After seeing some posts about the question, Is Being A Pilot Worth It?, I thought it was worth an article about my experiences and the absolute joy I experienced as a flight-crew member. From the very first moment on my first flight as the pilot of a Cessna, 150 in Helena, Mt. to this day aviation has dominated my life.
Is Being A Pilot Worth It?
Yes, being a pilot is worth it. without question. It is one of the most challenging and rewarding occupations available. You have the chance to test yourself and your hand-eye coordination every time you enter the flight deck of any airplane throughout your career. And you can make a living too.
Is Being A Pilot Worth It?
1. The Decision To Fly.
It wasn’t that I did not procrastinate about going for my first flight training lesson
I was scared to death when I walked into the office of Morrison Flying Service at the Helena, MT Airport. I was somewhat relieved when I met the owner of a 40-year family business, Jeff.
It was less than 30 minutes from that moment until I was led to a tiny airplane, the Cessna 150 that I wondered if I would fit in at 6 feet 7 inches. But I did and I will always be fondly anchored by the feeling of flying for the very first time.
Not only was this a culmination of a childhood dream, but it was also the beginning of a lifelong fascination with the world of flight.
If you have the ever so slight feeling that you would like to master one of the monsters of the sky, no matter the size, then by all means make the trip to the nearest flight school. Your future life hangs in the air!
1. The Discipline.
When you leave the airport after the first flight you may find that you are carrying a flight kit for your Private Pilot Certificate and the race is on.
The dedication to learning the principles of flight is a lifelong process. You will be tested, tested, and more tested. That is what the business requires which means being on top of your game. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. But if you study hard and fly a lot it will all start coming together rapidly.
And study you must. Consistently. The learning curve is a very steep one and definitely not easy at times. That is training.
You must carry the responsibility for your life and your passengers with each flight you depart upon.
This requires the sometimes annoying need for discipline and heeding the rules of aviation in your best conscience. You give your life to the safety of flight, but it is the labor of love.
Just like any other job the pay is lousy at first as a flight instructor or other position. And as you gain experience you will be worth your wage.
It will be up to you as you go forward. You might become a major airline Captain making big money or a job hauling freight to be home every night.
There is so much more than just money. You are in service to the public. There is some glamour in being a Captain but nothing like the 50s. People give you a bit of respect for what you do.
You really do have a nice view and sometimes it isn’t really pretty but it is the best office. The travel benefits are outstanding.
You will find that you will have to make hard decisions about the direction you take with your career because there are decisions about whether flying Airline, Corporate, or General Aviation is best. You will be tested again.
3. The Cons.
Depending on your needs you will sacrifice as a flight instructor unless you can handle a lot of students. It is possible but you will work hard for your money. Every entry-level aviation job sucks.
There is likely going to be a lot of time away from home. Sometimes that is good and other times it can be a terrible situation.
You will pay your dues getting to the top. Hopefully, it is worth it.
You will be tested as I said, and that will be in the form of having your ability and your health evaluated to determine your competence every 6 months and either failure will result in job loss. You also will be tested for drugs and alcohol in a randomly chosen fashion. No other profession faces such stringent testing.
I think Doctors, Lawyers, and Police should be as well.
It will cost you the price of a college education for training. Read more on that here.
There is a huge abundance of job opportunities in aviation at present and a huge contrived shortage of pilots due to covid. This makes the market more accessible for finding a job even in the next ten years, perhaps longer. because of the demand for pilots and the number of retirees.
If you do have the desire and can cut the mustard you will have a very comfortable lifestyle.
I personally know numerous pilots whom I have flown with or am friends with who are mid-career Senior Captains with major Airlines. These people are living a dream. There are days I am jealous of these guys since I am too old, but then I remember my life. I had it pretty good too!! I just sometimes miss flying and then I realize it’s just a bad dream.
There really are a lot of things that make being a pilot worth it.
I am not a fan of the FAA rule of 1500 hundred hours because I think it is all about training. Without the rule, we would have many more qualified pilots. I grew up when the airlines would hire 500-hour pilots with quality training We all did quite well in safety and those 500-hour pilots did very well. The FAA cannot prove that 1500 hours is needed for Airlines and all of us need to tell them it needs to change. Better training will help.
Think about this, we allow 300-hour pilots to be Certified Flight Instructors and they are teaching what they learned and there is no quality control for their participation other than the FAA check-ride. What’s up with that?
I refer you to my article, Why Are Pilots Afraid Of Stalls?
Flight Instructors need to be better trained in my humble opinion. Maybe I am missing something.
Be Safe and Let’s Go Flying!
Please feel free to leave me a comment, criticism, or handshake.