would be foolish. Aviation is a very fickle business. It's probably a lot like the tech field you're currently in and that's during the good times. You know the old saying, "You know how to make a small fortune in aviation? Start with a large fortune!"

Keep the current job just in case things don't work out. You can get just as much accomplished and probably cheaper at your local FBO. I got all my ratings at a small ma and pa owned FBO. I didn't need any of those fancy expensive learnings from one of those pilot mills.
I'll "second" what A300Capt said. I looked at FSI, Comair, Pan Am, and quite a few others. Guess where I am getting the rest of my ratings... my local FBO. And I'm doing it for less than half the cost of some of those schools.

I too am in the IT business. While historically it is more stable than the aviation business, it still has big slumps (unless you are employed by Microsoft) and to me, flying a BSD (Big Steel Desk) just doesn't compare to airplanes. Will it be a major pay cut? Yep, sure will. But I'd rather die doing what I love to do the most rather than die doing what will pay the bills a little better for a while.
I'll throw my "AMEN" in here too. I'm going the FBO route, while working at my current full-time "career" for the same reasons.

While I truly believe that FSI, Pan Am, Comair Academy, ATP, ATA and the like all have programs that will get me to where I want to go, I just could not justify (1) quitting my SECURE job (2) having NO income (3) giving up my benefits (4) going into boucoup debt and coming out with the very same ratings that I could get at an FBO while still retaining all of the above minus the HUGE debt.

Face it.. unless you are independantly wealthy, we're all going to have some kind of debt after earning all of our ratings. How much is the rub.
In this economy, I highly suggest finding flight training that can be tailored to your current job.

There's not a lot of hiring going on so there's no big rush to jump into the job market. The only people that are saying "stop working! drop out of college and train NOW" are the ones that only have your bank account on their mind.
That's sort of what I am doing. I work IT contracts, the current one ending in December. I am looking at ATP for training, and I'll most likely take another IT contract after I get back from ATP unless I end up with a flying job. That pays the bills, and I can instruct on weekends. My current CFI does this, he works at the airport as a regular job and instructs on weekends and evenings, building 50-60 hours a month. Works for both of us.

FWIW, I looked at several big flight schools and decided the debt was too high. ATP looks right for me as I want an accelarated training program, and the multi time will be great. And all in 3 months, with a payment I can afford. With IT contract jobs in decent supply I am keeping my options open.
Hey all,

Ditto here also!! I'm in a local flying club that offers great rental rates (IFR equipped C172 for $25.00 dry) and Instructors for PPL thru CFII ratings.

I can't justify in my mind spending $10,000 to $30,000 dollars more for my ratings thru a large flight academy. After all, everyone ends up being equal with the same certificates from the FAA. Sure, it may take longer going to a club or FBO, but few aviation employers are hiring right now anyways.

Fly safe,
Mark P. - AKA "EFC"
I also went the FBO route and have instructed at FSI, as well as numerous FBOs.

My generic recommendation is a mixture of both types of school. Earn your private license close to home. This will enable you to make sure that aviation is for you before you make a large commitment. Additionally, it will save you thousands of dollars because most large schools give credit for a private license.

After the private, build some cross country time to gain experience. This will pad your logbook with hours needed for other ratings (at cheaper prices than the large schools charge) as well as make you a more confident pilot.

Consider starting at a large school when you have about forty hours of cross country time since your private license. Use this time also to make sure that you are still proficient in the maneuvers that you performed on your checkride.

Enroll in the large school for your multi-engine and instrument ratings and your commercial license. Some schools teach the instrument rating in multi-engine airplanes. This is more expensive in the short run, but will help you get valuable (and hard to get) multi-engine hours in your logbook. This will make it easier to find a job later.

Keep in mind that if you are interested in instructing to build time or in a pipeline FO program, schools may give priority to their own students over outsiders. Pipeline programs are especially good if you are a late life career changer (late 30s or 40s) because,in that case, you would need to minimize your experience building phase in order to get into the cockpit, get seniority, and start saving for retirement.

You might also consider looking into a leave of absense rather than totally quitting your job.

