Sunday, October 17, 2010

Airline Pilot

Sorry for the delay. Apparently I haven't posted since March. Between then and now a lot has happened. I've officially ended my career as a flight instructor and began the adventure as an airline pilot. As a look back, nothing really pushed me to pursue this particular airline (or a life as an airline pilot). I have a friend who I flew with during my training at ATP that works here and has always encouraged me to apply. I think I did apply back when I had a merely 400 hours. I was never very pursuant towards this airline before, but now I figured I'd give it a shot since I was now a veteran of flight instructing.

I got a call only 2 days after I had submitted my resume. I received an interview that was to be at the La Guardia airport in New York. I wasn't nervous until the day I was to travel to New York. What really gets me nervous is when there is so much complexity in something, that there has to be a failure in the execution. Here's the situation: drive 3 hours from my house to an international airport in California, catch a 2-leg flight to arrive in La Guardia, arrive to have time to accomplish apart of the 2-day interview, find somewhere to stay for the second day.

I had to wake up at 2 A.M. to make my flight at an airport that was 3 hours drive from my house. I said goodbye to my wife and 3-month old son and began my trek. The drive was eerie, but I arrived to the airport in time and flew across the country to finally make it to my destination. I figured no one would be at the interview location at the time I had arrived, but decided to make sure nonetheless. Luckily, there were still people there and I was eventually asked if I wanted to take the written examination right then. I figured I'd get it out the way and agreed to take it. A failure on the written would get you a ticket back home without an interview, but I missed only two questions, and I stayed. That night I got a much expected 4 hours of sleep. I had an original room that had poorly sealed windows right next to a freeway that ended up waking me up mid-sleep. I got a new room, consequently, where I finally was able to sleep for the 4 hours I was destined.

The interview consisted of a human resources portion, a logbook examination and a full-motion simulator evaluation, the latter being the most crucial. Despite my nervousness, I breezed through the first two portions and focused on the simulator. It was a Beech 1900D full motion simulator and we were required to takeoff, fly a published IFR hold and then fly an ILS back to La Guardia. I flew first since my sim partner was too nervous to accept it. God was with me because my flight was almost perfect except for a few expected little mistakes (I flew almost too calm). I had made it through the interview.

My flight home compared to my flight there was like 'night and day'. I felt very accomplished. It was now time to wait and see if this was the direction I would go.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Instructing Pictures

Here are some pictures I've taken as an instructor:

Mountain waves visible by fog.

Arrival into Burbank on a dual cross country to the IMAX theatre to see Dark Night.

IFR departure enroute for a PPL checkride.

My student doing a good job on a constant-speed climb.

Flying into Catalina on a dual IFR cross country.

Lake Tahoe airport enroute in the Seneca from Reno.

Enroute in an Arrow to Oceanside, California.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another Milestone

1000 hours is something of merit, but doesn't really go as far as a number. Recently, however, I've accumulated 1200 hours, which actually means something in the aviation world. As per FAR part 135, 1200 hours is the total hours required to fly for "commuter and on-demand operations" (i.e. charter and cargo). I've always thought of making one of these career choices my own, but it never became a reality until now. The schedules aren't as set or "normal" as the airline world. Cargo flying schedules are usually late through the night, while some charter is "on-demand", where the pilot is basically on call. Having a family makes these schedules difficult to maintain.

It seems that slowly the airlines are starting to improve financially. This is a good sign that there will be soon some movement. I'm not holding my breath, nor am I disappointed, however. Those who second guess flight instructing as a career, are missing something. It's definitely not the best paying gig, nor is it consistent, but if it were, I'd be here to stay. Flight instructing makes day to day flying the unexpected, it never gets dull.

I think the negativity that's being projected out there today by pilots is from those pilots who've always thought flying as an image, not as something they enjoy. When they realize the "job" part of the career isn't as new and glamorous as they thought, it's projected negatively. Sure, one wants to get paid and respected accordingly, but what job do these become reality on a day-to-day basis? I got into flying because it took me to a place where nothing else could. I know making it a career will make it less "magical" in the end, but the enjoyment, at least, keeps me sane. I think pilots deserve extreme respect and financial compensation due to the commitment and money it takes to become one. I've spent years and thousands of dollars to make it where I am and I think it deserves every bit of respect and compensation. With any job, we'll see if that stands.

I'm a devout musician as well a pilot. I've always asked myself why I haven't gone into a career in music. It seems to be similar to flying, though, more confined. I always thought doing something I loved, playing music, as a career would ruin that pleasure. I guess I'm glad I found flying as something I really enjoyed, because it allowed me to pursue that as a career, rather than music. I think I saw flying as a more lucrative/feasibly possible career than music, maybe I was wrong.

Thanks to all those (few) who read this blog. I hope it's enough to at least inspire someone to go for their dream.