Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

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McKinley
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Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by McKinley »

With the uncertainty and decently bleak outlook for aviation, who out there is contemplating exiting flying?

For those of you who have given up flying in the past, how did you begin all over again and pursue a new career?

I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime let alone my aviation career. However, COVID has happened there’s no changing that fact! Now, the question is, how to rebuild?... Historically speaking, during these layoffs in the past, I’ve gone back onto the ramp, volunteered as a pilot, gone back to the Bush, groomed airplanes or worked as some form of ground staff. This often worked out well. However, with aviation upended to this extent my usual go-to options aren’t there. I’m wondering what to do?! I also have a hunch I’m not the only one who is in this boat.
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youhavecontrol
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by youhavecontrol »

It was easy to just up and leave aviation a few years ago in Alberta. I knew several people who would go back and forth between flying and oilfield work, but now that the economy there has been obliterated, I'm not sure what I'd do. I was a steam truck operator and crane rigger before flying, and I am pretty certain those jobs aren't waiting for me to come back.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by AirFrame »

Most people i'm acquainted with had a backup plan before they entered aviation... A degree and in some cases a start at a career in another field before aviation presented the opportunity.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by Liftdump »

I have done 1 trip since March 8. Since that date I’ve done some reflecting on all the important events in my life that I have missed in the past. I am praying for a lay-off or a parked plane. This is not fun anymore. So my vote goes to YES I would hang up my headset in a nanosecond.
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mmm..bacon
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by mmm..bacon »

I'm lucky - got my first job in '97, and apart from seasonal layoffs in the early days, I've never been unemployed. Somehow I managed to luck into a job that has been unaffected by the current mess, so I'm counting my blessings.

I've thought several times about hanging it up, and doing something else, but then I get to asking "What else am I going to do that gives me my current lifestyle?", or a Beaver blats past overhead, and I'm like an addict on skid row - right back into aeroplanes...
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McKinley
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by McKinley »

mmm..bacon wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:23 am I'm lucky - got my first job in '97, and apart from seasonal layoffs in the early days, I've never been unemployed. Somehow I managed to luck into a job that has been unaffected by the current mess, so I'm counting my blessings.

I've thought several times about hanging it up, and doing something else, but then I get to asking "What else am I going to do that gives me my current lifestyle?", or a Beaver blats past overhead, and I'm like an addict on skid row - right back into aeroplanes...
I’m in a similar boat. I started looking at working outside of aviation... I laugh at your last sentence because during a recent interview I looked up “ like an addict” during the interview completely unconsciously enamored by the Q400 passing by. Luckily, the person doing the interview said “ you must miss planes eh.” Me: Yup. ( oops 🤦‍♂️)

There’s a lot of processing happening for me.. the good, the bad, the amazing. There’s one common denominator in it all, aviation was one hell of a ride and I truly miss it. The things I saw, the places I went, the people I met along the way were irreplaceable experiences.

I do have part of a degree .. Life circumstances were prohibitive to me finishing my degree at the time. If I was flying, I had to be “ all in.” Right now I’m kicking my own arse on that one. My other prospective career would require a TON of expense and going back to school with a young family. ( ugh)

It’s both saddening and affirming to hear the predicaments others are in as well. I’m good to have some constructive thread drift into options surrounding wtf we are all going to do here.

I do wish everyone the best during this difficult time and I hope we all come through the other side of this thing for the better.
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Ash Ketchum
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by Ash Ketchum »

I am trying to leave. Tried to get an IT engineering job to use my bachelors degree but realized my skills are outdated and that I have a big gap in my resume from flying and that no one will hire or even interview me.

My plan now is to start a local service business and if that doesn't make money in the next 6-8 months I will attend a top Canadian Mba program which I have been accepted into.
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ayseven
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by ayseven »

Yes. I got another career for money. I did enjoy parts of that, but flying never seemed like work, even when loading generators and Bullwinkle into different airplanes, before taking off. You cannot have regrets. Life is too short.
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fish4life
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by fish4life »

Ash Ketchum wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:05 am I am trying to leave. Tried to get an IT engineering job to use my bachelors degree but realized my skills are outdated and that I have a big gap in my resume from flying and that no one will hire or even interview me.

My plan now is to start a local service business and if that doesn't make money in the next 6-8 months I will attend a top Canadian Mba program which I have been accepted into.
I think what you said is crucial and often overlooked when people consider the degree as a back up, the hiring market is extremely competitive in most fields so if you were never able to stay “current” in the field of your schooling while you were flying one quickly becomes out of date and at the bottom of resume piles. This is one reason I’ve always preferred the trade route as a back up is they tend to be easier to do on the side
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by JBI »

fish4life wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:05 pm
Ash Ketchum wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:05 am I am trying to leave. Tried to get an IT engineering job to use my bachelors degree but realized my skills are outdated and that I have a big gap in my resume from flying and that no one will hire or even interview me.

