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How can I job shadow a commercial pilot?


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Jon’s Answer

Hi Aiden,

Following a commercial pilot can be a little tricky since their work often happens in secure areas on airports, or through TSA screening zones where you are not able to shadow them. Here are a few things you can try. First, there are a ton of videos on YouTube that people have made showing what their experience has been becoming a pilot, and what the lifestyle of the job is like. There are airline centered videos as well as private flying jobs, for example check out steveo1kinevo on YouTube.

Second, find a few local airports nearby where you live and see if there are any flying clubs or flight schools on the field. Call and ask if they do tours or discovery flights, express interest in learning about aviation as a career, they might have suggestions for who you can connect with.

Third, there are organizations like the Civil Air Patrol, EAA's Young Eagles, and Professional Pilots of Tomorrow, who each have a mission of helping young people and aspiring aviators get connected to the industry. Look into these groups and don't be afraid to find a mentor. Aviation is a field that people are passionate about, finding an enthusiastic mentor should not be hard.

Finally, realize that being a commercial pilot isn't just one type of job. There are long-haul cargo pilots who fly for 14-16 days away from home, then spend 14 days at home. There are pilots who fly medium-range airline routes (Delta, American, United, Southwest...) and spend a few nights a week away from home, and average between 11-16 days off a month. There are pilots who have jobs that allow them to be home every night as well; things like pipeline patrol, traffic watch, private charters... Pay scales can range from $40,000 a year to upwards of $300,000 a year, generally, or more depending on what type of flying you do.

One last option to try, sometimes airports have businesses on the field called Fixed Base Operators (FBO's). These are places where smaller flying operations have their aircraft fueled and serviced, it's also where passengers who fly on private jets will come and wait to be picked up, similar to a airline terminal. A few such businesses are; Signature Flight Support, Atlantic Aviation, Million Air. If one of these is near you, try calling them and asking if they know of any commercial operators that would be willing to give you a tour of their company and let you talk to one of their pilots. They could give you an idea of they type of flying jobs that are near where you live and let you know what the lifestyle is like at their operation.

Hope this helps! I'm happy to chat more if you have any more questions!

-Jon


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Thomas’s Answer

Join the military in an aviation career path. You’ll be exposed faster.

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