Balancing Pilot and Band life

I am Sheldon Laney from Southern Utah with major aspirations and no idea how to accomplish it. I am nearly 20 years old with 2 quarters of Music school under my belt and 1 quarter of GE, additionally I am a JROTC and Civil Air Patrol cadet with a good introduction of what flying is really like.

I have one major goal in life, to tour and play in a metal band. However, this field is very hard to get into and it is also very costly, not to mention it will take a few years to bring in major income and that is not guaranteed, as there are many factors that deter the equation. That leads me to want to get my pilot’s license so that I have a stable job and money to pursue music and my band. I have always dreamt of flying as a child, and has always been in my blood.

My questions are-
How long does it take during training to get to a point where I can start making income?

Bands usually take a few days or weeks to go out and tour, playing in different locations to help market themselves, and for a metal band that is a must. I also realize this depends on the company, but what are the hours really like?

Can I stay based in one location? I know that it comes with job that I am traveling a lot, but over all there are days that I would have off flying for an airline. If I am not mistaken is it usually a few days flying/traveling and then a few days at home?

With the requirements for college and airlines does it have to be a degree or just an accumulative amount of time and schooling?

If I wanted to get into flying historical aircraft at some sort of museum, how would I go about doing that?

I wonder how in the world people like Bruce Dickinson (vocalist for Iron Maiden, Pilot, etc.) make this happen. (lol)

I suppose I am just trying to find my way in this madness, trying to make myself and future family a beautiful life. Thank you for reading and understanding me and my situation, it means a lot to me!


There are a lot of different questions there and seemingly very disparate career goals. Flying for an airline is absolutely a full time job, you can take a look at the schedules section to give you a better idea, but basically pilots work 16-18 days per month with the days off sprinkled throughout the month. It will not be possible to take several weeks off at a time.

As an ATP student, you will start making money after nine months as you begin flight instructing for the company.

I have no idea how you would start flying historic aircraft at a museum, you would need to talk to people in that field.

Bruce Dickinson flies airplanes, but he is by no means an airline pilot.

It sounds like your only real goal is to play in a band. That is totally fine, but you need to focus on that. Being an airline pilot is a career and lifestyle unto itself, not a means to pursue other goals.



As far as time and training questions you should check our FAQ section. As for the music stuff you have 2 choices: A) put your music on hold and after MANY years you may be able to return to it after you’ve built seniority and have some flexibility and control of your schedule, or B) become a rock star and after you’ve achieved fame and fortune start flying as a hobby/career (like your friend Bruce Dickerson). While pilots do have many days off, until you’re at the top of the seniority list there’s literally no way you can schedule gigs in advance. When I was young I aspired to be a musician and still play some. I’ve been a pilot for 13yrs and can’t even manage to plan regular jams with my friends.

If you want to fly historic planes you should look into the EAA as they work with many museums and warbird enthusiasts. You should know AGAIN it will be many many MANY years before anyone will let you near any of these unique one of a kind aircraft.

Your base will be determined again by seniority. You may get the base you want, you may get displaced, your base may close.

Major airlines want a 4yr degree. That fact that you spent years and years “attending” school without achieving the goal of a degree really won’t impress anyone.

Sheldon becoming a pilot is not easy and your reasons for pursuing it as a career are your own. What I can tell you that both becoming a successful musician OR pilot requires a tremendous amount of time and dedication. This is America and you can do as you like but I’m less than optimistic as to the outcome of doing both.