Impossible Journey?

I am the rare bird (pardon the pun) here. Doing everything late in life, I have twin girls heading into high school next year and want to prepare myself for a 2nd career after they fly the coop when they graduate. The challenge is that I will be 65 next year, but I want that 2nd career to be a flying career.

I have a private/instrument rating and 220 hrs but have not flown in a long time (over 20 years ago), but I was trained by the best; a United training captain.

Obviously, with a mandatory retirement age of 65, the airlines are out. What options are open to me and how would you recommend I get there? Assume, that I would qualify for a 1st class medical, but that could even be a challenge being a diabetic but is now doable these days.

Would regionals or corporate or charters hire someone like me? I know I could make it to CFI/CFII but is there life beyond?


Hi Mike,

  • Regionals are 121 ops, they also have mandatory 65 rule.
  • Options are part 91 , 91k and 135. This includes CFI, ferry flying, banner tow, glider tow, skydive pilot, pipeline patrol, sight seeing, contract flying, small charter ops, large charter ops, corporate and some other stuff.
  • The key to most of these is holding a medical. You need one to get your commercial rating/s and CFI/s (if you want that route) Depending on medical determines your options. CFI is the only one that allows flying without medical if you lose it (more restrictions obviously).

I’d start by networking and asking questions like you are.
Checkout some flight schools, start studying on your own. FAA Wings program and/or rusty pilots courses are available. You’ll need a Flight Review with CFI to start.

Some other resources are Aviation Career Mentorship on FB, EAA chapters, AOPA, and dozens of other online resources.
I’d consult AOPA and/or an AME prior to going for Medical appointment. The AME will want paperwork regarding the diabetes I’m sure, so best to have it all put together.

As far as return on investment, I’m sure you will have fun but I’m not sure about the money. These jobs full time can be anywhere from $25k-$100k per year. It depends on how much you need to spend to get proficient and get your ratings; then factor in what job you get and how much you work.

Best of luck,
Chris F


I will be honest, I do not see much of a potential for a flying career for you. It is true that there ar not age limits in the corporate world, but the reality is that there is many times an informal age limit as people start to get nervous as a pilot gets to a certain age.

I would suggest getting flying again and just enjoying your time in the sky.



I’m with Chris C on this one. You’re 65 with low time competing against 65yo airline retirees with 20,000hrs. If you had a corporate jet who would you hire?

If you simply want to get paid to fly I’d look into flight instructing. Doesn’t pay much but you will be getting paid to fly.


Thank you for your responses. I know it will be a tough road, no matter what. The medical is the first step. I have already done a significant amount of research on this and have a visit set up with my endocrinoligist in a couple of weeks. The good news is that none of the diabetes medications I take are
banned by the FAA. Interestingly, the one I have taken for the longest time (for many years) is the one that will probably require a special issuance on the part of the FAA; not the newer one. My next step is to find a good AME in the Portland OR. area (any recommendations) who I can get a consult with before I go for the exam?

If I get my commercial, CFI and CFII and instruct for a few years to get my 1500 hours, do you think that will still keep me out of contention for a corporate job just due to my age (assume I can get the 1st class medical)? Any advice on who or where I can go to talk to people in the corporate hiring world to get some good feedback? I was thinking some people at Flightsafety might have some contacts.

Thank you all. This is a great forum!


If you want to fly Corporate small jet / turboprop then you don’t need 1500hrs to get those foot-in-the-door jobs. Most prefer 500-1200hrs for SIC (make sure the SIC time is legal,you can log it). Depending on what plane, 1200-2500 for PIC. is a website (subscription) for jobs. Usually networking at airports and walking in your resume works best for these jobs. Searching FB for Aviation job groups also works.

It really depends what type of job you want and what is available near where you live.

Chris F

Thank you Chris F.