Midlife Career Change

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RedAndWhiteBaron
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Midlife Career Change

Post by RedAndWhiteBaron »

Hi everyone,

I've been reading here for a couple of months and just signed up now. I've made the decision to make a midlife career change from the I.T. industry to aviation, as a pilot. I understand this question is asked a lot here, but then again - every situation is different, so I hope I'm not flogging a dead horse here.

I'm 40 years old, living common law and committed, with no children, in Brampton. After recently being laid off I've become... "disillusioned", I guess? with the I.T. field. I just don't see the difference I'm making. Add to that, I've always been an aviation geek - I was an Air Cadet and got my glider license through them at 16, but haven't been inside a cockpit for 20 years plus (yes, I realize that training means squat now).

Having decided to be a pilot, and having enough money in the bank to pay for flight school, I think the best option for me is a private flight school, likely BFC as they're a 20/30 minute drive from where I live.

I believe I will pass a cat 1 medical, although 20 years of smoking (cigarettes) may throw a wrench in that. I'll be making calls in the coming week to schedule a medical. Assuming I'm medically qualified to fly for hire, I have somewhat of a plan, and I'd like to hear people's opinions on whether or not it is realistic.

The plan is to train full time for 12-18 months to obtain a CPL with MIFR and float/taildragger qualifications. I think a PPL at Brampton is the best choice for me, as they're quite close, and seem to have a good reputation, at least for not screwing people and for the quality of instruction. I realize that where you trained doesn't mean much after you get your CPL, but I'm still looking for a decent school with good instructors. After a PPL at Brampton, I would then look at options elsewhere (including Brampton) for upgrading to my CPL. I hope to do part of my CPL training on floats, as I've always dreamed of flying floats in NWO.

So there's question #1 - is obtaining a CPL/MIFR with a float rating doable before the 2021 hiring season?

I learned in gliders, and I'd love to take that up again. How doable is joining a club and towing gliders while I build hours? I'd be more than willing to fly for a skydiving operation for free to build hours too, or really anything that would work to get me to 200/250TT PIC. I have zero interest in instructing and I think I'd make a lousy instructor, but perhaps that would make me more employable?

And question #2 - is it a realistic goal to find a low paying/low TT float job in NWO somewhere in the summer of 2021? I don't mind working docks for a couple of months, but I can't justify living away from home for the summer and getting no flying time to my wife. We're 40, and life is short.

Question #3 - I'm thinking of a road trip this summer. I won't be able fly for hire by summer 2020, but I can certainly make some calls and put a face to my (not-yet-existent) resume if I do the road trip thing. Beyond just the road trip, if there's any chief pilots that read this, how would you respond to someone sending out feelers a year ahead of time, something along the lines of "I'm planning on flying bush for at least a few seasons, and I'll be qualified (aside from insurance requirements) by summer of 2021. Are you able to meet in person? (insert all the reasons I think I'd be great for a fly-in operation here)", and more generally, how effective would it be to start putting out feelers now, either in person, or by phone or email?

The end goal is a NWO bush career, or fire bombing (but that would be years away). Maybe medevac or something similar in there somewhere.

And that brings me to question #4 - how hard is the remote living, when you have ties back home? Are there generally duty rotations where I can come home, or are NWO jobs generally a live-in thing for the entire summer?

And the final question #5 - this would mean a significant cut in salary, to the tune or 2/3. Realistically, how long would it take, assuming I am motivated, to be earning 65k+?

I hope I have been specific enough in my questions. There's a lot here, as this is a wild blue yonder for me at this point (pun intended). Thank you for any time you take in considering this.
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shimmydampner
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by shimmydampner »

