Aviation For Mustachians

Dear MMM (or is Pete okay?),

Forgive me formatting this as a blog post. I originally thought about writing you fan mail on this topic a long time ago. When I became a serious student of Mustachianism, I shamelessly appropriated many of your ideas and repackaged them in a way that I hope a bunch of my pilot friends would listen to. That became a book, Pilot Math Treasure Bath, and a website by the same name. I think other people can benefit from what I’m writing about today, so I’m posting this on my website too.

I only found your blog a few years ago, and I quickly became hooked. Your philosophies on life, stoicism, savings rate, and face punching resonated with me. My wife and I have achieved financial independence at a relatively young age. We both still work, because we still like it. In fact, now that I’ve reached FI I can afford to enjoy four jobs.

Beyond shockingly simple math, our shared background in computer engineering, and your affinity for the mountains of Colorado, I decided you and I were kindred spirits because one of your posts mentioned that earning a pilot’s license was one of your life’s goals.

Then, in a later post, you mentioned that you’d abandoned the idea of flying as an unnecessarily expensive hobby.

You’re right, of course. Unless you’re a military or airline pilot like me, it’s tough to make money in aviation. Most hobby flying is downright expensive. Still, my heart hurt when I read that you’d essentially given up on aviation.

I’m writing this to assert that aviation is a pursuit worthy of even your time. I also hope to show several ways to make aviation affordable…as a hobby and/or side-hustle. First, some context:

I love being out in nature. I grew up in Loveland, CO, just up the road from Longmont. I hiked, biked, canoed, climbed, skied, and ran cross country all over the Rockies and can’t get enough of them. My Eagle Scout project was illegal campsite destruction and erosion control on the trails of Long’s Peak. For me, the mountains are as sacred as any cathedral. I believe it’s important for human beings to go experience the beauty of our world, to explore it, and to take time to appreciate it.

For me, flying is an extension of that philosophy. If the sum of your aviation experience is limited to sitting in the back of an aluminum tube with a hundred other people staring out a window barely big enough to rank as a day/night indicator (thanks for your business) you haven’t seen anything.

Not only can you surpass the amazing views of places like Mt. Elbert from the windows of a flight deck, you have a freedom and capacity for maneuvering through our world that is unmatched anywhere else in human experience. John Gillespie Magee Jr. did more justice to describing it than I can in his famous poem, High Flight.

Afghanistan from 47,000 feet.

I think the ironic psuedo-religion of Mustachian is an awesome, positive force in our world. However, I don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to explore your world through aviation because of any arbitrary economic or philosophical limitations.

So, how might a Mustachian pursue aviation without violating his or her principles?

First off, I’m the staff writer for a group of more than 25,000 pilots called The Pilot Network. I wrote a series on this general topic, targeting people who want to pursue a career in aviation. You should check them out…you’ll see shortly how they tie in to two types of aviation I’ll recommend for you.

  • Part 1 – become a glider instructor in as few as 15 flight hours. (I’d be ready to do more than 15 hours to be gain the necessary experience, but it’s still cheaper than being an instructor in powered aircraft.)
  • Part 2 – become a Sport Pilot Instructor in as few as 150 flight hours.
  • Part 3 – How to use home study to prepare for flight training, how to get flying scholarships, how to choose the right aircraft/school for flight training, and how to fit in work around your pursuit.
  • Part 4 – teach drone pilot ground school as a side-hustle. MMM World HQ is a perfect venue for these classes. (I think the great Alan Donegan would love this post.)
  • Part 5 – serve your community and country, while flying cheaply and/or for free, as a pilot for the Civil Air Patrol.
  • Part 6 – Look for part-time flying jobs, or become a powered aircraft flight instructor.

You’ll notice that my first suggestion in that series involved flying gliders. I believe that this is probably the closest thing to a Mustachian form of aviation there is.

Flying powered aircraft is great…I love it. However, pilots tend to treat airplanes like cars…expensive gas-guzzling wheel chairs. We drone along “smashing bugs” or “boring holes in the sky” just to land an another airport and buy the proverbial “$100 hamburger.”

Soaring, or flying gliders, is nothing like that.

