Criminal history… yikes!

He’s the deal… I already know a lot of you are going to say no way in hell, not a chance. There was a 6month period of my life where I was arrested 3times for variety of charges direct result of drugs after my Father suddenly passed (Huge red flag I know) but hear me out. Since then I’ve gone back to school, worked in drug/alcohol treatment (internationally) then obtained a class A CDL. Worked hard, remained clean, obtained few crappy local jobs but have now been working in the oil and gas fields for couple years (driving). Make about 6 figures a year but my passion is flying (taken multiple discoveries). I’m willing to give it up to follow this path. I’m interested in rotary craft and willing to take the pay cut. I’m almost 30 now and feel like it’s a now or never deal, my legal issues were over 8-9 years ago. I’ve even spoke to my lawyer about trying to obtain a governors pardon with character letters and an essay why my record should be pardoned. Do I have a remote chance securing employment? I had jump through a lot of hoops just to get into petroleum. Wondering if I could apply same tactics to airline industry or if I’m better off just being a weekend warrior and use my resources for a personal craft. In a perfect world, would love to keep the oil deal going and fly to/from rigs since my foot is already in door with a well known company but we don’t do offshore. Hints my questions. Have any of you EVER met anyone that’s disclosed they’ve had priors but now fly? Any info is greatly appreciated.
Thanks again.

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If in fact ALL your issues were over a 6mos period and it’s been a while since you’ve had ANY trouble I think you might be ok.

Here’s the thing, airlines don’t fly helicopters not do they do rig transport. If you’re currently in that field I recommend you speak to those guys directly. We have no idea what their requirements are nor if their requirements are more or less stringent.


Hi Robert!

I actually don’t think anyone is going to say “no way.” It’s almost been 10 years since your arrests. If you haven’t been in any kind of trouble since then and you continue to keep your record clean, I think you’ll be fine.

I’m not familiar with rotor jobs in the oil industry though. You will need to do some networking to find out what the requirements are.

By the way, pardoning or expunging your record will only get you so far. When applying for your medical certificate, you will be asked “Have you ever been convicted or arrested…?” If you have, the answer is “Yes,” regardless of what your record says.



I have no idea what kind of security and background requirements the helicopter industry has. The problem is going to be with the FAA. With a history of drug use, and criminal history associated with that, the FAA I likely going to ask some serious questions and might put you through the ringer to get a medical certificate, they might not also, it is really up to them. A pardon will. not do you a bit of good with the FAA because they ask “have you ever…” and a state level pardon does not affect a federal agency. Do not lie on it either, they will find out.

I am not saying that you do not have a chance, just that the FAA might be a large barrier. Your best bet is to schedule an appointment with a FAA Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).


Hello everyone! I am trying to enroll in the aviation academy soon but I have a similar concern. In 2012, I was arrested for unauthorized use of a vehicle and ended up taking a plea deal, pleaded guilty and served a 2 years probation. I completed all my community services and paid all court fines. I am in the process of sealing my records from background check companies. It was a third degree felony. It was my first ever crime committed and I have not been in trouble ever since.

That being said, the crime was a one time mistake of keeping a rental car beyond the agreed return date. The rental car company never pressed charges but the state picked up the case and charged me.

Do I have any chance of getting in the airline industry with such a record? Please advice. It has been my dream to be a pilot. Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I admire every pilot out there. I pray and hope that I will be one of you soon.


First off there is no sealing your records from the federal government. When an airline hires you you’re required to go through a federal background check and your arrest and conviction will appear. When you’re asked the question, and you will be, have you ever been arrested, convicted etc of a felony the answer is yes. Failure to do so will only result in embarrassment when you’re pulled out of class.

Second I’m no attorney but as someone who’s participated in hiring I’m not in love with your explanation of events. I’ve kept rental cars beyond the scheduled period and never got so much as an attitude let alone a felony conviction. Factor in i hear no remorse and I’m passing on you.

That all said IF in fact this is your only offense and your record is otherwise clean you should have a chance but they’re going to want to hear some responsibility taken for your crime.


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I would reach out to several regional airlines and ask them directly. Call their recruiting departments. I accidentally kept a rental car past the return date once, they called me several times, emailed and texted, I simply called and extended the reservation. You must have been really past the return date to have charges pressed.

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I think it’s best to go straight to the source: the recruiting departments that will be reviewing your future application. Start with regionals and LCC and then see with the majors. Lucky for you, the demand for pilots is only getting worse and with that means the criteria for hiring eligibility could change too. With that being said, the legacy carriers will be the strictest and sometimes there are just complete red flag events that pull your app. All you can do is ask… but you definitely need to rework how you explain it. Sometimes it’s less about the events and more about what it says of the character of the individual. To me, it sounds like the rental car company overreacted and was primarily at fault. You need to own your part, admit to what mistakes you made and show you learned a valuable lesson.