My plan now is to start a local service business and if that doesn't make money in the next 6-8 months I will attend a top Canadian Mba program which I have been accepted into.
I think what you said is crucial and often overlooked when people consider the degree as a back up, the hiring market is extremely competitive in most fields so if you were never able to stay “current” in the field of your schooling while you were flying one quickly becomes out of date and at the bottom of resume piles. This is one reason I’ve always preferred the trade route as a back up is they tend to be easier to do on the side
These two posts are excellent! Fish4life - I agree completely, for many pilots, having a trade as a backup or a side project sure helps. I know guys who are doing a lot of landscaping, deck/fence building, electrician work etc. that they've moved back into pretty seamlessly. May not have the schedule or pay that their flying job had, but it'll pay the bills and put food on the table.

With a regard to a degree as a back-up, Ash Ketchum makes a great point... a not so recent undergrad often does not help for an immediate jump back into the work force as a trade does. BUT, having that undergraduate degree opens doors for graduate school programs which, depending on your age, financial situation etc. CAN be a great way back into the work force and a potentially specialized and similarly higher paying career as aviation.

To the original poster, I hung up the headset for 10 years a few years after 9/11 for a combo of economic, personal and health reasons. I left my flying job on good terms and went back to school. Original plan was to do a semester and see how it went. Airline went bankrupt while I was at school and I decided to continue. I was in my mid 20s and single so it wasn't quite as drastic as if I left now. I got back into flying about 5 years ago and have enjoyed it a lot. Even though I'm making less money than in my previous career, I'm a lot happier and for personal and family reasons it works out better. However, I will saying having that non-flying experience is helpful right now for two reasons: 1- it does help to remind me on the tough days that the grass isn't always greener but 2- if things do get worse with COVID, while it won't be instant, I have a pretty good idea of how I'll pay the bills.

Best of luck with whatever path you take!
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Ash Ketchum
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by Ash Ketchum »

JBI wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 1:24 pm
fish4life wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:05 pm
Ash Ketchum wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:05 am I am trying to leave. Tried to get an IT engineering job to use my bachelors degree but realized my skills are outdated and that I have a big gap in my resume from flying and that no one will hire or even interview me.

My plan now is to start a local service business and if that doesn't make money in the next 6-8 months I will attend a top Canadian Mba program which I have been accepted into.
I think what you said is crucial and often overlooked when people consider the degree as a back up, the hiring market is extremely competitive in most fields so if you were never able to stay “current” in the field of your schooling while you were flying one quickly becomes out of date and at the bottom of resume piles. This is one reason I’ve always preferred the trade route as a back up is they tend to be easier to do on the side
These two posts are excellent! Fish4life - I agree completely, for many pilots, having a trade as a backup or a side project sure helps. I know guys who are doing a lot of landscaping, deck/fence building, electrician work etc. that they've moved back into pretty seamlessly. May not have the schedule or pay that their flying job had, but it'll pay the bills and put food on the table.

With a regard to a degree as a back-up, Ash Ketchum makes a great point... a not so recent undergrad often does not help for an immediate jump back into the work force as a trade does. BUT, having that undergraduate degree opens doors for graduate school programs which, depending on your age, financial situation etc. CAN be a great way back into the work force and a potentially specialized and similarly higher paying career as aviation.

To the original poster, I hung up the headset for 10 years a few years after 9/11 for a combo of economic, personal and health reasons. I left my flying job on good terms and went back to school. Original plan was to do a semester and see how it went. Airline went bankrupt while I was at school and I decided to continue. I was in my mid 20s and single so it wasn't quite as drastic as if I left now. I got back into flying about 5 years ago and have enjoyed it a lot. Even though I'm making less money than in my previous career, I'm a lot happier and for personal and family reasons it works out better. However, I will saying having that non-flying experience is helpful right now for two reasons: 1- it does help to remind me on the tough days that the grass isn't always greener but 2- if things do get worse with COVID, while it won't be instant, I have a pretty good idea of how I'll pay the bills.

