If You Could Go Back in Time and Tell Yourself One Thing about Your Career, What Would it Be?
This article focuses on something different,It is like talking to a bunch of aviator friends who have been in the business for a lifetime. Its more about reflection. Chances are good you excelled in flying, if you had to go back and talk to yourself, that would be a conversation worth listening too. This is updated frequently so the resource continues to grow for the next generation of commercial pilots. There are common answers and then if you look carefully answers that are really deep and meaningful. Below is a list that hopefully is meaningful to you.
Freight flying, Piper Navajo 1300 total time
Always carry an small empty garbage bag in your flight bag and NEVER eat a gas station burrito.(best career advice ever!)
Flight Instructor, C-172
Logging more hours is not a good reason to fly with a head cold. Nothing is worse than that pain. Stay home.
B787 Captain, 30K plus hours
Figure out a way to empower your crew members, make them feel like they are important and that their role and personality matters. If you figure that out early, you will be much better off. Everyone wants to be appreciated.
A320 Captain, USAirways
Do not be in such a rush building your flight time that you forget to enjoy the journey. There is something magical about aviation and the scenery that we enjoy that we tend to overlook because we are in a hurry to get to the next level of our aviation career.
727 Captain Piedmont
Read books while you are on trips. Anyone can go out and party on overnights and more or less waste time. Come back from a trip with a bit more knowledge than when you left.
E-190 Pilot, Jetblue Airways
Get your own “schtick”. What I mean by that is make your own fun. Come up with your own acronyms and fun phrases that you say during certain times of the flight. People remember that and it makes flying fun. I would give you some examples but then you wont be original. Other pilots will remember you for the fun things you say. Remember its not always about you, we need to be a good and fun example that teaches the next generation how to lead.
737 FO Chicago
Don’t be a tool, I never understood what why certain people take aviation skills as a license to be a jerk.
Be personable and kind to your cabin crews. Kindness goes a long way and has perks too such as always getting some leftover snacks or meals from first class.
Wife of Boeing 767 Pilot
Always tell your spouse that you love them before they walk out the door. It can be lonely on the road and we don’t realize that because we are at home in the environment we want to be in. They are often stuck eating bad airport food and sleeping in beds that are not their own.
Freight Pilot Spouse
There is a big difference in wearing the uniform or not. If you have a problem at the bank, stopping by on the way home from the airport in uniform gets a totally different response than showing up in jeans and a tee shirt. Use it to your advantage.
Always work together in training. The guy your paired up with may not be the “king” of the plane as far as knowledge, but working together has proven to be much more of a powerful resource then memorizing checklists.
Retired 767 Captain
I think the best advice I could give would be to listen and ask questions. I always ask first officers what leg do “they” want to fly verses me choosing and leaving them the left overs. Invest in people.
Learn to speak Spanish, its a tactical move and you will be amazed how many doors that will open for you.
MD-80 American Airlines
Treat customer service or gate agents kindly. Everything comes back around, especially if you are pass riding somewhere.
Show up to recurrent prepared and always work on your craft. That parallels in a lot of different ways. Also when in training, always dress one level better than the situation calls for. This creates amazing results.
Don’t be afraid to take a chance and switch airlines. Sure seniority is everything but sometimes the writing is on the wall concerning your airlines future. Remember when you interview for a new position, it has to be a fit for both you and the company.
Become a list maker and get a checklist type of mentality for everything in your life.
Freight Pilot, Ameriflight
I remember interviewing with a larger freight carrier and they were asking all sorts of questions. They were really not prepared for questions that I had for them. Never be afraid to ask questions, it's your life too. I found out there was really no seniority system at the airline I was interviewing with, that meant it was a good ole boy network. A few other well placed questions answered duty time questions and time off. At the end of the interview they offered me a job. I politely declined and I was amazed at the look on all their faces. The company philosophy did not fit my life philosophy. I did not want to be their whipping boy and I think they were used to people being desperate. Pick the right spot for you to be mentally healthy is what I would tell myself.
727 Captain USAIR
I would tell myself to never burn a bridge. That FO you were a jerk too could end up being the chief pilot at your next job. Leave a trail that you can go back and follow if you have too. Aviation is a quirky industry that has its ups and downs. One moment your on top, the next your looking for a job.
Airline pilots are employees, corporate pilots are employees, freight pilots are employees. If you don’t own it, your expendable. Do not expect to be treated differently because you hold value. Its a numbers game. Pilots get so surprised to be furloughed or even fired. Its a business.
E-190 Captain, Jetblue
I like this question, I think this is the question we should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. What do you want to look back on and be proud of or do differently. We have all had our moments and regrets. It does not change, we always need to reevaluate our direction. When you take a new job or climb that next step in the industry, think to yourself, is this going to be a good part of my story? Airline flying is boring and cut throat for base and position. Everyone values the amount of money you can make when you get to your “prime”. It takes a lot to get to your prime money making years. Often times by then, you have had it listening to all the politics of the company and living with the culture of it. If you find a job that is a blast, but not the “airline pilot” title, do it. There is a purity in aviation that is about flying, its hard to explain. Life is to short to be unhappy if its just about money.
