Curious Aspiring Pilot

Hi there!
My name is Bryce. I am 17 and very interested in becoming a pilot. My aviation experience is low but my dad works for boeing and my aunt is a first officer at Alaska so I know some things. I am going into my senior year of highschool and sophomore year of college. I will be graduating with my highschool diploma and associates in june. I have been researching tons of different ways to achieve my goal and one is ATP that I will hopefully be joining in august. My end goal is to either fly for Alaska or United. I was wondering how long it would be until I would be able to fly for either airlines? What I will have to do along the way? How the upcoming years of my life will look? What its like being a pilot, new first officer and high in seniority captain? How do you as a pilot feel when you are taking off and flying? How does being a pilot affect time with your family? Would you rather fly for the airline that pays you the most or where they treat you the best? Would you rather be able to fly the world or just mainly withing the U.S?
I am sorry if my questions seem all over the place! I have been in a Cessna 172 float plane so I do have a little flight time but like I said I am new to aviation. Any advice, tips or tricks would be super helpful! Thank you for taking the time to read and even reply to this post!


Congrats on graduating high school with your associates! That is something that I wish I would have done.

The answers to your questions are very broad because there are too many unknown variables, but I will do my best to answer them.

Starting from the day that someone is hired at a regional, flying for a major can take anywhere from 3.5 years to never. Again, too many variables to account for.

For starters, do as best as you can in school and don’t get into any trouble. Drive the speed limit, don’t get any parking tickets, etc. Basically, avoid any kind of illegal activity. Then, once you start flight training, just focus on becoming the best pilot that you can be. Don’t fail any check rides, and if you do, keep it to a minimum (1, maybe 2).

Airlines also like to see volunteer work and just about anything else aviation related that could potentially make a recruiter say, “Awesome!”

If I could tell you what your future would look like I wouldn’t be an airline pilot. What I can tell you is that the first 5 years of your life pursuing aviation will be tough, physically, mentally, and financially. Do the best you can at mapping out your path to the airlines and be okay with revising your plan if necessary. The aviation industry is very different now. We are back to pre-pilot shortage days where ratings matter and the job market is competitive. Most pilots are taking cargo, corporate and charter type jobs until the airlines start hiring again.

What is it like being a pilot? Depends on who you ask! Most love it. There are a few that seem to be doing it for reasons I don’t quite understand, but you’ll find that in just about any industry.

Being a new hire FO is just like you would imagine. New hires have the lowest seniority which means that they generally have the least amount of control over their base, aircraft type, schedule, vacation, etc. The more seniority you have the better those things typically become, not always, but generally speaking quality of life improves with seniority.

How do I feel when taking off and flying? Could you be more specific? On takeoff I’m mostly focused on my respective pilot duties and “What if” situations. Takeoff and landing are the two busiest times of the flight.

Again, one’s quality of life comes down to seniority. When you’re away you’re away, but when you’re home you’re home and very little work comes home with you. So, that’s nice. That said, I have missed things like major holidays and birthdays, but I always find a way around it. I think the most important part of a pilot’s lifestyle is having a supportive family. There are a lot of professionals that have to work on major holidays and I’m sure they adapt to it in whatever way works best for them.

Why not both? Haha why can’t I have good pay and be treated the best? In all seriousness, if it comes down to choosing between pay and quality of life, I choose quality over quantity. I know a lot of people that fly for Alaska and most of them feel the same way. “Alaska has been really good to us,” is a phrase I hear most often right after they finish telling me everything they DON’T like haha. I suspect that it boils down to realistic expectations.

I have little interest in flying internationally. For some, that is the ultimate dream, but my motives are different. Flying internationally sounds like way too much time to spend in an airplane. That said, that’s just how I feel right now in this moment. I’ve met plenty of pilots that make the switch at some point in their career because they’ve flown regionally for 20-30 years and they suddenly had a change in heart, and because they also happen to fly for an airline that flies both regionally and internationally.

Hopefully I answered all of your questions. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read through the FAQ section on this forum.


Hi @Tory!
Thankyou for answering my questions! I have no tickets and have pretty good grades so im good on that. I am very excited for flight school and I want to be as dedicated as I have ever been.

What volunteer work and aviation activities do you suggest I look into that recruiters will like?

I am ready to be physically and mentally challenged. Thats one of the reasons I would like to become a pilot because everyday you are getting pushed to be better than you were.

When I ask what it feels like when you flying in a 737 (or whatever aircraft you have flown before), Im wondering I guess like what emotions you have or the experience you have while flying in the cockpit.

Also what airline do you work for?

It sounds like you’re off to a good start. Keep doing what you’re doing.

When it comes to volunteer work the thing to keep in mind is that whatever you do, don’t fake it. Actually do something that you’re interested in or something that you care about and actually invest quality time doing it. That’s what’s most important.

As far as aviation experience, again, take your pick. Only thing with that is, like most things in aviation, it won’t be cheap. So, make sure it’s something that you’ll get good use out of. I know many pilots with their float plane rating from previous jobs they’ve held.

Honestly, it’s largely second nature. It’s quiet and professional. If you watch this video of two 747 pilots, you’ll notice how relaxed they both are. The cadence between the two of them is rhythmic and orderly. Skip to minute 7:00 for the takeoff.

It’s nothing like scenes from Top Gun if that’s what you’re wondering. The job is mostly uneventful, which is a good thing, most of the excitement experienced on the job involves the passengers.

I fly an Embraer 175 for Horizon Air.



I think Tory covered your questions really well but I suggest you spend some quality time speaking with your aunt. Not only has she been through the process but she’s actually in the industry doing the job. I can’t think of a better resource (accept us :wink: ).

I’d also like to suggest you visit our FAQ section as we answer most common questions in detail and also just browse the various threads as you can get input from a number of pilots in various stages of the process.


For aviation activities, I’m planning on starting an Aviation Club at my high school to persuade the students to consider it as a career option and what to expect. I’m starting my Junior Year of high school so that will definitely help.