Friday, December 29, 2006

Light at the end of the tunnel

We had a nice holiday break. A had 5 days off. In a row. It was amazing. I know, it'll be the last time that happens for a while. We're already thinking about how we might work next year. I made A sit down and update his logbook. Turns out, he's nearing that golden 500 hour mark that means he can start applying for regionals. It's good to see that he's made so much progress. December was a slow month for building hours with the wedding/honeymoon, kid's surgery and the holidays. A is now the senior instructor so has first dibs on the available hours. Plus they are down a few instructors now. Hopefully the rest will come quickly in the next few weeks.

Been fighting with the green eyed monster a little this month. Two of A's former training partners got hired by a regional. They both started out with more hours than he did, so it's no suprise. But it's still hard to see them go and wonder- when is it HIS turn? Sometimes feelings defy logic.

We are still undecided about what we are going to do. I know I'll stay here when A is in groundschool. Originally I was going to go with him when he hit the reserve stage, but now he is leaning more towards me staying here where I'm already settled. I'm torn between going with or staying. Is it really so hard to uproot? Probably apathy will make the decision for us in the long run. I guess if I really felt strongly one way or the other I would be compelled to change it though. We'll consider moving more seriously when he is able to bid a line.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What to do when bad weather strikes

Last week we had a few days of bad weather, low ceilings, fog that prevented A from being able to do any training. So instead, all of the CFI's had to do random office chores like reorganizing binders, pinstriping a new whiteboard, moving a simulator and painting a "hold short" line on the carpet.

He could have more effectively used the time to update his logbook and start gathering the info needed for applications to airlines. But then again, it's all about what the company needs and not what he wants.

He's picked up another cold, most likely from M, so he's miserable once again. I suprised him with cookies and snacks at the aiport yesterday to make him feel better and I think it worked for a bit.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Officially a pilot's wife

We tied the knot last week. It was nice, kind of anticlimatic for us since we've already been living together. But at least now I'm guarenteed the death benefits when he crashes into a firery pit. So that's good.

We flew into Ft. Lauderdale on our way to our honeymoon destination. We were nearly touching down on the runway when the pilot pulled up sharply and we ended up doing a go around. That was interesting; I've never done that in a commercial jet before. It seems that someone didn't get their plane off the runway in time for us to land. The woman behind us was freaking out. It was funny to be flying there with A since he had flown there before. He was talking all about the approach, how it seemed like we weren't coming low enough in time, etc. And sure enough, the pilot had to really slam on the brakes and we were pretty close to the end of the runway. A reminder that professional pilots occasionally mess up too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Achieving your dreams

A was asked to attend M's "career day" at preschool and talk about being a pilot. I hope I can manage a day off to go see it. It just means so much more to us for him to actually be considered a pilot since it's been just a dream for so long...

Also, A will be spending a day flying people around in a rented plane a few days before our wedding. All our relatives are so excited to actually be able to fly with him now. Again, because it's been just a dream for so long and they have been listening to him talk about it for so long.

A had more time off than expected for Thanksgiving, which was a blessing for us all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Plugging away

Really there hasn't been anything exciting to report. Things are just plugging along for the most part. No funny stories, no gripes, not much of anything. I guess that's good because it means we are making headway on our goal of getting into the airlines.

A had a student bust a checkride for the first time today. I'm pretty proud that he made it through 20 students before lucky #21 came along. That's a great record to have and shows that he is a pretty good instructor. He's got the most consistant passes that anyone at his school can remember.

A has Thanksgiving off. Probably going to be the last time for many years to come. It's not a big deal to me, I can see my family anytime and they can cook a turkey anytime. It means more to me to have 3 consecutive days off with A. We can't manage that just anytime. Our plans are to visit the zoo and then hit Cracker Barrel for dinner.

