I’ve read through many of these topics but haven’t quite seen the answer I’ve been searching for (if such answer is even available haha.) I understand the stress of having a family and pursuing this career will be a stress not only on yourself but also every aspect of your life, including your family. And I understand to set yourself up for success, you must understand this and prepare for this with your family 100% on board. But from the time you start ATP and through this journey, when do you believe you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, on average? I’d like to hear from everyone, especially those that have made this journey with a family and kids at home. I will admit, this is one of those, “If others have done it, I can do it” posts to balance out some of the worry that I’m sure everyone goes through during a transition like this with a lot on the line. Sorry if this is somewhere and I just have not found it. Also, I really appreciate everyone’s input on this forums!
I think that’s a personal question. For me, it felt like finishing the program with all my ratings I could take a deep breath. In reality, I was more busy as a CFI than I ever was as a student. Plus I had all of my students success to worry about that just mine, however it was nice to have the control back. Getting to dictate your schedule.
Then you make it to 1500 hours, once again a big sigh of relief. Then you go to initial training where you’re gone for 2-3 months, then reserve then jr line holder with limited schedule flexibility. Once you get senior, start having weekends off, holidays off you guessed it… an upgrade or an interview at a major airline comes up.
To be brutally honest, you’ll never really feel like you’ve made it until you’re at your dream airline with that seniority number. But there will be little tunnels at each phase where you’ll see the light. Those give you the motivation to head back in again.
For me it was when I was finally on the line at my Regional.
Thing is this was long before the shortage so literally every step you took could’ve been your last. I often tell the story of when I interviewed art my Regional and 1/4 of the applicants were sent home immediately for not having their paperwork in the correct order. I also knew some very good pilots who simply never got interviews and quit. Things now are light-years different. If you’ve got 1500hrs and a pulse you will get hired. Further much of the stress came from the financial burden. First year pay when I started was $18k. No signing bonuses, no Tuition Reimbursement and if you had one bad sim you were done. Starting at $80k and receiving a bonus that pretty much covers the price is training would’ve done alot to relieve much of the stress.
The answer is really subjective and depends on how hard you are working now and how much you are working. Being a CFI is hard and the pay is not stellar, but it is certainly doable and I did enjoy my time as a CFI (I did not have a family at the time). But I would say that the real light at the end of the tunnel is after you have finished training at a regional and are flying the line. That will be a return to your normalcy, or your new normal, and you will settle into a groove.
I am going through the exact same things you are. It’s actually more common than you realize (from what I have read on this forum). I left a stable, but stagnant job to pursue this dream of mine. I start flight school on March 27th. What helped me make my decision was to highlight the benefits of accomplishing my goal as opposed to the negatives of not accomplishing my goal….if that makes any sense. All my decision making also included what it will look like for my family when all is said and done. More opportunity, and a better quality of life in general. If you think I can help in any way, please let me know. I’d be happy to share my experience thus far.
Thanks for the reply Kyle! And I’m happy to know there are plenty of others facing the same obstacles. I’ve read a few of your previous posts. Are you planning to work a part time job on top of schooling? This is also something I may be looking into. Luckily with a paramedic license, I can work a 24 hour shift on the weekends to help make ends meet but this would obviously not be ideal.
I am Firefighter so I guess there are even more similarities there.
A lot of what I have read and having spoken to people who have been in the program, you have to be 100% focused on school. Working during the process isn’t advised, To compensate for this, I factored my cost of living into my loan, I also had to draw from savings to make this happen. It’s a huge undertaking, making sure you have an idea what you have available to the last dollar. It’s not easy to do, but if it was, everyone Tom, Dick and Harry would be doing it right?
I think I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when I was in the 1,250-hour ballpark and had lined up multiple CJOs to the regionals. Similar to Hannah, I was super busy as a CFI and then Training Center Flight Standards Instructor (Lead) for 8 months, so I did not have much time to reflect every day on whether I was close or not… I totaled my logbook weekly, so I wasn’t just ‘counting the hours’ like some may.
I can remember the day typing a resignation letter to send to my Regional Director of Training and thanking them for the opportunity to instruct at ATP and provide me the success to be where I was. I sent it in on my birthday… a little ahead of schedule because I saw the new journey ahead and was so excited to be one step closer to my dream.
We do not encourage working part time while attending ATP’s ACPP. It is a fully accelerated program and will need to use time at home to study, rest and relax. The other last thing is having a last-minute change of schedule for flying and it conflict with a working schedule, the extra pressure and stress will not be beneficial in the training environment.
@KP13, I am also a firefighter (volunteer) and have been in the service for 8 years now. I still continue to partake in activities when I am home. However, I am more cautious now when running into a burning building or going to HazMat incidents… something to be considered if you continue to serve with the aviation career. If you’re looking to time build instead of instructing, maybe look into Aerial FireFighting as they sometimes are desperate for pilots in the west when wildfires pick up - dangerous job, but respectable by all.
@Brady First and foremost, Thank you for your service. I started off volunteering, albeit not for very long before I got hired on, but i feel volunteers are the unsung heroes of the job…doing it all because they want to. Thank you again.
And again, thank you for the heads up regarding Aerial Firefighting, definitely something I’ll look into.
I am an ex flight attendant and my ex husband was a pilot. I’ve been through all the training events, upgrades, etc. I feel like aviation is a lifestyle and just requires some flexibility. I felt like things settled down a bit once my ex and I were both lineholders (then we knew what our schedule was instead of just being on call for x days in a row). I have pilot friends who have families that work for Allegiant and love it as they don’t have overnights and are home every night. I want to say that Allegiant also doesn’t operate on certain days of the week so you know you’ll have those off (I want to say Saturday and Tuesday, but I can’t remember for certain). Upgrade time has changed drastically with the shortage, so hopefully you won’t be on call (reserve) for too long. One of my friends has been with United for almost two years (lineholding first officer) and he will be upgrading on the 737 in IAH soon. He mentioned he would likely be on reserve as a captain in that base for 5 years. Hope that helps.