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David Bertram
Name: David Bertram
Company: American Airlines
Position: First Officer
Current Aircraft: Boeing 757, 767
Age 54 years old
Country USA

Airline experience: yes
Corporate or fractional experience: no
Cargo experience: no
Military, government, or law enforcement experience: yes

Mentor profile:
Started flying somewhat by accident when I joined the military in 1987. At the time they were looking for pilots as they were doing a large scale build-up and recruitment was pretty heavy. Initially it was not my intention to enter the aviation field when I went into the military, but as a 20 year old kid I was excited by the prospect and certainly am glad I did it. I spent 10 1/2 years flying west coast P-3 missions at Moffett Field in San Jose CA, then NAS Key West in a composite squadron that included EP-3J\'s, EA-6A\'s, and E-3A\'s. Finally, I worked full time in a reserve squadron in Willow Grove, PA (near Philly) before transitioning into the reserves in 1998. In all I accumulated 3000 hours in turbine aircraft and 2900 hours of multi-engine experience during that time. In December of 1998 at the age of 32 I was hired by American Airlines and flew MD-82/83 out of ORD for the first two years. I then transitioned to the new 737-800 in September of 2000, flew it in MIA for 6 months on an international route, then returned to ORD to fly domestically on the 737. That is where I am today. I live in Chicago, fly out of O\'Hare, and enjoy the lifestyle very much.

Favorite thing about flying:
Mostly, I enjoy the simplicity. Not to say that flying a commercial jet is inherently easy. But, the beauty of it is that once I have flown a trip and leave the airport I never have to think about it again. There is nothing to take home with me and I don\'t worry about deadlines or meetings. Simply from a piloting perspective I enjoy being able to operate a superbly maintained, state of the art machine, that I have absolute confidence will complete its job without a hitch. Plus, the responsibility of keeping the airline operating efficiently and safely is something I take very seriously. The thrill of flying never goes away and you can\'t beat some of the sights you get from the front seat.
Disadvatages of being a pilot:
There are very few disadvantages to an airline career but we\'re seeing the biggest one right now. The airline industry is VERY cyclical. The combination of 911 and the slow economy have led to furlough for many pilots. Some of these pilots will be away from their jobs for many years as their companies struggle to stay afloat or recover. Some airlines will fail and those pilots will be forced to find other employment. Those pilots will have to start at the bottom of the list wherever they end up with a new job. Seniority is everything at the airlines.

What you would have done different:
My path was so unlikely that it probably wouldn\'t or couldn\'t be duplicated but I will say that if I chose military aviation again I would choose National Guard. This is the best way to get flight training paid for and maintain flexibility in your lifestyle
Advice to aspiring pilots:
Advice Perseverance is the major factor in a successful career. Things happen for different people at different times
Problems encounterd along the way:
Get the government to pay for training by using the military or loans as much as possible. Get your qualifications done as fast as possible and get someone paying YOU to fly for THEM.

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