I very much want to work as a seaplane pilot eventually, but to do that I need to go to flight school. I currently have no idea how to get that kind of money, but maybe my parent(s) will help out. If I do eventually succeed at becoming some kind of amphibious bush pilot, this handy little booklet that my english teacher gave me envisions me getting paid $4,866-$11,183/month. My monthly spending rate would be $250 for docking fees (for my sailboat on which I plan to live), $250 for other utilities, $500 for monthly boat payments, $500 for food, $500 for savings, leaving at least $2866 idle spending money. Even post-tax that leaves a hell of a lot of breathing room. So my question is this: Did I do that right? Any factors I left out? It seems like a pretty sweet deal to me, but I don't know if I'm just naive and have no idea how it would really go down. By the way, does anyone happen to have a guess at what the hours would be for a pilot? Or what the job availability is like?
Since you hadn't mentioned any expenses related to the plane, I'd double-check - is that booklet is talking about the income you could expect as an employee of some other company which owns the plane and takes care of other details? Or what you could expect as an independent pilot owning your own plane? Could be a big difference.
To Alan's list I would add: fuel costs, and insurance for the plane and boat (your home) in addition to your own health.
It could well be that the way to pay for flight school is by taking out a loan. In which case, part of your subsequent income would go towards repaying the loan. And if you need to buy your own plane too, same idea. Perhaps you can get the license first, work for some company which owns the plane, then eventually get your own plane.
When you say $500/month for saving, is that 'saving for an awesome 3 month tour of Europe', or 'saving for my retirement'?
One of the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT things you can do is set up some kind of retirement plan. I'm not sure what the options are if you are self employed (btw - if you are self employed, you have to pay double on some of your taxes, since you are both employer and employee), but at the VERY least you could do a ROTH type IRA. the earlier you start saving for your retirement, the easier it is. I'm sure you know about compound interest and all that, so i won't lecture you (well, not too much).
Saving for your retirement should be one of your FIRST priorities, not one of your last. if it comes down to eating vs. retirement saving, choose eating. but if it's retirement saving vs. a weekend trip to chicago...
There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
By the way, does anyone happen to have a guess at what the hours would be for a pilot?
This is purely anecdotal. You can probably go to one of those flight schools in Florida and do it in the minimum hours required by law. Or you can do it for fun, learning on weekends, and do it in about twice the hours.
For me, I chose the later. I got my private pilot, single engine, land, in about 65 hours. And instrument rated at past the 100 hour point. To get a seaplane rating, you probably also need a high performance rating, as those floats are heavy.
You will also need a commerical rating to get paid. Depending on the number of passengers and other rules, you may have to get additional ratings as specified by parts 121 and/or 135 of the regulations.
BTW, this is for the US. And this was before 9/11. I have no idea how the security requirements affects all of this.
Henry [ June 26, 2007: Message edited by: Henry Wong ]
I hate to burst your bubble, but those figures are totally misleading--to the point of being nonsense. They're like saying "write books, people make millions doing it." Which plenty of people on this board will tell you is technically true, but so rare as to be irrelevant to mainstream writers.
How do I know? I'm a CFII down in Colorado, and I support my flying habit by teaching and writing about Java (yes, I'm the vicious sod who wrote the original Java certification exams
Let's say this; if you love to fly, and can't bear not to do it, you'll do just fine. You'll live a frugal lifestyle for years, then for more years you'll be itinerant having no home other than where you happen to land. Throughout those years you'll be so poor the church mice will be making donations to you. But if you love it, you won't care and you'll be the happiest man alive.
For me, there is no better experience than waking up at 4am, preflighting a 60 year old airplane, and taking off to watch the the sun rise over the snow-dusted flatirons west of Boulder. A close second is the joy of taking someone for their first flight, letting them take the controls and watching their eyes widen and the grin that lasts a week develop. But for this joy and privilege, I typically get paid $21/hour (before tax). And, I'm legally limited to 8 flight hours per day (you can do that math, can't you
To get to this lofty earning potential, I've invested something in the region of $30,000 to achieve commercial ratings in single engine and glider, instrument rating, flight instructor rating, and flight instructor instrument ratings. I have no chance of being hired by an airline because I don't have any multi-engine time. To get to that point would probably double my costs.
It's true that airlines are hiring right now (they come and go in waves). I have recently lost 6 colleagues to the airlines. They're now being paid about $13,000 per year. In about 4 more years, they can probably expect to be making 3 to 5 times that, but they really had to want to get there.
There's a saying that "it's easy to make a small fortune in aviation." Unfortunately, the whole saying ends "... you just have to start with a large fortune!"
I'm serious, and don't like to be so depressing about something I love. But if you're thinking of doing it for the money, forget it right now. Go work in McDonalds and work your way into management, it'll serve you far better. On the other hand, if you love to fly, why the hell would you care about something as sordid and corrupting as money anyway? If you have a choice between spending every waking hour doing something you absolutely love or something you absolutely hate, why on earth would you think that making vast amounts of money doing something you hate would make you happy?
Anyway,there's lots more to say, some good, some bad, but I don't know the rest of your situation, and you don't say if you've ever even been flying or not. But if you like, I'd be happy to talk to you directly. And if you haven't ever been flying, and your Dad will bring you down here with him sometime, I'll gladly take you (both?) flying with me for an hour so you can decide if you like it.
I knew a corporate pilot at Beech headquarters in Kansas. He absolutely loved the flying but the execs insisted on making meetings in distant cities regardless of the weather. He went back into engineering rather than fly in dicey conditions. Do you get any of that pressure, Simon?
A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of the idea. John Ciardi
Fortunately, as the CFI, I get to make the call about weather. That said, there are students who will pressure me to fly when I've suggested that we shouldn't, particularly with sightseeing flights scheduled for birthdays or other special events, and that can be quite hard to deal with. If they had authority beyond "customer pressure", it could easily get dangerous.