People skills are more valuable than flying skills. Yes you need to know how to fly and fly well. But people skills are harder to come by and far more valuable. I had an instructor say to me once, you can teach a monkey to fly if you have enough bananas.
Learn how to manage your money and make it work for you. Read a lot.
B767 Delta Airlines
I like this question, most articles out there offer “tips”. Tips to me are nothing more than what I call “captain obvious” items. If I were to look back on myself I would say be confident. Confidence covers over any short comings that you may have. Confidence serves you if you are humble. You cant get that from any of the “tips” articles online today, there is no mileage in them.
A350 Delta Airlines
Never count on a union to have your best interests in mind, ever. Oh they say a lot of the right things, but the bottom line is they probably wont show up when you need them most. I speak from personal experience, they are just people, have a low expectation.
Always have a plan B, always. Even in good times. If you have the luxury of time, and you do when you are traveling, figure out a plan to survive or thrive if your job goes away. The cool part about this, is maybe you will find something you are really passionate about and it can the the second part of your career journey. There are other really neat things to do besides fly airplanes and you will not always be able to do that. So many pilots are invested with all their eggs in one basket.
Invite as many kids to the cockpit as possible. I would say to myself, you are a person of influence whether you know it or not. Just being there in uniform inspires kids. Be friendly make it fun, carry stickers in your bag to hand out. This act of kindness plants seeds to the next generation. Be that farmer, be friendly, take pictures, ask questions and inspire them. Parents learn from that too. If I were to look back and think about all the kids I inspired, whether or not they went into aviation, then that is something to remember and pass on.
No industry that I know of is more over regulated than the aviation industry. It never gets clearer or easier to understand, we just keep adding on regulations and rules over rules and regulations until it seems overwhelming. Its just an airplane, don't sweat the small stuff, you will never learn every nuance because they will never run out of things to add.
A320 Captain, Sim Instructor
I would say to myself not to get frustrated with senior management. They cant fly planes (most of them) and they never come to the airport, so they are really disconnected from the business of day to day flying. I would stress that some procedures get created just to make some executive look good, but they have little value on the line. Those things exist and are created daily, don't worry about it.
MD-80 Captain TWA
I would tell myself this about training. Training for a new hire or a new piece of equipment is always an exercise in anxiety. Most are concerned or uptight about it and it shows. It shows in gouge, it shows in conversation and it shows on the looks of their faces. Check rides are nerve wracking, learn how to put that to work for you. Of course its hard, its suppose to be. Someone has taken great pride in creating a system that is like drinking out of a fire hydrant. The light always comes on in training, usually at the end, but it does come on. Remember that.
Call your spouse every day and tell them you miss them. Rinse and repeat
I would tell myself that in your career, you will stay in over 2000 hotel rooms. Get out of the room, the room is like jail. Go down to the lobby, read a book, sit in the shade on the patio, write an email, do something that gets you out of the room. Over time, that room gets to you.
A330 FO USAirways
Get married and get a dog. The dog will always be happy to see you when you get home.
TWA, When it was cool
I would tell myself a couple of things. The first would be to bid the most junior plane. By doing so, you will get a better schedule quicker because people want to move on to more glamorous planes with better pay. This will serve you well. The second is a title does not mean much when your older, accomplishments that make the community better do. And thirdly, don’t be afraid to do the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing. Chances are they are just part of the herd instead of the person blazing a trail.
I would tell myself to learn how to play the bass guitar. Everyone wants to play lead guitar, but bass players are hard to come by. Learn that and you will never go hungry.
I would tell myself to put the maximum amount into your 401K or retirement fund as possible as early as possible.
Beech 99, Freighter
Develop that side hustle you always talked about. Even if it does not work out, try it anyway. You will never know unless you try.
MD-11 Fed Ex
Start to think of yourself as a leader early. You are, you just don’t know it yet. Read about it, practice it, watch videos about it, and think about it. The world sorely needs people to step up and lead. Flying is a good example of that, you are naturally leading because you have the responsibility of others lives in your hands. Figure that out.
Figure out what you suck at and either be ok with it or overcome it.
Spend more time with your mom
You will make it to 80
A330 Captain, Delta
Your friends are proud of you, you may not be aware of it. When someone introduces you, they always mention you are a pilot, you have influenced them. Your kids are amazed by you too, they may not always show it. What you do matters, your hard work matters, people notice.
I had a good ride, i dont think I would change a thing.
Enjoy every flight, it goes by way to quickly. I thought this video was a perfect point
DC NWA Captain
Your going to make it. Don't beat yourself up over the decisions you have to make. You have to make them to become the “you of the future”
The journey is the destination. There is always a place for you in aviation.
A320 Captain EWR
Enjoy the ride more. Take advantage of the travel benefits more than you have. Go for more walks on overnights instead of going to the hotel gym. Do a TDY in an exciting place like Hawaii and explore as much as you can. Hang in there, it will be worth it.
E190 FO Jetblue
Put your family and your faith ahead of your career.
E190 FO Jetblue
“Never put yourself in a position where you have to demonstrate your flying skills”
If you are an FO and going to training, and you have the option to get type rated…always get the type rating.
Aviation Advice To Young Pilots Pursuing an Aviation Career
This has some good advice since that is the theme for this post
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