I'm annoyed at the school for how they assigned the days off though. They could have done a better job with that. They assigned everyone a 3 day block starting tues, wed or thurs. I'm not how they assigned everyone, but A got tues-thurs off, while I had thurs-sat off. If they had let them bid by seniority, A would have gotten thurs-sat off. I guess for most of the guys, who are single, it doesn't matter much what days they have off. But for us, with a family, it means a lot. As it turns out, schedules changed, students shifted and it turned out not to be an issue. Days off got pushed back to wed-fri, then thurs-sat for A. Since his student busted today and went home a day early, I'm not sure where we currently stand. Such is life. We have our honeymoon coming up in 2 weeks and I'm sure I'll get enough of him then.

There was a discussion on Jetcareers that got under my skin, but this time I stayed out of it. It's just not in me to get into an e-argument with someone about something inconsequential. The gist of it was this- someone asked at which locations did instructors get the most hours. Nobody was giving any concrete info and we had recently tallied up A's log book to get a perspective on this ourselves. So I posted and said "as an add on instructor at CRG, he's averaging 65/month flight time. Plus there's about 1.5 hours on the ground for every hour of flight." So a few days later, someone else, who according to another post left the school in 2004, posted that if he was only getting 65/month, he must be really lazy and not working hard enough and when he was there they were getting 100/month. Umm, ok, perhaps things have changed since 2004? Perhaps he could have just stated how many hours he got when he was there 2 years ago without taking a dig at anyone else? I mean really, unless he called and spoke to the chief instructor about the student/instructor ratio, called the office in PV and confirmed the incoming student numbers, and spoke with other instructors at CRG to verify that there actually more hours available and this guy really was slacking off, he really doesn't have a leg to stand on now does he? The fact of the matter is, A is there 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week, always has 1-2 students that he is training and is now a senior instructor. If he were slacking off, perhaps someone would have said something to him by now? And he probably wouldn't have been the only instructor that they trotted out for the grand opening at the new location in Daytona if he weren't one of the best. At least, that's my opinon.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Breathe, sleep, live aviation

This made me chuckle, esp. because it seems to happen with an increasing frequency.

Last night when we were sleeping I bumped into A. Obviously he was dreaming about flying because as soon as I touched him, his hand flew up in the air (as if to adjust dials and gagues)and he started mumbling "what the hell are you doing?".

He says he dreams about nothing but flying (hmmm, so much for scoring romantic points by saying he dreams only of me...) ever since we got here. I guess the total immersion aspect of his school really can't be denied. I'm sure it's going to be a while yet before he dreams of anything else.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

It goes both ways

Just to point out that A does appreciate and reciprocate to my constant giving and accomodations to his schedule, I thought I would include this.

The other day it started raining here about an hour before I was due to leave work. Any rain within the 2 hours prior to my leaving sends traffic into a tailspin, leaving me rushed to get M from school and just frazzled in general. It's like every 10 minutes of rain directly equals 1 accident on my drive home. Anyhoo, I was stressing out about it, as usual, and called A to inform him of my headache. He took the time to leave work, get M from school and wait with him until I arrived home, and then went back to work to finish up. Yes, it meant that he had to stay later for the day, but also meant a less stressed out Someday. The give and take goes both ways in our relationship and for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Proud like a mama bear

A told me yesterday that he is 15 for 15 with his students passing their check rides. That puts him as the current record holder for most consecutive passes at his school. It's an especially tough feat considering the kind of instruction he does- add on ratings. People come in with a varied skill set and he has to bring them up to par in the aircraft and teach them the new skills as well.

I'm so proud. I knew this was the right career for him.

Monday, November 6, 2006


I love to hear all about A's exploits with his students and fellow instructors. It's interesting to hear all about the different people and be able to laugh about some of the things they do or say. Since I will never meet the bulk of them, it's nice to hear about the people he's with all day long.

The part I don't like is when he tells me about how a student nearly killed him because they weren't paying attention or froze up or didn't know what to do. Granted, since I don't fly airplanes myself (and don't really have an interest in it) I never know how near these near misses really are. But to my naive mind, they all seem dangerous. Usually he blows them off, but he had one recently that kept him up all night. I trust that he's an adept enough instructor to recover, and he always has, so this was something new for us. He hasn't had much to say about it since then, so I trust that he's worked through it at this point. I hate having it in the back of my head that at some point some student is going to do something stupid and I'm going to have to deal with it.

