What can I do to become a Pilot?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Dchoi, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Dchoi

    Dchoi New Member

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    So I'm new to all this, So I want to start off with a couple questions.
    1) Is joining the Air force very beneficial to becoming a commercial or airline pilot?
    2) If so what can I do to guide myself into that path?
    3) Does every college provide ROTC?
    4) How can I become a commissioned pilot
    5) Are there other ways to become an airline or commercial pilot of any sort
     
  2. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    Going the military route to become a commercial airline pilot certainly is one way of doing it, but only if you want to join the military in the first place. It's a tough row to hoe and an aviation path is not assured.

    If your heart is set on a commercial aviation career, you might want to consider attending a university with an aviation program. With these programs, you can graduate with a Batchelor's degree as well as the necessary flight hours and certifications to be hired on as a co-pilot (entry level) at a regional airline. Once there, you can build hours to move up the food chain.

    Major aviation programs exist at Embry-Riddle, Purdue University, and the University of North Dakota. Be aware, however, these programs are extremely expensive. You not only have to pay normal tuition, but also for your flight time, which can and will run in the tens of thousands of dollars per year.

    Good Luck in your search
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Dchoi,

    I truly hope you take the time to read all of the threads you decided to create posts on.

    Just curious...how old are you? I am betting 15/16 at best.
    If I am correct, than you should take this time to investigate the SA/ROTC route.
     
  4. aseanag

    aseanag Eagle2013

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    DS has a friend that attends Ohio University and his major is aviation. There is also a aviation major available at Western Michigan University. It is very expensive due to flight time.
     
  5. Buff-IP

    Buff-IP USAFA '88 Pilot

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    The commercial airline pilot career hasn't been that great for the last decade or so.

    So I would suggest learning a real job that can cover you between airline jobs.

    So along those lines, the Guard or Reserve would be a great way to go for someone that wants to fly for an airline more than they want to fly for the US military.
     
  6. Cannonball

    Cannonball Member

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    Someone said in one of these threads that if you want to be a commercial pilot after the air force you should fly cargo planes instead of fighters. If I fly fighters in the air force will the airlines not hire me afterward because I can't fly bigger planes?
     
  7. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Actually, the impression has been that the airlines prefer to hire the fighter pilots because 1) they did better in pilot training than the heavy guys to get that slot; 2) they tend to take the flying thing more seriously, and 3) the majority of your senior airline members (the ones who interview and hire) came from fighter backgrounds (i.e. the "good old boy" network).

    Not saying these are "truths", just saying these are "impressions" the airline industry had for a long time.

    But the answer to your question is No. The airlines WILL hire fighter pilots, event though they didn't fly the bigger planes. I personally know dozens of examples of this being the case.

    They just have to expect to reduce the fuel load on the jet in order to reduce weight to account for the fighter pilot's bigger-than-normal ego, have more mirrors in the cockpit for the pilot to flash his shiny teeth into, and get used to the passengers complaints that the pilot likes to fly with his side window open so he gets that wind-swept hair look. :shake:
     
  8. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Don't forget the silk scarf streaming out the window.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Cannonball,

    No offense, but you are what 16-17? Do you realize you are planning your life until you are at least 33/34 at best, but maybe even 42 if you do 20?

    You have so many hurdles to clear that right now, and at least for 15 MORE YRS this should not even be on your radar. Using history as an example. Those that commissioned in 88, never predicted 9/11 and the airline hiring freeze/slowdown for airlines since @02 until now.

    They thought that it would be a snap. We had a friend leave in Mar 01 from the Strike world and enter commercial. He was furloughed and returned to the AF in 08, as an RPA pilot. He was an AFA grad of 87.

    Nobody that entered the AFA in 10 thought the AFA would tell them as a C1C there were not enough pilot slots for this yr. group, and some will not go rated even if this is their 1st choice.

    As a wife of a CSO F15E O5 (ret, aka Bullet) and a Mom of 14-08 UPT student, I get your desire and setting your goals high. However, they will both tell you the same thing. You know what they call a fighter pilot, a heavy pilot, an intel officer at any given time? Lt., Capt., Major, etc.

    JMPO, instead of posting here about things that are completely out of your control and at least 5-6 yrs from now (assumption 16/17), use this time to learn the path to get into the AFA or an AFROTC scholarship. Additionally learn the path to get a pilot slot once there.

    This discussion could be completely moot if you don't have the stats to clear the very 1st hurdle. 3.8 with no APs in No VA and a 1250 best sitting SAT is probably not going to get you an apptmt., and maybe no scholarship either if it is non-tech.

    I would also say that just like stats mattering, so does your medical history. You maybe spinning wheels asking questions when something medically will DQ. I.E. history of asthma, allergies, surgeries, eyes, etc.

    You may be Q'd for AF, but not Q'd for an FC1 physical. For AFROTC cadets given a rated slot they go to Wright Pat for a 3 day physical. They all already were cleared by DoDMERB, but some, including a poster here failed their FC1 physical, and now will not be going rated.

