Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

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By MrRed
I'm in the lucky position where I may be able to consider learning to fly. I'm considering going down the modular route and either fitting it in with my full-time day job or perhaps reducing my working hours to accommodate the training if possible.

I had a couple of questions about flying for living if anyone could help:

First of all, what is the availability of jobs like these days? I live in Hampshire, so could realistically base myself from Heathrow, Farnborough, Oxford, Southampton and Bournemouth. The general impression I get is that it it can be quite a challenge to land that all-important first piloting job. Is that still the case these days? Or does persistence generally pay off?

I'm sure this varies from airline to airline, but what are working hours generally like? I'm sure starting at 5am one week, then finishing midnight the next week would destroy me. Are changes in shifts fairly gentle or should I expect to be able to be very adaptable?

Once you have the coveted CPL/IR, JOC and Type Rating the market is very good although pay can still be a bit of a challenge.

You will have to be very flexible as to where you are going to be based and in relation to the shift patterns - where do you want to start!

It will be early starts and late finishes and not one week of the former and another week of the latter but more likely to have a combination of most in most weeks.

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Two pilots job related articles published recently. Not specifically your location but indicative of the market maybe...



But how true a Sun article about Ryanair is, who knows!
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Thanks for the replies!

@Flyin'Dutch' I had a feeling that might be the case... The last time I did shift work was in my late twenties and really started struggling with it towards the end.

I'm not too worried about pay and could certainly live comfortably enough on 20-25k if I needed to. The house is all paid for which is a good help.

@Sooty25 I've read similar articles as well recently, but this seems to be combined with stories of newly qualified pilots struggling to find jobs! I'm under the impression that unless you go integrated with a partner airline, it may be a struggle...
MrRed wrote: .... The last time I did shift work was in my late twenties and really started struggling with it towards the end. .....

Commercial aviation is a 24/7 world, if you have any concerns about living your life around a 'none 9 to 5 pattern' I'd think very seriously about it.
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MrRed wrote:I wonder if an instructor role would be better for me...

Little money in ab initio training - and the market is fickle.

More substantial money can be earned by doing CPL/ME/IR training/examining.

If you can find a job and environment which suits then that is great.

Having arrived in the last stretch of my working life I can say that I am not sorry that I wasn't able to become an aviation professional and earn my money that way but learned another trade, make money that way and spend it on aviation as much as the 4Ws allow.

There are of course plenty of people who have had a long, happy and successful career in commercial aviation.
rogerb, MrRed liked this
Hello, Mr. Red. From what you say, you appear to be middle-aged.....now, bear in mind I'm not a qualified pilot either, as I missed the boat (sort-of!)
Firstly, do you want to make a living (however modest) out of Aviation? AIUI, you'll have to amortise well over £100,000 in order to get a Commercial Licence...Oh, you need another few grand for a type-rating as well, so divide that lot into your expectancy of life to 65 and see how big a hole it makes in your tax-paid salary....That also presupposes that you are,and continue to be, capable of holding a Class one medical. Also bear in mind ,as FD pointed out, It's a round the clock job. I suggest you pay particular attention to the airline gossip on this and other Aviation fora....you'll get a good idea which airlines are currently employers of last-resort.

There is currently a world-shortage of pilots and a lot of scare-mongering about GB being ejected from EASA....come 2019...bear in mind, the public will still want to travel fleets will still be there, someone will have to fly them. Lead-times mean that new airliners and freshly-minted pilots are not exactly pouring out of factories and schools in droves. You may well have to relocate abroad, either because your employer of choice is EC based or because a foreign airline has given you that valuable first job...which brings us back to your fatigue issue...plenty of info. if you do a Google search on pilot fatigue
Sorry to be so negative, but it really is a long, expensive and hard road. It all starts with a PPL (OK, you could start by gliding or even a TMG (Touring Motor Glider) where, AIUI some hours can be credited against the power PPL. Microlights are , in the case of fixed-wing, virtually the same as a "full-size" aeroplane except costs are almost halved,the route to a licence is similarly shorter, but the paperwork does not, AIUI count towards a full-scale PPL which is the stepping-stone to Commercial qualifications . (BMAA website)

