We’ve experienced a wave of recent good news on the regional side of the airline industry. Depending on the sources you listen to, you’re probably noticing a concerted effort to promote some new programs at Mesa Airlines.
While these programs are being spun to sound like a dream come true, you should look a little deeper before you sign up. This post is here to help you make that decision.
In the video below, Mesa CEO, Jonathan Ornstein, announced:
- A Rotary Transition Program (RTP) that gives military helicopter pilots $40,000 to get their fixed-wing ratings and hours, in exchange for 3 years of future service, and
- An Enlisted to Airlines (E2A) program that gives non-aviator military service members $30,000 toward pilot ratings, in exchange for 2 years of future work at Mesa
Before I start splitting hairs, I’ll say that I think these programs are absolutely good deals for the right pilot. The fact that Mesa has committed to these programs is good overall for our industry. However, before you chomp down on that big, juicy worm, you need to take a moment to consider the hook, line, and sinker to which it’s attached.
I posted this on a blog owned entirely by my business entity. I’ve done a lot of online writing in a lot of other places, but this is not associated with any of those organizations or businesses. This is my personal opinion only. You should not ascribe my opinions to any business, organization, or brand other than mine.
Some parts of the aviation industry hate the idea of a “training contract.” They feel employers should fund training without protecting themselves from a pilot jumping ship as soon as they get their new rating. I’m not in that camp. I say it’s fair for an employer to ask for a reasonable return on investment.
Yes, it needs to be a voluntary, uncoerced contract. And yes, the terms of repayment really do need to be reasonable. The pilot market, perhaps with the help of organized labor unions, should determine what “reasonable” means. The signal to the company should be the number of people signing up (or not) for a given program. In the absence of other evidence, I think Mesa’s offer is pretty fair.
And yet, it’s important to realize the financial tradeoffs associated with taking one of Mesa’s deals.
During the two or three years you spend at Mesa, you won’t make much money. Pay for Mesa’s first officers starts at $36 per hour and only ever climbs to $57 per hour…even with 20+ years of service! (Their B737 category pays higher, but they only have 3 jets. We’ll address that later.) Compared to the rest of our industry, these pay rates are mediocre.
For comparison: Year 2 FO pay at Delta’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Endeavor, is higher than Mesa’s top line FO pay. ($60-62 at Endeavor, vs $57 at Mesa). Even independent airline Skywest hits that Year 20+, $57 per hour mark at Year 3 FO pay.
Captain’s pay at Mesa tops-out at $124 per hour, about on par with the rest of the industry.
Nobody, not even Ornstein at Mesa, expects most pilots to be there long enough to reach that pay rate though. In his video announcement, he highlighted the fact that some of his pilots in United’s flow-through program have spent as little as three years at Mesa. That’s the longest commitment he’s asking in exchange for one of these programs.
The point here is that if you take Mesa’s money for training, you’re committing to spend two or three years as one of the lowest paid Part 121 airline pilots in the country.
Far Bigger News
Despite the hype surrounding Mesa’s announcement, those pay rates aren’t much to write home about. Much more significant is the recent regional airline news that American Airlines’ three wholly-owned subsidiary regionals just raised their pay rates to amazing heights.
PSA Airlines FO pay now starts at $90 per hour and climbs to $108. Captain’s pay starts at $146 per hour and reaches as high as $210. This is unheard of. For comparison, new hires at major airline United only start $91…only a buck higher than new-hire FOs at PSA.
PSA’s top Captain pay rate is a full $50 lower than the most junior United Captain; however, it’s an unbelievable pay rate for pilots flying 76-seat regional jets. It gets better from there too.
Airlines need senior, experienced pilots to train new FOs and new Captains. These Line Check Aviators (LCAs) normally get paid a little extra because their job is a lot of extra work. However, since these are the most experienced pilots at the company, their resumes look the best, and major airlines tend to rapidly snatch them up. I once flew with an FO from a regional that knew LCA was only a 6-month position. The organization realized it was a virtual certainty that any given LCA would get scooped up by a major airline that quickly.
In hopes of leading the current hiring wave, and wanting to maintain their ability to train new pilots, PSA set LCA pay at $425 per hour. For comparison, a 12+ Year A350 Captain at Delta only makes $354 per hour.
American subsidiary regionals Envoy and Piedmont are offering similarly shocking pay rates.
Yes, LCAs at PSA, Piedmont, and Envoy are the highest-paid airline pilots on the planet, at least for the next few years.
