Unexpected Career Turning Points and Surprises

Hello all,

I was thinking about where I would like to see myself eventually after completing ATP and building a career as a professional pilot. I would like to sit here and say I am going to fly for Delta or FedEx, but it seems like I am getting way too far ahead of myself as aviation is a constantly changing environment.

That being said, where did your aviation career take you unexpectedly? What opportunities presented themselves that you did not expect? Did you fly for an airline that you never considered flying for? Did you fly a plane that you did not expect to end up loving? Any pleasant surprises in your career?

Have a good one!

Christopher

Christopher,

Several surprises for me. I grew up in a US Airways family and always assumed that I would work for one of their commuter airlines and then USair mainline. I did get hired at Piedmont and was all set to go there, but then a friend pushed me to interview at ExpressJet, I did and was hired. Turns out that ExpressJet was a much better company at the time and I ended up going there.

That career move put me on a track to go to Continental, that I had certainly never planned on before. Long story, but CAL was a very bad name in my household and I grew up with some serious animosity towards them. But gradually I realized that was ancient history and that I would be very lucky if I could land a job at CAL. I was hired by CAL at a young age, which was very unexpected.

When I was hired at CAL, I had my heart set on flying the 757, but as I was the junior person in the class, I was assigned the 737. I ended up really liking the 737, even after later flying the 757.

Last surprise, never in a million years did I think I would end up flying for United, but thanks to a merger, here I am and am very happy.

You just never know where life might take you.

Chris

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Christopher,

My ENTIRE career has been one big surprise but fortunately they’ve all been good. First I really never thought I’d ever be an airline pilot. I just wanted to fly and maybe fine a part-time gig that would pay me vs me paying. ATP told me the airlines were hiring (I honestly thought it was a sales pitch) but the next thing I knew I was in training at ExpressJet (Continental Express). I wasn’t sure if I would ever see a Major being older but I was shooting for Continental but after working for their Regional I got a bad taste in my mouth. I had friends going to various other Majors with mixed reviews but during upgrade I met another pilot who only wanted to fly for Hawaiian (I had never even heard of them). I started reading about the airline and liked what I read and whenever I saw one of their crews I say hi and they were always very positive. Problem was I’m not Hawaiian and had no contacts so EVERYONE told me I had no shot. I figured it doesn’t cost anything to apply and next thing I knew I was moving to Hawaii. Finally I had been flying a Regional Jet and was very much looking forward to flying a widebody heavy to Asia but I was assigned to the B717 flying interisland. I was really not happy until I started doing the flying and discovered it’s the BEST GIG in AVIATION! But you see I had ZERO interest in it and honestly if I had gotten the 767 or the A330 I would’ve stayed there my entire career, never would have tried Interisland and would’ve been missing out big time!.

This career is an adventure. Try not to over think it. Just enjoy the ride!

Adam

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Chris,

So how did the family react to you going to Continental? I mean, it worked out great, but you went to the competition. Haha.

Christopher

Adam,

That is a great example! I was motivated to ask this because I always believed that plans are always just that, plans. Life always seems to have its own plans.

That is awesome about the 717. I look at widebody jets and feel inspired, but you see the 717 and it truly is a wonderful machine despite its smaller size.

I will definitely try not to over think it. I fall in the trap of thinking about salary, big jets, and all the other perks, but I just need to remember that I’m doing this because I love flying. I just want to love what I do.

Christopher

My father was very pleased that I went to Continental and was very instrumental in helping me to get an interview there. The whole airline industry is really more of a brotherhood with friendly competition than actually competitive.

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Christopher,

When I received my conditional job offer at Horizon I thought I was going to be flying the Dash 8, because that’s all they had at the time.

As my start date at Horizon approached, my flight hours as a CFI slowed down suddenly. This postponed my start date by a couple of weeks, just in time for Horizon’s ERJs to show up. I got a call and was asked if I had a preference. I took the ERJ and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. That was a pleasant surprise.

Then an unpleasant surprise happened. Last fall, management had underestimated the pilot shortage and Horizon started canceling flights left and right. The entire company was in a state of panic. As a new hire, I was afraid that the company was going to collapse. Thankfully I was wrong. We hung on and are continuing to recover from last year.

Tory

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Tory,

That is a brilliant example of luck! It sounds worth it if you got into an ERJ! Did you want to fly the ERJ before?

It’s good to hear that your airline made it through! At least you were not with Great Lakes.

Christopher

I was actually prepared to fly the Dash when I got hired. I interviewed well before I had 1500 hours and there was talk about getting ERJs, but it seemed unlikely that I would be hired after they showed up.

Speaking of luck, after my conditional job offer, I got a call, saying oh yeah…you’re also going to get a signing bonus. And then when I got to ground school, they said, oh yeah…you haven’t even flown the line yet, but all first year pay just went up $4. It was one surprise after the next. All luck if you ask me.

Tory

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Tory,

That is awesome! You should have played the lottery after that!

Christopher

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I felt like I had won the lottery

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