Just getting started, Would you be so kind to give me some input on a career path?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by PhoenixFab, Aug 15, 2020.

  1. PhoenixFab

    PhoenixFab Filing Flight Plan

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    Mason James Lies
    Hi All!
    I hope you are all having a nice day!

    I have been in love with planes and helicopters my entire life. I am 31, wife and kids, with a career I would have stayed in longer if not for the slow demise of the industry I am starting to see unfold. For the past 5 years I have been trying to find a way out into something I truly love, when a few weeks ago I realized, maybe it was time I pursue flight. Just yesterday I started taking PPL classes with a CFI I have known for 10 years... To say the least, I am officially hooked. I flew a Piper Cherokee 140 for about 2 hours on a discovery flight. The first 5 minutes of flight I spent sweating profusely, but after I realized I was not going to cause the plane to go into a major nose dive to our untimely demise, I let out a nice breathe and started to fall in love. I am still on cloud 9, 36 hours after touch down.

    I am living in Chicago IL, and I am currently in sales for Subaru of America. I am very good at it too. I have always been in the top 10 of the midwestern region and have always made a great income ($1xx,xxx) for having no degree in anything. I have been selling now for 10 years too. I would say my laid back demeanor and happy character tends to be a natural benefit to my selling. I am very analytical, calculated, and slow to act. However, recently, my industry is in a downward spiral with things like the internet, and I need to jump from this crashing plane before it hits the ground. This is where the flight idea came in. My CFI invited me out for a discovery flight as I mentioned, and it planted a seed I just cant stop thinking about. I want to find my place in the aviation industry, that allows me the opportunity to fly on the regular, and make a decent career out of it.

    What do you recommend? I have been brainstorming ideas, but really don't know all the possibilities aviation can offer me. I have been told getting into this industry is hard, especially to a level that pays you anything. My first ideas are as follows, MedEvac Helicopter Pilot, Aircraft Sales, News Helicopter Pilot, Private Pilot, Cargo Transport, Airline Pilot, and lastly a CFI (CFI last due to income). Now, I placed my career interest in order of most preferred to least preferred. I do not want to be an airline pilot as I do cherish my family, and already own a home in Chicago, with roots I do not want to severe. I am lucky enough to have a 4 car garage, which may seem like a lame thing to also cherish, but I build cars for a hobby, and race them on the regular at Road America, Gingerman Raceway, and Autobahn Country Club. I have a strong passion for the things I love, and I will put in whatever work I need to, to dominate what ever I am doing. I would like to keep a similar income as my hobbies are expensive, and it looks like they are getting more expensive. I have also heard the long haul pilots have a shorter life expectancy as they are juggled through the constant stressors of A to B travel, pressurization and depressurization, and high altitude radiation. Along with regional pilots being under-paid until their dues are paid. Only to be up-rooted by needing to switch airlines due to the company laying you off. If anyone could give me some insight, I would be forever grateful, you would be giving me an opportunity to fill a dream I never thought long enough about to actually realize it into reality, but I am doing that now. Please help me.
     
  2. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Maybe at the raw 300 TT beginning, the pay rate is low. But I know of a few instructors that shook every rock and kicked over every tree they could find for opportunities to build their experience and book of business. And now they are well known as experts in their various specialties.

    One does 4-5 day gigs such as "new to the owner" transition training, IFR training on your just installed panel, and a few other "higher" end things. Only books 2 maybe 3 of these a month and averages 4 to 5 AMU's per booking. When I last saw him, he was booked 6-7 months out.

    So it is possible to do quite well as a independent CFI.

    And I know of a few folks that enjoy being part of the CFI cadre for the training ops like SimCom, CAE, FlightSafety and a few others. They too do well in pay & QOL.
     
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  3. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    1) Welcome to POA.

    2) 31 is a bit early to have a mid life crisis.

    3) If I was in your situation right now? I'd make money on the ground and do the flying on a recreational basis. I could expand on why for all the options you listed, but I'd just trigger a bunch of people on here. I don't know if you've been living under a rock, but there's another lost decade about to start for the airline industry, and that cascades into most "feeder" sectors of the pro pilot ranks, non-airline ranks included. BL, you ain't gonna see 150K/yr and weekends off for the next decade and half if you started on the pro pilot rickety roller coaster today.