If your jaw hasn’t already dropped to the floor, note that PSA has also set premium pay at 200% of your regular pay rate. At that level, even a non-LCA PSA Captain makes more than a Delta A350 Captain on regular pay.
We should also mention that these companies have flow-through programs to American. If you stick it out through their entire pipeline, they’re offering bonuses that total as much as $150,000 for some pilots.
This sets the bar for regional airline pay at more than three times what Mesa is offering. Other regionals will have to start offering higher pay rates if they want any hope of staffing their operations. If you’re competitive for a job at Mesa, you’re competitive for a job at PSA, Piedmont, or Envoy.
Before we really delve into the specifics, let’s note that the differences in these pay rates should astound you. Using the rule of thumb that annual airline pilot compensation is roughly equal to 1000 times their hourly pay rate, pilots at PSA will earn $42,000 more in their first year of employment than peers at Mesa. The total pay difference over the duration of a two- or three-year training contract is over six figures.
Is $30-40K toward pilot ratings now worth giving up that much future compensation?
As with all aviation questions, the answer is a solid: it depends.
Feeling the Need
Prevailing sentiment says the most important goal for your overall airline career is getting on a seniority list at a major airline as quickly as possible because Seniority is Everything.
For an aspiring pilot who delayed their airline career progression with some patriotic military service, the need to hurry feels even more acute. If a quick bundle of cash is all it takes to finish up fixed-wing ratings, get on with a regional, and become competitive for a major, then this could be the right answer. Does it really matter which regional you fly for if you’re only there a few years?
And yet, I think it would be unwise to blindly accept advice from anyone insisting that this is your only (or perhaps even best) option.
Other Sources of Money
Although flight training is expensive, thousands of civilian aviators complete their ratings every year without any assistance from an RTP or E2A program. It’s a big upfront cost, but the overall career earnings more than justify it. (I wrote an entire book detailing those earnings, and they’re impressive.)
So, how do these thousands of civilian aviators get it done? Could one of those other funding models pay for your flight training?
The most basic and common way to pay for flight training is the modern tradition of debt.
Most intelligent Americans have mixed feelings about debt. However, airline pilot income is high enough and sufficiently predictable that I believe it’s reasonable and moral to take out loans to pay for flight training. Plenty of investors agree with my sentiment and feel secure loaning money to aspiring pilots.
Those investors could include your friends or family. If your parents have enough financial stability, they may be able to get a simple signature loan from their bank to provide even more cash than the $30-40K Mesa is offering. They might also have access to something like a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to get the cash you need to get started.
Hell, if you served in the military for a few years and had good money habits, USAA or NFCU might even give you a signature loan. If you bought a home at one of your assignments more than a few years ago, you probably have enough equity due to rising home prices that you could do a cash-out refinance and get more than enough money to fund your flying.
As a responsible human being, you should work a real job in the hours you aren’t busy with flight training, and start making payments to your parents or other lenders immediately. However, you should have no trouble showing them how high your earnings will be as an airline pilot and helping them understand that you’ll be able to pay them back quickly. If you go to PSA, Piedmont, or Envoy, you’ll make so much more than a Mesa pilot that you’ll be able to repay any loan, in full, in a year or two.
If you happen to go to a big-name flight school, you’ll find they have their own financing departments. They train hundreds of pilots like you every year. They know exactly what your future earnings will be, and they’ll be happy to loan you whatever you need as well. Again, if you go to a high-paying regional you could potentially use your excess pay to eradicate all those loans in just a couple years.
Loan Yourself Money
For the veterans considering Mesa’s E2A or RTP programs, I hope you had some half-decent mentors in the military who convinced you to contribute as much as possible to your TSP. Did you know you can give yourself a loan from your TSP, up to half the value of your account balance, up to $50,000? The best part of that loan is you pay (very low 3%) interest to yourself as you pay off your loan.
You need to be on some sort of a pay status because they have to at least set up repayment from your military pay account. (There are no early pre-payment penalties. You can just send them a check). However, if you’re finishing active duty or still making money in the reserves, this should be no problem.
I don’t generally think TSP loans are a great idea. However, if you can’t get any of the other types of loans we just mentioned, you may be able to get this one. Like we said, since the top regionals pay much more than Mesa right now, you should be able to pay yourself back very quickly.
