A little late to the game?

JoeC

New Member
Hello All.
This is my first post after years of reading the forums (I've gained so much knowledge from this site and a bit of guilt in not being able to contribute...), and I'm sure it's going to be a doozy!

I've been dreaming of being an airline pilot since about 4 years old... An Alitalia MD11 crew member took me up the cockpit somewhere above the Atlantic, and I've been in love ever since. The years went by, and I couldn't shake the aviation bug off. I started my family at a young age, and chose to put my goals and dreams on hold until - who knows when. I'm now 27, and mentally/emotionally/semi-financially ready to start implementing gradual changes that will take my career towards the airlines (hopefully) by around age 35. In the last six or so years, since my son was born, I've started a business (real estate) and became a broker, and it pays the bills. This evening, I met with a local CFI who - according to anyone you'll talk to in our community - is truly one of the best. Our first lesson is set for next Saturday. I feel that my most obvious 'headwind' in this situation is that I am in a race against the proverbial clock: mandatory retirement at 65 for a 121.

In the midst of family and business life, I've not only aged, became bald and noticeably more rotund, I've also foregone the four year bachelor's degree that virtually every (at least mainline) airline looks for in their hiring qualifications. My hope is that a track record of working closely with others, delegating duties and taking on more than my share, guiding them and ultimately being their employer will count towards something on a resume. Maybe, maybe not... Once I've obtained my PPL, I've got a few choices - save money and join the local ATP flight school, with their 100ME Career Pilot Program (about 45 minutes away, so I can be "home" every night), or save my money and buy a small Grumman/152, and truly earn my hours the old fashioned way. Each one presents its own unique set of challenges, mainly that I'd be able to still work if I go the tried and true method, or take an extended LOA and figure out a way to survive for +- 9 months or more with a significantly reduced income.

I've done years of soul searching. Do I just want to wear the stripes? Am I chasing just the thought of flying jets? Yet it all boils down to one thing: I want to be a part of something bigger than me. I've realized that I have a strong, far reaching respect for aviation as a career, community and science.

So I come to you aviators, humbled as I can be, in search of any and all advice you can throw my way. Tear me down or build me up, I'm opening up to anything and everything anyone can kindly share. Much appreciated.
 

Stone Cold

Well-Known Member
Welcome to posting on JC. You're good to go age wise, so don't sweat that.

All I'll say is get your degree. Don't hope it changes. Get you degree.

Best of luck in the journey, and get your degree!
 

drunkenbeagle

Gang Member
You are young, plenty of time.

I would worry about getting the degree first. Do the PPL at the same time if you want to, I was a 20 year old undergrad when I did. Took a little more than a year. It isn't a race.

In my opinion, having options is more important than getting a flying job as fast a possible. There are lots of reasons that options are good for your sanity. The aviation business can go into one of its predictable, cyclical tailspins. You might decide you don't really like flying for a living. You might decide you hate been gone from home 60% of the time. You might develop a medical problem that precludes flying. Having the option to quit flying and do something else makes what can often times be a crappy job more palatable -- at least you won't feel trapped there. The degree helps you either way.
 

JoeC

New Member
Stone Cold, drunkenbeagle, thank you. That's what I needed to hear - and it is noted. As I understand it, a non-aviation degree is acceptable as well, as from what I take away from an administrative point of view is that the operator is looking for tenacity and a prospect that follows through his plans, in this case four years of bookwork. I'm sure a degree in Aviation Engineering is preferred/more relevant, but any four year will do.

Once again, thank you very much!
 

JDean3204

Well-Known Member
@JoeC I was bit by that same bug as a kid by pilots that would let me check out the cockpit. You're not too late at all, 27 may seem late to you as it's your perspective. However, I've met many guys in the industry that didn't start until they were in their 30's. Just try to knock out the ratings as quick as you can, have fun doing it and take the family on a few cross countries but don't take too long and lose sight of the prize. I didn't start flight training until I was 24 and made it to my first 121 airline by 28. So 3-4 years being about 31 by the time you get to the 121 level is doable. Of course, you have a business and family to think about as well but again the road is clear for you to make it happen!! Let us know how that first lesson goes!

I agree that the degree is something you will also want to work on, that is one of my biggest regrets is not knocking that out of the way earlier in life
 

Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
I'm now 27
Oh god, you're young, go fly.

And get your degree.

You're basically about to put down enough money to buy a 6-series BMW but WITHOUT the sunroof. And all the prettiest girls love the sun.

Get the sunroof. And the Harmon Kardon upgrade. Unless, of course, you don't mind not having access to the top carriers because my friend the recruiter has heard no talk of relaxing the requirement during conversations about future staffing requirements. They'd more sooner start an ab initio program.
 

JoeC

New Member
Derg, you know too much, my cover's blown! This former BMW guy is indeed going to trade in the ultimate driving machine for a questionable local flying machine!
Thanks for the sound advice everyone, once again. I need it!!
 

Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
Ha! Well, it's probably the vacation cocktail, but seriously, 27 is not too old AT ALL. It's actually, for the most part, fairly low-average for making the jump.
 

thepedroid

Well-Known Member
Ha! I was 25 when I joined this forum. Ten years later and I'm still working on the switch. Word of advice, be consistent. Knock it out and don't let yourself get off the path. Take one step at a time, but make sure to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you want it get after it. Now I am sitting here 35 years old, and considering taking a sabatical from work to focus solely on flying because I let work and my "career" get in the way of what I really wanted and feel like I am missing out. You're not too young at all, however you're not getting any younger.
 

igneous

Well-Known Member
Ha! I was 25 when I joined this forum. Ten years later and I'm still working on the switch. Word of advice, be consistent. Knock it out and don't let yourself get off the path. Take one step at a time, but make sure to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If you want it get after it. Now I am sitting here 35 years old, and considering taking a sabatical from work to focus solely on flying because I let work and my "career" get in the way of what I really wanted and feel like I am missing out. You're not too young at all, however you're not getting any younger.
Lol exact same here, except I havent flown at all. Joined about 11 years ago, and worked hard on my own that whole time making decent money. Now I basically want to start flying and slowly power down my business and transition into more of a "retirement career" flying. Thats the hope at least. Hard to give up on what I've worked for, but I believe it's right way to go for me.
 

Falcon262

Well-Known Member
If you go to work for one of the wholly owned regional airlines of American Airlines you do not need a degree. They have direct flow to American Airlines.
 

drunkenbeagle

Gang Member
If you go to work for one of the wholly owned regional airlines of American Airlines you do not need a degree. They have direct flow to American Airlines.
Sure, possible. But that is still putting all of your eggs in one basket. Who's to say AA will even exist by the the time someone might be ready to direct flow there.
 

drunkenbeagle

Gang Member
I'm sure a degree in Aviation Engineering is preferred/more relevant, but any four year will do.
I personally doubt that is the case, that and aviation degree is in any way preferred. My only personal experience was the USAF, and the only preference they had at the time was any engineering degree. Study something you wouldn't mind doing if for some reason you aren't flying.
 

Vyse

BirchJet CA
If you go to work for one of the wholly owned regional airlines of American Airlines you do not need a degree. They have direct flow to American Airlines.
I think Envoy is hiring more people every month than they are flowing, so joining them for the flow, at least with current projections, is swimming against the current. Not sure though about Piedmont and PSA.
 
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