Friday, November 3, 2006

There are up days and there are down days

Had two really hard nights lately. I think it was just the cumulation of stress and too much to do and on and on. Ended up crying, refusing to speak and venting to friends. And then, magically, it all passed on and I felt better. Sometimes you just need to get it out I guess.

On Halloween, I had an elaborate plan for us to meet up with a friend and go trick or treating with her two kids. A would pick up M and meet me there and it would all go smoothly. Then A dropped the bomb that he had moved up his students checkride and had to condense 3 days of training into 2 and therefore would not be able to participate in the trick or treating because he would be home late. This went over fine with me at first, but later, as I sat in massive traffic trying to get over the bridge to get M just so we could turn right around and come back, it just spun out of control in my mind. What is it about sitting in traffic that does that to a person? Instead of the normal 45 minute trip to get M, it took 65.

Of course, I had to blame the whole debacle on A, because if he just would have been able to get M, I wouldn't be sitting in traffic sweating bullets trying to get him in time. If only he hadn't been so selfish to change the guys training to get the examiner he wanted... this was probably the last halloween he'd have to spend with us for a while... and what about Someday? When does she ever get something??? By the time I fought the traffic and got (late) to my friends house, I was furious. A called and I refused to talk to him. But after 2 hours at her house and letting off some steam, I called A to tell him we were on our way home and totally felt better about the whole situation. It had all worked out in the end and I wasn't angry any more.

The next night, A was late getting home again. He called to tell me and I said it was fine. But while standing there cooking dinner and listening to M play trains, I just got this overwhelming sadness about him not being there. And again it was because he had changed the schedule with this student. And then again started the whole selfish, when is it my turn spin. But I reminded myself that at least he was coming home tonight at some point and that turned the tide.

Today A is picking up M from school and having some boy time while I go get a facial and do some shopping at the mall. I guess that's about as much "me time" as I'm going to get for a while. I'm greatful for it though.

I'm not sure what it was that sparked the out of control emotions lately- stress? hormones? jealousy of my friends' husbands being home (when in reality they aren't either...)? But the important thing is that I was able to pull myself out of it without really starting something between us and that we were able to work through it. Somehow knowing that HE had changed his schedule, vs. the company having changed it just made it feel worse. It would have been easier to deal with if he hadn't had control over it (which is what he now claims, but who knows for sure).

I'm sure it's not the last time that I will have an emotional rough spot over this. But at least I can chalk it up to a learning experience because it got us talking about how to handle situations in the future. And as GI Joe says- knowing is half the battle.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Keeping it together

A whole bunch of things are coming to fruition in the next few months and life is getting crazy. Sometimes I feel like the character Eddie Murphy played in the movie Bowfinger. (A brief synopsis of the film is at the end of the post) Lately I feel like I just need to keep repeating the mantra- K.I.T, keep it together, keep it together. I know that by january things will have settled again.

Coming up in the next few months for us- the wedding (in just 5 weeks, we don't even have a honeymoon booked yet!!!), M having tonsils out (6 days before xmas), an end to the escrow that would never close on our house, the end of crunch time at work for this product sale.

Despite all of the things we've got going on, I've managed to juggle them all pretty well and haven't really dropped the ball on anything yet. Thank goodness for my dayplanner. A helps out when he can, like attending a 1 day notice birthday party at Chuck E Cheese (one of my least fav. places on earth) while I attend an unreschedulable meeting with the florist at the same time. Every day we have to make choices about what is highest priority, but it all seems to be getting done. I'm still looking forward to when A will be home for a block of time, however short, and I can leave him a honeydo list.

Despite all of the rough patches we have had this year- my cancer dx and treatment, being told I might also have a brain tumor, M needing surgery, trying to sell my family home back in CA, A's moneypit of a car, adjusting to living in a totally new place with no support systems, my dad's cancer dx and and treatment, death of my favorite uncle, being perpetually broke, planning a wedding... I've never once regretted taking the leap and coming out here to do this. Every day I see how happy A is to be doing something that he had previously only dreamed of doing. Knowing that I am helping him to attain his dream and goals means so much to me. And I know that one day the favor will be returned. I realize that it will be a long hard road still to come, with many decisions still to make, but the perpetual, eternal (and admittedly sometimes annoying) optimist in me keeps me believing that everything will work out in the end.

