I think most of us grow up dreaming about flying fighter jets or jumbo jets high in the sky, or fast through the mountains. That is exactly the way it works out for some people, and for other people it works out for them flying smaller planes in remote destinations that they love more than they ever expected.
I know my aviation career hasn’t followed the path that I thought it would, and I’m okay with that. In fact, it wasn’t until about a year ago that I realized how much I actually loved aviation.
I’ve worked in aviation for about 7 years now in a number of different roles, and there has been good and bad in all of them. Working at an FBO provided an opportunity to see some incredible planes, meet some famous people, and becoming friends with people who changed my life.
In my four years in the Air Force I have met some incredible people, visited some incredible locations, and experienced some incredible struggles. That is the part of a career in aviation that most people don’t tell you about.
Before I go any further let me be totally clear that I feel it is completely worth it, but there are some aspects that I had never anticipated.
I have spent far more time in a classroom than I have a cockpit. Now maybe that is more of a factor in the military flying community, but either way you have to be ready to do a lot of learning. That learning also never really stops. Whether you are a weekend flyer, or a 747 pilot, if you want to be good at what you do then you can’t ever stop learning about flying.
There is also a lot more to learn about than just stick and rudder skills. In fact, there is more to learn about flying than just flying. There are all kinds of other areas that you can learn about to make you a true aviator rather than just a pilot.
Safety is one of the biggest topics you need to spend time learning about. Read accident reports and learn as much as you can from others’ mistakes. I know some pilots are intimidated by those types of things, but it can only make you better.
The reason this is on my mind right now is I am currently attending a two-week power point fest that makes me fall asleep just thinking about it. However, it is an essential part of my career that will open doors that would otherwise be inaccessible.
It is entirely possible that something I learn during this training could save my crew’s lives someday. Hopefully, I will never have to use any of it and we will remain safe anyways, but it is reassuring to me to know that the knowledge will be there in case I ever need it.
I guess what I am trying to say is to not be afraid of the many aspects of becoming an aviator, but to embrace those opportunities to learn. With any luck you will never have to use it, but just ask Capt Sullenberger’s passengers if they are glad he took some extra training.