EFC Asked: What was the hardest part of your journey to achieving your dream of flying for the airlines?
I don’t think this will be a popular reply as it’s not definitive, but the hardest part of the journey to achieving your flying dreams, whatever they are, is to remain patient and confident.
By nature, most pilots are type-A problem solvers. We want to solve our problem, or accomplish our goal, as soon as we possibly can. Obviously, when this comes to an abnormal procedure or emergency in flight, these traits are what drives us to do our jobs well. When it comes to career building and progression, sometimes unfortunately, this can activate our tunnel vision and we don’t enjoy the experience as much as we could have, and might even add unnecessary stress. Even now considering questions from new pilots online and speaking to new pilots, many want to know the best, fastest way to complete this license or that rating. It’s completely understandable that flying is an expensive education and many take up the training to eventually generate an income, so the desire to finish as soon and as inexpensive as possible is a massive driver. I’ve been there. What I would advise is to slow it down and enjoy every moment that you can, from your first solo, to your 300nm, to your first multi flight, to popping out of the soup on your first instrument approach. You don’t get those back, and while airline/jet flying is rewarding in its own right, it misses out on some of the intrinsic rewards that you can only find in GA and training, so enjoy where you are while you are there. A final note on this, sometimes if you’re not patient, you can make the issue at hand – from an abnormal situation to mastering a flying technique – more complicated or harder to resolve/complete. Rushing is when errors are made, and you don’t want to make an undesired situation worse. Aviation can be unforgiving.
Going hand-in-hand with patience is confidence. Have the confidence that you will get through whatever it is you are trying to achieve, as long as you persist, despite any potential setbacks. While generally being a high achiever and relatively lucky when it comes to jobs, I can count a few times in aviation where I initially fell short – and speaking to other pilots over the years, I’m not the only one. I’ve lost career opportunities that I thought were my destiny because of something out of my control; I’ve lost a job I held due to company restructuring; I’ve struggled mastering a technique prior to a flight test; I’ve made mistakes in sims. But, I’ve had the confidence in myself that if I kept trying I’d accomplish my goal, or maybe even another opportunity would present itself on this new path. So with that in mind, I’ve never met a test I couldn’t pass, I’ve been lucky enough to be the right guy at the right time for a few jobs, and I’ve ended up in a career and place which weren’t part of my original plans when I first entered aviation, but have been immensely rewarding in their own right.
Enjoy the ride!
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