“To Fly to Eat?”
To fly for a living of course, notes for those who think that they might like to join the ‘tumult in the sky.’
Most professional pilots are used to being asked, “So, how do I get to become a pilot?”
On being asked the question our reaction differs to temperament, most of us either point in the general direction of a flying school or, having checked out the aspirants level of commitment, launch into a “this is what you need to do next” monologue.
Broadly speaking there are two routes into the cockpit -
Great training, a good life, you pay with time invested (and hopefully leave intact.)
You had better choose the right one and be very talented, very lucky and born at the right time.
Hmmm, if you have one of those you are fortunate indeed.
Be prepared to invest it in yourself.
You are wealthy.
Great, enough said.
You are asset rich and can borrow against the asset.
If unmarried, great – your risk. If married, I hope the other half supports you and understands.
Someone else pays – you pay them back.
If this is an airline remember this – they will take their pound of flesh and a few will take a lot more and paper you into the scenery. There is no free lunch, it might cost you as much as paying for your own training in the end, but they have invested in you.
Using these guidelines I will leave it to you to trawl the Pprune links to seek the truth and your future.
Airline flying certainly isn’t the ‘be all, and end all’ of aviation, but it tends to offer regular pay, a measure of security and a career structure. Get hired by a substantial carrier and the odds are you will have a fair run at a great career.
As I write the preceding sentence I reflect on the words; this industry is full of paradoxes and contradictions, there are many of my colleagues out there who have found the opposite of what I illustrate to be the case, that doesn’t disprove my case, it just acknowledges that if you want plain sailing – buy a boat.
Military aviation Most of my colleagues and friends past and present have flown with the armed forces of one nation or another. Flying for the Crown/Uncle Sam or who-ever is not for everyone but I don’t know where else you can get your hands an inventory that is as interesting. Sign on and hope you have a laugh and if you can’t take a joke – don’t join.
Do you find yourself at thirty-nine, cash or asset rich but flying experience poor?
If you are at the wrong end of the ‘age/experience’ balance don’t thing you have had it as far as flying for a living is concerned. You may not be a first pick for the airlines but we are in moving rapidly into an enormous pilot shortage worldwide and the airlines are sucking pilots out of every strata of aviation. Flying jobs that would have been coveted and cherished are coming onto the open market from every corner of aviation, with the right qualifications and experience you can take your pick. Ah! therein lies the rub – qualifications & experience.
The long hard flog to attain your license will leave you with a bedrock of flying experience that provides the first step on the way. The next hill is a little steep and requires a stretch of effort and resources. Whatever your aspirations in the flying world it is now necessary to make yourself attractive to the employer that has the seat you want to sit in. This move requires determination, luck and probably some cash.
Airlines want a type rating and some experience on type.
Some operators even want you to pay for the interview process and the simulator check that they insist on giving candidates. They don’t like to pay training costs if they can avoid it even though they get tax breaks against these costs. Time and money can be saved by loading the odds by hiring those who have both proven ability and the piece of paper to prove it. Getting a type rating is an expensive exercise and not one to be undertaken lightly, careful research and consultation with employers/airline ‘insiders’ is a must to validate this route BEFORE you spend a bean.
A great link giving firstly a good US site resource, but also some universal advice for CV submissions.
—— Updated November 2011 —–