A glider needs a tow plane to pull it into the air. You usually release around 2000 ft Above Ground Level (AGL.) From that altitude, an unskilled pilot has enough altitude for a few maneuvers before it’s time to enter the traffic pattern and land. Total flight time tends to be around 18 minutes.

That’s fine for a training flight, but it’s not cheap. The average glider tow costs $30-40. If your flight only last for 0.3 hours, you’re flying at an equivalent cost of more than $100/hr. Ouch. The cool thing about soaring is that your costs are inversely proportional to your abilities.

Wheeling, soaring, and swinging in a Schweizer SGS 2-33, in relative proximity to another aircraft that happened to have a camera onboard.

A skilled glider pilot can find places with rising air currents, put his or her aircraft in them, and enjoy much longer flights. I learned to fly gliders just down the road from you at the USAF Academy, and can tell you that Colorado has some of the best soaring condition in the US, if not the world.

You can catch thermals, roughly cylindrical updrafts that form when the sun heats up the ground. You can catch ridge lift that forms on the windward side of a ridge line. Or, you can catch wave lift that forms leeward of a mountain range with stronger winds.

Learning to fly each of these is its own unique challenge. When you get good enough, that $30 glider tow could result in a multi-hour long flight. The last time I checked, the Colorado state record for the highest altitude reached in a glider was over 49,000 feet. The Perlan Project hit a world record of 76,000 feet last year in a very special glider! When I used to instruct at the Black Forest Soaring Society (just down the road from you in Elbert) the people who owned gliders used to launch every Saturday around noon. They would be out playing around the Rockies all afternoon, and only just beat sunset to land back at the field.

When you get that many flight hours from a single tow, the hourly rate for your flying drops to effectively nothing. Is it still frivolous? Yes, a little. However, it’s a way of exploring and experiencing the beauty of our world that at least equates to hiking in my mind. I feel like it’s particularly Mustachian that your flights get both cheaper and provide more overall enjoyment based on your skill.

You’ve mentioned that the dastardly master plan behind your website is one of environmentalism. Gliders aren’t totally clean because they rely on some type of motor to get them airborne. However, long-duration soaring is certainly the lowest-impact type of aviation around.

The Soaring Society of America has an interactive map that shows places with active glider operations. It shows two at the Boulder airport. It’s not close, per se, but it’s probably within biking distance if you really wanted it to be. Also, if you wanted to put a concerted effort into flying lessons, and you did all your ground school ahead of time, you could get most of your flying done over a few weekends. This would minimize the trips required for training.

Longmont has a great airport and would be a nice site for a glider operation. You’d need to find someone with a plane interested in doing some towing. It’s not a trivial undertaking, but it’s definitely doable. I know lots of TPN members who are looking for work as tow pilots. (Another option would be a motorglider. More on that shortly.)

Another Mustachian thing about glider flying is that most operations are organized as clubs, rather than commercial operations. The spirit of community that exists in these groups is fantastic. Young people show up in the morning for flying lessons and help launch gliders all day long. People with their own gliders pay the club for parking and for tows. At the end of a flying day, the club works together to clean up the operation before gathering at a clubhouse for stories, dinner, and beverages.

Most clubhouses could use a little carpentry work, and I suspect that it’d be easy for you to trade your skills in those respects to cover some of your flying costs.

I could stop at that. Any Mustachian afflicted by the flying bug could enjoy a lifetime of aviation in the soaring community. However, there’s one other option I think you’d find particularly interesting: you can build your own airplane.

Back in the day, this process involved drawing your own plans, glueing wood together, and sewing fabric for your aircraft’s skin. Although that sounds as awesome as it does difficult, it’s a little easier today.

Dozens of companies make high-quality aircraft kits. They design using cutting-edge CAD software, and cut all the kit’s pieces on multi-million-dollar CNC machines. They also do any metal bending you need. Their CAD engineers and fabrication processes are so good, that the holes from one piece align with the holes in the next one when the kit arrives at your door. You just line them up and start popping rivets. (Not, it’s not quite that simplistic, but it’s a lot easier than it used to be.)