    3a) Rotor wing is a whole different ball of wax,with higher training costs and lower payout than fixed wing as an aggregate. The rotorheads on here will come by soon and expand on the details behind the differing dynamics between the RW and FW job market.

    I hear aviation insurance or sales might offer a nominal pedestrian schedule closer to what you're accustomed to, but if you're in sales now and hate it then I guess that wouldn't help much.

    Good luck, and by all means go for your PPL. Flying is a great cathartic hobby, in spite of the many warts of the field due to FAA obstinance and our litigious society. Cheers!
     
  4. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    Welcome @PhoenixFab!

    Now that you know you have a passion, whatever you do, find a way to "feed it". For now, just train, and learn, and enjoy! Maybe try a helicopter lesson if you're thinking about that as well as airplanes.

    *Disclaimer: flying is not my day job*:
    Professional aviation is one of those pursuits that can take a long time from "spark" to "goal". Like medical school. Those at the top of the pyramid can make good money, but there's a lot of scraping at the bottom of the pyramid for very little or paying in to be there. But the good news is, the journey has a way of leading a person in unexpected directions. Start PPL training, start it right away, start learning! Just like if you were going for a medical career but hadn't figured out a subspecialty: just start taking the prerequisites, and as you learn more, you'll figure things out. Salary may or may not turn out to be the most important thing in the end.

    -- A freelance "evenings and weekends CFI" with a different day job
     
  5. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Number 1 choice is MEDEVAC? I mean yeah, kids think we’re cool and all the hot flight nurses dig us but why not make $$$ and “fly the friendly skies.”

    First, since people are getting fired left and right these days for social media nonsense, let me state my comments don’t reflect the opinions of GMR or its affiliates.

    Alright, my training was military so my experience in civil training has all been hobby. My advice to you, is drop out of FW immediately and enroll in a RW program. Right now (PA28) you’ll only be accumulating useless hours when your first employer will want time in category. For PPL, IFR, COM, CFI Id plan on about $70-80K. You’ll need to stay on a few years as a CFI because no one is going to hire you with 250-300 hrs.

    Now, odds are your first job outside of CFI ain’t gonna be helicopter air ambulance (HAA). Most companies have a 2,000 hr requirement with at least 1,000 turbine. To get that turbine time you’ll either need to go to the GoM and fly singles or get a gig flying tours in singles. Not sure where the civ guys get their NVG time but in my opinion, that time is far more important than the 1,000 turbine hr requirement. Oh yeah, better lose that stay in Chicago mentality. You’re gonna travel, at least initially.

    Once you’ve gotten that 1,500-2,000 hrs, you’re now eligible for that first coveted HAA job. Odds of getting a spot in Chicago is so remote, I don’t even want to think about it. You’d have to just happen to hit it at just the right moment that 1) an opening occurs to a pilot leaving and 2) no one internally taking from you and 3) no other new hires are chosen over you from their extensive pool of applicants.

    No telling what the market will be in say 8-10 years once you’ve gotten the requisite experience. Like all the airline hopefuls on here, it’s impossible to project what the business will look like years down the road. If it were just a year ago, I’d say come on board but with the current airline furloughs, we’ve got the “rotor to airline” guys coming back to their roots. We used to have openings out the *** in my company but in recent months, they’ve dried up. Rumors from other friends in the biz have said the same thing.

    Ok, job duties, pay, schedule etc. I works 7 on 7 off 12 hr day / nights. I won’t say how often I fly but my annual hours are anywhere from 110-150. A big draw for most is you get to go home every night. Outside of attending the sim once a year or volunteering for work-overs, there is no travel. You’re not on “standby” on your week off either. Obviously the flying can be rewarding and challenging and historically we don’t have the best safety record. I will say that just in the last few years, we’re starting to see a turn around most likely due to FAA mandates from 2016. I’m not going to go into the politics of the operation because it’s not something I concern myself with. The advice from my new hire training instructor - “be a professional, don’t get involved in politics and don’t get romantically involved with coworkers. That being said, you’re gonna see some stuff straight out of Grey’s Anatomy.” :D Ah, can’t talk about actual pay either but if you go on Helisalaries.com you’ll get an idea. I’d probably tack on another 20% onto what they show.

