By: Mike Forth
Congratulations! You got your PPL (private pilot license). Actually, it’s a certificate, not a license, but that’s a topic for a different discussion. The important thing is you got it! Now you can fly around in almost any single engine aircraft, take passengers and do all kinds of fun stuff.
You may not know it, but you are standing at the threshold of a whole new world, with so many options and choices it can make your head spin, no pun intended.
You can remain a private pilot and enjoy the many benefits and freedom it provides, or you can go on to become a professional pilot, make some money, open up a whole new world and see it at the same time.
If you choose to continue your training, and you should, no matter your plans, the opportunities are limitless. You can become a flight instructor and teach others what you have learned. You can be a charter or corporate pilot, flying high-class individuals all over the world. Perhaps you would like to stay closer to home and be a crop duster by spraying the crops and helping put food on the tables of the world. There is also law enforcement, helping to keep our cities and streets safe. The list is endless and the possibilities are boundless.
Honestly, very few industries offer as much flexibility and, at this time in history, so many opportunities. You are invited to join, at any level, by virtue of being a pilot. So, what do you want to do?
The largest, of course, is the airline. Almost every child at one time or another has looked up, watched an airplane fly overhead and said, “I want to be a pilot!” It’s right up there with being a cowboy, an astronaut, or … a nuclear scientist!
If you’ve ever entertained the idea of joining the “big boys” in the airline industry, now is the time to do so. Actually, it’s a rare time in our history to do anything you desire in aviation.
The airline floodgates opened a few years ago, with the retirements of the baby boomers, which means they need you more than ever in the last 20 – 30 years.
So, you might say, “I don’t really want to be an airline pilot. I’d rather do something different in airplanes.” That’s great because the opportunities are everywhere. As pilots fill spots in the airline, they leave openings someplace else, and those positions are just waiting for you to jump in.
That’s what is so great about continuing your training and getting all those other certificates and ratings. Not only will you be, most importantly, a better, safer pilot, but you’re giving yourself options of which others can only dream.
Common analyses suggest that this particular hiring frenzy will continue for the next eight to ten years! So, if you have even the remotest thoughts of working, which is hard to make a case for when flying is so much fun, or making your living in airplanes, now is the time to strike!
The reason to act now is that when the airlines meet their quotas, the hiring doors will close. There will always be openings; they just may not be as visible or accessible.
As a comparison, when I was a commercial pilot, if you wanted to fly for the airlines, you had to be 21 – 23 years old, have 5,000 or more hours, most of which should be in turbines, and have a four-year degree. The degree could be in underwater basket weaving for all that mattered. It didn’t matter, you just had to have one. I exaggerate for effect, but the point was obvious, they didn’t need pilots, so they simply jacked up the requirements which discouraged many people from applying.
Right now is your time. Jump in! Take advantage of the timing in an industry that wants to offer you the world.
The requirements have been lowered. Get all the certificates and ratings you can and apply! Give lots of thought to what you would like to do or fly. Talk to your instructors, to the school management and counselors, and to anyone who will listen. Make what you want to do known. They can and will help you lay out a plan to get you there as quickly as possible. In many cases, many have important connections that can help get you to right where you want to be.
So, if it is watching the world slip beneath your nose on the way to exotic lands or helping others obtain their dream of flight, now is the time. Don’t let it pass.