You don’t need any crazy skills to build most aircraft. If you want some instruction before you get started, the Experimental Aircraft Association offers SportAir Workshops in every possible discipline of aircraft kit building. Most kit companies also hold workshops at their factory. My father-in-law is building a Zenith CH-750 Cruzer. He and I had a great time building his rudder under the Zenith pros’ supervision at their factory.

With my father-in-law at the Zenith Aircraft factory

With coronavirus limiting travel right now, Zenith is doing their next workshop virtually. They ship you a rudder kit and all the tools you need. You build the rudder with supervision via Zoom, and then ship the tools back to them. There are worse kinds of social distancing!

Since these aircraft aren’t produced in a factory, the FAA classifies them as “experimental.” Some people worry about this, but I don’t. I feel like I could be more confident flying an aircraft where I’d seen all the guts and knew exactly how well each rivet was driven. Experimental aircraft also get to use technology and instrumentation years before it’s available to the certified market. Since the process of certifying anything with the FAA is lengthy and expensive, all that technology is cheaper for kit aircraft too.

I have long maintained that you can get far more aircraft for your money in experimental aviation. If you don’t believe me, check out this video. The SR22 here probably cost $800K to $1M, depending on the options. The RV-10 cost a maximum of $150K, plus sweat equity.

AOPA’s Cirrus SR22 vs Van’s RV-10 fly-off.

You don’t have to spend $150K on a kit though. There are plenty of cheaper options. Sonex advertises that you can have a 2-seat airplane flying for $37,314. That’s still more than a year of the MMM family’s spending, but it’s downright cheap for an airplane.

Going back to glider flying, Sonex Aircraft also has a kit for a motorglider, the Xenos-B. You could build your own glider, base it at the Longmont airport, launch yourself any day of the week, then shut down the motor and soar to your heart’s content (assuming your skills and the weather are in your favor.)

The Xenos-B motorglider.

Sonex advertises the Xenos as costing about $40K to build. If that’s too rich for your blood, you can take advantage of another great thing about aircraft ownership – you can get partners. Four people could easily share ownership of something like a Xenos. They might have fun building it together, and since it has two seats you could plan to fly it in pairs. Or, each individual could have it for one weekend each month. Any Mustachians in the FIRE camp probably have free time to go flying every day.

You don’t have to build a kit though. There are plenty of used gliders in the world available at great prices. You could buy one yourself, or do a partnership for it as well.

A partnership cuts all the costs of ownership, and creates an automatic community around a shared passion. I bet you could find three other people at MMM HQ right now who’d love to join you in pursuing aviation.

I realize that starting something like this probably isn’t in your plans right now, and that doing so would be a stretch in a lot of ways. My intent in writing this isn’t to compel, but I do hope it opens your eyes to some possibilities.

Somewhere above NV or AZ in an Icon A5

Your writing and your ideas have made a big difference in my life. I wrote this as a way of saying “Thank you!” If you ever decide to pursue flight training, I’d love to to offer my services as a flight instructor as further thanks. I live near Tampa now, but my work schedule is extremely flexible, and I fly for free on my airline. I could travel to meet you somewhere conducive to training. (The flight instructor equivalent of carpentourism.)

Most glider clubs only operate on weekends, but some make exceptions for special circumstances. If we did ground school online ahead of time with an in-person capstone, and found a club that would let us fly every day for a week, we could get you a Private Pilot’s license, no problem. This is a standing offer.

Thanks again for creating MMM. You are a force for good in this world.

Sincerely,

Jason Depew

If you’re reading this, your name isn’t Mr. Money Mustache, and you don’t know who that is, you need to go read his entire blog, right now. Not only is it highly entertaining, it will change your life!

TPNQ Issue 13 is Live! (and Free)

Issue 13 of The Pilot Network Quarterly is now live! This magazine features some of the best content published on TPN every quarter, and includes original content you can’t find anywhere else.

This issue of TPNQ is packed with great career insights. (I should know…I wrote a lot of it.) It even includes a chapter from Pilot Math Treasure Bath, in case you want to try before you buy.

TPNQ is free to read, and best viewed on an iPad or larger screen. I hope you’ll check it out. If you do, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

How is Your Free Trial of FIRE Going?

