Military Retirement Planning

Hello all,

I’m looking for suggestions on how to best prep for becoming an airline pilot. I am active duty still and have 7 years left. I will retire when i am 37/38. I am in the process of getting my private pilots license now. With the military side I have no experience with aircraft, quiet the opposite really, submarines. I’m a nuclear mechanic. I enjoy flying, its peaceful, and i am considering making it my second career. I read the age post and im on the late bloomer side based on my service however i should have about 25+ yrs to work in the airline industry. Any tips or suggestions to how to prepare would be appreciated.



Becoming an airline pilot doesn’t really require alot of “prep”, you need training and hours. You’ve got 7 yrs the more licenses, ratings and flight time you can build in that time, the less you need to do after. That’s really all there is to it.


Hi Adam,

A quick few questions.

My wife just told me that if I make something I love doing and turn it into a job I might not love it anymore. Do you only enjoy airlines, or do you still fly solo/family personal trips.

Second, I see you are in Hawaii. I am transferring to Hawaii in September. How is the air traffic around Pearl Harbor, if you know, and do you have anyone that you would recommend for private pilot and other ratings? I might finish my private stateside, but just in case I would enjoy a good recommendation for the area.

Aloha Chris,

No disrespect to your wife but I couldn’t disagree more. Personally I believe if you can take something you love and figure out to get paid to do it, that my friend is the secret of life! We spend a significant portion of our lives working. If you can be happy there AND happy at home that doesn’t leave much time to be unhappy. As to whether I still fly recreationally the answer is no but that’s not because I don’t enjoy. It’s simply because I’m lazy and live in Hawaii. I grew up in NY so when I’m not flying I’m playing in the water. If I want to fly I simply pick up a trip and get paid to do it. Life is good.

There are a number of flight schools on the South Ramp of HNL as well as Rodgers (both close to Pearl). I’m really not familiar with the flight schools but I’m certain when you get here you’ll get some recommendations.


Thanks Adam for the advice.

Rookie question here, what do you mean pick up a trip. Do you choose what flights you take? I apologize, i just assumed that I would be told what flights i’m flying for that week/month.


Most airlines have what’s called PBS (preferential bidding system). You put in your “preferences” and the system builds you a line based on them. Of course everyone can’t get what they want and that’s where seniority comes into the equation. With that in mind there’s also always “open trips” (available unassigned trips due to a variety of reasons) that can be picked up on days off or traded for. Hence the term “pick up a trip”. Cool?



With seven years to go, the best thing you could do is continue to slowly work on your ratings and build flight time. With that about of time, you should be able to have all of your certificates by the time you retire and a good chunk of your 1,500 hours.

I do enjoy airline flying, you get spoiled by having every piece of safety equipment, two jet engines and plenty power. I did go flying in a friend’s little airplane a few months ago, it was nice, but I checked that box for the next few years.


Like everyone said, the best thing to do is utilize time off you have to knock out ratings and hours. The more you can have done by your retirement, the quicker you can jump start your aviation career.
As for losing the love of it… man absolutely not. I will say, after a long day of multiple leg flying and I’m in the back of the cabin emptying the lav (I fly for a part 135 charter operation), that I don’t love. Some aspects that surround the job aren’t glamorous, but every time I hop in the airplane, fire up those engines and barrel down the runway or grease a landing I have a smile on my face. Now that is fun… and then you remember, “dang, I’m getting paid for this!” That, I hope, never changes.


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BAD JOKE ALERT! What does your wife think love is? :wink::grimacing:

I didn’t come on here to talk about love and marriage, but I couldn’t help myself. Love is a noun AND a verb. Verb, meaning action, meaning effort, meaning work, meaning…job? Okay maybe that’s taking it too far. My point is that you and your wife both agreed to love each other forever and marriage is “work.” So surely you both understand, hopefully, that if you can both agree to love each other until “death do us part,” then you can also imagine loving a job for just as long?

Look, Hannah said it well. There will always be pros and cons to every job. The key is to maintain realistic expectations. For that you’ll need to do some soul searching to learn how to keep your emotions in check.

I think the more important thing is for you to do some serious homework to figure out if this is the best career for you. And maybe that’s what your wife meant by her comment about not loving it anymore. Maybe she meant that right now you are in love with the idea and not the real thing. Like you said, you have no experience with aircraft.

Before you do anything you need to take at least one, or more, intro flights first. See if you love the experience. Then, talk to the pilots while you’re there. Read up on the forum. Ask more questions.

Honestly, if I told my wife that I wanted to be a pro-whatever, without any prior experience, she’d look at me sideways too.

Give it some thought. Be realistic about it. Come up with a plan and if you truly love it you won’t have to convince her that you do. She’ll know.