This is William Smith, I just joined https://airlinepilot.life today at 09:00. I’m currently 16, and live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve been interested in aviation for a long time, my whole life if I recall correctly. I don’t remember how I got interested, but I’m planning on after high school, going strait to the Air National Guard (ANG) in Charlotte, North Carolina. There I’m going to be flying C-17 for cargo missions, all in hope that once my training is done, I’ll be able to go to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and supposedly the ANG will pay for it. I would like to after college apply for United Airlines. I’m very interested in Boeing planes, I personally think they make the best commercial planes. I researched the popular airlines, and found that United has lots of Boeing planes, including the Boeing 787-10, which I would love to fly one day. I use Flight Simulator X (FSX) as my current flight sim, and have used it for several years now, so I’m very familiar with flying commercial jets. I’ve done flights all over the US with primarily the 737, being the easiest to fly I think. I’m also currently part of Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which is Air Force Auxiliary. This has also helped me in my passion for aviation due to the five free orientation flights. These are hour long flights where you get five free lessons in Cessna 172, and 182, this includes G-1000. I’m getting ready to start my lessons for private pilot. I will be getting it through CAP. I’ve thought about flying for the Air Force as a fighter pilot, but it has gone more toward the ANG due to the benefits they give me to accomplish my goals. Overall, I just can’t wait to fly for some airline, that’s my passion, and the main thing I enjoy in life.
Now to get to the question. I’m really wondering at my current position in life, what is the best way to achieve my goal to fly for United, and pilot a Boeing 787-10?
Note, sorry if some words are wrong, my phone loves to use auto correct and seems to change my words a lot.
It’s hard to say what the best way is. What’s best for one person may not
be the best for another. Plus, I am not familiar with the Air National
Guard, but if your heart is truly with the ANG, then do it. At least you’d
be serving for the right reason. If you’re trying to get to the airlines as
quick as possible, consider the civilian route.
You’re too old to be my son, but if you were I would recommend taking
college courses in high school. If done correctly, you could have an AA
degree and a high school diploma. Then enroll in flight school. Build your
time flight instructing. Then fly for a regional while enrolled in online
college to finish your 4-year degree, and then fly for United. You could be
as young as 23 by the time you made it to the majors and by 25 your flight
training and education could be paid off.
Get back to us and let us know what you think.
Welcome to the forums and thanks for posting.
There are a couple of issues with your plan.
Contrary to what any recruiter might have told you, there is no way possible that you will be flying airplanes for any branch of the military (including the ANG) without first having a college degree. Military pilots are all officers and officers have at least a four year degree. The only exception to this is the Army, which does allow some Warrant Officers to be helicopter pilots. These are multi-million dollar airplanes, the government only hands the keys to highly qualified and competent people, so you will need to go to college first, then apply for the service if you want to fly in the military.
If you go the military route, you will need to build several thousand hours of flight time before applying for the airlines. Once you do get hired at an airline, such as United, you will be on the bottom of the seniority list and flying smaller airplanes, such as the 737 and Airbus 320. It takes many years to get to the point where you will be senior enough to fly the 787.
If you end up going the civilian route you will spend many years at a regional airline building flight time before you are eligible to be hired at the majors.
I would caution you against saying that “you are very familiar with flying commercial jets” as to put it bluntly, you are not at all. Airline pilots have undergone years of training and have a wealth of experience to draw on. Flight simulator might be fun, but it is just a video game and should be thought of as such.
The best way for you to achieve your goal is to study hard and do well in high school. From there either apply to a military academy, or go to a college to get your four year degree. After that you could apply to the military or begin your flight training in the civilian world.
Wow, thank you all so much, I’d never really thought about some of these things. From what your all saying, I’m thinking now I might try to take college classes in high school, and working my way through a civilian path. As I said, my goal is to fly a 787-10, but honestly, flying a 737, I could, and would do for the rest of my life. I’m now wondering, how long do you think it would take for me to fly a 737, if I took college classes, had a job as a CFI, and finished my bachelor’s degree as I obtained my job at United?
