Aviation is truly an exciting, dynamic business to be involved in. If you are just starting out on your flying journey, good luck and know that you’ve made a great choice of career. With our support and the help of others, I guarantee that you’ll go on to enjoy a long and rewarding career. Very few people get to realise their childhood dreams, but pilots are some of the lucky ones that do.
Like most pilots, I knew I wanted to fly airplanes right from a young age. For some reason, I didn’t actually know any real life pilots. I did a lot of reading on websites, in magazines and on forums but I never got an opportunity to actually hang out and talk to any real pilots. I started flight school and of course asked hundreds of questions of my instructors and other students but in hindsight, their experience was relatively limited. They simply lacked some of the insight of pilots that had been operating out in the so called “real world”.
So I wanted to share a few insights with you as someone who has worked for three major, international airlines and has spoken to literally thousands of different pilots. These are three simple things I want you to know as you start out in your flying career.
1. Flying is a lifestyle, not a job.
If there is one statement you remember from this article, make it this one. Take a moment to read it again and try to understand it’s sentiment.When you become a pilot, you actually inadvertently depart the world of the average human. You’ll get time off when everyone else has to work. You’ll be flying an ILS approach at 7am in the morning when the motorway below you is packed full of commuters. You’ll be entering a world and learning a language that is incredibly mysterious and fascinating to most people. You won’t be flying to a business meeting like your passengers, the flight IS your business meeting. So, remember, you’re not just getting a job like everyone else. You’re signing up to a different way of life. You’re declaring to the world that you want a life doing what you love and what you love is getting paid to fly airplanes.
2. Have one big, audacious goal to aim for
I firmly believe that you should have a big goal to aim for early in your flying career. The one job that if you were to get would you make you the happiest little pilot in the whole wide world. Figure out what that job is for you. There will be plenty of resources on this site to help you answer that question in the future. Be specific. Don’t say, “I wanna fly a 777”. Say, “I want to be a 777-300ER Captain for Virgin Australia living on the beach in Byron Bay and travelling to LA twice a month”. Now that’s an inspiring goal! Then, become obsessive about that goal. Find out what the requirements are to apply. Where do they employ pilots from? How can you get in touch with some of their pilots? Via LinkedIn etc? Use all of the resources you can to start planning out the initial parts of your career to maximise your chances of getting that job in the future.
3. Your aviation career is absolutely about the journey and not the destination
It’s an overused phrase, but when it comes to aviation It could not be more true. When we’re starting out our careers, we all want to fly for a big airline and preferably next week, thanks. As you know, I firmly believe you need those big goals but it is still going take a while to gain the experience you need to even apply for those jobs. That means hour building and depending on who you talk to, it can either be the worst part of your career or the best. I want you to be in the latter category. My advice is to do everything you can to find jobs out of your normal circle (ie Your flight school and close friends). Maybe make flight instructing your backup choice. How about mustering cattle in the outback of Australia? Flying tourists over the stunning landscapes of Tanzania? At this point no job is below you and they will all lead to something bigger and better eventually. Your motto here is the crazier the job the better. The point is, use your hour building time to experience something different, maybe travel the world and certainly make friends for life. I promise you won’t regret it. As much as you don’t want to hear it now, you’ll have plenty of time sitting in a big airliner in the future. Enjoy the early parts of your career and find adventurous jobs that one day you can tell your grandkids about.
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As always, I love to hear from you guys and I welcome any of your questions so get in touch via the contact page.