#1: In my opinion, yes.
#2: In my opinion, yes.
#3: In my opinion, probably not worth the cost/benefit, but could be fun regardless.
#4: Plan to be away all summer.
#5: If all you are planning is seasonal float flying in NWO, I think you'd be hard pressed to ever make $65k in a season, although it's been quite a while since I've been around that neck of the woods so perhaps things are changing. The OMNR might be your best bet for good job /money once you have the experience to get in. Keep in mind, that works out to roughly $12k+/month and I always found the wages in that area to be on the lower end of the spectrum. You can find seasonal float jobs that will pay in the range, but they are few and far between, more likely to be in a place like the Yukon, and not suitable for inexperienced float drivers. It might take you quite a while to get there.
If I may make a couple unsolicited suggestions, I would recommend a couple options. If bush flying is what you're after, you need to have a serious conversation with your wife. Your best bet for lifestyle, career and money might be found in moving to somewhere like Whitehorse or Yellowknife where the wages are quite good and there are options for year round bush flying (floats, skis, offstrip, wheels, IFR, etc.) If your wife is unwilling to move, I would take a serious look at Kenn Borek Air, as they offer rotations. It's a tough lifestyle, but if you're dead set on bush flying, it probably doesn't get much more exciting than what they do.
At the end of the day, anything is doable if you're willing to sacrifice to get it. What do you want your life to look like? Gone all summer every summer? Rotating every 2 or 3 (or more) weeks? Home most every night, but living elsewhere in the country?
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iflyforpie
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by iflyforpie »

Please don’t offer to fly for free. That will close more doors than it will open in this very very small industry.
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ehv8oar
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by ehv8oar »

This sounds abit harsh but unless you've got enough cash saved up, or your commonlaw makes enough money to support you, you should probably not do it.
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by kilocharliemike »

Do fun shit...you will be dead soon...
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by RedAndWhiteBaron »

shimmydampner wrote:If all you are planning is seasonal float flying in NWO, I think you'd be hard pressed to ever make $65k in a season
It's not all I'm planning, but it does look like a very good place to start, and compatible with future goals. I have a lot to offer fly-in operations (I think); I can operate chainsaws safely, drive tractors, and am quite capable of basic plumbing/electrical/small engine repair, and I have extensive expedition wilderness experience in canoes so it seems like a natural fit, and one that I would enjoy even if I wasn't flying.

Beyond that, taking contract I.T. jobs in the winter would still be an option - I'm quite experienced and senior in my field. I make good money in it, I'm just not happy with it. A seasonal float job would mean I'm still able to make the big bucks in my previous field in the winter. If seasonal float driving can bring in enough bucks to justify taking the winter off, that's great, but I'm not counting on that, and it would likely take years I think.

Like I said, seasonal floats is not all I'm planning, but it's a good place to start, i think. Opportunities may present themselves in the coming years, or they may not, and I'd need to adjust goals accordingly.
shimmydampner wrote:If bush flying is what you're after, you need to have a serious conversation with your wife.
We're having that conversation. Trust me, I wouldn't be considering this without her support. Two or three, even five years of summers away from home is negotiable, but not a (second) lifetime of it. For me personally, giving up all possibility of summer vacations would be a tough sell. I'm a wilderness canoeist who's not getting any younger. It's the same thing - I can sacrifice a few years, but not a lifetime. But I would hope that after a few years, better opportunities would present themselves. But I do really feel a calling to follow my dream of flying floats.
shimmydampner wrote:In my opinion, (the road trip is)sic probably not worth the cost/benefit, but could be fun regardless.
My thoughts exactly. I love road trips. I can drive 16 hours a day and love every minute of it. I'd have a blast, hopefully meet a few people and get to know a few operations, and get my name out there in 2020 for the 2021 season. If it doesn't land me anything, it would still hopefully be a really awesome introduction into the field I'm trying to get into.
shimmydampner wrote:At the end of the day, anything is doable if you're willing to sacrifice to get it. What do you want your life to look like? Gone all summer every summer? Rotating every 2 or 3 (or more) weeks? Home most every night, but living elsewhere in the country?
Ideally? A seasonal job flying in remote areas, with something like a 3 on/1 off duty rotation, with the possibility of 2 or 3 weeks off once a year. If I'm away from home, then being home every night wouldn't matter a lick to me. I've worked I.T. for 20 years, trust me, I know what being on-call can do to you. It's the off weeks that I'd like to get to, and if that takes a couple/a few years all summer away from home, that is a sacrifice we are willing to make. Us moving north is possible and negotiable, but not an easy sell.
iflyforpie wrote:Please don’t offer to fly for free. That will close more doors than it will open in this very very small industry.
Oh believe me, I agree. I have never worked for free - not once, charities notwithstanding. But there is that magic land between 150 and 200 with a PPL, where you can't be paid. I can buy a block of rental time to do that, but I'd really rather not. And after that, from what I've read, you're unhireable even as a junior low time pilot until 250TT (please correct me if I'm wrong). You're worth what you're paid, and if you work for free... yeah, trust me, I get it. If it wasn't a legal obstacle, free work would absolutely be out of the question - but somewhere, somehow, I'll need to build hours to at least 200, and likely 250. Towing gliders or flying skydivers seems like a good option. Gliders especially, as my flight training years ago was on gliders, and I'd like to do that again. By the way, username does not check out here, iflyforpie.
ehv8oar wrote:This sounds a bit harsh but unless you've got enough cash saved up, or your commonlaw makes enough money to support you, you should probably not do it.
I have enough cash saved up, and my wife can support me otherwise, but we'll still need to tighten our belts to make it happen. I'm reaching out here to get a better idea of the risks/costs and rewards.
kilocharliemike wrote:Do fun shit...you will be dead soon...
Speak for yourself - I plan to live into my 90s. But true to your point, at 40, if I don't make a go of a flying career, it will soon be too late. Given my dissatisfaction with my current career, and the promise aviation holds today, I think now is the time. If not now, then likely not ever.

