Making a living flying

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by elgoatropo, May 15, 2005.

  1. elgoatropo

    elgoatropo

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    I am beginning to see a trend in aviation here in Alaska. Pay is not keeping pace with inflation. I fly King Airs single pilot for an air taxi, and the company does not see anything wrong with paying me $42,000 a year, and making me pay for my own medical insurance.

    A single guy can do OK with this, but those of us supporting a family are struggling, in an area where single family homes start at $180,000.

    Help me put this into perspective here folks. Does this sound reasonable? I am currently looking at switching careers for a city job, since airline prospects do not look good any time soon.

    When I talk to management about getting better benefits, their attitude is like, "Well, uh, doesn't your wife have benefits?" It makes me want to strangle them. What other profession pays so little for so much training and experience?
     
  2. Skyhook

    Skyhook

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    "the company does not see anything wrong with paying me $42,000 a year, and making me pay for my own medical insurance."

    I'm no economist, but I gotta believe this is related to Dick Morris' book on Clinton- '

    Because He Could

    That company is letting the market decide your fate. In other wordsif the pilots were difficult to get, the bennies and pay would increase to a level commensurate with supply.

    The company is being a bastage Because It Can.

    Not pretty, and perhaps little help, but that's how this self-employed mogul;) sees it.
     

  3. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Other than the top paying jobs the pay, as far as I saw was always pretty sad.
    Even the big companies (I flew 29 years for Petroleum Helicopters) was as low as they could get away with paying.

    For instance, we went for 8 years with only one 4% cost of living raise.
    As a pilot with 20 some years with the company, a totally clean record and being the highest time pilot in Bell 206's in the Gulf I continued to make what a 7.5 year (possibly low time) pilot made.

    The pilots and mechanics were almost, but not quite, the lowest paid people in the Gulf of Mexico.


    True story.
    I was flying to the pipe laying barges in the Gulf.
    Big barges but usually with little, obstructed, rocking heliports.

    I had eaten lunch, great food on the barges, and made a pit stop on the way up to the heliport.
    There was a guy cleaning the toilets. He said the usual, Man you have a great job, etc, etc, etc, what does it pay?
    I told him.
    He said, You got to be s******g me, I make more than that!!!

    Just once in my professional flying I would have liked to have answered the, "How much do you make" question, without hearing, "You got to be s*****g me".:(
     
  4. Sinister Angel

    Sinister Angel I'd Hit It!

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    Ding ding ding! We have a winner.
     
  5. IslandHopper

    IslandHopper

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    well, you'd not want to commute from AK (do you really want to move to Newark, NJ ?) ...

    but Continental Airlines is hiring pilots ... the REAL Continental, not one of thier commuter affiliates.
     
  6. GlocknAK

    GlocknAK

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    Grew up in Anchorage and flew in Western Alaska. Made good money there too, but moved down here to the states for a regional job. My base here is less than $18,000 a year. So I definitely feel your pain. Like others have said here though, the companies will only pay what the current pilot market forces them too.

    Sure miss that bush flying pay check... Good luck
     
  7. ibfurloughed

    ibfurloughed

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    I'm a furloughed United pilot. 3.5 years of corporate, 9.5 commuter, 1 USAirways, 1 at United. I started my company after the furlough. After ONE year I made more money than I EVER did as a pilot. I love flying and miss FLYING airplanes everyday. HOWEVER, I do not miss all the bullshet that comes with it.
     
  8. elgoatropo

    elgoatropo

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    THanks for the replies, fellas. Well, I'm off to work to turn some wrenches. Our two best mechanics just quit, and I am on reserve today, so I'll go scab down at the hangar for a while.

    Kids, get good grades and become doctors.

    ibfurloughed, what kind of business did you start?
     
  9. ibfurloughed

    ibfurloughed

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    Builder, land developer
     
  10. jungle

    jungle

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    Unless you get a job with one of the majors that are making money-it is very tough to be happy with aviation. The list of majors making money is now down to two, FEDEX and UPS. Yes, I know there are a couple of others, but I'm talking real money.
     
  11. CaptainOveur

    CaptainOveur

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    I'm a CFI/CFII and recent college grad. I'm getting a commission in the Navy as a Flight Officer. I won't be a pilot, but I'll be next to/behind the pilot and directing him/her much of the time. I figure I'll be able to fly on the side at the flight club and possibly instruct there as well. Long term I want to get my own aircraft or a share in one. The reason I'm doing this is due to the absolute pathetic state of the industry. As a FO at a regional airline I can expect 65 or so hours at 17-20 dollars per hour. That is utterly pathetic and I didn't study to become a professional and graduate at the top of my class to work for penuts. I know a few instructing gigs where I could do better than that, but without much opportunity to expand and several years "just getting by" to rack up enough hours to get a crappy job at a regional airline as explained above. That's the sad state of the industry, and as long as the lowest price fare is the driving force in the industry, the airlines will keep cutting pilot pay to make their tickets more competative and to try and make it proffitable. It's a failed model unfortunatly. Bottom line, due to what they are paying, airlines don't want professional pilots.

    Anyhow, I head off to OCS in a matter of weeks, and I'm real excited about it. I've figured that I have to fly at some point, but I don't have to do it as my main job, it's just all in an unrecoverable spin (or at least it seems) right now. I have 4 years prior service(which boosts my pay considerably) and will be making around 45-50K when commissioned. I'll also have to get a master's degree if I expect to make it past O-3, so I'll probably get a master's in aviation safety to build on my aeronautical science degree.