Flex-wings are terrific fun (I've been up a few times) most people who have enjoyed motorbikes, love them. but they're purely for fun, long-distance is not a problem,but weight limitations and the fact they have a "dead-end" licence, means, for you, a PPL is the way forward ) (aiui, you can add a Microlight qualification if you want to go that route....you would also consider a Permit aircraft, if self-maintenance and low-cost appeals " (Info on LAA website)

In summary....read the forums to inform, entertain and familiarise yourself with this fascinating business. Consider a recent, used set of theory-books (if you follow the first bit, you'll know the choices and that Air Law is likely to need a brand -new latest-printing copy (that's probably out of date before it's left the press :lol: )
Buy a log-book, take a trial lesson to see if you like it (and it likes you!) go to different schools for trial lessons, if you are not entirely happy with the first experience, but in any case, you don't know what you don't know,so it'll give you bench-marks to compare.
Only pay up-front ,what you can afford to lose painlessly! history is littered with defunct schools that took several thousand from students who were left high, dry and peniless.

Did I say "read the Forums?" A subscription to Flyer- mag won't go amiss, either.
Good luck and please keep the forum informed, it's all good reading. :thumleft:
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Thanks for the info! I'm in my mid-30's and the only concern I have about the medical it's passing the colour test. The traditional test shows me as red/green colour blind but I understand they have other tests that can determine the severity. I mean I can certainly tell the difference between the two, but I'm not sure at what point they determine a pass/fail.

I didn't think for a moment my wife would be keen on moving if needed, but to my surprise, she said it wouldn't be a problem for her. So assuming I landed a job with an airline in a few years, I could move much closer to my base. If I kept my commute to a minimum, if don't think shifts should be so much of an issue. I understand there's a 16-hour minimum requirement between shifts which would certainly help.

I understand there's an organisation called The Honourable Company of air Pilots who can run you through a sample aptitude test to determine candidate suitability. It sounds like something that would be a good idea to do along with the medical before I start putting significant funds into training.

Oh, and I'll get reading as well!
MrRed wrote: I'm in my mid-30's and the only concern I have about the medical it's passing the colour test. The traditional test shows me as red/green colour blind but I understand they have other tests that can determine the severity. I mean I can certainly tell the difference between the two, but I'm not sure at what point they determine a pass/fail.

Before you spend a penny on anything else - get a Class 1 Medical.

Without that a career in aviation will be difficult.

Also read the CAA info and colour vision.
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I agree with Dutch.

And, think in terms of a PPL before you commit to doing anything else. That will tell you volumes about whether you have the basic aptitude and enthusiasm to pursue professional flying training. Nothing wrong with trying to do it quickly, everything right in telling your school that you intend to go professional as they'll demand the right standards of you, and prime you for the next stages.

But yes - class 1 medical, and PPL.

And I'd recommend asking yourself a straight question after the PPL - do you want to keep going to professional qualifications and lifestyle, or will you be happier just treating it as a fun hobby funded through another profession. Either is a perfectly legitimate answer, but you'd be doing yourself great favours in asking the question seriously.

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Further on the issue of colour vision:

CAA info:

https://www.caa.co.uk/Aeromedical-Exami ... lots-(EASA)/Conditions/Visual/Colour-vision-guidance-material-GM/

if you know you don't pass the ishihara plates go direct for the CAD test.

Adrian Chorley (https://www.aviationvisionservices.com) can do the Class 1 eye tests for you - he does it for a number of AeMCs. He charges £120 for the eye exam alone, he can also do the CAD. He is nice and competent.

If you pass the CAD you're good for a Class 1.
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