    Just saying, spend more time clearing hurdle 1, and less time thinking about hurdle number 5,6,7 or 8.
     
  10. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    From my experience (the USN/USMC side), very few people enter a SA dreaming of being a civilian pilot. They want to be a military pilot and then, for whatever reason, decide to leave the military and often -- not always -- go into the civilian aviation sector.

    There are easier ways to achieve your stated goal . . . For example Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University produces pilots for the civilian sector as do other civilian colleges and/or flight schools. Yes, you pay for it. But you also "avoid" the military lifestyle and commitment, if that isn't your thing.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    usna,

    I think for cannonball his priority is flying an F-XX airframe, and the commercial portion is curiosity. However, I do agree, from an interview perspective, I wouldn't rank him number 1 with what they post on this site.

    I want to fly fighters...ummm...shouldn't you want to be an AF officer first?

    Tunnel vision is never good.

    Cannonball,

    Do you have a PPL? Any flight hours?
     
  12. Spud

    Spud BGO

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    After spending a career in civilian ground aviation as a manager of a major FBO, maintenance shops, and VA flight schools, I can say you don't need a college education to become a commercial pilot. However, the lack of one may well kill any job chances at higher levels of pilot hiring where big paychecks are the lure. To go the civilian route you must pay for all your flying and your licenses on your own---private, instrument, and multiengine at the least. This puts you at the bottom of the pile with few hundred hours in your log book and tens of thousands of dollars spent. It helps to have a wife with a well-paying job during this time in your life.

    You must accumulate around 2500 hours before the commuter airlines will look at you which includes about 500 hours of turbine (turboprop) time. You are now caught in the classic I-need-the-experience-before-I-can-get-a-job-but-I-need-the-job-before-I-can-get-the-experience trap. Most would-be commercial pilots rack up the hours as an instructor (another license) going around the patch with students crammed into a Cessna 150 for YEARS desperately grubbing for ANY paying flight or part time flying job just as a break. Some go to cropduster school (more money paid out) but now they are at the bottom of yet another pile as a newbie. Some finagle temporary co-pilots jobs, some try to be a more versatile instructor, such as multi-engine (more money paid out), and most have to travel far away from home to find these hour-building jobs. Airlines are a "glamour" job until you actually land a co-pilot seat on a commuter airliner and find you could actually make more stocking shelves at Safeway. They know you are desperate for the turbine time and that's what now you are getting. The working wife remains your best financial plan. At least now you are making progress and after years of flying a commuter your chances for the major airlines now are the same as thousands of other guys which most often is: sheer luck.

    There's other flying jobs like cropdusting, pipeline patrol, corporate flying (enjoy being a valet and personal assistant), government agencies, and so on. You had asked if there are any other ways to become a pilot other than the military and what I have laid out is pretty much the civilian route. It is expensive, it is a process taking many years to work your way up the food chain, it can be very discouraging, pay is terrible until you get enough hours, 2500+ in the right kind of airplanes, to be competitive, but it is done by people all the time. Good luck.
     
  13. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    If your dream is commercial flying, the military can help get you there...BUT...the military WILL require your blood, sweat, toil, and dedication while it has you. If you don't plan on being 100% dedicated as a military officer and aviator during your time in service, don't do it.

    Having goals is good, and there are multiple ways to get there, just go in knowing what is required on the path you take.
     
  14. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    That describes me perfectly!

    I was a pilot in the Navy and enjoyed it. My wife enjoyed being a Navy wife. I fully intended on making it a career. And then the airline hiring boom of the mid-80's hit. I had my first child. I went on cruise when she was a baby and returned and she was walking.

    Many pilots were getting out. Prior to that, there was virtually no airline hiring.

    I made the classic "pro vs con" list and decided to get out of the Navy and fly with the airlines. I didn't get out of the Navy because I didn't like the Navy, rather, it was the right move for me at that point in my life considering my circumstances. No regrets about it.

    I think my situation was not so unlike many others who made a similar decision.
     
  15. Big B's Dad

    Big B's Dad Member

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    I am a pilot at a major airline with over 20 years at the same airline. I have flown with every background and type of pilot over the years.

    First off. If you join the military you are in the military. That goes for grunts in the Marines to Service Academy attendees. Your career is not yours to decide and you may or may not fly depending on the needs of the service. The same goes for equipment. Fighters or transports is dependent on the openings at the time you get out of flight school (provided you get through). There is a risk of washing out or medical outs at all times and you still are in the service even if you can't fly for them. For every flat bellied warrior you run into at an air show there are dozens and dozens who thought they had his slot.

    Second off. Drones are now a reality for more and more people that joined the service to fly. Drone time is worse the helicopter time in counting towards time that will be looked at later on. If you fly drones you might as well be in the infantry. It isn't logged aircraft time. There is less and less flying available as drones become more capable.