Just remember that it is a tradeoff. With FBOs you have less expense and more security (through your present job) at the expense of increased training time. At the academies, there is higher expense, but you have more airline oriented training, shorter training time, and contacts that may help you get a job later.
This was my thinking too, get my PPL while still employed and saving money. Then go to a school (ATP in my case I hope) and get the ratings and the multi time. I may end up right back in my current field, but will also be able to instruct and build hours, ready for the next upswing in this highly cyclical industry. Priming the pump, so to speak.
I'm right there with you guys. I had toured Pan Am, ATP, and was getting ready to head to FSI. I was laid off a few months ago from my well--paying tech job. I had some money saved, but was still freaking out about taking on a huge loan. Well, the gods smiled on me and I was re-hired by the company that laid me off (with a raise!) So I am going to hang here in Denver, and fly on the weekends. I travel for work, so hoping I can fly myself to project sites once I get back into the swing of things. I am much relieved by this option (thanx to doug's advice) as opposed to taking out the fat loan. In this market, it is the safe way to go if you can swing it. I may do a multi- building program at ATP or something, but the FBO seems like the smart move.
I t is very tough right now in the world of avaition. A friend of mine who flies for AA. has just been furloughed. Here you think that after 5 years in ,you are pretty safe, especially after the number of pilots that were let go after 9/11/01. You really have to be careful about the big flight schools. They have both pros and cons, but today a huge con is $65,000.00 to get you through a program where they may not even hire you as their own CFI due to the preceeding class's not getting any jobs. and don't fall for the recruiters that pose as students here on this site...they must think that we are really dumb...of course they only want your money..of course they are just as scared of the future of their bank size as you are of getting a flight position. They are in it for the money. I went to a FBO after going to one of the biggest flight schoold there is. I left with my attorney and the rest of my money. They tought that I was a young and dumb kid like they are used to handeling. What they failed to realize is that a CEO of a company who is changing careers has a nose for smelling "horse poop" a mile away.I couldn't waste my TIME any longer. I finshed at a FBO at my pace and for about 60% of the cost and was instructing within tow days of passing everything. I now fly a Citation X for a Fortune 1000 company and I did it by being smart, playing smart and realizing that it boils down to me and how hard I want to train and how much i want to learn and question. Only you can get that flying job. Stay the bills...feed the amily and fly on the weekends. You can go hard at it on a saturday for 5 hrs if you want to....then again on sunday. You will be amazed how fast you finish and how cheap to. Good luck
Not that similiar, but a change of plans..

Well I was working in a great career for a "big5" (or whatever it is now) It/Managment consulting company. I went into that industry straight from ERAU-prc. A year ago I decided, enough was enough and I needed to get back to flying. I figured the market would be rebounding quickly. Well after charging the CFI ticket to the credit card, only getting one student over the summer, I have switch careers again.

I love flying, but the hardships are not worth it in my opinion. The current market will rebound, but I was not willing to wait. I guess the passion was not strong enough.

So now I work for Trek Bicycles, which I have a ton of bicycle industry experience. It is a great place to work, pays better then flying but not as good as the IT world did.

I hope to get in the air soon and possibly teach on weekends.

I think your decision makes good sense based on current market conditions. You can do plenty of flying on the side, and when things pick up you can make the move to full time flying if you desire.


Aaaah, Trek, eh? You wouldn't have any leftover 2001's you have sitting around the factory would ya?
According to that news post, if you get a good deal on one it might be cheaper than birth control in the long run - that is if you're not planning on any little ones
They'll research anything I guess
How do you get multi and network at an FBO? Sure I'd love to save money etc. but at some point I'm going to need that multi time, CFI job building decent hours, and contacts (friends who've moved on etc.). It would take me forever to build decent multi at the biggest FBO in OR and I may meet a friend of a friend of a friend's cousin who got a job. I'm REALLY considering a "mill"
That was one of the factors in my choice to go to Flightsafety. I know a lot of people at the local airports, and help out with washing planes in exchange for supplies, upgrade &amp; network the FBO computers, etc but nobody is offering flight time. There aren't many twins on either airport. The twins that are there have quite a following of pilots hopeful of getting some multi time themselves, so for me it looks pretty grim. The encouraging stories you read about in magazines do really happen, but not as often as one might like, and is certainly not something to depend on. My life and career cannot wait, so I'm headed to Florida.

Good luck with your decision.

I wouldn't quit on aviation altogether. I spent several years instructing on a part time basis. CAP is often looking for instructors to do aircraft checkouts and cadet flying (doesn't pay anything, but it'll build time).

I couldn't afford to quit my day job until I found a job instructing FAR 141.

Stay current and keep logging that time!

Here's how I'm doing it (Keep in mind, I'm 1300/300 now and instructing)
1. Obtain the CFI
2. Start teaching part-time while paying bills with full-time job (this is when you really start networking - getting to know other pilots)
3. Wait for an opportunity to go full-time instructing while saving saving saving (in my case, this was a layoff from a technology company)
4. Build multi time as finances allow. If you stay proficient in multi planes, other people recognize this and will come to you for instruction. Somehow, it just snowballs as you build a solid reputation as an instructor. The good instructors who have an established reputation stay busy even in the lean times.
5. As you gain time, start using those networking contacts. You may not be able to get a job for yourself, but if you can help someone else get a job, they're likely to return the favor someday.

Don't be concerned with the race for jobs. It's better to build solid experience and skills. Those *will* be recognized when the time is right for you to move on, whether you stay in OR or train elsewhere.
The FBO that I train at has a multi-engine program and owns 2 Piper Seminoles. So far I have earned my SE &amp; ME Airplane Land and Instrument rating through them. Currently working on the Comm Multi rating. Did all my instrument training in a Seminole and also part of the deal is sharing hours with another person at a discounted rate. After this my plans are getting the SE Comm add on and CFI ratings.

I have been training part time and working my full time job. For me it became hard to just drop everything I worked so hard for into the wind. Especially with the economy in it's current state and the abundance of furloughed pilots. In my case going off to a "mill" would have restricted my options and finances. Putting all the eggs in one basket type thing. As far as networking goes I have met a lot of people at the airport and most instructors you train with can hook you up later on.

There is always more than one way to skin a cat and I wish everyone luck in their endeavors.