For those who haven't seen Bowfinger, it's about two low budget producers trying to break into the movie biz. They decide they need a star in the film and try to film Eddie Murphy's character (the big movie star)without him realizing it. The big movie star is also slightly deranged and can't figure out what is going on when these weird incidents keep happening. He keeps repeating this mantra- K.I.T., kit-kit-kit, keep it together, keep it together- to remind himself that what he thinks is happening is not. A hard synopis to follow, I know, you'll just have to see the movie.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Waiting it out

On site interviews are coming up at A's school. Lo and behold, he has enough hours to meet their minimums, but we've decided not to interview with them. Several reasons behind this.

#1- They are coming out of a hiring freeze. They interviewed at the school once before and were in a hiring freeze then, but came out anyway because they had already comitted to doing it. A company with a hiring freeze doesn't look like a company with the growth that we'd like to see. I'm told they are in negotiations for more routes. But with them still in negotiations, I'm hesitant to go with them. What if they negotiations fall through? Where does that leave the newly hired pilots? If they had already contracted the routes, that might be another story, but until then?

#2- They have 3 domiciles, 2 of which are in places I could never consent to living in (too far north for me). A feels the same way. I'm told that they will guarentee you a spot at the southern one for a year, but after that, you are fair game. I'm just not up for a 60% chance that we'll get transfered to a place I can't stand for an unknown amount of time. I'd rather stick it out and wait for another airline with domiciles I can deal with.

#3- We can go somewhere else with a higher pay and the same upgrade time.
Relating to a previous post of mine- yeah, this might be one of those occasions where having a family to consider might make a person skip out on an opportunity. But the reality is, none of the single guys at the school are jumping to interview with them either.

We heard that one of the airlines we were considering has raised it's minimums by 100 hours. That means an extra 6 weeks here, if current student capacities continue. We've heard nothing but good things about them so far.

A's two half days off were much needed and appreciated. I hope he's able to work in a few more on occasion. It's nice to be able to stop and breathe on occasion.

People at A's school have figured out who I am and ask him questions about things I've posted on forums and here. I think it's funny. He's too busy to keep up with what I'm writing about so it always comes as a suprise to him when it happens. It doesn't seem to bother him too much though. So if you read this and know him, give him a shout out for me. And tell him to share the snacks I brought in...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Finally, a break

A has been instructing non-stop, nearly 12 hours a day for almost 2 months. It's been wearing on us. I come home angry because he used dishes but didn't have time to wash them and doesn't have time to do his laundry. But then I think about how he has run himself ragged trying to do this and reel myself in, a bit. He knows it the situation I'm frustrated with, not him. He does what he can, like helping get M ready and taking him to school in the mornings and filling my gas tank at 10pm at night so I don't have to do it. I could get up at 6am on saturday and spend time with him while he is getting ready for work, but frankly, I'm too lazy. So instead I just holler at him from bed.

Yesterday and today he's been able to get the mornings off to have some much needed personal time and run some long awaited errands. He would have the entire day off, but someone else is sick and he needs to build up some good karma. He's going to need time off for our wedding and also when M has his tonsilectomy.

In some ways, it's harder to plan things now than if he were working for a regional. At least then he could try to bid around the time we need off. And if he wasn't going to get it, we'd know ahead of time. Right now, it depends on the student loads and the school doesn't seem to know those until 2 days ahead of time. (My personal feeling is that the school could do a better job with scheduling, but that's another story...) Of course there's always the issue of commuting and flight availability to throw into the mix, but still... it's awful hard to plan anything right now.

