Questions before the big journey!

Hyeon,

An airline will generally offer which bases they have at the time you are hired, that might mean that your desired base is available, it might not. You could end up being stuck at a base for some time until your desired base becomes available.

Chris

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@Hannah,

Thank you so much for helping me visualize what my day would look like as a training pilot. I completely understand that nobody is trying to disuade me one way or another. I just have a lot of think about, and I really appreciate the honest opinions! It’s good to have an option.

I also have some questions since you’re the first female pilot I get to speak with! What’s your experience with your aviation career as a female? I’d love to hear about your perspectives.

I keep reminding myself that today is the youngest I’ll ever be and I’m adequate, but as a mom, I can’t help but to worry from my kids’ point of view.

Thank you for taking precious time out of your busy day!

@Adam,

Thank you again for helping me making well informed decision! I understand this is a huge commitment and is nothing to be taken lightly. I want to put my heart and soul into this career, and I fully understand that this is ultimately my choice - either to rip the bandaid (as Hannah put it), or choose to take it at a Flex Track pace. I just have a lot to think about, and I’m happy I’ll be making a well informed decision in the end. I’m grateful to receive so many helpful advice/info here in this forum.

Thank you for helping me understand the Fast Track life! I’ll consider and weigh all the pros and cons, and decide what works with my situation the best.

I completely agree that everyone’s needs for different, but would you mind sharing what your weekend needs are like? Do you find it helpful or sometimes necessary to still set aside a couple of hours during the weekend to do some studying (when you don’t go into training center for a makeup day)?

I know it’ll be a full time/no weekend/all the time for a junior airline pilot, but my husband and I were curious of how the weekend life is like during the student period.

Thank you again! I really appreciate you taking your precious time out of the busy day!!

Hyeon,

I am not sure you are grasping what we mean when we say the Fast Track program is a full time program. Yes, there are scheduled weekend days off, but every minute of that time will need to be spent on studying and preparing for your next day of class or flying. There will be no time with your husband, no time with your kids, no time for walks in the park, this is a seriously condensed program that absolutely requires every bit of your time.

I am not trying to dissuade you from anything, but I want to make sure that you realize that full time means every minute.

Chris

Hyeon,
Absolutely! Only 6% of airline pilots are women. We may get an interview easier but every other aspect of being a female in the industry is a challenge. You’ll feel it from your first rating to your last type. I’ve spoken to women at the end of their careers who really blazed a trail and sadly not much has changed in almost 40 years. However, with all that being said… it’s still the best job in the world. For one ignorant person, there will be 10 that encourage and support you. There are a lot of organizations like women in aviation that provide opportunities to network and connect with other female aviators. It’s a very special network to be a part of. Anyway, below is a more expanded answer to your question…

-Hannah

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Thank you again for your insight. I now see that I did not quite understand the meaning of full time as you pointed out. I thought I’d still manage to get some family time here and there very scarcely. Fully understanding what I’m about to jump into is so crucial to my success. Thank you again.

Hannah,
Thank you so much for sharing your insight. This was super helpful and important for me! When I worked as Delta’s gate agent, I heard from a coworker once that there was a passenger who refused to go onboard because “there was a woman in the cockpit” Unbelievable. Well, guess who is not going anywhere!

Adding to the female perspective, it would be immensely helpful for me to hear about the “mom perspective” (I’m only assuming you don’t have children) . Do you know a way for me to be connected with someone who may be able to share her experience of family/work balance as a pilot with me?

Thank you so much for helping me along this journey. I’m about to schedule my introductory flight soon and I’m so excited about it! It’s scary and exciting at the same time, but I’m so grateful that I’ll be able to make a well informed decision. Thank you!

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You assumed right haha. I do not have any children yet but I have been mentored by a lot of strong women who are full time Pilots and mothers. The biggest takeaways:

  1. Having a partner that can be that full time parent while you are away and supports your career decision.
  2. Knowing that your passion for flying and the empowerment the career provides you is worth some sacrifice.
  3. Adjusting your career aspirations to prioritize quality of life and time spent at home with your children.

As airline pilots we have a lot of choices: living in base/commuting, upgrade to fly a bigger airplane/or wait and stay senior to have control of your schedule, fly max credit hours for the paycheck/fly the min credit to have the max days at home… these decisions dictate the kind of career you have and the work life balance for your family. It’s tough, but with the right choices, you can have it all.

-Hannah

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Thank you for priceless insights, Hannah!

While my husband will continue working as a full time health professional, he has some flexibility in his work schedule and I have an amazing daycare I can trust with both kids. I think the Flex Track may still be the better option for me though, just to ensure I have a bit more flexibility in case of absolute inevitables.

It is so great and relieving to know that pilots have a lot of choices and options to best balance their work & lifestyle! When you say “max/min credit hours to fly” how does max/min hours work? Why is it called “credit”? If you choose to fly minimum hours to max days at home, how does it affect your promotion?

Thank you again for your time. I truly appreciate it!

When you’re at an airline, there is credit hours and block hours. Basically block hours is the time you were flying (aka what you put in a logbook). Credit is the time you get paid for, block time plus taxi time. Meaning you get paid for all the time from brake release at the origin to setting the brakes at the gate at your destination.

Min credit would mean you bid for a schedule with the minimum amount of credit hours to still be considered full time. For every airline it’s different but for example, say it’s 55 hrs. Max credit is the most amount of hours to fly in a month and still be legal with the FAA, for example, 90 hrs. There is a big difference in a schedule with 55 credit hours vs 90 hours.

-Hannah

Hyeon,

I would point out that while you might bid min credit, the odds of actually getting that are small. An airline pilot is a full time position and they expect you to work as such.

Chris