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I wanna be a pilot!

By Captain Michel Treskin
Edited by Jennifer J. Lacelle
April 14, 2021

Leonardo Da Vinci is famous for saying, “once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has extensively affected all branches of aviation. This said, today I want to focus on the “perks” that come with this career. These are the reasons why I chose to be a pilot, and my perception on the new era of aviation.

The feeling of freedom when flying was my first reason for becoming a pilot. When I was growing up, my next-door neighbor was a commercial pilot. I would always see him leave for his flights and I was always interested in what he did for a living. I even had the chance to chat with him about his job, and ask him all the questions on my mind. Today I must thank him for being so patient!

He described in detail the lifestyle, places he visited, as well as the challenges of flying. His stories caught my attention, and I was so intrigued and curious that this was the first time I felt the possibility of making this my career path! Traveling around the world, while being paid, was the motivation I needed to take on the challenge. At the same time, some 50 years ago, funding your own training was relatively easy.

Fast forward to 2021 and we now have a career that needs a significant investment, and will also require some time before “landing” a job in a reputable airline.

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There are three ways of getting into flight training. You have the “usual” route of joining a reputable flight school as a cadet. These academies offer thorough programs specifically designed to prepare you for all aspects of a pilot career. Once successfully completed, you will have a multi-engine instrument commercial license. Taking this route implies an investment of $150,000 USD, give or take, and you are looking at two to three years to complete the training. However, this will depend on the time you dedicate to it, and if you have a steady pace throughout the training.

Your other option is to join the military. If this is your calling, and you wish to join the Air Force or Army (for helicopters and vertical take-off/landing aircrafts [VTOL, such as the V-22]), then you will need to have a bachelor’s degree to sign up for the program. Once in, training will be provided free of charge, and you will start receiving a salary after you have received your wings. From there, you are required to complete a number of years of service before “retiring.” Generally speaking, that timeframe is somewhere between seven and nine years. At this point, should you wish to leave the military, you may to become a commercial pilot.

Your military license, with an instrument rated ticket, can be converted into a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) which allows you to operate as a First Officer. In order to upgrade ranks within the airline pilot world (become a Captain), you will need to take the required training/tests, and line training to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL).

Although it may sound a little complicated, bear in mind that military training is the best and most comprehensive.

The third option is joining a university that offers a flight training program in conjunction with another degree, such as Aviation Management.  

My advice is: do your research and then choose the way that fits your budget and lifestyle.

You may ask yourself now, why not become a doctor, a lawyer or another respectable professional? The answer is quite simple: because being a pilot is the best job in the world! Sure, it will take years and lots of time moving up the ladder, just like any other career, but in the end, I assure you the time and energy will all be worth it.

There are numerous reasons why I would encourage anyone who has an interest in flying, either young or not so young, to make aviation their career. It is a very versatile industry, and offers a range of career paths that are equally fascinating.

For example, aircraft engineers/mechanics who work on every component of an aircraft. It is another great career path to follow for those who have a passion for mechanical and electrical systems, avionics, automation, artificial intelligence, drones and so many other disciplines.

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When you become a pilot, countless doors may open. Whether you are interested in being a commercial pilot, flight instructor, corporate pilot, agriculture pilot, bush pilot, Lighter-Than-Air pilot, cargo pilot, helicopter pilot, air-ambulance pilot, law enforcement pilot or just a recreational pilot, whichever position you choose, it will be full of excitement and professional satisfaction.

Your office will be in the wild blue yonder where the sun always shines above the clouds. When you look down, you will realize how big our world really is. It will not be a nine to five job, and you might have to move to another city or even country to follow your dream.

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Imagine the possibilities of travelling faster than any land vehicle, crossing lakes, oceans, and mountains. You will feel like a superhero every time you’re airborne. Job satisfaction will be way up there.

If you are contemplating a career as a pilot, but you’re not sure whether this is for you or not, I encourage you to visit your local Flight Academy and request all the information there is available.

I am sure the staff will be happy to take you around the hangar and answer all your questions. Try to get an hour in a small plane to see if you like it. Do not worry about air sickness, we have all been through the same body reaction from our first flight. It might take you several hours to adjust, but it will eventually go away if you are prone to it. It is just like sea sickness; we all get over it.

I suggest researching how an aircraft flies beforehand. There are many computer programs that realistically mimic the flight envelope of most aircrafts, including helicopters. They will give you an idea on how the controls work, and the way an aircraft is capable of moving.

When you have a general idea on the principles of flying, and the controls of an aircraft, then go ahead and get off the ground. This should allow you to fly the aircraft once the instructor gives you control. You might be nervous and start overcontrolling, but think small movements and simply enjoy the feeling. You might just fall in love with the experience.

 

In my opinion there is nothing better than being a professional pilot. The life you will have is unique and special in many ways. It does not matter which aircraft you fly. The satisfaction you obtain will not be measurable.

Do not get discouraged by this set back with the pandemic. I guarantee you that aviation will be back sooner than you think, and the world will be hurting for new pilots. So, what are you waiting for?

Stay safe everyone,

Capt. Michel Treskin

Photo by Stefan Fluck on Unsplash