When I write for pilots, I always say that it’s not a question of “if” the next downturn will happen, but “when.” No thanks to COVID-19 for proving me right. It’s causing a lot of problems for a lot of people, but I hope that you and I can put this mess to good use.

I recently wrote a few pilot-centric posts about how to make the most of this situation, how to get the most out of socially-distanced layovers, and what things will look like for pilots if our economy gets worse. However, I want to look at this situation from a non-pilot perspective today.

As an airline pilot, I’m somehow considered an essential employee. This means I’ve gotten to keep working…for better or for worse. A lot of our flights are empty right now and we’ve cancelled more than we’ve flown for weeks. If this keeps up, I may get volun-told to take a break from being an airline pilot.

The departures board at LaGuardia’s Terminal D on a recent day at work. 4 departures for the rest of the day. Normally, these screens would have to scroll through multiple pages to show all of our traffic. And this is just one company’s operation at a very busy airport.

However, my wife is a pediatric dentist. Working in a room characterized by spit flying through the air is the last place I’d want to be during a coronavirus breakout. Her office’s owners finally came to terms with that reality and shut things down. My kids’ school is also closed. They have a lot of online schooling to take care of, but still have plenty of time on their hands.

This situation wouldn’t be so bad if we were able to get out of the house. Unfortunately, trying to avoid illness means we stay at home almost all the time. Even if we could leave the house for entertainment, everything else is as closed down as my wife’s clinic.

I’ve loved this! We’ve worked on some projects that we just couldn’t seem to find time for. We’d wanted to plant a garden for a long time, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Ignore the barren weeds around the planters. The plan is to put pavers or something here. Thanks to coronavirus, we have some time to make up our minds.

We’ve been able to work on some other projects around the house, and I’ve had lots of time to write. We’ve enjoyed some TV and movies as a family (our kids finally decided they like Harry Potter!) It’s also been nice to just spend an afternoon reading a book. (Bobby Draper in Tiamat’s Wrath. Wow! But don’t go anywhere near it unless you’ve read the rest of the series. Book 1 is Leviathan Wakes.)

Unfortunately, I’m not sure my wife has enjoyed shelter in place as much as I have. She definitely likes having more time with me, the pups, and our kids. She also likes finishing projects we started or planned long ago. She even likes helping the kids get through their online learning lessons (I dislike it…even more than they do.) However, her identity is tied very tightly to her status as a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist.

I’m proud of my wife’s accomplishments. She spent seven years in school after college, and worked as a dentist for several years in the Air Force. She’s great at her job, and actually saves lives on a regular basis.

I also feel bad for her though. Beyond continuing to work as a dentist, she hasn’t been able to figure out what she wants to accomplish in life. (She can come up with options, but none of them have called to her strongly enough yet.) For her, having to spend all these weeks not working has robbed her of one of her main purposes in life.

I understand how she feels, but that makes me feel worse for not being in the same boat. Sure, I’m a pilot for a major US airline. However, I have a bunch of side hustles. I enjoy the work I do in those other arenas (for the most part) and have welcomed the time to focus some more energy on some of them.

I also have a lot of ideas that I’ve yet to find the time for. I want to write more books. (I’ve started several.) I have ideas for businesses. I want to build an airplane…or two, or three. For me, COVID-19 has allowed me to experience something I’ve heard from many members of the FI movement. After leaving mandatory full-time work, these writers or podcasters frequently comment, “I have so many great things to do right now, I don’t know how I ever had time to work 40 hours a week at a real job!”

So, I’m wondering, how is coronavirus affecting your work schedule, and what are you doing in the meantime? I know that many businesses are figuring out ways for employees to work from home, but others are just stuck at home waiting for things to get better. In a (very unfortunate) way, this is forcing us to all try out a post-FIRE life. I think each of us can learn a lot about ourselves by paying attention to how things are working out.

I loved watching the Mad Fientist’s progression toward, and after, FIRE. He wrote a wonderful post about his first year in FIRE, and it had some great insights. He realized that it’s not enough to just stop working and sit around all day. He was very glad to have projects to move on to.

