Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's QOL?

Job search update:

I've gotten my application into another airline, we'll see how this goes. It's a place I would be THRILLED to work at. I'm very impressed by their management style and their appreciation of their employees. I'd be taking a very considerable pay cut to go there, but I think it's worth it.

It comes down to QOL: Quality of Life.

I wish I could express to people still in flight school the important of choosing a job that will give you good QOL. Since my experience is with Embry-Riddle, this is who I'll use as an example.

When I was at ERAU, the emphasis at the school was on "flying big iron." Get out there, fly the jet. There are a huge number of aviation jobs out there. Flight instructing, banner towing, fire watch, charter flying in turbo-props, regional jet jockeying, et cetera. But it seemed that, upon leaving ERAU, "Thou must get a jet job."

There's nothing wrong with this. But, what I try to emphasize to people, is that you are NOT a failure if your first job out of flight instructing is flying propeller-driven aircraft. You are not crazy if this was your goal in the first place.

We fly because we LOVE TO FLY. No, I don't want to drive a 172 the rest of my life. I want to fly new and exciting airplane. Heck, I ADORE the A320 series. I love that jet. But I will be overjoyed to go fly a Cessna 402!! It's a great airplane. No, it's not pressurized, so I would not be cruising at FL390. But there's something about flying at 1,000 feet AGL at 180 kts over Cape Cod with the humpback whales beneath that excites me. It's romantic.

What you have to find out for yourself is what will bring you quality of life. I know a lot of people who love flying for a regional. They spend their days off jumpseating all over the world, and it works for them. I couldn't be happier that they've all found a place for themselves where they love their flying.

Other people might love the corporate life. Or the charter/135 life. Or maybe, like our much-loved "lifer" CFIs at ERAU, bringing the love of flying to their students is what makes them happiest. Maybe your calling is flying cancelled checks and body parts in the middle of the night. What I'm saying is, "do what you love." Do what is going to keep your love of flying burning.

QOL isn't about money. Flying, for those that truly love it, is never about the money. QOL, to me, is about the airplane, the destinations, the duty schedule. Feeling appreciated by your passengers (or boxes if you're a freight dawg!) or your management and flying with good people.

The airlines aren't the "end all be all." Find your niche. Find what floats your boat (or gives you lift, rather). Don't let yourself become bitter - if you find yourself losing your passion for flight, it's time to find a new job.

Stay true to your reason for flying, and make your own QOL!!

"Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin." (K.O. Eckland, "Footprints On Clouds")

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I've been really bad....

I'm trying to resurrect this blog again. It's been a few months. Maybe I should rename it "Confessions of a Bitter Airline Pilot." Basically I've avoided writing because I've been so bitter. Getting furloughed, just as I was really starting to get into the groove of airline life, just as I had hit that point when you fly a new airplane that you "get" it, was tremendously hard on me.

It was really bad for a while...I'm living at home with my parents, and I think that if I hadn't been here I would've had a hard time avoiding drinking myself silly.

I actually did ok there for a while. For the first month or two I was absorbed with supporting my boyfriend as he was in new hire training with Cape Air in Massachusetts. But one day it just hit me. I was flying home from visiting David in Cape Cod, and left the day before he started IOE. The landing in TPA was something I would've loved...beautiful clear night, unrestricted vis, light xwind. And it just hit me as we touched down how much I desperately missed flying the bus, how much I missed the lifestyle. How much I hated having to put my liquids in a plastic bag and not being able to use the crew line. The loss of being able to chat up a flight crew without them thinking I was crazy. The pride I had being a 25 year old woman sitting in the cockpit of a jet with 150 pax behind me. I felt so empowered...and then all of a sudden, here I was, a 25 year old woman with no job prospects and no self-worth.

I don't think I felt better until around the holidays. David's the one who saved me, who got me out of this stupor I was in. I was working on my CFI so that I could flight instruct, and passed my checkride on Dec. 19th. I felt much better, had a bit of my self-esteem back.

Unfortunately, it's now a month later and I'm still unemployed. I'm trying to get my CFII but I'm having a difficult time staying motivated. I planned to have it done by now so I could be working. But I've applied to flight schools in Tampa and Ft. Myers/Naples, and no one's hiring. Most have a surplus of instructors. Same goes at Embry-Riddle. There's rumors they'll have to furlough, too. And what does a furloughed CFI do for work? McDonald's?

Everyone knows that your job plan changes every 5 minutes, but here's mine:
Keep trying to get a flying job, whether it's instructing or survey or banner towing.
I'm applying to Cape Air, but I'm below their minimums. Hopefully I'll still get an interview.
But if that doesn't happen, in May, I'll move up to either Maryland or Massachusetts with David, depending on if he's based in HYA or BWI. If it's HYA I'll try and CFI up there and work at Cape Air Ops or be a ramper, if it's BWI I'm sure I can get a ticket agent job at BWI.

All my hopes and dreams rest on Cape Air now...I'm such a Cape Air fangirl now, I want to work there so bad!!!