    Don’t wanna turn this into a “Nate novel” so I’ll just wrap it up. In a nut shell it’s a super easy job that’s sometimes rewarding, occasionally challenging, that allows me to live exactly where I want and be home every night. Oh yeah, it’s single pilot too. No way I could hack going back to a two pilot aircraft again...ugh.
     
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  6. PhoenixFab

    PhoenixFab Filing Flight Plan

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  7. PhoenixFab

    PhoenixFab Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you for your reply. This is the feedback I needed to learn to know where I fit. Im not looking for the glory of it, the hot nurses (my wife is pretty damn gorgeous, I got pretty lucky in this category, and we truly are soul mates, the love story behind us is cheesy, but I must say, we have a pretty good story, to say the leaat, we are deeply in-love.), I am not looking to get involved in politics, as I never did well in this subject either, im just living my best life. I am not looking to throw the hardest category at myself just to become a career pilot. I would much rather just fly and get paid to do it. I am not even expecting to make the money I am now. Honestly, I would be happy taking a pay cut, and dont really think I would find flying boring even in the long hours it may take, and I say this because if you told me I had to drive to deliver packages, for 12 hours a day, I would love to on two conditions. 1 being I can still drive my sports car everywhere (I have to have a fun mode of transportaion) 2 I have to still make a living wage, which most driving jobs are not.

    As I mentioned above in reaponse to someone else, and as someone else stated above, if I built my certs, and became a prestigious CFI, I would love teaching people to fly the rest of my days for a living wage. So far this thread has taught me that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  8. PhoenixFab

    PhoenixFab Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you for the feedback, you may have hit the nail on the head.
     
  9. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The big issue is building hours of experience. Mostly, the earliest job one can get into, with a minimum of 250-300 hours is instructing, thus the vast numbers of young aspiring pro pilots as flight instructors, and, the low pay scale at that rung of the ladder. Past that, realistically, 1200 hours is the minimum for freight or charter pilots (medevac pilots, rotor or fixed-wing are inn this category), 1500 for any airline. (note-most airlines look for a college degree of some sort). Corporate/business flight usually seek well-experienced higher time pilots, no matter what kind of plane is being flown. There are anomalies, of course, and you hear of fairly new pilots securing decent right-seat positions, but not the norm.
    Now, factor in the tectonic shift caused by covid-19, with layoffs, bankruptcies, etc., and the picture is rather grim. No matter, starting from scratch, there's a long way to go. Not at all a good time jump full-swing into some academy program by taking out huge loans, living in your car, etc. (Well, IMHO, that's never a good plan anyway).
    I'm in no way trying to discourage you from pursuing your dream, but just be realistic with expectations. So, for me, the advice boils down to....Keep the day job, start training right away, moving up the training/ratings/experience ladder as it comes, typically that's private pilot, instrument rating, commercial pilot as a foundation, and a few hundred hours in the logbook. Even at a steady pace, with job, family, etc., that's maybe at least 2 years or more, but so be it. Enjoy the process, learn as you go, see where it leads.
     
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  10. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    This is exactly how I feel about it. I'd fly on the side and work your way up through the various instructor certificates while holding down the day job. While you're out doing this it'll not only give you a better idea of what this flying thing is all about, but you'll have a better idea of how the industry will ultimately look on the backside of COVID. And yes, enjoy the journey! :)
     
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  11. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Ever have longer term ideas, then adjust plans along the way? Not the best time to be looking for employment as a pilot, could be different two years from now though.

    That said, nothing wrong(a lot of good) with starting lessons now & work towards your pilots license. Even if you keep your day job, renting for that $200 burger run isn’t a bad way to go. The landscape could easily, market or your plans, change going out a ways.