Even better than loans are aviation-specific scholarships. There are millions of dollars available to aspiring aviators every year. Many of these opportunities are so poorly publicized that they don’t get many applicants. A combat veteran bootstrapping their way into the aviation industry should be pretty competitive for most of those programs.
BlondsinAviation.com has my favorite list of flying scholarships. It’s structured as a calendar, sorted by due date, so you always know the next deadline you need to meet.
PilotPipeline.com also has a great list of scholarships. Their list sits behind a paywall, but they offer cheap or free subscriptions to veterans.
Military veterans, the very aviators targeted by Mesa’s program, have unique access to government money even more accessible than scholarships. Programs like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Vocational Readiness & Employment (VR&E), The Air Force’s Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL), and many others can more than cover the costs of flight training for many veterans.
Not all of these programs specifically pay for time-building the way Mesa’s pile of cash might, but combining the benefits of a few different programs has done the trick for many aspiring aviators.
In a moment we’ll discuss a group that has cracked the code on getting access to all this money. They have an article here summarizing their strategies.
Earning Your Way
I recommend you try for whatever scholarships you can get. As I already mentioned, I would not hesitate to take out a loan if necessary.
In the meantime, there are a wealth of strategies you can use to reduce your training costs and/or earn money to fly. These strategies can accelerate your timeline and/or stretch limited funds further. I wrote a series of six articles detailing some options here:
- Part 1 – Glider CFI
- Part 2 – Sport Pilot Instructor
- Part 3 – Diligent Preparation, School Selection, Scholarships, and Day Jobs
- Part 4 – The Untapped Market for Drone Instructors
- Part 5 – Free Flying in the Civil Air Patrol
- Part 6 – Entry Level Flying Jobs
If you use some (or all) of these strategies, you can start getting paid to fly far sooner than your peers. You’ll be able to maximize your non-flying time to earn income for more flight hours. You could potentially accumulate the full 1,500 hours needed for an ATP, in just a couple years, without incurring as much debt as other pilots.
If you honestly consider the benefits of all these options, you’ll find Mesa’s offer of $30-40K to be far less compelling.
Although a senior pilot eligible for an RTP program may benefit more from speed than anything else, I’m not convinced either of Mesa’s programs offer major advantages in speed or financing.
Once an RTP pilot gets the fixed-wing hours necessary to meet airline hiring requirements, they will be competitive at every regional airline. Whether your cash comes from Mesa or from loans, scholarships, government programs, and work, the time required to get your ratings and hours is the same.
Entry-level E2A pilots need several months to a year to get their ratings through Commercial (and probably CFI). Then, most need to spend at least a couple years in lower-paying jobs to reach ATP minimums and compete for a regional airline job at Mesa, PSA, or elsewhere.
Taking $30,000 from Mesa before you start that process won’t get you through those first few years any quicker than taking out a loan or winning a scholarship. Taking Mesa’s money will lock you in for two years of low-paying flying with them at some point later in your career. That point could be very inconvenient.
Every regional is hiring right now, and the staggering pay raises at American’s subsidiaries is just the latest development in a bidding war.
Don’t forget that several established and startup Ultra Low Cost Carriers (ULCCs) also need thousands of pilots. A friend of mine recently started at Envoy. Before she’d even finished training, Frontier offered her a job. A ULCC isn’t a forever airline for everyone, but the pay and quality of life are almost always better than flying for a regional. It would have been a shame if my friend had been forced to turn down that job because she still owed time elsewhere.
Show Me the Money
From a financial standpoint, Mesa’s offers are particularly troublesome. Let’s see how.
Based on starting at an hourly rate of $36, getting a guarantee of 76 hours per month, and accounting for the value of your RTP or E2A money here’s what your total compensation at Mesa will look like:
That’s not too shabby, right? Let’s consider PSA pay though:
Personally, I’m not sure the high pay rates will last a full five years at PSA. The agreement granting these raises purportedly confirms that they’ll reduce somewhat after 2025. However, there’s essentially zero chance they’ll drop as far as Mesa’s abysmal $36 per hour.
Does it really matter though? Mesa would only hold you for 2 or 3 years anway. In the next few years of pilot hiring, if you don’t get on with a bigger airline after just 2-3 years at a regional, it’s because you’re guilty of self-sabotage.
Plus, look at how much more you could make in just 2 or 3 years at PSA. In your first year alone, you make so much more money than you would at Mesa that you could completely pay back a $40,000 loan (in place of Mesa’s RTP allowance) and still take home $8,168 more than you would at Mesa. (An E2A pilot could pay back their $30,000 and take home $18,168 more!)