    Third off. You will need 1500 hours by Federal Law to apply to an airline. Military time is hard to come by and fighter guys tend to get less and less these days (especially in sequester mode). To get 1500 hours you will need to do at least one tour and possibly have to re-up depending on duties and available flight time in the unit you are in. Civilians will now have to instruct longer or build time in a private plane to get to 1500 hours. It is a huge hurdle but the regionals are hiring right at 1500 and can't find enough people right now. Corporate flying doesn't require 1500 but you wont build a ton of time in most jobs and the ones you do will have higher requirements than 1500 hours to even apply.

    The airline industry is different than it was even 5 years ago. Most of the domestic lift of the US market is carried by Regional pilots who have substandard wages and working conditions to most major airlines. There is a shortage of entry level pilots but there is anything but a shortage of qualified pilots. The rub is no one with experience wants to go to a regional and make $17K per year. They go overseas or go into another profession. I have two high academic kids and would not recommend a career as a professional pilot to them. Sad to admit but if you are sharp you should go somewhere where you control your destiny and not go into a career where you hitch your wagon to a an employer and hope they survive and don't kill your career. If I lose my job I have to start all over at the back end of a someone else's list. I don't think I could do that and would likely get out of the profession as thousands before me have.

    If you want some control over your fate the Air National Guard is a good gig. You interview post college for a flight slot and if you get it you go. You know the equipment and where you will be based. There is no mystery and you control your fate. If you want to get in good with a unit you can sign on as an enlisted dweeb and earn money while in school and get in good with the flight board decision makers. Risks here are washing out and your unit losing their planes (it happens). I highly recommend this route if you want to be an airline guy. If you get furloughed later in life you have a Guard gig. You also can slug it out at a Regional with subsidized pay and you are building time in good equipment at either job. This is the best kept secret out there. Just don't fly helicopters. They won't get you the time you need to apply or move up later.

    Hope that helps and isn't too discouraging. It is and has been a crappy career for many through no fault of their own. I have been lucky and hope I can hang on for 18 more years in this industry.
     
  16. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    I've been an airline pilot with a major carrier for over 27 years.

    I just had twin sons graduate in 2013. When they went into the academy back in 2009, I told them, "Don't do what I did. I wouldn't look for a career as a pilot. Be a doctor, or something that is marketable out of the military."

    And, to their credit, they did exactly that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  17. Cannonball

    Cannonball Member

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    Yes, I am 16 going on 17, but does that meant I can't have a goal? I've read enough of the information on here that I know I am competitive. My medical history is not an issue.

    As far as I know there is no 'scholarship' to go to the air force academy. You either get in or you don't and it is paid for. I am not sure what you brought up scholarships for.

    As far as posting on here and asking questions - I thought that is what this forum was for!?! Are you saying I shouldn't be posting about things that I want to know? If you look at how often I am on here it is about once a week or so because of other things I have going. Is that too much?

    I wish your son luck and I hope you are more encouraging to him than you are to the posters on here. I will keep my dream of flying fighters and I will keep being the best in order to get there.
     
  18. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Cannonball you have nothing to apologize for - you are right: the purpose of this forum is to be able to ask questions and if you can't get direct answers - you should be able to get pointed in a direction that will let you get the answers for yourself. You have several posters below who have followed the career pattern that you are describing- I think it would be helpful to you if you asked some followup questions of "Memphis" and "BigB's Dad" to see why they answered the way they did. I'm sure that will be very informative in helping you set a goal for yourself.
     
  19. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    PIMA was trying to give advice for the most common routes for becoming a USAF pilot, USAFA and AFROTC. You are correct that USAFA is not a scholarship system, however, AFROTC is.

    The bigger point is that you are asking for help/advice/predictions in how to navigate multiple, complex career fields and how to be successful in a 2nd career before you have even the entrance to the first locked in. Realize that you'll have 4 years of college/commissioning education, roughly a year of pilot training, then a 10 year commitment to the USAF before you can even try to switch to a civilian aviation position (assuming you go the active duty route). There is so much going on in that plan that it is nearly impossible to predict how to make it work, especially while we sit at our computers and surf the internet!
     
  20. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Cannon,

    I am sorry you feel I was being disheartening to you, that was not my intentions.

    My intention was to point out to pay attention to your immediate goals, because as Raimus and others is this is a very long path. You need to have a goal, but also be flexible when the path twists and turns.

    I.E. @15K kids per yr apply to the AFA for 1350 apptms. That may be the 1st twist. Thus, look into AFROTC scholarships too. Not every AFROTC kid applies for AFA as plan A, but the majority of AFA candidates apply for AFROTC scholarship as plan B.

    As far as my DS, heck yes we made sure he knew how hard an long this path is, and that was just to become an AF pilot. He has no desire currently to ever be an airline pilot, at least for now. Trust me, right now all he wants is to wing. Perspectives change if you are open to them.

    I agree with Bruno, talk to the two other posters and find out why they swayed their kids into not following in their footstep.

    ~~~ Kind of funny you are mad at me, AND insulted me as a parent for being honest about just the hurdles in the next 5 yrs, yet didn't pick up on how airline pilots are saying don't do it.
     

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