Starting from zero time, in a perfect world, no less than 6-7 years, plus however long it takes you to get your degree…I’m in an ERJ and I’ve been flying for 3 years. Seems doable.
Plan four years of college, then two years of flight training and instructing before getting hired at the regionals, so six years there. After getting hired at the regionals I would expect to work for them for at least five years before the majors will look at you, so that is 11 years from the time you graduate high school.
If you take the blended path of obtaining your associate’s degree, then going to flight instructing and later finishing your degree while at the regionals you could be looking at nine years.
Keep in mind though that all of this is fluid, it can and will change with the economy and the needs of the airlines.
Also, you will need to obtain your bachelor’s degree prior to applying to the major airlines. While they do not technically require a degree, United will not even look at applicants that do not have one. “Working on it” doesn’t count, it needs to be a completed, four year degree.
Ok, I see now. Another question would be is there a possible way to skip regional airlines, and go strait to the major airlines? Also, aside from the CRJ’s, what other aircraft do the regional’s use? I’m interested in the ERJ’s, but I personally don’t like the CRJ’s.
No, it is not possible to skip the regionals. Think about it for a minute, if it were possible, why would anybody be flying for the regionals? Jobs at major airlines are highly competitive positions to get. The majors receive thousands of applications for dozens of jobs, those who gathered truly stand out from the pack and they do that with experience that they gain at the regionals, amongst other things.
Regional airlines mostly fly ERJs, CRJs and some Q400s. Why do you not like the CRJs?
Ok, thank you. I didn’t even think about that, the reason I asked was because I don’t want to get stuck with flying a Dash-8, or any of the regional prop planes. I like the ERJ’s, and the CRJ-900, but I don’t like any of the other planes. Maybe one day I’ll get to fly an ERJ, and get to flying the majors soon.
Thank you so much for the information that you guys have given me, I’m really trying my hardest, or at least will be soon, to be a commercial pilot, that’s my dream, and the only thing that I really care about right now, other than like education, family, etc. For your information, I’m sure I will be posting many more things in the future.
I would readjust my expectations on what airplane to fly if I were you. You might not have a choice in the matter, so it is best to just treat every new airplane as a new and beneficial experience. By having such a small list of airplanes that you like (and without really knowing why you like or dislike them) you are really limiting yourself.
Yeah that’s true. Well I again do thank you for all of this, I’m going to continue to research and ask questions about this topic, I’ve been trying to get some help with finding the best way to become a commercial pilot, and you guys really did well, thank you.
Anytime, glad we could help.
I’ve been doing some research on different airlines again, and I came to the realization that I need to pick out a regional airline. Can I get your opinion on the best regional airline that also doesn’t have a Dash-8 in their fleet?
You are really putting the cart before the horse here. By the time you finish high school, go to college, attend flight school and then work as a CFI the landscape will be vastly different than it is right now. Airlines will have grown, shrunk, merged, etc. Fleets will have changed, the whole industry could look very different.
You don’t need to worry about picking an airline for a long time.
Yeah, that’s true, I forgot how quickly changing aviation really is. Well, it’ll be interesting I think to see what it’ll be like on the future.
By the way, Chris, since you fly the Boeing 737-8, can you give me a brief idea of what it is when flying it? It is my favorite plane, aside from the Boeing 787-10, and, as you can see even know it may not happen, I would like to fly that when I’m in United. I’ve flown it many times in FSX, and it seems to handle very well.
“I’ve flown it many times in FSX, and it seems to handle very well.”
I know you’re young but William you’re killing me! Oh and there’s nothing wrong with the Dash-8. Great very capable airplane for decades.
I don’t really know, I mainly think it’s because I’m so anxious to get to flying a commercial aircraft, sorry about the hassle I’m just ready to fly if you know what I mean.
Not a hassle and I honestly appreciate your enthusiasm BUT you must understand that FSX is NOT like flying a Boeing.
As I said before, Flight Simulator is just a game, playing it does not give you any sense at all of how the airplane flies. The 737 is a very capable airplane that handles very well. It can be a bit heavy on the control forces, but many of us like that feel. The overhead panel on the 737 is antiquated, but you get used to it.