Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Airway less traveled

I never had shiny jet syndrome....SJS. I had "I want to fly a lot" syndrome. Some people buy an airplane to give themselves small doses to tide them over. Others simply park out at the end of an airport to gaze at airplanes and inhale 100LL/Jet A to soothe them. Then there are those that can only be satisfied by jumping into a cockpit and flying as much as possible. I am one of those.

The military is a great (and inexpensive!) option. But I was far too old by the time I decided to fly. I didn't start training until I was 29. I wasn't in the best shape and too lazy to run. Buying a plane wasn't really financially feasible. I decided to head for an airline.

While I was a CFI I had the opportunity to train some truly great people. I still keep in touch with all but one of my students.

One of my students was a really outgoing guy who loved Denver. Really loved Denver. So much that he wanted nothing more than to be based in Denver. After ATP he was a CFI for ATP for a while before being hired on by Great Lakes.

He was single. No kids (that used to be inferred by saying he was single....not anymore). And most importantly he was young. The very low pay of Great Lakes had to be very trying. He started Great Lakes just a few month after I started at my airline. Within 18 months he earned the rating of Captain.

As a Captain, his pay was still much lower than mine as a regional FO. He was however happy.

Fast forward to today. He has quite a bit of turbine PIC and is applying to Delta, Southwest and Virgin America. All require turbine PIC.

Meanwhile I am sitting on about 1300 hours of turbine SIC with no end in sight. If/When he gets hired by a major it will take him a few years to make up for the years of really low pay, but after that it's all gravy. But is it worth it?

I've been able to support myself financially for the last 2 1/2 years. I could not say the same if I worked for the wages he earned. Maybe I could have lived a simpler life. Eh.

It's worth it to him and I am happy for him. I am content in where I am. If I had to do this all over again would I? I've tossed that around a few times. I've had a lot of fun, learned a lot, non-rev'd my family all around the United States, Mexico, Japan, Canada and more. I know I don't want my daughter to grow up to be an airline pilot. I am happier now than I was pouring over software error logs in a basement cubicle. I think I would do it all over again. I've got 32 years of airline flying left in me.


  1. When you first get hired by an airline and complete their training courses what and who determines the type of aircraft you'll start off in, (Age, experience, seniority)?


  2. I hear you about the cubicle! I am currently in one right now... as an IT guy too of all things (5.5 yrs experience now). I am a private pilot also and have been thinking about making the jump to ATP and going for it for the past 4 years now. I still haven't. I have color vision issues which may or may not be an issue (I have an unrestricted medical, but had to do a lot of work and different color vision tests to barely pass.) I have college loan debt, car loan debt.. but about 10 grand in the bank. But am I happy doing this? Hell no. I am bored with my life and my job. I put off dating potentials and living situations just because I am afraid to commit to anything because I feel the need to change careers so bad. You just had your first beautiful child - congratulations. And you still want to bore holes in the sky? That my friend is awesome and inspiring. I very well might just join you in this adventure. Things can only get better from here. Clear skies!


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