An E2A pilot who spends two full years at PSA instead of Mesa will take home more than $73,000 extra, even after paying back a $30,000 E2A-equivalent loan.
An RTP pilot who owes Mesa three years would be passing up more than $128,000 in total compensation.
Yes, taking Mesa’s money might be easier in some ways. Applying for loans and scholarships will feel like work. However, that “work” would pay you more than $8,000 extra during your first year, and tens of thousands of dollars extra over 2 or 3 years. That’s a damn good pay rate for a few hours filling out applications.
At this point, you need to ask yourself: will Mesa’s RTP or E2A program really benefit me in the long run?
Even if speed is your primary concern, is the paperwork for Mesa’s RTP program really any faster than a loan application?
One potential counter to my assertions here is that Mesa has B737s while none of the other regionals do.
While this is true, it’s important to look at that overall picture. Mesa is flying a grand total of three B737 classic models. They can’t assign very many pilots to those aircraft. The vast majority of Mesa pilots will continue to fly regional jets.
Plus, these B737s are ancient. I fly relatively newer B737NGs and the APUs frequently can’t even cool down the flight deck on a hot summer day. Flying Mesa’s Boeing dinosaurs means you’ll sweat through your shirt…on every leg you fly…on every day…of every trip. You can do better.
Will Mesa get more airplanes? Might they even get some (marginally) nicer B737-800s? Probably. However, in aviation it’s always unwise to plan your life based on the possibility of management’s promises about the future. Don’t count on anything other than what you can see with your own eyes right now.
At Mesa, it’s not realistic to base any assumptions on you getting B737 pay rates, even if you want to sweat it out in those things for two or three years.
It’s also worth noting that just about every other B737 operator in the country has higher hourly rates. If you can get hired at Mesa, there’s a decent chance you can get hired by Avelo, iAero, Sun Country, or a similar carrier operating Airbus narrowbodies. You’ll get paid more money to fly nicer versions of the same jets, and since those companies don’t own any RJs you’re guaranteed to fly the B737, or larger aircraft.
But…Raises at Mesa
If you pursue the airline forums and groups on the internet, you’ll get mixed reviews about Mesa. Many aviators love it there and can’t stop singing the company’s praises. Others aren’t as complimentary.
One common criticism is that Mesa still isn’t paying their pilots a “living wage.” Our definitions of that concept may vary, but there’s no denying the fact that Mesa’s pay rates are at the bottom of our industry.
The Mesa optimists note that their pilot group is in negotiations with the company for a better contract that will include higher pay rates. Ornstein even teased this in his video interview. Do I think Mesa will offer higher pay rates? Absolutely. Do I think they’ll be on par with PSA, Piedmont, and Envoy? Not really.
Do I think it likely those negotiations will conclude quickly? Umm….
United is experiencing untold drama over their contract negotiations. The pilots at Alaska approved a strike vote over delays in their negotiations. All of the majors have been negotiating for years. A three-way fight among ULCCs has dragged on for months. I see no reason to expect negotiations at Mesa, or any other company, to move quickly.
If Mesa surprises us all and agrees to realistically competitive pay rates, you may need to re-run the numbers I posted above. However, unless those rates are so much higher that they represent an extra $73K-$128K in total compensation in your first two or three years, it’s doubtful they’ll do much to improve the case for Mesa’s RTP or E2A programs.
So, Why is Mesa News?
I hope at this point you’re wondering why some people are pushing Mesa’s RTP and E2A programs so hard.
Using these programs could cost you and your family tens of thousands of dollars in overall compensation. This is a tough choice knowing you have so many other ways to get the funding you need to cover your flight training.
I worry that a wave of excited promotion will push the wrong people into Mesa’s programs. To understand why that might happen, we have to take a step back and consider who benefits.
(One way to frame the situation we’re about to consider comes from a Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. This fascinating film makes a great point that if you don’t know what a company’s product is, the product may be you.)
RTAG does a lot of good in our world. They provide crucial education, award tens of thousands of dollars in annual scholarships, motivate and inspire future aviators, and they’re even trying to exert pressure on corporate and legislative powers in our industry.
RTAG has absolutely broken the code on a wide variety of government programs offering low- or no-obligation money that veterans can use for flight training. They’ve helped many great people move up in life to better careers after valiantly serving our country. If you haven’t already, you should read their dissertation on these programs here.