I can identify with this. If I had no side hustles, a few days of quarantine would drive me crazy. Instead, I’ve been able to write and even fly. It’s been awesome. I’ve felt so bad for my wife. She doesn’t have a good side-hustle right now and it’s prevented her from enjoying this opportunity like she could.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Financial Samurai, but it’s been interesting to follow his progress along the path to FI as well. He went all the way…full FIRE while living in San Francisco. Since then, he’s abandoned retirement and started working again. Some of his posts have been a bit critical of the FIRE movement overall. I don’t agree with them, but his insights are important. You should definitely read about Why [He] Failed at Early Retirement.

I think my wife and I are learning some of the same lessons as these two writers. We’re increasingly aware of how social interaction affects our well-being. (We’re both introverts, so it isn’t all bad. However, even we can recognize that we’d be better off with a little more socializing.)

How has your relative isolation affected you?

We also realize that we both value being able to help others and make a difference in the world. That’s always been the main reason why I write. When she starts getting antsy, my wife’s go-to has been trying to figure out ways to help other people. (For the record, animals count as people in our family.) It’s nice to know that’s an important part of our identity and something we’ll want to prioritize in our future.

Have you tried helping others during your isolation? Maybe you sewed masks, built face-shields, or delivered groceries for the elderly in your area? Do you feel differently doing those things, as opposed to when you’re just at home catching up on Netflix?

We’ve already reached any definition of Financial Independence. Even with the market downturn, we’re probably at what some people call Fat FIRE or better. It’s been interesting to watch our reactions to the market decline and feel the gut check of wondering how we will actually start drawing down on our investments if I get furloughed and my wife’s clinic has to stay closed. My wife won’t feel safe until we have more money ‘stached than Suze Orman. I’ve felt immense peace though, knowing that our investments can cover our needs forever.

Have you been temped to sell while the market is down? (Don’t do it!) Do you have enough of a Treasure Bath to cover your needs for a while? If so, has that knowledge given you peace as well? If not, I hope it’s put your past spending in perspective and inspired you to save more from now on!

Most importantly: have you been able to identify something big and important to start putting more time into? Have you enjoyed it as much as you thought you would?

Back when the Mad Fientist and his wife were still just dreaming about early retirement, part of the carrot they set in front of themselves was a 3-6-3 Plan. They planned to spend 6 months of every year living in Scotland with her family, 3 months living in the US with his family, and 3 months traveling the world. It didn’t take long after reaching FIRE for them to realize that this plan wasn’t all they thought it would be.

Most people aren’t financially independent, so they still have to work full-time. If you were to achieve FIRE, you could plan to spend lots of time with your family. However, you’d spend most of each day sitting around while they were at work. Brandon and his wife also realized that while they enjoy traveling, they find more fulfillment and pleasure in being productive. I loved the maturity and insight they showed by coming to and sharing that realization.

If you’re stuck at home because of coronavirus, this time is a gift! Under other circumstances, you have to be like the Mad Fientist, the Financial Samurai, or Mr. Money Mustache. You have to work, and save, and invest and get all the way to FIRE before you can actually try it out to see if you like it. That sounds like a terrible plan to me. I think it’s backfired for more than one member of this movement.

Take advantage of this increased free time to identify and put lots of effort into whatever it is you think you’ll be doing after you eventually retire. If you enjoy it, great! However, you may find that it’s not enough to sustain you. In that case, you’ll be able to spend some time figuring out some other post-retirement options.

You may also find that you’re just not set up to really start pursuing those big projects. Maybe it’s a lack of education and training. Maybe there’s just a lot of groundwork to be laid before you can get to the good stuff. That’s okay! It means you can start using your time now, and after things get better and you return to regular work, to start getting things set up for your future. Maybe you’ll be able to steer your spending and saving habits toward your goal. Maybe you’ll decide you want to work on some self-education. Maybe you’ll realize what kind of networking you need to focus on.

I got paid to fly an Icon A5 from Florida to upstate New York last week. It was a fantastic trip, and far better than any other version of social-distancing I’ve tried over the last month.