I don't know who's going to need more sympathy- the 4 year old getting his tonsils out or the mama who has to stay home all day with the angry 4 year old...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


A is near ready to begin applying to real, actual airlines. It's funny to hit this milestone because it always seemed so far into the future. He's been working 7 days a week for weeks now. I can't remember the last time he had even a 1/2 day off. I do the best I can to help him out (including suprising him with snacks at the airport on the weekends occasionally) and don't expect too much of him at home and we seem to be doing fine. It will be a relief to get through this, but the next stage, him gone for weeks on end for training is going to be just as difficult. In a different way though.

He's got some thing lined up on monday to talk to an airline that is considering doing onsite interviews at his school. He volunteered to be trotted out like a show pony to talk about the program and his training and all that stuff. His training partner volunteered too. It's a regional that's hired guys out of his school previously, but never interviewed there. I'm leaning against them myself, I've heard some mixed reviews about them.

In a few weeks another airline will be doing onsite interviews at his school as well. Again, he and his friend signed up. I think they are still short in hours, but it will be a good experience for them. And at best, they'll be issued a conditional offer based on their continuing to instruct and gain the hours. Again thought, I'm not sure it's an airline "we" want to go with.

Maybe it's just the control freak in me, but I insist on having a say on what airline he finally takes a job with. It's going to effect me in a big way after all! Not only where he'll be based, but where we might live, how much time he'll spend commuting (if we go that route), whether his health insurance will cover all of us or just him, how long he might be on reserve and where, upgrade time... so many details to consider.

And I really do think that you have to look at things holistically. One airline might pay $2 more per hour, but not cover health insurance for dependants and in the end, wind up costing you a few hundred per month. The additional hourly salary may not make up the difference. How happy are we going to be in Newark vs. Salt Lake City vs. Houston? Is it worth it? How long can we anticipate being there?

We are still trying to decide whether I will stay here in Jax while he does his reserve training or whether we will go with him. On one hand, it's nice to stay where we are settled and have friends. He can commute back down here on his days off. On the other hand, he may have very few days off and I would prefer to be able to live with him and see him as much as possible instead of the few random days he can get down here. I guess too, it depends on the city he ends up doing his reserve time in as well.

So much is still in the air and we all just kind of have to go with it.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Are single pilots really better off?

This is a topic that irritates me like no other. I see/hear a lot of students talking about how it's better to be single when first starting out because of all the uncertainty, low wages, moving around ect. I simply don't aggree. It's not that I think attached pilots are better off, they have their pitfalls too; but I don't think that one trumps the other. There are so many variables involved in each scenerio and so many pros and cons to each, that's it's impossible to make a singular conclusion.

Last week I got peeved enough to break my cardinal rule (of not posting about hot topics on forums because I always get flamed and regret it) and posted on jet careers. I also forgot to take into account that I am probably dealing with someone who is young and thinks they know everything just as well as they might know airplane systems.

It started when I saw this post by Beechboy85:
well hopefully the "poverty" will only last 2-3 years as an FO, then at least ur making a living. I mean you can't go into this with a family, house, etc. and think ur going to be making loads of money. I think my chances are better going into this as a single guy, with few ties, and the ability to make sacrifices/accomidations for awhile at least.

Why is it better going into this (aviation) single. If you are in a position where you can share finances with someone else, wouldn't that HELP you? Make it less of a stretch to make that starting F/O salary work? So I posted this:

I hope you aren't implying that people who already have families and houses shouldn't get into aviation. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you mean that they should know that there will have to be a standard of living adjustment.

Going into this as a single guy isn't always best. Those who have wives/serious girlfriends who work are able to have that additional income and aren't so poverty stricken. The key is to find a partner who is willing to make some sacrifices in the short term for long term gain.

I should have just bit my tounge. I knew it. It's better to spend my time helping someone who has a family find a way to make it work then it is to try to make any headway with someone who obviously believes otherwise. So I got this post back by Beechboy 85:

Obviously I don't believe that those with a family shouldn't "get into this business." There have been, and will continue to be, many people who are sucessful in aviation with a family. All I'm saying is that a single male/female who can take on employment opportunties that they may or may not be able to take on with a family, may have more opportunties to advance quicker or be in a position to take a job with higher pay. There's no arguement that potentially moving to a new location once,twice, or more a year with a family is tough! Plus, should parents be home for their children, rather then being away four nights a week?

