Six years later. I joined my airline on October 29, 2007. It was a long time coming all things considered. I day dreamed of flying for an airline since I was in 6th grade. That was when I first encountered Microsoft Flight Simulator. At the time it just didn't seem possible. I had no idea how to get started so I stayed with my second passion...photography.
Over the last 6 years I have flown more than 3300 hours across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. I have flown through all kinds of weather. I've endured the stress of landing in a stiff crosswind during a heavy rainstorm and of course many more landings in beautiful VFR weather.
I've been so exhausted that I've arrived at the gate not having remembered landing. I guess it's like driving to work the same way everyday and not remembering it?
I've come to despise and avoid reduced rest overnights. The airlines have abused a rule made to help schedules continue in case there was weather. Reduced rest overnights were never meant to be scheduled. Having just 8 hours from the time I walk off the plane until I'm supposed to be back on the plane is dangerous. In reality that's maybe 6 hours of sleep as travel to and from the airport is considered "rest".
I've spent two and a half years away from home.....I paused when I thought about that. Since I'm gone an average 3 nights a week that's at least 900 nights spend in hotels. I collected hotel keys for a while....huge stack I'll take a photo of this week and post. Why? I don't know.
I've been able to take my family to all four corners of the Continental United States, Hawaii, Japan, Germany, parts of the Caribbean, Mexico and more.
It's been a life changing 6 years.
My wife has thankfully supported me through this journey. It hasn't been easy, it would have been worse if it were not for her. When my daughter was born it became a little more challenging juggling work and family life. I didn't like that right after she was born I was temporarily based thousands of miles away...for months. But we made it work. I was able to take more than 2 months off to bond with her though.
Three years later my daughter knows when I put on my uniform that I'll be gone for a few days. She says ,”are you going to the airport to work in the sky daddy?” Once I arrive back home I can't get her off my lap....and I enjoy every minute of it.
Would I do it all over again? After all I still haven't made as much per year (excluding per diem!) than I made at my old IT job. Without a doubt yes. Money isn't everything. I have friends that think otherwise. To each his own. My family lives a good life. We have little debt and still have enough toys and money to keep us happy.
In the last 6 years I have flown 3300 hours at my airline. I was hired with 554 hours total time. Taking 3300 hours and dividing by 6 equal 550 hours a year. Kinda low. Considering I've spent a full 5 months in training, 3 months off with my daughter and 11 weeks on vacation....eh still low. I remember thinking I would fly close to 1000 hours a year. So far this year I've flown 630 hours. My highest month was July with 85 hours and the lowest was August when I took 2 weeks off with 45 hours.
So what's next? Well hopefully I can slide to the left seat before October 29, 2014. I feel pretty good it will happen.