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Bruce Hinds
Name: Bruce Hinds
Company: Continental Airlines
Position: Captain
Current Aircraft: Boeing 737
Age 70 years old
Country USA


Airline experience: yes
Corporate or fractional experience: yes
Cargo experience: yes
Military, government, or law enforcement experience: yes


Mentor profile:
My Father was a pilot for Pan Am and my heroes were the flyers in the old movies like John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Other than the fact that pilots were cool and had all the babes (right!), the things that interested me about being a pilot had a lot to do with just the romance of flight. I do love driving anything; cars, boats, motorcycles, airplanes and helicopters. There is a freedom about being in total control and aviation provides that like nothing else. My dad knew that in order to make a career out of aviation certain things had to go right. You have to be at the right place at the right time with the right qualifications. And, have the right attitude. Life is one detour or distraction after another. I was fortunate, my dad knew that unless I worked hard and knew where I wanted to go, my chances of success would be limited. He was a great mentor. I started working at restaurants, gas stations and any summer jobs during high school to pay for flying lessons. I graduated from HS with my Commercial License and had my instrument rating when I left in the fall for College. That was 1967, if you didn\'t go to college you were drafted and went to the Viet Nam war! School was too much fun, and the girls too much of a distraction. My grades suffered, I got married, and in 1970 with only one year of school to finish I ended up with a draft notice. I was only allowed to finish my semester. And, that was the only time I had to sign up for a job in the military, or I would become a \"ground pounder\" in the infantry! Those guys were getting slaughtered. I was told by the Army that they would take a few pilots from each of their helicopter classes and allow them to train in fixed wing(airplanes). They would select those that had previous fixed wing experience. That would have been perfect. Multiengine time was just what I needed for the airlines. What they didn\'t tell me, was that they didn\'t necessarily always need fixed wing pilots! Which, I didn\'t find out until after Basic Training and getting off the bus at Fort Wolters, Texas. \"Nobody was going to fixed wing... we were all going to fight and die flying helicopters in Viet Nam.\" ...was what the Tac. Officer told us. The distractions and detours are many... and, the industry is a supply and demand market like any thing else. During the 60\'s, airlines hired pilots with no experience and trained them themselves. In the early 70\'s, unless you were a minority, it didn\'t matter if you had 2 lunar landings. Jobs were very few and far between. Then, in the late 70\'s, only a few were hired and only if you knew \"someone on the inside.\" I wasn\'t hired at an airline until I was 36 years old. But there were other jobs flying that kept me going until the industry opened up. I flew night freight in old radial engine airplanes, worked for a few corporations that had their own executive airplane and was even a demonstrator pilot for an aircraft manufacturer of corporate turboprops. There were only about 3 years I didn\'t work flying from the time I returned from Viet Nam, finished school and went to work for Continental Airlines.



Favorite thing about flying:
Several things could be considered favorites. Professionally, I have the opportunity to stay current with something that requires a very high level of proficiency. I work with the finest aviators and I get to meet and work with different people at least every month. But, the most fun, is the freedom to take a small plane on a sunny day and fly off on a whim. We take our amphibian to many lakes in Washington and B.C. and explore the San Juan and Gulf Islands. It\'s not only the destination, it\'s like sailing, it\'s you the machine and nature.
Disadvatages of being a pilot:
The disadvantages are many... It\'s very easy to become self-centered! People find you interesting for what you do and it\'s easy to only talk about yourself. It\'s easy for many pilots to become anti-social. We work in an environment that many people don\'t understand. We have developed very technological backgrounds. We\'ve learned not only about our airplanes, but what we\'ve learned about the weather, aerodynamics, and all the FAA regulations, is more than most people can imagine. You have to make an effort not to isolate yourself from the real world. Family life can be a real challenge too. I travel every week, and when I get home I don\'t want to go anywhere. My wife who is at home all week would love to get away. She can\'t necessarily go with me when I travel, employees only get to go if there is an unsold seat and I usually don\'t have but enough time when I get somewhere to do much but sleep. That takes quite a compromise on both parts. Raising children is tough, trying to be home for all the things that mean so much to them is near impossible. You can\'t always be home on weekends, holidays, baseball games and dance recitals. Other people have a hard time understanding our schedules. They also think I\'m lucky to have a 3-day \"weekend\" each week even if it isn\'t on a weekend. But what they don\'t realize is that when most people come home from work each evening they get to catch up with the family, read the mail and make plans for their weekend. That\'s much different than being out of touch for 4 days.



What you would have done different:
Better grades in school. I didn\'t have good study skills. Science and Math came easy because I was interested in those subjects, but the other stuff didn\'t seem to matter at the time. Get help studying if you need it and chose to study for another career, you may need it. Many pilots have other professions to fall back on which is a good thing. Our health is so critical. My job is dependent upon excellent health until I\'m 60. The airlines also operate on a seniority system. If you put 20 years in at one airline and they go out of business... you don\'t take your 4 stripes to another. You start at the bottom of the list just like anyone else starting a career in the business. That may not pay the bills. Another career could really help out. So the idea here is to develop your other skills and interests too.
Advice to aspiring pilots:
Don\'t let anyone tell you that you can\'t do it. Go out to your local airport where they have small planes and talk to as many pilots as you can find. Pilots love to talk!
Problems encounterd along the way:
Negativity! Many pilots don\'t have a college degree and came from poor families. If you think you want to fly it can be done and it doesn\'t have to cost a small fortune. So, don\'t let anyone say you can\'t do it. The other big thing people don\'t understand is that you can get all the joy of flying with out becoming an airline pilot. Many people enjoy flying just for fun. And there are plenty of ways to get paid for flying without going to work for the airlines






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