    I’m up by Lake Geneva, plane is in for annual, if the timing were to work out I’d take you flying. No I’m not trolling for new BFF’s. Don’t forget your trip to Oshkosh, when the planes are flying.
     
  12. PhoenixFab

    PhoenixFab Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you for all the replies I have got this morning. I understand I have a long road ahead, I just figure now would be a great time to start. My industry currently has maybe 5-10 more years of time left before we see all dealerships turn to something more like the CarMax model, so I was in no way shape or form going to quit my day job, but I was planning on flying anytime I am noy working my day job. So dont worry about me becoming homeless, I just needed to know realistically what to expect as to what I could slowly transition for. I wanted to see what I could start working towards. Thank you all so much.
     
  13. PhoenixFab

    PhoenixFab Filing Flight Plan

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    I would love to go flying with you. Any experience I can gain, and the bigger my network, the happier I will be. Lets become BFF's!! You can never have enough. Add me on social media. Here is my instagram. On my instagram, if you like cars and racing, I document all my endeavors and share my car knowledge with others on YouTube

    Youtube: Phoenix Fabrications (Audi S3 build, Subaru STi build, 1948 GE refrigerator restore videos)
    Instagram: PhoenixFab
     
  14. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    The good news is the early training process is generally the same regardless of what you ultimately decide to do, so you'll be able to focus on getting certificates (and having fun!) while the rest of the industry picks up the pieces and rebuilds. A couple of years down the line there'll (hopefully!) be a clearer picture of what the various segments of the industry will look like, and you can make a more informed decision about moving forward then.
     
  15. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And in 5-10 years my industry will be pilotless, so basically we’ll both be collecting unemployment around the same time. :D
     
  16. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    One crisis at a time, Velocity! One crisis at a time!
     
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  17. PhoenixFab

    PhoenixFab Filing Flight Plan

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    Really? What industry is that?
     
  18. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  19. Dr. O

    Dr. O Pattern Altitude

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    Ahhh, nothing more horrifying than watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know how it will end but you can’t take your eyes off it.
    1: you are expert at one thing - selling. Reading the customer’s wants and needs (To spend money on something he really does not need) and finding a solution that meets your wants and needs (a commission) A time honored profession.
    2. The only way to make a small fortune in the airplane business is too start with a large one. Case In point - local fella, started washing airplanes at our airport at age 14. Even washed mine. Now in his late 30’s. Has done it all, CFI, crop dusting, air taxi, freight hauling, and is now a captain on one of the major airline 737’s. He is unemployed As of 2 months ago - and it is looking like 3 to 7 years to never. And you want to join that? Do you think you can get hired over him?
     
  20. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    ^^^ if your buddy was let go two months ago, he is not a major airline pilot in the US.
     
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  21. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Furloughed 737 CA at a major, two months ago? Which one? Considering all the majors took CARES money and all. A WARN notice is not a furlough btw.

    I understand we're trying to emphasize the cyclical and fickle nature of the vocation to the noob, but let's be factual with the anecdotes at least....

    ETA: @kayoh190 beat me to it :D
     
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  22. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    First, keep your day job. If you must get into aviation, get your ratings up to CFI while still working the Subaru job. Then once you have your ratings, you can think about which avenue to pursue. I don’t have much to add to what already has been said but I will say that crop dusters are in short supply right now, pays well when experienced, and is a necessity unaffected by COVID(everyone’s gotta eat). But it is the antithesis of an airline career.

    Secondly, maybe sales with Gulfstream/Bombardier/Falcon or other corporate jet manufacturers would be up your alley. Rich people/large corporations are recession proof for the most part. You’d be talking aviation, the most sophisticated non-military aircraft out there, to pros at the top of their game(chief pilots for the rich). Imagine pitching to a self made CEO at at an air show or event, he’s there with a checkbook and willing to drop $20 Million on a jet. Why should he buy yours? Or a chief pilot of a Fortune 500 company who runs a fleet of Gulfstreams internationally but is unhappy with one thing or another, and you need to woo him to your product. This may be what you want- aviation, match wits with the best of the best, cutting $60 million dollar deals. Subarus to CFI to slangin jets. Sounds fun to me.