Scratching the flying itch

Hi all, this is my first time posting here, but for the last week I have been devouring all of the fantastic insight that these contributors have been sharing.

I, too, concern myself with the fear that I will someday or somehow lose the passion for flying once it’s a job. My dad, a retired A&P/IA, always chided that if you love flying, keep it as a hobby. As such, as well as getting married and raising 3 young kids, I’ve never done anything with my PPL since I’ve acquired it in 2003.

Now at 38 years old, I’m freshly recurrent, and I’m realizing that flying is something I’ve really missed over the last decade. I’ve dedicated 23 years to cabinetry and remodeling, but I’m ready for a change. And this still sounds hair-brained to me, but I’m very intrigued by aerial application (cropdusting). I’ve been in communication with an operator right in my backyard, but obviously have a long road ahead to obtain the ratings needed to fly for him.

The appeal of aerial application is what I’ve always loved about flight, the 3-dimensional dynamic sensations of flight, and the stick-and-rudder skills necessary. If this operator simply cannot find a seat for me in his operation, (this is still being negotiated, and no definitive timeframe has been agreed on, yet) what is your opinion of professional flying for the airlines as a skill/trade? Put another way, does flying IFR flight plans scratch the itch the same way as you remember when you were in PPL training?

I don’t know about anything other than VFR flying, but am afraid that if I commit the resources to ATP for a future in commercial aviation, and there isn’t a path for me into cropdusting, that I’ll still derive the same satisfaction flying for a scheduled carrier.

Surely there are (passionate) pilots on here that have had the same concerns earlier in training?

(My apologies for the philosophical questions)


1 Like


No apologies necessary but as you’re asking philosophical questions and more exactly questions regarding an individual’s “feelings” on a vocation it’s literally impossible to answer.

When I flew for the Regionals I loved the variety. There were long flights and short flights from relatively small airports to JFK, ATL and LAX. I had a blast. I’m extremely fortunate in I now fly for an airline that has different operations to suit individual tastes. I started at Hawaiian flying InterIsland and absolutely loved it. While we’re always on an IFR flight plan we often cancel and do a ton of VFR flying. They’re short hops, the day goes fast and I’m never bored. I wanted to scratch my itch to be a “real” airline pilot and fly a heavy to exotic locations so I went to the A330. It was fun for a few months but sitting over the Pacific for 5,6,7 hrs got old really fast and I was bored senseless so I went back to InterIsland.

The thing is ALL the above is strictly my take. I know pilots who feel the completely opposite. Some hated the Regional flying, some hate interisland and love long haul. One of my instructors when I was at ATP flew for a Regional for a year, quit and went back to firefighting. As I said I loved it.

A million years ago I sold cars when I was in school and my boss (a burly old Irishman named Bill Hall) would say if everyone liked the same thing there’d be only one car in one color for sale with no options. To each their own. At 38 you should know yourself pretty well and only you know what will or will not scratch your itch.




I find the airlines fulfilling, but I have no desire to fly ten feet over a field, or under power lines. Those things sound frightening to me.

We are not allowed to cancel IFR and fly VFR at my airline, but we do of course do visual approaches and that is fun. I have also been known to do the “Bay Tour” out of SFO and Grand Canyon tours if Vegas Approach will allow it.




I’ve read your post a few times. Philosophically speaking, this “itch,” for lack of a better word, will fade no matter what type of flying you do. Thats true for most things in life. Fade, however has a negative connotation in this context. Evolve describes it more accurately. So, no. Flying now feels nothing like my first flights as a private pilot. And that’s okay. What is important is that you have an “itch.” Lol. What I mean by that is you will always remember what the thrill of flight felt like even if you don’t experience it on a daily basis. Your motivation to fly will evolve, as you do. For example, right now I’m really enjoying the responsibility and the flexibility that the job brings. On occasion while I’m flying I’ll have my moment that brings me back to the day I started. These moments come in many forms. It could be a crosswind landing, the views, the stories, the pure joy a child experiences when handed a pair of wings.

There’s a lot more to life than one’s profession. In other words, our professions don’t define who we are. Our source of fulfillment should come from within. I’m thankful to be doing what I’m doing, but at the end of the day my profession is nothing more than what it is.

So, crop dusting? I love an adrenaline rush as much as anyone else. I’d do it once to say I did it. What kind of lifestyle would crop dusting be able to provide for me? That’s the question you need to be asking yourself.