This opportunity did not show up out of the blue. I’ve been teaching in and flying the A5 for almost two years now. I’ve done some A5 ferry flying for other pilots, and I’ve done some productive networking. This trip happened as a result of all those factors. I would never have gotten that trip if I hadn’t set up this side-hustle before COVID-19 hit.

Social Distancing, Pilot Math style.

Don’t feel bad if these realizations mean you’ve squandered opportunities in the past. Use this as a wakeup call to do better from here on out. Let this test-run of FIRE show you the ways in which you’re ready for the real thing, and the ways in which you still need to do some preparation. You don’t even need to (or want to) retire early. However, there will be a point in your life where you have to stop full-time work. Whether that’s sooner or later, you’ll face the exact same challenges. I hope you can figure out answers for them now!

Junior Captain Update #1

I just published an update on what it’s like to be a very junior Captain at my airline on The Pilot Network. Here’s an excerpt. Please click the link at the bottom if you’d like to read the full post!

I wrote last year that I’d just been awarded a seat as the 4th most junior A220 Captain at Delta. Every time I interact with people online, they ask “So, how’s it going?” with a sort of morbid, hesitant, even cringing curiosity. (Don’t feel bad, I’d be asking the same thing in exactly the same way if our roles were reversed!)

Spoiler alert: it’s been fantastic. I enjoy running my own show, I’ve maintained full control over my schedule, and the money…well….you can read the pay charts yourselves.

I finished OE in October and have been flying the line without training wheels for a couple months now. Although I’m planning on doing a 4th Year in Review post after profit sharing drops in February (16.6% baby!), I felt like it’s worth giving a bit of an update now.

For the sake of my own sanity, I’m going to start by addressing some of the points from that original post in roughly the same order. Here were some of the key considerations/expectations:

  • Amazing pay increase
  • Maintain the ability to make family schedule work
  • Probably mediocre schedule and layovers
  • Enjoy running my own show
  • Challenge myself
  • Fly with younger pilots
  • Not chasing more “respect”

Click here to read the full post!

Confessions of a Reserve T-38C IP

Whether you’re a new pilot aspiring to fly the T-38C in UPT, or you’re looking for a fun and exciting Reserve job as you leave Active Duty, teaching Phase III as a Reserve T-38C IP could be a great option for you. Don’t take my word for it though. Check out my latest post on BogiDope, based on an interview with pilot doing that job right now.

I have a treat for you today! I just interviewed a reserve T-38C UPT IP, whom we’ll call Star-Lord for the sake of anonymity. The results of our conversation will explain how to get that job as a reservist along with the good and bad of that path. If you’re looking to leave Active Duty in the next few years (and you should be) this article is a must-read for you.

Then, we’ll discuss Star-Lord’s pet peeves and secrets to success for T-38C students in UPT. If you’re a Guard or Reserve pilot who thinks you’ve got it made once you get to UPT, you’re in for a rude awakening. Whether you’re part of the Total Force or on Active Duty, this post needs to be mandatory reading for every T-38C UPT student for the next few years.

Click here to read the rest!

MASS – The UPT Scoring System Explained

My latest article on BogiDope explains the Merit Assignment Selection System (MASS) that determines assignments for every USAF UPT student. I think this is a cornerstone article for anyone aspiring to become a military pilot.

We almost don’t go a day without a future UPT student asking us how to get the assignment he or she wants. BogiDope exists to help you make that happen!

The easiest way to do this is to sign up with a Guard or Reserve unit in the first place. However, for those of you on the Active Duty path, your final aircraft assignment depends entirely on your performance in UPT. We wrote a 3-part series on Winning UPT that covers what you really need to know and do. We truly believe that if you work as hard as you can, and follow that advice, you’ll be happy with your outcome on graduation day.

That said, some people still want to know all of the details. Today we’re going to look at the Merit Assignment Selection System, or MASS. This is like the Google search algorithm for your UPT scores. It’s a mathematical formula that the Air Force uses to summarize months of your blood, sweat, and tears at UPT into a single number.

You get one MASS score for your efforts during Phase I and Phase II, and that is what determines your class rank for Track Select. You get a completely new and separate MASS score for your work during Phase III, which is what determines your class rank for post-UPT aircraft and base assignments.

