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Thread: I'm a young pilot. Any advice?

  1. #1

    Default I'm a young pilot. Any advice?

    Hello, I'm a 17-year-old student pilot about to get my private pilot license. My dream has always been to become a commercial pilot for large airlines such as united, delta, american etc. I'm a senior in highschool and still haven't decided on which college to chose. I visited Ohio University and Kent State, and went to their airports to check it out. They were nice and all but I was wondering if getting a 4 year degree in something aviation related and minoring in business (as a backup) was a good idea or if there was a better path to take. My main goal is to join a regional airline such as Republic, as they're based in my home city, working towards my hours to hop on with the main airlines.

    I would really appreciate it if current commercial pilots could give me some advice or share the path they took towards commercial flying.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Westminster, CO


    Keeping in mind that the term "commercial pilot" actually means someone who flies for hire, not just airline pilots, there are a multitude of ways to go.

    Your general approach sounds pretty good for a start, and it's an excellent idea to have a degree in something you can fall back on should you fail your medical some day, as sometimes happens. Whether that something is aviation related or not depends so much on your interests, since most any degree will meet the airlines' requirement for college. Ohio State has an excellent aviation program, as does North Dakota, to name a couple more schools to look at. Here's a list of the 10 "best" aviation degree colleges. Besides the degree itself, most of those also have programs to take you through flight training.

    Note my comment above about "commercial pilot." I am a "commercial pilot," meaning I have my Commercial certificate, and I've flown for hire -- I started in 1971 for hire as a part time flight instructor, and I've also done banner towing, glider towing and charter flying over the years, but always as a sideline, with my main income in a non-aviation field. And I haven't done too badly, have flown about 60 different types of aircraft over the years, all light singles or twins, including gliders, open cockpits biplanes, antiques, etc., much of it for pay.

    There are also corporate pilots, agricultural pilots, pipeline patrol pilots and many, many more fields needing pilots, in addition to the airlines, which could give you a flying career.

    A good friend of mine flies for United and, until a couple of years ago, also flew for the South Dakota Air National Guard (F-16s) -- he finally retired from that). A guy down the street is a corporate pilot, making a very nice living flying bizjets, and gets to go many places that an airline type would never see, without the (to many people) boring aspect of flying the same route over and over and over until they can bid another route to fly over and over and over.

    If you choose to be a CFI while you are building time, you'll learn as much as or possibly more than your students do, especially for the first 200-300 hours of teaching, but teaching is a specialized field, in itself, whether aviation or another field, and requires a certain dedication to be good at it.

    Note that often (not always) people you know in aviation will give you leads to jobs, perhaps even give you recommendations, so get to know a lot of folks in the field -- there's a lot to learn, even just hangar flying. Also, reading all you can about aviation, not just magazines, but peruse the library for books written over the years, some fiction perhaps, but non-fiction such as Fate Is The Hunter by Ernest K. Gann, Weather Flying by Robert Buck, Stick and Rudder by Wolfgang Langewiesche and many more (there was a thread on this site about that recently) can provide you with valuable information.

    One final comment: Airline pilots spend as much (if not more) time keeping up to date with the latest info, recurrent training, and many other tasks as they do actually flying. Corporate pilots often do the same. ALL other pilots flying for hire have a lot of that to do, too. So bookwork and drudgery will be there for most flying careers part of the time. In other words, it's not all glamor.

    Best of luck to you.

    Larry N.

    As Skylab would say:
    Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

  3. Default

    Look at the ATP minimums for starters. If you go the 141 route you'll qualify for your restricted ATP at a 1000 hours. I went part 91 and didn't qualify until I reached 1500. A structured program, in my opinion, is the way to go and you'll have many resources along the way. I just interviewed at SkyWest and all applicants were flight instructors. This is ideal as you'll build hours quickly. Short comings of flight instructing will be building cross country time so manage that carefully.

    The airlines like to get proficient IFR pilots so go for CFII and be a good proficient IFR pilot and use Jeppesen.

    An Alternate route would be to build enough hours to get hired by a 135 operator and the airlines offer bonuses for 135 experience. You only need a few hundred hours and a multi rating with roughly 15 hours to get hired flying right seat.

    Good Luck!

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