Although RTAG focuses their efforts on helping veterans, though they’re happy to let their rising tide lift civilian pilots too. I applaud their good efforts.
RTAG’s frontrunners have made a big deal about the fact that Mesa’s announcement only happened because RTAG suggested and was deeply involved in designing it. I believe they had their hearts in the right place when they did this. If even one person can make these programs into a win I believe they’re worthwhile.
If nothing else, RTAG is right to be proud of their ability to help create such an innovative program in a frustratingly stale airline industry. But knowing the financial realities at play, why are they suddenly pushing these programs so much harder than anything else?
Follow the Money
The next step in answering this questions requires paying attention to the flow of the money Mesa is offering.
You may have missed it in the video, but Ornstein mentioned that the pilots receiving his E2A dollars will train at a flight school called Pray Aviation. If you look at Pray’s own announcement you’ll discover that they’re the exclusive training provider for these programs.
So, if a pilot uses Mesa’s E2A program, that pilot loses $73,000 of income over two years…but Pray Aviation gets an extra $30,000 in revenue. Remember how sometimes when you think you’re getting something for free it really means that you’re the product being sold?
Now ask yourself: What incentive does Pray Aviation have to point out the financial disadvantages of these programs, or temper their promotion of these new deals?
Further Along the Money Trail
You’d be forgiven for not recognizing the name of any given small flight school in the US. I’ve met Matthew Pray. He seems like a good person, and everything I’ve heard leads me to believe he runs a high-quality flight school. That’s a rarity in this world. There are too many shady operations that skimp on maintenance, treat instructors and students poorly, or run try to make flight training into a mindless assembly line.
Pray seems far better than average. They’re also quite innovative. One of their strongest offerings is that they’ll send aircraft and instructors to train you where you live. This is critical for military members who can’t just take time off to travel somewhere for accelerated flight training. The idea of in-place accelerated flight training isn’t new, but Pray’s professional coordination and focus on providing this service at military bases is.
If our aviation industry is going to survive the current hiring wave and growth demand, we’ll need innovative flight schools like Pray to make it all work.
And yet, if you read Pray’s About Us page, you’ll see that Matthew Pray is a former Army helicopter pilot. It turns out, he’s directly associated with the group of Army aviators who make RTAG go.
Pray Aviation was the Diamond Sponsor at last year’s big RTAG convention, a distinction available for a $50,000 donation. By donating that money to a 501(c)(3) charity, Pray was able to decrease their taxable income. In exchange, they got their name repeatedly highlighted to an audience of thousands for months on end. They got great exposure at the convention itself. No wonder Mesa chose Pray as their exclusive training partner for the RTP and E2A programs RTAG helped set up.
It’s tough to imagine a more effective way to spend $50K on advertising.
RTAG notes that it’s an entirely volunteer-run company. Every dollar they bring in goes to operations or to scholarships. That’s good! You have to wonder, though, how many of those recipients will take their tax-free scholarship money to the flight school they heard about through RTAG. So, a tax-free donation ends up coming right back to the same flight school as a sort of tax-deferred income.
I expect this is all kosher with Uncle Sam, but it’s interesting to see how tightly the interests of companies like this commercial flight school and this tax-exempt charity are intertwined.
Overall, these relationships present strong incentives for these organizations to push you toward Mesa’s RTP and E2A programs, despite significant financial trade-offs.
Why Mention This, Emet?
No doubt at least one person will read this and confront me, asking why I even bothered to discuss any of it. Aren’t pilots getting tens of thousands of dollars? Couldn’t this help financially disadvantaged troops who can’t otherwise afford flight training? Sure. (Though, they can otherwise afford the training through a variety of options I’ve mentioned here.)
On one hand, I lean pretty Libertarian. If a group of friends can set up a network of businesses and convince airlines or other businesses to pay them for providing valuable products and services, why not? If part of that network includes a non-profit corporation that can operate without the burden of taxes, again, why not? Congress is welcome to rewrite tax law if they don’t like it.
These types of partnerships operate throughout the aviation industry from hotels, to crew vans, to catering services, and more. It gets far more convoluted in Hollywood, college and pro sports, defense contractors, and other industries.
And yet, I’m not the guy who can let debatable financial advice slide without suggesting you explore all sides of the equation. It feel responsible for promoting the best Pilot Math practices.
