Real Answers from Real Pilots

Hours dilemma - how to bridge the gap

*sorry for the length in advance, but well worth the read!!

Having been a successful Realtor over the past 11 years, my real estate coach and I have had some deep discussions on being fulfilled at what I’m currently doing in my career. Needless to say, we got to the bottom of it and found out that what I’ve missed over the past 8 years, is flying on a consistent basis. Flying has been something that has been a part of my blood for a long time due to many family members being exposed to flying. I’m a commercial, multi-engine pilot and instrument rated and have had my license since 2000. I have just shy of 900 hours with 280 of that coming by way of a Baron 58 (190 hours) and a Cheyenne I (90 hours). I’ve called many of my colleague pilot friends who have been through many different flying gigs to get some guidance from them. Most of them lead me start checking into the Regionals. Since talking to them about the process, I’ve recently gotten my 1st Class Medical and have taken my IPC since having flown under the hood 8 years ago. It was an amazing feeling to get back up and to see how much of that I’ve retained and enjoyed. Since then, I’ve applied through the website platform only to find out that the 1,500 ATP minimums is a hard set rule…for now. I’m now in a predicament. I don’t have my CFI to build the hours nor do I want to bear the brunt of going back through the rigorous training to do so, not to mention that I failed the oral for the CFI twice over 12 years ago. I’m not opposed to it, just would prefer not to have to go through that again. However, it does appear that the Part 135 option is a good pathway due to my experience. I’ve since updated my aviation resume (Resume? Something I haven’t done for years!!) but the only experience I have that is flying related is when I flew for the FBO back in college 13 years ago as well as working as a lineman (2 separate FBO’s but same airport.) I like some of the Part 135 operations but am unwilling to relocate.

Also, it goes without saying, that I’m continuing to fly under the hood to get that level of IMC currency back to a confident stage so when I get the call, I’m able to be whisked away knowing I can fly the minimums.

Lastly, I’ve asked my pilot friends in the immediate area to keep their ears to the ground for any local companies looking to hire right seat. Is there any other options you can think of on how I can bridge the gap from 900 to 1,500?

Thanks again and am looking forward to some additional advice as I continue my journey to fulfill my passion and something I’ve dearly missed for some time!

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You are correct, you do have quite a dilemma. The 1500hr came into effect in 2013 and yes it is a hard fast rule (and no, I don’t believe that’s just for now. The FAA has made a few exceptions for military and certain degree programs and I they don’t appear to be considering any more). Sean I have to be honest here, you’re unwilling to get more training and get your CFI, you’re unwilling to relocate for a 135 gig, for someone looking to “fulfill my passion” you seem to be a little inflexible? There are of course other low time gigs out there (cropdusting, banner tow, traffic reports) but those are few and far between and also offer limited hours per month. You could also of course buy/rent a plane and just tool around for 600hrs.

The reality is there are many pilots in your place, the one’s who are successful do what they need to do to fulfill their dreams.



Much appreciated and I appreciate your candor and honesty. Maybe I have to be honest with myself and reevaluate what I need to do to move forward. Getting my CFI sounds like something I need to reconsider as well.

I do have a friend who has an old 172 that he’s given me pretty much free reign with it. Just have to take some long weekend trips. :slight_smile:

If you do happen to think of something else, I’m all ears.

Thanks again!!


This is so ironic, I am in the exact same position as you. I am married and have two young children. After several years of flying a desk a dispatcher, I too am shy 600 hours of meeting 121 minimums. After heavy discussion with my wife, we both agreed that if this is something that makes me truly makes me happy, and flying as career is what I really want to do, then we have to make some sacrifices. The way I see it, it’s just as if you are going away on active duty, but the service is to you.

I searched for 135 jobs all over. I got in the hiring pool with Ameriflight, but their Accelerated FO job benefits changed from hard ticket to regular CASS tickets in order for one to get home to the family. So depending on where you leave and where they assign you, it could pose a real problem if you want to go home weekends to see your family. Fortunely I was lucky and found a local 135 that was willing to take me on, only becauseI took a bunch of resumes and started visiting companies at a local airport. The flying hours is not much, but while not flying for them, I am flying on the side building hours. At least I am building multi turbine time, golden hours. I will continue to search for another job that offers more hours. If I have to rent a room in some hole in a wall to do a gig away from home, I will! The good thing is that the wife is on board, no pun intended.

Long story short, you are in a unique position. Like me, you only have a good year or year and a half of time building to reach minimums. If you love flying, fly! Do what you have to and live the dream, but never give up. Now is the time to do it.

All the best!


I appreciate the bode of confidence and sharing your story. I’ve applied to a couple 135 jobs and I’ve got a pretty decent prospect at a local FBO. Not completely confident about it but it sounds like it could be a real possibility.

I do have a very solid prospect of doing aerial photos for a the FBO I got a lot of my trainings done during my college years. I used to fly photos for them in the past and so I feel totally confident I will get that gig coming up soon. (Duh, I’m further ahead today than I was in college years ago!) That could provide 10-15 hours a week they said. So, when you say I’m a year to a year in a half away, I can totally agree with you!

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing about your progress and sharing mine with you!

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Hey all,

Just wanted to circle back to let you know how I’m coming along…I am set up to do some aerial photos this spring/summer/fall with the FBO I flew for back in college. It’s a completely different outfit than what I flew back in 2004 and I’ve already done the training for this upcoming season. I’m pretty excited about the opportunity and know that I’ll be filling up a ton of hours.

The FBO is also in need of a C-421 pilot, to which it appears I will be the person for the job. The hour gap is finally becoming a reality.

For anyone who is looking at this post, the encouragement I will give is that it’s super helpful to keep networking with the pilots and FBO’s nearby. Get out there and keep at it.

Thanks again Adam & Sheldon for the sound advice, the light is at the end of the tunnel!

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Thanks for the update. I am glad it is all working our for you :slight_smile:

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Very cool. Sounds like you’ll be there in no time.

Keep us posted!


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