Career change (again), ex-military

Hi guys,

I’m going on 46 and looking to make the change. However, I’m probably not the typical career changer here. I’m ex-Navy single seat (2400 TT), but…I haven’t flown since I got out more than 10 years ago. Got my MBA after getting out and have been in the business world since (there was almost no airline hiring when I got out, so I went the sensible general management career path). Today I run a large company and have a compensation level that I could never get close to in an airline career of any length. So most people would think I’m crazy to want to give all that up at this point in life, but money isn’t everything. Engagement, being challenged, doing something you really enjoy…turns out those are much more important. I know that building a mid-life career in the airlines at this point will not be a walk in the park, and (I think) I understand that the first few years could be pretty rough (salary, reserve, commuting, etc), but I also think it could be very much worth it. I’ve read a lot on another forum, but it’s sometimes difficult to sift through the emotion to get a clear understanding of the options and paths. I have commercial/instrument/MEL (centerline thrust) from my Navy days, but never did my ATP. I got my first class medical the other day, and will start the process of getting an instrument proficiency check this weekend. We currently live in central GA (about 1:15 from ATL and 3:15 from CLT). Need to stay in the area for 2 more years, and then after that open to change.

  1. Besides getting an IPC and maintaining currency, re-teaching myself FARs and AIM, and studying the interview gouge…what else should I be doing to maximize my hiring chances at a regional? What challenges do you see getting hired by a regional?
  2. Is there any sanity in funding my own ATP and trying to get direct hired by a major, given my military background…or would that be a total long shot and waste of money?
  3. Do you think my background (not just military flying, but executive leadership experience) will help accelerate the opportunity to get on with one of the majors after accumulating Part 121 experience at a regional? If so, (and I understand nobody has a crystal ball) how many years at a regional until I am desirable to a major, assuming the current hiring climate sustains?

Lots of questions, but I’ll start with those. Thanks for any input and advice.



Lots of questions so let’s get you some answers:

  1. I see no changes whatsoever. If you’ve got 1500 hrs and a pulse the Regionals will hire you. Get current and apply ASAP.

  2. No shot and yes a waste of your time and money. Your TT is nowhere near any Majors competitive mins and your recency is non existent. A Regional will get you your ATP, get rid of that silly CLT restriction and earn you some needed 121 experience. Spend a year or 2 there then apply to a Major.

  3. You’ve got a nice resume and the airlines like military pilots so that should shorten your stay. As for the rest all airlines have CEOs and don’t need another one. They’re hiring pilots and that’s your strength.



  1. Get your centerline thrust restriction removed and apply.

  2. Let a regional pay for your ATP/Type Rating.

  3. A lot of regionals have flows and pathways to the majors, but those can take 5+ years before your number is called, plus they have a lot of fine print. It may be quicker to apply to a major the old fashioned way. You would be very competitive once you’ve upgraded to Captain at a regional. Captain upgrades, for someone with no prior 121/135 exp, take about 1.5-3 years at a regional. All just depends what the climate is like at the regional you are with at the time.



  1. I agree with Adam and Tory on this one, get current and you should be good for the regionals. I would encourage you to truly get current though and to make sure your skills are back up to par, not just get current on paper.

  2. Total waste of time and money. No disrespect to your military time, but there are a lot of current civilian and military pilots out there that are applying to the majors, military time alone will not get your hired straight at a major.

  3. I think the military experience will help, but the leadership experience will not do much to help you. I would think you are looking at a least a year or two at the regionals before being competitive for the majors.