|Corporate or fractional experience:
|Military, government, or law enforcement experience:
|I would like to start by saying hello to all the aspiring pilots out there and if you're reading this then you're probably heading in the right direction to getting your career started as a professional pilot, as you will encounter much more reading and research in your upcoming journey.
My name is Colin Lewin and although I currently do not work for an airline or hold a flight position within a company at this time, I have been involved in the aviation industry for the last 8 years, holding my commercial pilots license along with an IFR rating. I started my flying in Nova Scotia, Canada back in 1995. During that time I have had the opportunity to gain very valuable knowledge and information on how flight training is conducted and how the aviation industry works as a whole, as I have worked for companies dealing in flight following & training, cargo operations, and have been chosen for Board selection for the Canadian Air force and been put through their testing paces as well.
I wanted to give you a little incite into my background first as I don't want to mislead anyone and have people assume that because I lack flight hours that I am any less professional or knowledgeable than a pilot who might have 5000 hours. Becoming a pilot takes lots of dedication and a certain mind set and I hope that by reading this and seeing the steps I took in trying to obtain my final goal of becoming a professional pilot, you will gain something useful that will aid you on your journey to becoming a pilot no matter what area of flying you choose, whether it be fire patrol in a C172 or scheduled service for an airline.
After getting that out of the way, my story starts back when I was a little youngster visiting my grandfather. He always had the coolest books and models of airplanes and although I didn't realize it then, that was when I became hooked for life.
I would sit there for hours looking through the books and playing with the models wondering how cool it would be to fly one of those some day. That's the closest I thought I would ever come to becoming a pilot, a dream...
Years passed and I went through my schooling and was finishing up high school when I began thinking to myself, what do I want to do for a living?? If every kid doesn't ask himself that a hundred times or your parents nagging you constantly about it ehh :)
Well, I thought back to the good ol'days of looking at grandpa's books and models and thought, "That's one thing I've always wanted to do, fly."
Remember me saying something earlier about research?? Well this was my first taste. I had to figure out how to pay for the flight training as it doesn't come very cheap. I started looking into student loans and after some searching I was able to come up with the tuition for my flight training all from student loans and lines of credit. Now the excitement begins...
Here's where I made my first mistake. Don't take everything you hear for face value. Always try to find out first hand in most cases. Make sure you investigate and "Research" what you're about to spend thousands of dollars on!!!
When money is involved you'd be amazed at what people will do or say. Anyways, point being, make sure you know what to look for when selecting a flight training organization. There is at least on good web site out there to help you pick the right school and the things you should look for.
Some things to keep in mind are:
1) # of aircraft and instructors available
2) Type of aircraft and ratings offered
3) What type of dominating weather patterns affects the facility (affects how often you fly)
4) Who are they affiliated with (might help get a job)
Those are just some of the things you might want to check out, and there are many more that others could add I'm sure. Like I always say to myself, "Its what you don't know that will bite you in the ass." Keeps me looking for more information..
As I try to get back on track, after I began my flight training I soon realized it's going to be a long tough road. It's very cut throat out there so you have to ask yourself, what can I do to distinguish myself from everyone else??
Anything you can think of that might make you a better pilot, do it!! It will only help you in the long run in finding a job and allow you to become a more rounded and knowledgeable pilot. I like the word professional, but be careful, it's not having 10,000 hours or holding every rating in the book that makes you a professional, it's the way you carry yourself in your everyday life even when not flying. I guess you could say it's a mind set or way of thinking...
Saying that, any job you can get around aviation while going through your flight training will help, believe me it will pay off. Those will be some good contacts for down the road when it comes time to start pumping out the resumes and gives you an appreciation of the whole process involved in aviation. I say pumping cause at some points in time I felt like a machine with all the resumes and letters I was typing and sending out... I can at least type with two or more fingers now.
So by now I've been able to work flight following at my flight training institute after some hounding of the CFI for a job. Persistence pays off!!!
Also was able to get a ramp job at the local international airport loading bags and all the other ramp rat duties... You'll get used to being called a ramp rat and in turn you will use the term later on in your progressing career.
By now you might be able to notice that it's like a big planning process. What goal do you want and what steps do you need to take to achieve that goal?? Remember that, and it will help you further on down the road of life.
Now, realizing that I'm not going to get hired right off the ramp and put into a B737 for my first job, I had to start thinking of some more ways to better myself. Some may laugh at the thought of going from ramp to B737, but hey, I was young and naive ;)
So my next step was to write the exams for my dispatch rating. I studied for those and then soon after had that rating under my belt. Now I had one more thing to add to my growing resume which when I first started had nothing related to flying on it... As you can see as the long process goes on it slowly starts to pay off and even start to feel rewarding..
By now a few years had passed and I was growing more eager to get that first flight job. I found and entry level job with a small charter company cleaning their planes and doing any odd jobs they had for me. Another great learning experience, but at the price of another very valuable lesson.
There are companies out there that will take advantage of you and you should be aware of that. They will tell you what you want to hear to keep you working ;) It took me over a year to find that out and some false promises to boot. Not everyone is out to get you but make sure you ask questions, don't assume anything. Most companies truly appreciate the hard work young pilots do and usually reward them with a flying opportunity.
As I draw close to the end of this book ;) I will bring you up to date as to where I stand today. I recently stopped working out the airport last year as my contract was up and with cost cutting these days the person at the bottom goes first, during the time I was working there, I applied to the Canadian Air Force as one more way of trying to better myself and further my career... I am currently awaiting their final decision.
If you're still with me and the eyes aren't to sore from reading this I'll end off with this..
During your career from the time you start to the time you retire, you will be thrown a great deal of curve balls and have many obstacles to overcome, but keep this in mind, stick with it, give it all you've got and with a little bit of luck your dreams of flying will never have seemed closer to becoming true.
|Favorite thing about flying:
|The thrill of seeing the world from a different view and being able to control such a beautiful machine.
|Disadvatages of being a pilot:
|If your flying, are there any real disadvantages??
|What you would have done different:
|Not be so worried about obtaining an aviation diploma.
|Advice to aspiring pilots:
|During your career from the time you start to the time you retire, you will be thrown a great deal of curve balls and have many obstacles to overcome, but keep this in mind, stick with it, give it all you've got and with a little bit of luck your dreams of flying will never have seemed closer to becoming true.
|Problems encounterd along the way:
|It is very hard to maintain a relationship and be flexible when it comes to flying. Other than that, everyone's situation is unique to themselves and you will face some tough decisions ahead. The best advice I could give is, try to find out everything you can so you can make an informed decision.
Ask yourself this question... Am I ready and do I want to dedicate the rest of my life to this??? If you said yes, then you're on your way...