And...
shimmydampner wrote:If I may make a couple unsolicited suggestions
I wouldn't be asking if I wasn't welcoming to unsolicited suggestions. I've made up my mind, I'm just looking for the best way to do it, and "unsolicited suggestions" are the best advice I've ever had, in any line of work.
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digits_
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by digits_ »

Hold on there. You need 200 hours to get your cpl and tow gliders or drop skydivers. You will have to pay to get that training. You can't just go tow gliders for free with a PPL. That would be extremely shady.
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by RedAndWhiteBaron »

digits_ wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:04 pm Hold on there. You need 200 hours to get your cpl and tow gliders or drop skydivers. You will have to pay to get that training. You can't just go tow gliders for free with a PPL. That would be extremely shady.
I was of the understanding that you need a CPL and 200 hours to be paid for anything like that. But that joining a club and doing it pro-bono on a PPL is kosher.

Perhaps I am mistaken?
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by '97 Tercel »

If you've got the money and really want to do this, then do it...start tomorrow. Get the CPL tout suite and go north
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by static_invertor »

I say go for it.

But remember this industry can turn on a dime, and there are no guarantees.

The economy and aviation industry are long over-due for a correction.

Just stay out of debt!
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by AirDoan »

RedAndWhiteBaron wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:22 pm
digits_ wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:04 pm Hold on there. You need 200 hours to get your cpl and tow gliders or drop skydivers. You will have to pay to get that training. You can't just go tow gliders for free with a PPL. That would be extremely shady.
I was of the understanding that you need a CPL and 200 hours to be paid for anything like that. But that joining a club and doing it pro-bono on a PPL is kosher.

Perhaps I am mistaken?
Negative. In my ground school we were told a tale of a couple guys that did that in Port Alberni and had every hour stricken. Your PPL you can not use for any direct gain. Even having someone pay for your flight is a no no as free time is seen as renumeration Best you can do is 50/50 with friends for time building towards your CPL.
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by shimmydampner »

If that's true, what a bunch of horse shit. So a guy with a PPL and no intention of pursuing a CPL could do it, but if you're pursuing a CPL you can't because THEN those hours have intrinsic value in and of themselves? Horse feathers. I have doubts about that whole story, but if it were true it sounds like that TC guy was an old school scumbag operator using one of their old justifications for only paying 500: "Sure you're not getting any financial gain, but you're getting all these hours!"
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by RedAndWhiteBaron »

Never mind that the cost of flight training has been identified as an issue in parliament, and recently, too. Are they still throwing up barriers like this?

If so, I can deal with it, I have the means. But not everyone is so lucky. It's utter horseshit if this is true.
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by digits_ »

RedAndWhiteBaron wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:50 pm Never mind that the cost of flight training has been identified as an issue in parliament, and recently, too. Are they still throwing up barriers like this?

If so, I can deal with it, I have the means. But not everyone is so lucky. It's utter horseshit if this is true.
Do you think a skydive club or gliding club would be able to get insurance for a 50 hour ppl "working" for free?
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by RedAndWhiteBaron »

digits_ wrote:Do you think a skydive club or gliding club would be able to get insurance for a 50 hour ppl "working" for free?
Haha, I highly doubt it. You're right, and with good reason. But I do think it should be an insurance requirement, and not a regulatory one.

