In fact, don’t become one. Unless…
But it’s by no means all he/she needs. Pilots must have a gypsy soul to survive. That may not be new, but it’s particularly true right now as the downturn bites.
Ideally, pilots should have no family ties beyond mum and dad. If they acquire a family en route, every member of it has to be incredibly tolerant of the pilot’s chosen lifestyle.
Why the need for a gypsy soul? Well, for new young hours-builders, it helps to be prepared to go wherever in the world somebody will hire you as a bush pilot or night mail flyer. Your employer will pay you survival wages to do it. Small US operators have been known to charge the pilot for the privilege of working.
For the very young and unattached, bush/agricultural/night mail flying sounds exciting, but if you’ve just borrowed $100,000 from your mom and pop to train to CPL on the premise that you’ll soon start paying them back, the stress can wreck the experience.
You are condemned to seek a relatively dull but steady airline job as soon as you can get one because your soul is owned by a bank.
Being a happy gypsy also helps when the economic downturn dumps you on the scrapheap with a load of other pilots. Along with all the others, you begin scanning the world’s websites for jobs – prepared to go anywhere.
At times like this the airlines – bless their cotton socks – will charge you several thousand dollars for a simulator selection ride and the privilege of being inteviewed, followed by the $20,000 – $30,000 cost of a type rating if you need one. Heaven help your family life/love life.
The new multi-crew pilot licence (MPL), under which pilots train from scratch for a job in the right hand seat of a particular aircraft type with a particular airline, looked as if it had the potential to stablise training arrangements for the student pilots and deliver SOP-ready, type-rated pilots at a rate the partner airline had chosen.
But this also turns out to have been a mirage. The world’s first nine MPLs were dumped during cutbacks at Sterling on the good old last-in, first-out basis. It’s worse for them, because the MPL qualifies them only to fly as part of a crew, not as a single pilot in command, so they can’t go for night freighting or bush flying in Cessna Caravans and the like unless they convert to the old CPL. More dollars please.
For what to do instead of flying for the airlines, read the next blog.
And now … there’s a Part 2 to this story…