Considering United Aviate in my 40s

Old Apr 6, 21, 8:30 pm
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Considering United Aviate in my 40s

Dear FT community,

I'm considering applying to United Aviate and seeking a career path as a United pilot. Yes, I am aware of this thread about it.

Like many, it's been a lifelong dream for me to fly commercially. In my younger years, when career decision time came around in the early-mid nineties, many airlines were going bankrupt / consolidating / etc., and it seemed more reasonable to me to go in another direction. A few decades later I've now advanced in my chosen field at a bit of an accelerated pace - the executive job I have now is usually held by people a decade or two my senior. So, if I pursued commercial aviation, I would be going from the top of my field to the bottom of a new field - in my 40s!

I love what I do, but could walk away without major financial consequence for my family, at least not for a very long time. Does it make sense to consider joining a seniority based career field, when I'm already decades into my earning years? Especially at a time when recovery in aerospace could be slow?

It seems tough to get this far in my career and then start at the bottom in my 40s. On the other hand, I don't want to live my whole life and not give the aviation dream a chance. I am already well into my PPL, so I know I can at least pass an FAA exam, handle a small plane, already have a medical certificate, etc.

My wife is encouraging this career change - saying it's time I follow my passion.

Please help me evaluate if I should give this a chance.
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Old Apr 6, 21, 8:47 pm
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Wouldn't the path be through one of UA's regional carriers?
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Old Apr 6, 21, 8:52 pm
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
Wouldn't the path be through one of UA's regional carriers?
Indeed yes. I'm just struggling to choose if it makes sense to start heading down this path at a comparatively older age than most who choose it.
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Old Apr 6, 21, 8:57 pm
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Are you sure you will find being a commercial pilot to be fun, like for a long enough time to make it worth the trouble? I wanted to be a pilot so badly as a kid, until I came to realize how boring I would find most of the job (sorry, pilots). Got my PPL instead.
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Old Apr 6, 21, 9:01 pm
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Originally Posted by IMissThe747 View Post
Dear FT community,

I'm considering applying to United Aviate and seeking a career path as a United pilot. Yes, I am aware of this thread about it.

Like many, it's been a lifelong dream for me to fly commercially. In my younger years, when career decision time came around in the early-mid nineties, many airlines were going bankrupt / consolidating / etc., and it seemed more reasonable to me to go in another direction. A few decades later I've now advanced in my chosen field at a bit of an accelerated pace - the executive job I have now is usually held by people a decade or two my senior. So, if I pursued commercial aviation, I would be going from the top of my field to the bottom of a new field - in my 40s!

I love what I do, but could walk away without major financial consequence for my family, at least not for a very long time. Does it make sense to consider joining a seniority based career field, when I'm already decades into my earning years? Especially at a time when recovery in aerospace could be slow?

It seems tough to get this far in my career and then start at the bottom in my 40s. On the other hand, I don't want to live my whole life and not give the aviation dream a chance. I am already well into my PPL, so I know I can at least pass an FAA exam, handle a small plane, already have a medical certificate, etc.

My wife is encouraging this career change - saying it's time I follow my passion.

Please help me evaluate if I should give this a chance.
Perhaps get in touch with one of the many UA pilots in this forum - LarryJ and others.

David
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Old Apr 6, 21, 9:08 pm
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Probably want to find a regional jet pilot forum somewhere to become familiar with that side of the life and what the path is to mainline, where the money and better conditions are.
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Old Apr 6, 21, 9:17 pm
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What types of aircraft can you currently fly?
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Old Apr 6, 21, 9:29 pm
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Originally Posted by jhayes_1780 View Post
What types of aircraft can you currently fly?
Haven't finished my PPL yet, so technically none. I have successfully solo'ed on a Cessna 172 a few times.

In rereading, it would have been much clearer if I wrote "well into earning my PPL" in my original post.... I am close to finishing it. Sorry for any confusion!

Originally Posted by DELee View Post
Perhaps get in touch with one of the many UA pilots in this forum - LarryJ and others.

David
Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
Probably want to find a regional jet pilot forum somewhere to become familiar with that side of the life and what the path is to mainline, where the money and better conditions are.
These are both very good ideas, will do, thank you!

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 6, 21 at 10:19 pm Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old Apr 7, 21, 12:12 am
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I imagine the general response in this thread is going ti be similar to that of "is XX worth it to upgrade YY?" It's all relative...

You clearly already like to fly so that's a start (assuming you don't have a color vision restriction on your medical like I do). Definitely talk to other pilots (especially regional) to understand the lifestyle (do you have any kids at home you'd miss seeing for days/weeks at a time?) and what you might be able to accomplish in terms of seniority over 15-20 years, if that even matters to you; maybe your content being a first officer on a regional. flying MKE-GRB making $20k a year. If money truly doesn't matter then I'm not sure there's a ton of risk in giving it a go...even if you did it for 5 years and decided you hated it, couldn't you just fall back on your accumulated wealth or go back into your old industry?

If it were me, and everything in the above seemed manageable, I'd say give it a go.
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Old Apr 7, 21, 6:50 am
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Airliners or pprune forum would be a good place to look at . Many threads about becoming a pilot, hiring at (specific) regional airlines etc
https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=5

https://www.pprune.org/professional-...nd-studies-14/
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Last edited by paperwastage; Apr 7, 21 at 7:00 am
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Old Apr 7, 21, 7:24 am
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It is interesting to see this evolve, and I, too, think starting over in my mid-30s would be exciting but viewed as totally insane by others. I am used to making a decent living and early on, I loved what I did. When I left my position, I realized how unhappy I was and how I was just going through the motions for the paycheck. I have finally realized money isn’t everything and being happy is what matters.

This program though, leaves me with reservations about the long term success of those that take part. There is not a guarantee you will get hired, and while United is going to cover the cost of the PPL, the student is on the hook for the rest. United claims to have an interest in that student/candidate, but in the end, you are paying to be there and are owed nothing. At least that is how I am interpreting it.

I admit, this school with United’s name on it has much more a draw for me, than say something like ATP and Infinity Flight Group which have locations one hour from my home.
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Old Apr 7, 21, 7:27 am
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Its funny, I also checked out their website yesterday out of a little curiosity as well as reaching for a childhood dream. However, Im pretty happy in my current life and looking at the financial hit, its not worth it for me. See this site which details pay rates for different regionals and majors. https://www.airlinepilotcentral.com/
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Old Apr 7, 21, 8:46 am
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When I was younger, I wanted to be a commercial pilot. I got my PPL and was working towards my commercial while attending college and working at an FBO. Most of the (private/corporate) pilots I spoke with always said “find a job where you can afford to fly for fun instead of for a living.” I took their advice and switched careers.

Going into the career financially secure makes it much easier. I also have a friend who switched to aviation in his 40’s.

Id say if it’s a passion, do it for fun rather than a career because the career can take the fun out of it. Just my two cents as someone who flies for fun instead of a career.
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Old Apr 7, 21, 10:57 am
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Good advice above about consulting, and remember you'll have to retire at 65 (under current law), so probably won't get to the top.

But if it's your dream, I'd say go for it! You only live once.
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Old Apr 7, 21, 12:11 pm
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Consider your demographic before you make this choice. UA has stated they're allocating half the pilot hiring to certain demographics that currently have low representation in UA's current pilot staff and pilots in general. If you fall into those demographics, this plan is more likely to succeed; if you don't, the large number of well qualified candidates out there already will be a lot of competition for you.
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