Best of luck with whatever path you take!
I absolutely agree. The trades are a better fallback for pilots looking for work in a downturn. I think that a graduate degree like a top Mba or law degree would work well to change into a well paying career however the 6 figure student debt would be crushing if wanting to fly commercially again.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by Bede »

fish4life wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:05 pm This is one reason I’ve always preferred the trade route as a back up is they tend to be easier to do on the side
Excellent post. However, keep in mind that trades are very competitive to get into. The cat's out of the bag. The days of everyone thinking that trades were a dumpy last resort career are long over. There's a ton of high school educated kids + older folks that think that they can just walk into an electrician or plumber apprenticeship.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by goingnowherefast »

And people wonder why the pilot shortage existed. Pilots are treated like crap the second there's a surplus, treated as a liability when there's a shortage.

It's a messy business, and I can't blame anyone for leaving. Except maybe the executives who can't be bothered to treat pilots like human beings.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by McKinley »

goingnowherefast wrote: Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:17 pm And people wonder why the pilot shortage existed. Pilots are treated like crap the second there's a surplus, treated as a liability when there's a shortage.

It's a messy business, and I can't blame anyone for leaving. Except maybe the executives who can't be bothered to treat pilots like human beings.

Couldn’t have said it any better!
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by jakeandelwood »

I quit flying for a paycheque some 10 years ago, I went to truck driving. It pays a bit more than what I was making flying, but not nearly as rewarding. I never could really quit flying so I ended up buying my own small plane to fly, that's the funnest flying in my opinion, doing your own thing. You'll keep wanting to go back to flying for a job, I think about it often. I was seriously going to get back into commercial flying untill this covid thing hit, I guess not now.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by L1900Edge »

No
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by ant_321 »

Absolutely not. If I’m not able to go back to my previous job when this is over I’ll be doing whatever I can to get back in the cockpit somewhere. There aren’t many jobs where you can make this much money for this little work. I prefer to not work for a living.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by DanWEC »

I've pivoted into general contracting. Renovations, decks and fences have always been a side job but decided to make it a full time project. I don't love it, but it's survival.
I have a Biology degree with almost zero working experience.
So, traded the car for a truck, have a website and marketing going. The work is piling up faster than I can get it done!

I could picture a worst case scenario for me of 4-5 years before having a crack at an airline job again. I'm fairly low in seniority, and if callbacks don't happen or the company folds, I'm swimming in a pool of thousands waiting for a year 1 FO job at AC.
By that time, I'd be well into my 40's and likely just couldn't take the cut.
I strongly doubt any startups will appear in the next few years.

I hope with every fibre of my being that doesn't play out, I absolutely loved my job, but I'm planning for the worst. It's still better than leaving the family for a crappy job in Northern Manitoba.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by iflyforpie »

This comment thread should give you an insight into how aviation and indeed the world works as economic cycles ebb and flow.

The baby boomers working dead end union factory jobs told the millennials to get university degrees so they could get ahead in life. The millennials who had to choose between minimum wage at a coffeehouse or no pay in an internship are pushing their kids into the trades. Now it seems like trades are getting too competitive since they are the few remaining jobs that can’t be downsized or exported (provided we don’t have another TFW happy government). Just about everyone after the boomers are wishing for that dead end job.

It’s all cyclical... and those who take the best advantage of the booms in any field are the ones who stuck it out or went whole hog into the busts.

I remember 9/11. I knew a lot of people who hung up the headset for good after that. Didn’t have the stomach for ramp or dock, slaving right seat in a Navajo.. and better part of a decade FO in a 705 regional machine for a company that might not survive. But the last 5 years it was a completely different story, and had many people who were fairweather fans think they could jump back in and make it to a good seat. Some did.. and that’s great. We aren’t all masochists and if someone can get to a good spot without dealing with all the BS, good for them. But people who made out better were ones that didn’t have to go zero to hero running against the clock.

But now that the music has stopped and the Bad Old Days™ have returned, you have to decide what you want to do.

If you don’t have anything invested in aviation—either cost or time or desire or necessity, you’ll likely fall away. Maybe your parents paid for your training. Maybe you were coaxed into flying. Maybe you have another career that gave you a lifestyle before aviation or that you can fall back on. Maybe you had this idealistic view of aviation by being born into one of the longest and hottest summers the industry has ever experienced that won’t be distilled into the cynicism that most of us hardened veterans live with. Maybe you were already counting the millions you’d make if you made captain at AC by 30, and are now off to real estate or day trading or gambling to try and play catch up.

But for those who stay. It won’t be like this forever. The boom times will return. There are many facets of aviation unaffected by the economy. It still beats working for a living.

I have no plans on hanging up the headset.
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Re: Hanging up the headset... anyone done it ? Anyone thinking of it?

Post by Heliian »

or, you could just hang it up and then put it back on.

I know pilots that retire on a yearly basis now. Every year is their last season or whatever and then they find that they're bored and want to get back in the air. This applies to young pilots as well. The grass is always greener on the other side.
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