Old Fella with some hours wants to change careers and become and airline pilot

I am a 44 year old that has been commercial fisherman who wants to become a commercial airline pilot. I went to school as a young man to become a pilot and received my private pilot license. The Alaskan fisheries proved to be very lucrative and I did not pursue my aviation career. I chased the money in Alaska. My body is becoming soar from years of abuse on the Ocean and I am looking at starting my career in aviation again at 44. The commercial fishing and flying has had benefits. I have been a spotter pilot for seine boats for many years. Flying low elevations for salmon, herring and sardines in sometimes less than ideal conditions has made me a okay stick and rudder pilot but I have long forgot many of the FARs and regulations because I am generally flying in uncontrolled airspace! Another problem that I have in the pursuit of my new career is that I have not written in my log book in say 20 years except for some bi annuals and checkouts for rentals. I have roughly 2000 hours but not much in that log book. I guess I never thought I would be changing careers. The experimental Carbon Cub that I have been flying does have a garmin linked to the hobbs meter so I can go back and record those hours. Any ideas on how to record more of the hours that have not been recorded? I have no records or receipts, Just memories!
Is it to late at 44 years old to get in the airline pilot game or will the younger candidates be given preference because of there young age?
What are your suggestions for moving forward with the career choice.
I appreciate all of your suggestions.

1 Like

Hello Brian and Welcome,

First off no 44 isn’t too old BUT you may have to adjust your expectations some. Let’s say you get to a Regional in 2yrs, you’re 46. Spend 3-5 years there building time and experience, now you’re around 50, are you going to want to go back to the bottom and start over at a Major? Maybe, maybe not. Thing is mandatory retirement is 65 so you’re looking at just under a 20 yr career as a pilot. Definitely not terrible and you could have a very nice career as a Regional Capt or even a First Officer at a Major, but probably not enough where you’ll ever Capt a 777 to Asia. If that sounds agreeable then no you’re not too old.

Now as for your time that’s a tricky thing. The reality is your log book is really done on the “honor system”. Often, especially in cases like yours, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to verify everything. However, we do live in the computer age and if you list a flight in a particular airframe and the FAA (or airline) cross references that tail # and finds that plane was trashed or out of service you’ve got an issue. That all said flight time is obviously valuable and if you do in fact have 2000 hrs it would really be in your best interest to sit down with any and all available resources (paychecks, receipts, pictures etc) and try and piece something together. The fact that you are 44 that time could really make a huge difference in your career. In theory you could get the rest of your licenses and ratings, work on the remaining time requirements to earn your ATP (cross country, multi, instrument, etc) and get hired at a Regional in less than a year OR it could take you MUCH longer. Definitely worth the effort.



I would find a way to log absolutely every minute that is verifiable. Go to the places you rented from, ask them for their records, any company you flew for might hopefully have some record of having a spotter up that day. As a last resort I would use memory, because as Adam said, it can get you into trouble.

All of that being said, you are going to need to finish your licenses and get some recency of experience, which will all build flight time. Even with your flight time I have a hard time thinking that an airline is going to hire you the moment you get your licenses, you will likely need to instruct and log some instrument time, all of which will build further hours for you.