While I have never flown for an airline many of my friends did become airline pilots.
So I interviewed a couple of them and here is there take on becoming an airline pilot.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
The best part of becoming an airline pilot is that you get to travel, to meet a lot of people and to enjoy the prestige that goes while safely flying people from one place to another.
With the airlines you live a structured life, usually 10 days on and 10 days off. You receive great training and sharpen your piloting skills as you work your way up the ladder.
The training, support and equipment are the best money can buy, and you belong to an elite group of highly skilled pilots.
The bad part is that you are gone from home a lot. You eat, live and sleep in hotels all over the world.
You are away from your family for long periods of time and miss out on a lot of the usual things families do. You will miss important events in your children's lives, and your wife will miss your daily support for her life.
The ugly is really ugly.
The airline industry is just like any other job. It has it's ups and downs.
When the downs come you will find layoffs ahead and, depending upon where you are on that seniority list, you may be subjected to one or more layoffs during your careeer.
All this being said it is still a great career, and here is how to become an airline pilot.
How To Learn To Fly
Today there are many paths to obtaining that first pilot's license.
Here is a list of some of those paths:
- Join the military and have Uncle Sam teach you to fly
- Go to a college like Western Michigan University to learn to fly while completing your education
- Take a trip out to the local airport and sign up for flying lessons
The benefit of learning to fly through the military is that you get paid to learn to fly and, when you leave the military you will have a fair number of flying hours.
Going to college and learning to fly while completing your degree is also a great way to go; however, you will not have a lot of hours when you graduate.
Accumulating flying time takes time. One of the best ways to build up experience and flying hours is to become an instructor pilot and teach others how to fly.
The hardest path and longest road is through the local airport. However, you might get a job as a co-pilot on a business aircraft at the airport and build up time that way as well.
How To Get That Airline Job
This is the challenging part.
Once you have around 1,000 hours of flight time you are ready to get down to business.
First, apply to every airline on the planet.
Then sit back and wait and hope someone calls you to come in for an interview.
Your fitst job might be with a feeder carrier where you fly long hours for low pay but build hours quickly. Sometimes that feeder carrier is associated with a major airline which might pluck you and move you to themselves.
A good resource to learn more about the life of an airline pilot and how to get there is to read this book: "From The Flight Deck"
In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
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