I hear you Adam and thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. You might not believe my story and I get it. Everyone that knew about my case, could not believe it either. You should understand that the system is very unfair to some people, especially immigrants.

I came to this country in 2011 with a B2 tourist visa. I had no idea how the system works. Like i said, the issue was not worth pressing any charges. I rented the car for two days but instead kept it for eight days. I thought I could just return it back and pay for the additional days. Before I knew anything, there were police knocking on my door, asking for the car. I told them the car was right here parked. I was put on hand cuffs and taken to the station for questioning. I told them everything that happened. I was released few hours later and was told that the rental company did not press charges.

After two months, I received a letter in the mail from the Tarrant county, with a court date schedule. I was told, even though the rental company did not press charges, the state took over the case, because they got the police involved.

I had no lawyer and was provided with a court appointed attorney. The attorney advice me to take a plea deal. I had no idea what a felony was but because I was told that I wont be going to jail if I plead guilty, I just went ahead and took the plea deal. Biggest mistake of my life.

After a month, the immigrant authorities came pick me from my house. I was detained and processed for deportation. I appealed the case and the immigration judge dismissed the case and I was since set free.

I have no reason to lie about what happened. I am here seeking advice and not trying to mislead people in any way.

Thank you for the advice, Chris. Like i stated on my response to Adam. I was very new to this country and had no idea what might happen in situations like that. I will definitely reach out to different recruiting agencies and see.

Thank you for your response, Hannah. I really appreciate your advice and input.

Maybe it is the way I explained the story but I wasn’t trying to hide anything. I do not blame the rental company for calling the police on me. I definitely blamed myself for every and that is exactly what I told the police and the judge.

The rental company over reacted but when I explained myself, they understood and realized I meant nothing bad . They knew that I was just ignorant of the system. I have learned from this and it has been 10 years now. I have not had any trouble since.
I will contact the following agencies you mentioned and hear what they say. Thank you again for your input.

Hearing you explain further, I can see it was just a misunderstanding. Just be careful when answering application questions or in interviews. I think a good way of talking about it is something like this; “I didn’t know and didn’t follow up with the company and I should have. My intent wasn’t malicious but I made a mistake. This taught me the value of accountability and clear communication…”


That is the best explanation ever. Thank you so much, Hannah. I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my concerns. I will most definitely take the advice you given to me today.


Airline interview time:
Capt Awesome: so can you explain to me this felony conviction?
You: I rented a car for 2 days but kept it for 8 and the police showed up at my door and put me in cuffs.
CA: Did you ever contact the rental company and say you needed the car longer?
You: No, I didn’t understand or think it was necessary.
CA: Really? You took the companys car stating you’d return it in 2 days but didn’t until the police showed up at your house. Do understand why you were arrested?
You: Because the system is unfair especially to immigrants.

My friend if that’s your story it’s going to be a very short interview.


Come on Adam. Why would anyone go to an interview and answer questions like that? I joined this group to ask questions and seek advice, not asking what I should say on an interview.

I am currently a cyber security engineer. I like my field of study but I want to be a pilot more than anything. It has been my only dream since second grade. I want to pursue my dreams and seeking nothing but advice, from the people that are already in the aviation industry.

Do you have any advice for me?

Welcome, Baboucarr!

Your original question was about chances. I think they are good considering it was the only offense and it’s been over almost ten years since the event took place.

Taking ownership of the events that unfolded is not what you initially came here for, but apparently the conversation has now shifted to that. I just want to say that I appreciate you coming on here seeking our advice about what to do in your situation. Sharing details about things that we are not proud of is hard and I appreciate your willingness to be open about your situation.

I think it is worth pointing out that obviously you are not in an interview setting right now. So, perhaps you would have responded differently in an actual interview setting.

That said, I agree that taking ownership is the best thing that you can do when telling the story and it seems as though you understand what we mean by that. It may be helpful for you to know that as airline pilots we have been through, or administered, airline interviews and know how tough they can be. While I agree that a well-rehearsed answer is definitely required when answering questions that involve criminal records, I don’t fault you for explaining your story the way that you did. Obviously you now know how better to talk about your story, but without having the perspective that we have I don’t expect that everyone knows what and what not to say.

That said, based on your responses to the advice that you have been provided with I want you to know that I can tell that you understand and are maintaining a willingness to learn. That is what I like to see. I am not perfect either and I’ve had to work at my interview skills myself.

Again, I think your chances are still good so long as you answer truthfully (no matter the question) and take full responsibility (no matter the situation).

Thanks again for joining the forum! Please let us know how else we can help!



Thank you so much, Troy. You laid out very important points and I really appreciate your advice.

You have showed me how to stand my ground, own up to my mistakes and have the kind of career that I can be proud of.

A big thank you to everyone that responded to my for question. I am confident that your guidance will take me towards the right path. You all are fantastic mentors that are worthy of emulation. You deserve a big thank you from me.


You are most welcome, Baboucarr!

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