    I actually got an email yesterday from the outfit that I wanted to work for as a CFI, they were telling me that they'll be hiring soon and are starting up their interview process. This would be a decent job and due to who I know I could probably get it pretty easy, but I have so many more opportunities as an officer that it's an easy choice at this point. My OCS class is secured, and I'll have great benefits and great pay. Hard to turn down. I'll even be able to get into aircraft/share ownership a LOT faster than I had planned (if I was going the normal CFI-regional slave-furloughed major route).
     
  12. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Good luck in the Navy CaptainOveur. I've got a lot of good memories from the military.:)


    Jungle, aviation can be very satisfying. Looking back I can't think of anything else I would rather have done with my life or any other way I would rather have made a living.
    Not many people get paid for doing what they love.

    So for many/most people in aviation it's a trade off, knowing that you probably will never receive the money that you should but doing what you love to do.:)
     
  13. jungle

    jungle

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    CaptainOveur, Good choice, I had 13 good years as a Marine and Navy aviator. It is a great way to go.

    M2, Howdy, love your Helo stories. I'm currently flying 767/757 for one of the Majors still making money and I'm happy, but for every good flying job there are ten that are not very good. I enjoyed my time in the military also.
     
  14. RamShooter

    RamShooter

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    I love to fly, but I'm afraid I wouldn't if I made it a job. I cannot believe what pilots are being paid these days, considering the level of responsibility that they have when flying an aluminum can through the air with other people's lives in their hands.

    I still want to become a CFI here at some point, but only in addition to a full time job on the ground.
     
  15. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine

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    Thanks jungle.

    In 1956, at Parris Island, my Marine Aviation career lasted about 15 minutes.
    I had hoped to have a shot at NAVCAD. At that time it took a minimum of 2 years college or pass the tests.

    One day three of us boots were pulled out of the recruit company and told to go take physicals for flight school. No one even asked us if we wanted to go but of course I did. Seems someone just sent us three because we had the required cutting score.

    We double timed across the grinder and when we came through the door a Corpsman was standing there with our paperwork.
    He said to me, Read the eye chart. Coming in from the bright sun I couldn't hardly see the wall. The Corpsman said, You failed. Looked at the next guy, that was wearing glasses, and said you failed.

    Weeks later in a progress evaluation, the first thing the Sergeant evaluator asked me is, With your scores, why don't you put in for flight school.;Q

    I told him what happened.
    He said, How about after infantry training we have orders waiting for you to go to aviation electronics school. That way you may stand a better chance at flight school.

    Sure enough. When we were waiting for transportation I had those orders for aviation electronics school in my hot little hand when I was told to get on a truck going to the 2nd Amtrac Battalion.

    Because of my high cutting score I was singled out for every BS school that came along, like Atomic Biological and Chemical Warfare School, etc.
    Mechanic School to.

    Oh well, I was one of the best truck mechanics the Battalion had. ;f
     
  16. Andrew Tacquard

    Andrew Tacquard

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    CaptainOveur, have fun at OCS. I hear it has gotten rather soft. But that is what everyone sasys after there gone. Aviation in the Navy/Marine Corps is a great career choice, at least in my opinion. I started in the Navy and did an inter-service transfer to the Marine Corps. Oh and have fun "directing" the pilot, remember who's at the stick. Sorry, couldn't resist. If you can pass the physical, you could possibly switch over later. I went to flight school with a couple NFOs. Also, when I went to API they let the NFOs switch over if they were #1 in the class.
     
  17. IslandHopper

    IslandHopper

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    keep telling yourself that, dude :) :) :)

    Regionals pay crap ... but most of us viewed it as just a step to the majors .... where, for most of them, the pay is still good and the work is even better.
    If you can't stand the thought of working for peanuts while you make your way to the top, then it's not the career path for you. If you can make do with a little less in the beginning, the pay-offs are huge. (think in terms of overall lifestyle, not just $$)
     
  18. glocknsail

    glocknsail

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    There is no top, unless you believe the media, in which case you work 5 days a month, hook up with a hot sky waitress, and make over $300,000 per year.

    Thankfully, I did one out of three.
     
  19. Bushflyr

    Bushflyr ʇno uıƃuɐɥ ʇsnɾ Millennium Member

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    The only difference between an overnight and a layover is gettin' lucky. ;f
     
  20. CaptainOveur

    CaptainOveur

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    I guess you haven't checked the pay rates for major airlines, and the state of the industry. Pilot pay (even for majors) keeps going down as they try to compete with each other to offer the lowest fare. The airline that pays the pilots less (like southwest) will be able to offer a cheaper ticket. And then they bring down the rest of the industry and airlines. Things may change in the future, but based on current trends, it's not going to get better any time soon. Keep telling yourself that it's going to get "good", but unfortunatly it's not good for any major airlines. You can't operate forever on a daily loss, and if you are making a net loss daily, there's no way that pay is going to "get better", it may for a few months before you get furloughed, but reality will catch up.

    So you work for regionals for years on end to get enough hours to apply for a major, where you'll probably start out making less money than you did as a captian at the regionals, and then you are on shakey ground as far as company stability and the future, you're betting/risking a lot here. IMO, better to stay CRJ captain and keep the job stability. You might not make as much as a pilot that's worked for delta fo 18 years, but the days of $300,000 pilot are gone. The days of the $200,000 pilot are gone. The days of the 180,000 pilot are numbered. And while that seems like more than enough money, that's captain in a major airline flying the highest paying aircraft working for the maximum amount of years. It will take a long time to get there, and with the state of the industry, there's not many that will make it that far, even if they are great pilots and quality people.

    Edit: I just checked airlinepilotpay.com and it looks like the $180,000/yr top end pay is gone too. How long untill it tops out at 100,000? Then what happens?