What would you do?? - looking for opinions. (long)


New Member
Hello all,

I am new to this forum. Like many of you, I'm at a crossroads.
I would greatly appreciate your opinions. Let me give you my background info.

- 35 years old (will be 36 in June,Ancient in aviation terms!)
- 4 year college degree completed.
- Private Pilot Cert. with approx. 90 hrs., working (slowly)on Inst. rating.
- married w/ 2 children & typical financial obligations, (mortgage,college loans,etc.)

Now to my questions.... At my age, is it still possible to put some kind of aviation career together? I'm aware that the major airlines are an unrealistic option at my age,so I'm not really interested in trying for them.

Due to family issues, I was thinking more along the lines of a Staff flight/sim instructor at like Flightsafety,Pan Am, an aviation university OR better yet, I wouldn't mind a job with the FAA /ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif

Now here's the rub, I have some problems with allergies and have had some cardiac testing done. (The cardiac tests came back negative...Thank God!) But it caused the FAA to request TONS of paperwork at my last medical. I rec'd my class 3 medical with no restrictions or special issuance. Still, I kinda feel like I have one strike against me already now that my FAA medical file is thick.

Thus, between the medical fiasco and the dismal aviation hiring of post 9/11, I've been hesitant to rush right out and go into debt up to my eyeballs for the additional ratings.

So fellas...Is it time to throw in the towel and forget about an aviation career? I would appreciate your responses.

Mark P.
you know your own financial situation... how much you can afford etc... but if you can than I don't think you are too old definitely not ancient you still have a fair chance IMO...

about the medical... you should get a 1st class w/o restrictions and not a 3rd... I think if you get a 1st w/o restriction and if you are able to maintain it than you should be ok...
EFC: welcome to the forum! I have to echo the above... and let you also know that you and I are in the same boat!

I am a year and a half older than you. I have the same life experiences as you (for the most part, but without the children): college degree and cooresponding loan for same. A mortgage. I'm married (very recently so) and I am working on my private certificate en route to a career in aviation.

Medically, I had some cardio exams done about two years ago (which, like you, came up negative). I put that on my Med/Student Pilot App and had no problem because the results were negative.

The long and short to this post is to say: YES - from everything I've read, researched and learned through word of mouth - it is indeed both possible and done quite frequently. It had better be - I've bankrolled a good deal of cash in hopes of getting to where I want to go.

Bottom line: Don't let anyone - ANYONE tell you that you cannot do it!!! You can. You're way ahead of me already.

Good luck and if you have any quesitons, drop me a line on my Private Message section or my e-mail: shayes@fowlerwhite.com

Take care!
You have the advantage of age, not the disadvantage of it, (ok so I turn 38 next month). this biggest hurdle is for you to get some quality flying and the associated ratings to go with it. Dependi9ng on your situation, I would put some serious effort in to getting your CFI ASAP, and start to build some time. There is no reason you couldn’t get your CFI by the end of the summer. At a busy flight school you will be flying over 100 hrs a month (this is high end, and def possible here in the northeast) but you need to be online and doing that prior to the winter (if you are in a part of the country where ice and crap weather will bog you down.

Also as you are instructing or otherwise involved in the local aviation community you will be networking and meeting people who will be in a position to offer you a job or a tip on where to find one. A friend of mine with identical flight time (less than 1100 hrs tt and under 50 multi) got hired to fly a Hawker jet and a king air as co pilot in California, at the same time I got hired to fly a Citation Jet here in the northeast. And in both of our cases it was because of know people who appreciated your ability. After some time and working in those jobs (part 135 flying) many man people go on to places like execujet or flexjet. (you can find info on both here http://www.fracstats.com

I would also suggest you go back to the front page of Jetcareers.com and read Jason’s article on Corporate flying. It has plenty of nice to know items if you choose that route.

Finally, I would go out and get a Class 1 physical. Be sure you can pass it. This will take a “load” off you mind.

if you want more info feel free to touch base with me directly as well. mathew@jetcareers.com

I would agree with the others that at OUR age ( I am also 38), an aviation career is POSSIBLE. The thing that hasn't been directly mentioned in regards to you is your family. You said that you have a wife and children. This is definitely an industry where being mobile is a plus. That means uprooting the kids from school and causing your wife, if she works outside the home, to look for a new job as well. I have found that it is very difficult to balance 2 careers in todays world. As mentioned in the "Family Life" section of this forum, make sure that your wife is COMPLETELY informed as to both the positives and negatives of this endeavor. There is no career in the world worth breaking up your marriage and we all know that this business has a pretty high divorce rate! It wil definitely put financial pressures on you for the first several years.

CAN it be done, as we have said, sure it can. The question is, are you and your family willing to make the sacrifices that may be required. I definitely don't mean to sound "doom and gloomy" but I think that sometimes our optimmistic outlooks can cloud the reality of the situation, especially since 9-11. Plus, we don't have the luxury of being footloose and fancy free that many on this forum currently enjoy.

Be well and fly safe


I am kind of the same situation though a bit ahead of you in the game. Wife, 2 kids, returned to aviation last year after getting out in the last hiring slump do to my wife getting transfered and no aviation job where we moved to. Was a major decision to get back in last year. Feel free to message me if I can help in any way.
Hello All,

Thanks to all of you for your posts and encouragement ! It was just what I needed. Many of you touched on some very valid issues regarding changing careers. For me, the two big issues are financial and family.

Probably the hardest aspect of changing careers for me is the substantial decrease in pay when one first enters aviation. For example, I was talking to my wife about flying jobs and mentioned that the typical commuter FO makes about 16-20K for the first year.
For me, that would represent about a 50% reduction in pay - OUCH!!

She responded with..."you want to do what?!?...we do well to pay our bills right now!!"
I might as well said that I wanted to be a rodeo clown!! This is the kind of attitude that my wife takes toward me flying for a living. It has been a longstanding issue in our marriage. Eas, I agree that an aviation career is not worth destroying your marriage and family over. After all...There's probably only one guy poorer than a flight instructor...A divorced flight instructor paying alimony/child support!!

I'm interested in corporate/fractionals, the bigger name academys (Flightsafety,Pan AM,etc.) and working for the FAA. (I live in OKC and the FAA has a big presence here).

So for now, I am going to continue working on my Instrument,Comm. & CFI ratings while keeping my current job of course. Then when the time comes, I will explore my options further. Thanks again for all the encouraging words!

Fly safe,
Mark P. - "EFC"
Although I'm not an old fart like you. /ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif I am in a similar situation and have been reconsidering my "quit and get the rest of my ratings" completed idea. I feel the pain with the mortgage, wife (not that she's a pain; she's incredible and supports me), job paying too much, etc. My biggest fear is that I will wake up one day, I'll be 45 (no offense /ubbthreads/images/icons/tongue.gif) and wish I had taken the plunge. That's what drives me. I am determined to not look back on life and wish I hadn't wasted 15-20 years of my life in a career that makes me sick. Just my .02. GOOD LUCK in your endeavor.
Yup, I'm getting the you must be crazy speech, too. But I really enjoy flying. All it took was the intro ride and I was like, oh, my God, I really want to do this. And I've got friends who do it for a living, so I started asking them about it. I don't think I'll ever get to a point where I get hired by an airline, but I don't care. Corporate aviation is just fine by me.

I look at it this way. I can keep on doing what I'm doing, and not really care about my work, or I can do something that I really enjoy.

I'm opting for the latter. Now I just gotta come up with the $$$ and I'll be okay. Fortunately, the job I have, even though I don't really like it, pays pretty well so I will be able to save up some money that I'm not spending on lessons in order to make it through the upcoming low pay years.