Google’s algorithm is a tightly held secret, and it’s constantly changing. A lot of companies make a lot of money by guessing how the algorithm works and selling that knowledge to website owners and advertisers. Thankfully, the MASS isn’t so secret. While some of the details are tough to come by, you can go read AETC Instruction 36-2605V4 and learn exactly what math the US Air Force uses to compute the MASS.

For the sake of simplicity, we’re only going to dig into the specifics of the MASS score for flying T-6s in Phase II today. No matter what you fly in Phase III, the MASS works the same way. The only differences are the inputs. Here’s how we’re going to work through this:

Click here to read the rest of the post!

Second Career Pilots

In my latest post for The Pilot Network, I answer a question that I’m hearing more and more:

“I’ve been working in my career field for a while, but I’m thinking about becoming a professional pilot. Am I too late?”

I wanted to give a thorough, and potentially definitive response to this question. Here’s an excerpt of the start with a link to read the full post on TPN-Go.com:

Network, meet my friend Mario. We met one night at our kids’ Cub Scout meeting. I was about to randomly mention to the crowd of parents that I’m a pilot anyway…because, I don’t know if you’ve heard but I’m a pilot…and when I saw that Mario was holding a copy of AOPA Pilot magazine I really couldn’t help myself.

Mario said that he’s retiring from his career in law enforcement and thinking about becoming a professional pilot…at an age greater than 50. By the time the scout meeting ended, I think I’d cured him of any doubts. He recently completed his Private Pilot Certificate and is working on his Instrument Rating. He loves flying and is excited about the prospect of a second career as an airline pilot.

Mario realizes that he’s late in life to be starting at zero hours, but he’s realistic about his career progression potential. His attitude has him set up to really enjoy this second career, and I’m very excited for him.

I’ve noticed a few people in similar situations asking around online if it’s realistic to start a second career as a professional pilot later in life. My answer is a resounding “YES!” with a couple caveats. This post is intended to outline what you need to do to get started.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. I apologize for not doing it sooner, and I hope there’s still time for it to help!

Click here to read the rest on TPN-Go.com!

Best Airline Application and Interview Prep Services for 2020

In my latest post for BogiDope.com, I took a look at some of the top airline application and interview prep companies in our industry. I’ve worked personally with a few of them, and got lots of great feedback from members of The Pilot Network on others. Here’s an excerpt to get you started:

Whether you’re a young aviator on the Ultimate Military Pilot Career Path, or you’re an experienced military pilot finally making that transition from Active Duty, learning how to apply for an airline job is a critical skill for most BogiDope fans. I’ve written here about the amazing pay at the major airlines. The Quality of Life in those jobs is even better.

With such fantastic career potential, it’s definitely worth investing a little time and money in some preparation for your airline applications and interviews. At BogiDope, we get to see the difference that application review and interview prep make in the lives of current/future military aviators every day.

In his fantastic book about how to become an airline pilot, Cockpit2Cockpit, author Marc Himelhoch makes the excellent point that finding a flying job is a full-time job. If you’re going to invest that much attention and care into your airline applications, you want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth. The airline industry’s application process has prompted the formation of many companies that provide application and interview prep or consulting services. We’re going to take a look at a few of those today in hopes of helping you find the one that fits you the best.

Click here to read the rest on BogiDope.com!

Palace Chase and Palace Front Explained

In my latest post on BogiDope I discuss the Palace Chase and Palace Front programs. Beyond just describing the basics, I look in depth at some strategies for timing your application and making sure your commander(s) support your request. Here’s an excerpt:

“It’s easy to feel trapped as an Active Duty Air Force pilot. With years to go before your Active Duty Service Commitment is up, your family may worry that you’ll never get to leave the ongoing cycle of long workdays broken up by multi-month deployments. For some families, that end can’t come soon enough. Thankfully, the USAF has both an officially-sanctioned shortcut, and a companion that smooths the transition for an on-time separation from Active Duty, codified in their own Air Force Instruction. These programs, called Palace Chase and Palace Front, are perhaps some of the most important policies in the US Air Force. Today we’ll explore what they are and how to employ them to your benefit.”

Click this link to read the rest!

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