Thankfully, the people fighting America’s recent wars have enjoyed almost universal support from our fellow citizens. It wasn’t always that way. One of my high school JROTC instructors was a highly-decorated Green Beret during the Vietnam War. He endured unbelievable hatred and derision every time he returned from combat deployments. I’m so glad that America shaped up and chose to support our veterans in my lifetime!
And yet, it frustrates me to see how some agencies use sentiment toward veterans as a tool for other purposes.
I’m no longer particularly impressed when a pro sports franchise, or a musician, or a politician trots out a veteran and their family right before an event. With some popular music in the background an influencer recites some heartfelt buzzwords, and maybe even presents a gift. In 2001 and 2002 it felt special. The more I see this though, the less it seems about veterans.
For me, their message is very transparent: “You should give us your money, votes, or social support because we support veterans. If you don’t support us, you must be anti-veteran.”
I worry about this happening here. I believe Mesa is honestly trying to be pro-veteran by offering their RTP and E2A programs. They will be a great answer for some people! However, if someone like me suggests that you may be better off taking a different path, there’s a danger that we’ll be attacked for being “anti-veteran.”
Asserting a pro-veteran stance, incorporating as a non-profit corporation under 501(c)(3), or calling an organization a charity does make that organization sacred. None of those characteristics make that organization correct just because it says it is. None of them makes that organization the exclusive champion of the cause it supports. It’s still possible that such an organization might be incentivized to recommend a course of action that benefits itself more than it helps you and your family.
Do I believe that’s the intent behind these RTP and E2A programs? No. However, you need to at least consider all the facts before you sign up.
What is Pro-Veteran?
Just in case anyone plans to attack my position on these programs as anti-veteran, let’s look at some facts.
First off: I’m a veteran. I’ve served in the US Air Force for more than 21 years so far. I’ve deployed 8 times and flown more than 300 combat missions. Much of that flying was real-time, tactical ISR for Special Operations Forces. I’m one of those few Air Force pilots who realizes and takes pride in the fact that we exist largely to take care of people with boots on the ground.
I’ve continued supporting my fellow veterans off-duty. In the past, I’ve published several hundred thousand words (enough to fill a few books) of free advice helping veterans obtain and excel in civilian flying careers. I also published an entire book trying to help veterans (and others) attain financial independence. In the past, I’ve spent hundreds of unpaid hours helping veterans polish their resumes and applications.
There is nothing anti-veteran in me saying that it’s disadvantageous to give up $128,000 over three years in total compensation. Even at a conservative (5%) rate of return, if you invested that money and let it sit for 20 years, it would grow to $339,000. If you let it sit for a full 40 years it could become a staggering $901,000!
Do you really want to give up almost a million dollars in exchange for $30-40K worth of flight training when there are so many other ways to fund your training without incurring a commitment to a specific regional airline?
It’s good of Mesa to offer these RTP and E2A programs. It’s good that a charity used their influence to help facilitate those programs. For the right veteran, these programs could be beneficial. And yet, we’ve shown that many aspiring aviators will get greater financial benefits using other options to fund their training.
Knowing this, an organization hoping to do good in our world could potentially use its influence to more effectively help the people it serves. This kind of organization could:
- Continue to educate aspiring pilots on all the ways they can pay for flight training
- Provide an honest and upfront cost/benefit analysis of each option
- Be open and transparent in disclosing personal and organizational affiliations that might incentivize promoting one option over another
- Be more transparent in ranking these funding sources in terms of time/effort required, military or corporate service obligations, debt, etc.
- Educate aspiring pilots on how and why to save, invest, and pay off loans so these options don’t turn into crippling debt
- Work with lenders on behalf of veterans to secure better terms on loans for flight training
- Focus on matchmaking for low-time pilots and employers with entry-level flying jobs
- Use their influence to improve pay, work rules, and general conditions at those entry-level flying jobs
- Use their influence to evaluate a variety of flight schools and promote every school offering safe, cost-effective training
If Mesa wants to more effectively help veterans, their solution is simple. Mr. Ornstein needs to raise pilot pay and benefits to industry-competitive levels. The higher Mesa raises total compensation, the closer they’ll get to invalidating my entire analysis. I hope they do exactly that!
If Mesa’s RTP or E2A programs are right for you, I’d apply right away. If they aren’t, we’ve reviewed a variety of other options here, and we didn’t even scratch the surface.
Life as a major airline pilot is great. It’s worth the investment of time, money, and effort. Whatever you choose, take action today to advance your career.
Fly safe; I hope to see you on my flight deck or at a layover bar soon!