A private pilot with dreams of becoming a commercial pilot reached out recently after reading my article and watching the ferry pilot informational video, and expressed concerns about it being a scary time to try for an aviation career the second time. This was my response, which I believe sums up how we all feel in this moment as aviators.
“Thank you for reaching out. I’m glad that you found the article and video helpful as you’re navigating what I would call ‘following your passion.’ I’ve met a few friends along the way who also followed similar paths through the military and IT before following that dream. While I don’t know your age, I will say that I’ve trained someone as old as 70 to fly, and I’ve helped lawyers who are 60 get jobs at the regional airlines to fulfill their childhood dream of being an airline pilot.
Although I don’t have a crystal ball, history is often a good indicator of the future. While we are in a “pilot recession” of sorts, the truth is that this cycle continues about every decade and then recovers a few years later. Since you’re at the private level now working on instrument, I’m confident that things will pick up by the time you’re eligible to work at the airlines. Also, I disagree that it’s EVER a ‘scary time’ to put money into aviation. I’ll give my personal experience as an example.
I remember the day I quit my network engineering job. I walked into Carl’s office, and he knew what was happening. At the time, oil and gas were in free fall. I worked for a small fracking company, and fracking had just been outlawed in New York and the price of oil was dropping rapidly. The stock went from $100/share to $15, and we had layoffs every Friday. I took this as a sign that I should follow my dream. I took a $100,000/year pay cut to go fly as a new hire at SkyWest. My boss laughed, and then little by little, people came to my office to tell me how they wished their career path was different. People had wished they had taken the job in Chicago, people wished they have followed their dream….and now it was too late. I told them this was why I was pursuing it—because I don’t want be 80 years old and regret not following my dream. Even if it means financial devastation and failure, I’d never forgive myself for not trying to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
The aviation career worked out well until recently, but as a wise mechanic said who loaded a IO-320 into the back of a C182 I was flying on a cold Oklahoma night, ‘Aviation is only for people who can’t see themselves doing anything else.’ That statement has stood true throughout everything I’ve done. For me, aviation is a love story, and I believe that everyone else out there who follows their passion has a similar romance. Therefore, despite all reason, we relentlessly pursue our dreams and end up with the truly fulfilling life that we imagined since we were young.”
Sarah Rovner holds an ATP certificate with B-767, B-757, B-737 and CL-65 type ratings and is currently an FAA Safety Team Lead Representative, NAFI Master Instructor, and 757/767 pilot for a major U.S. Airline. Sarah is a Gold Seal SCI, CFII, MEI and has flown over 5,900 hours, given over 1,500 hours of dual instruction. As the owner and chief pilot of an international ferry pilot company, FullThrottle Aviation LLC, Sarah has flown over 139 different types of airplanes in 20 different countries including oceanic crossings in small aircraft. On her days off she enjoys flying and instructing in her Super Cub, Patches.