Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Options!! Or "how do I avoid eating ramen until I make Captain?"

OK, so we see that the airline industry isn't doing any better. I just applied for acceptance to Embry-Riddle's Master's program. I figure I can get a few scholarships (that Summa Cum Laude will come in handy for something finally) and fund the rest with (yet more) loans. Supposedly it's easier to get financial aid for graduate degrees than undergrad right now.

I'm planning on getting a Master's in Aeronautical Science with an Aviation Safety specialty. I wanted to get the degree in straight "safety science" but that's only offered at the Prescott, AZ campus, not online.

The point of the graduate degree is this: with a B.S. in aeronautical science, I can do one thing: fly an airplane. No one's exactly looking for a "aeronautical scientist." But with a master's in aviation safety, I can get a cool job with, for instance, the NTSB. I have this strange obsession with figuring out airplane accidents. I will sit and watch "Seconds from Disaster" over and over and over again.

Overall this seems like a good idea. Except that it worries me that, still, my only marketable talents involve aviation. A lot of other pilots I've talked to have a 2nd job. Some own a flight school back home. Others are involved in something completely unrelated to aviation. Carpenters, electricians, things like that.

So now I'm wondering, should I learn a non-aviation marketable skill as well? David and I are planning on owning our own crafts/hobby shop in the future. Airplane models, trains, stuff like that. He's amazingly knowledgeable about all of it and I enjoy building models, too. We may have a chance in a few years to buy an acquaintance's business, if we have the capital. But at our current rate of barely making enough to feed ourselves and pay off our student loan debt, I don't know if we'll have it.

On my days off, when I was working, I was bored silly. You have to understand that, as an airline pilot, you work weird schedules. Usually I was 4 days on, 4 days off. Dave works 3/3. And you have weird days off. Sometimes you have weekends off but usually your days off are in the middle of the week. I felt much more productive when I had something to do on those days off. Make a little extra money, you know?

So any suggestions?

1 comment:

A Kabir said...

"I will sit and watch "Seconds from Disaster" over and over and over again."

I can totally resonate with that. If Natgeo gave me $1 for the total number of hours I have spent on each and every single episode of Seconds from Disaster, I could have afforded my own Cessna 182RG by now.

I think It's totally okay to have a second job, or start a business as long as you are confident that you would be able to handle the workload after coming home from work. Not everyone can do it though.

One would need to have ample amount of optimism, positive energy, creativity and physical and mental strength to come home after a long flight and then jump right into another strenuous activity instead of taking rest. My father, who has worked for an international airlines for 35 years as chief-purser, used to just give up, forget about the world and crash after flights, specially long-haul ones.

But that doesn't necessarily mean it's entirely impossible. My father never aimed high enough to tend to another work/business after coming home, for one, whereas many of his colleagues who joined his airlines as flight steward saved up their salary by eating cheap and sharing apartment with strangers to keep cost of living down to as low as possible only to save up enough cash for flight school.

Out of the 35 flight stewards who took a shot at it, 20 went on to be first officers of our company's Airbus A310 and DC-10-30 fleet. Others either failed and went back to their previous job or pursued some other carrier.

These people worked their behind off on long-haul routes such as XXX-UAE-NYC and back, and still had mental strength to leave their baggage at the crew department upon arrival and appeared at the flight school located right beside the airport instead of going home 'cause they couldn't afford to miss the lessons.

Nothing can be accomplished in life if you don't have a role model and aren't inspired by his achievements. Once upon a time, British heavy metal band Iron Maiden's vocalist Bruce Dickinson was drunk out of his mind and started eating tablescrap out of a hotel garbage can and got arrested by the authorities for public intoxication. After buddies bailed him out, he thought to himself, "there's gotta be more to life than this".

In his words, " I just went out and filled up some forms and now I'm flying for Bruce Air, flying my fans from their home base to my concerts and back "

He got his student pilot license at 32. He is, in no particular order: singer, airline pilot (Captain of 757. He has it painted with his band Iron Maiden's official mascot as well), radio show host, DJ, historian, TV presenter, diver, fencer, producer, novelist, and songwriter

I have never met him in person, but I met one of the captains of our airline's DC-10-30, who builds RC planes for fun, for example.

Wanna start a RC aircraft business? I can just go out and buy one from several vendors online, but I have looked at their aircrafts' specifications and found out that none of them can fly for more than 15 minutes at best per take-off. May be you can figure out a way to build aircrafts that can fly for like 1-2 hours at a time and bring down your competition?

Godspeed. Best wishes