Not looking forward to getting from 150 to 250, but if buying a hundred hour block is what it takes, so be it.
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Re: Midlife Career Change

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shimmydampner wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:26 pm If that's true, what a bunch of horse shit. So a guy with a PPL and no intention of pursuing a CPL could do it, but if you're pursuing a CPL you can't because THEN those hours have intrinsic value in and of themselves? Horse feathers. I have doubts about that whole story, but if it were true it sounds like that TC guy was an old school scumbag operator using one of their old justifications for only paying 500: "Sure you're not getting any financial gain, but you're getting all these hours!"
Although it's a different jurisdiction, this has been ruled-on to death in the US. The FAA has long held that building hours *is* compensation and reward. The FAA said you could do tow flights with a PPL if you don't get paid as long as the hours weren't compensation in and of themselves. One solution that would make it legal was for the pilot to forgo logging the hours:
https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/he ... tation.pdf

In this case, if not logging the hours makes the idea unattractive, which it clearly does if the idea is to build time towards a CPL, then the hours are de-facto a "reward": and it cannot be done without a CPL.

Now the compensation/reward rules were changed in the US to permit glider towing, as recognized here:
https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/he ... tation.pdf

But the rules haven't changed in Canada.

To the OP: buy a share in a plane at Brampton or somewhere nearby, if you can find one, train in it, then put a couple of hundred hours on it.
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by RedAndWhiteBaron »

photofly wrote:To the OP: buy a share in a plane at Brampton or somewhere nearby, if you can find one, train in it, then put a couple of hundred hours on it.
Thank you sir. That settles it then. Legal in the U.S., but not here. I still say it's horseshit, but hey, I gotta work with the regulatory framework I find myself in.

Your post does bring up another question though - whether to rent or buy. I think it would be best to do my PPL training while renting. Let's be honest, I know jack shit about buying an aircraft, and even less about the cost of owning and running one. After some exposure and some pointed questions to some knowledgeable people, I'd have a much better idea of the cost/benefit profile of such a decision. I'm certainly not in a position to make a purchase decision currently.

Buying a share may turn out to be better economically - but it would preclude the option of doing some training on floats, some on an MIFR craft, some on taildraggers, etc. It would open up the possibility of visiting distant family by air on a whim while I build hours though. I'd love to hear the experience of someone who's already done the math.
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by plausiblyannonymous »

AirDoan wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 2:00 pm
RedAndWhiteBaron wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:22 pm
digits_ wrote: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:04 pm Hold on there. You need 200 hours to get your cpl and tow gliders or drop skydivers. You will have to pay to get that training. You can't just go tow gliders for free with a PPL. That would be extremely shady.
I was of the understanding that you need a CPL and 200 hours to be paid for anything like that. But that joining a club and doing it pro-bono on a PPL is kosher.

Perhaps I am mistaken?
Negative. In my ground school we were told a tale of a couple guys that did that in Port Alberni and had every hour stricken. Your PPL you can not use for any direct gain. Even having someone pay for your flight is a no no as free time is seen as renumeration Best you can do is 50/50 with friends for time building towards your CPL.
That's the deal in the States. In Canada the regs are a little more lax. You actually have your flights fully covered by work if your main job is not flying (ie. a one time thing for your otherwise non-flying job).
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by RedAndWhiteBaron »

Aww see now I'm confused. I'd be joining a soaring club to soar. Granted, they need a towpilot schedule that I'd need to be on, but the primary motiviation would be to soar again. My main "job" wouldn't be flying, I'd just be an active member of a soaring club, who also happens to be able to tow.

But given my goals - I can't justify it if I can't count those hours towards my CPL. I do have time and budget constraints. There must be a Canadian ruling somewhere.

BTW if you haven't soared as a pilot, you should. The feeling of hurtling towards the ground at 300 knots pulling 4G with no engine in a high performance glider in silence during your unusual attitude training is just... wow.

Glider pilots stay up longer... just sayin'
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Re: Midlife Career Change

Post by cxchd »

Why don't you just call Transport. Don't go by what people say here. Lots of armchair critics. Incidentally, I started at 36. I already had my PPL, but pursued my commercial then an instructor rating then my my first break at a jet at the age of 45. Taught part time for a few years as the pay sucks, but I enjoyed teaching. These days moving up is happening at an incredible rate. I'm now Captain on a wide body heavy. Never thought that would be possible. Also making better money than I ever have in my life.
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