When I Started Flying Pt. 1

When I Started Flying Pt. 1

I started flying back in 2012. After several years of not even thinking about aviation as a career. But there I was as a senior in high school about to graduate in a few months. At this point, I was really disappointed with myself. “How could I forget all about flying.” All about the dream of being a pilot. Not just any pilot, an airline pilot. Since I was a child, I always said I wanted to be a pilot, and I was fascinated by everything aviation.

Once I did a little research and I was confident I wanted to go to ASU. Arizona State University. They sent over an awesome packet of stuff so convincing, and very hard to turn down. Until I saw the sticker price of that four-year tuition… best part of that price. It did not include the cost of flight training. That was another astronomical price totally separate. Now keep in mind I was 17 at the time and any kind of money figure with a comma was a lot of money to me. Gosh, anything with a number and two zeros afterward was a lot of money. So that idea quickly was shot down. Although I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I started to google local flight schools near me. There were only 2 or 3 if I remember correctly. Not many. Now some background of myself. I was born and raised in El Paso TX. Until I graduated college, I moved away with my first grown-up job out of school. Growing up in west Texas there wasn’t a whole lot of aviation. Not like you see in other places like south Florida, North Texas or SO Cal area. Back to my google search. With the search results of 2-3, I started making calls. Please keep in mind I really didn’t know what I was doing when I called these schools. So you guessed it. The first school that answered I was hooked. Thankfully it turned out to be a great place that really guided me in the right direction. Joe’s Flight School! If you guys are local to the El Paso area go check out Joe’s flight school. He will help set you up on the right foot.

It took me much longer than I wanted to earn my private pilot’s license. Yes, I said license! I know that the FAA took that away and it’s only considered a certificate now. Because we all know saying certificate sounds so much better than License…I mean it’s abbreviated PPL. Private Pilot’s license…Anyway, it took me much longer than I really wanted. At the same time, I was attending flight school, I was also a full-time college student. Let me not forget, that I had a part-time job as well. So, my time was well occupied. The total time it took me to earn my PPL, was a little over 3 years to be exact. To be honest I’m glad it took me as much time as it did. Over those 3 years to complete my private I learned a lot of lessons going forward for the next ratings. Lessons that I knew were going to save me money, but more importantly time.

I really think of that time getting my private as my foundation. With that foundation, it set me up for success with all my other ratings. I’ll explain. After college, I moved from the town of El Paso to the DFW metroplex. Had my first job out of college and started working. While working I tried hard not to lose focus of the real goal. Aviation. Most of these big corporations tried to brainwash you with “Our way is the best way of life”. To an extent, they may be right. But for me, an office job 9-5, staying inside all day was not for me. Every day when I sat at the desk, I watched the clock to count down to the moment, I could leave for the airport.

After moving around a few jobs. I found the perfect opportunity for my aviation growth. What I mean by the perfect opportunity. A job that pays well and gives you enough time off. Now of course there are a few caveats to this. You want a job that pays well, but not so well that you can’t leave. Most likely your first paying aviation job could be a pay cut. Second, the time off you get is still enough to support you and your expensive hobby… When I finally had just enough money to start my flight training. (The key is not to run out of money.) I did not go to a big aviation school. I found a local mom-and-pop flight school and enrolled. I had almost every dollar planned out and budgeted up to my CFI. I was able to complete 4 of my ratings in one year. Almost 5! I was close that December to the fifth. Unfortunately, the Aztec, the multi-engine airplane I was training in kept breaking, and for that reason, it pushed into the next year.

The order in which I completed my ratings was as follows. Now to stress, this is the way that worked for me. The way that worked for you may be totally different. Honestly, there is not a certain way that is really better than the other. The biggest difference is time and money.

My training started with private pilot single-engine land (PPL). That’s your license to learn! My god I learned a lot. Now I believe the whole point of the private pilot license is for you to go out and gain experience. Just fly! Next is the instrument (IR). Probably one of the more challenging ones to get. Instrument flying was a whole new world and gives a different perspective of what professional flying is like. Next came my commercial pilot single-engine land (CPL). Now don’t be fooled. Just because the title has commercial. Does not mean you are going to get paid for having a few hundred hours of flight time. The harsh reality is, to my knowledge there are only two jobs out there to start making any kind of money. Pipeline and Flight Instructor. Then as I just about ran out of money. I found a part-time job. Working line service at the flight school! Refueling the airplanes, moving them around, and marshaling them in. With that extra income, which wasn’t much, I was able to squeeze out my certified flight instructor (CFI). That’s it. My bank was all tapped out. Then started the vicious cycle all over again. As I started to make some money flight instructing, I saved that away for my next rating. Instrument flight instructor (CFII). Once that was knocked out and complete, I saved up once again so I can start my multi-training. One of the most expensive ratings you will ever get. You think single-engine flying is costly…look at multi-engine. This part of my aviation journey dragged on. It was plagued with weather issues, aircraft issues, and examiner issues. You name it, and it probably happened. Once finally when everything lined up, I was able to complete my multi-engine commercial (CMEL). Only after was I able to work on getting the multi-engine instructor airplane (MEI). During that time it really seemed impossible. There were so many factors that got in my way. Granted the multi-engine instructor was not a license I absolutely needed to fly jets. It was something that I aspired to complete. Not many pilots are instructors. And even fewer have either a CFII or MEI on their certificate. My mindset has never been too complete with others, especially when it comes to career growth and goals. Sports, that’s another topic all together. But when it comes to career goals and growth, the only person I compete with is myself. I try to be the best I possibly can be. That has always been aviation for me. To emphasize that even more, when I was flight instructing, I also completed my ATP license. Yes, that is right, my ATP license in a Cessna 172. The exact same airplane a person begins their flight training in.

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