Second, there are VERY few people who are guareented anything in avaition (notice i say "aviation" and not "airline"). With that said, a person can put themself into a position where it is more practical to enter the industry. If someone wants to go out and sign there name on a $50,000+ loan with an interest rate of Prime + 1-9% (no particular companies mentioned), then HAVE AT IT!! What concerns me are those who go into this industry with tunnel vision of flying the "heavy metal", without any clear plan on how to pay this off and put food on the table in the process. The math is simple:
Family (spouse and children) + Large Flight School Debt (70,000+ w/interest) + No B.S. degree (or more student loan debt) + Low F/O beginning pay + Rent, utilities, etc. = DISASTER!!!

Third, I don't believe there is any "best" way to enter the industry. I chose to go to college first, getting a fall-back degree, then go to a professional flight school. All this while working my a@@ off in "other jobs" to have minimal debt. Some will go get a combined degree/flight training, some will "screw" the degree and go right to their local FBO (forget the majors and even some regionals now!). Whatever someone decides to do, I think the biggest thing is that they look at the future. Just because you want to fly more then "anyone", doesn't mean you should put yourself in a position where you simply can't cut the financial mustard. Doesn't this boil down to the fundimentals of RESPONSIBLITY...

I decied right then that the topic better belonged in another forum/post and I wasn't going to hijack the thread. This person OBVIOUSLY knows the one true way to make it work and wasn't going to be interested in what I had to say.

But I do feel the need to get out what my responses to this would be. Because I do firmly believe that there is more than one way to get through this. Here's my thoughts on this response:

All I'm saying is that a single male/female who can take on employment opportunties that they may or may not be able to take on with a family, may have more opportunties to advance quicker or be in a position to take a job with higher pay.

What employment opps are these? According to the federal gov't, discrimination based on marital status is illegal in companies that have 15 or more employees. And most smaller business don't have the HR skills to know that they can legal ask this question. So marital status would not preclude someone from pursuing any job. If they didn't take it, that would be up to them, but any single person would face the same decision.

There's no arguement that potentially moving to a new location once,twice, or more a year with a family is tough!

Moving really isn't that difficult. Thanks to this here interweb thing, moving is a lot easier now. Online reservations for a moving truck, online apt., daycare, job search, craigslist to get rid of possestions and hire people for truck loading/unloading. Fax machine to fax medical record and other requests as needed. I got us set up in less than a week for a move from CA to FL. One 3 day trip to Jax to visit my preselected locations and interview and about 8 hours online otherwise. And one pretty cool 5 day drive. I don't anticipate our next move will be any more difficult. And yes, I did it all with a 3 year old child.

Plus, should parents be home for their children, rather then being away four nights a week?

Hmmm, perhaps all those kids who are subject to custody aggreements can answer this one. They see one parent for less than 4 nights a week. Literature on the effect of this on kids is mixed at best. What about parents who work 60-80 hour weeks and barely see their kids. Yeah, they are home every night, for about 6 hours while their kids are asleep. How about firefighters? No one gives them shit when they do their shift at the station. Should they not have children either? As long as the child's routines are consistent and the child knows that the parent has not abandon them, I see no problem in it. The negligible custody that my ex has (9%) hasn't effected my son's feelings (of love)towards him.

Second, there are VERY few people who are guareented anything in avaition (notice i say "aviation" and not "airline"). With that said, a person can put themself into a position where it is more practical to enter the industry. If someone wants to go out and sign there name on a $50,000+ loan with an interest rate of Prime + 1-9% (no particular companies mentioned), then HAVE AT IT!! What concerns me are those who go into this industry with tunnel vision of flying the "heavy metal", without any clear plan on how to pay this off and put food on the table in the process. The math is simple:
Family (spouse and children) + Large Flight School Debt (70,000+ w/interest) + No B.S. degree (or more student loan debt) + Low F/O beginning pay + Rent, utilities, etc. = DISASTER!!!

Hmm, this equation seems not to take into effect the possibillity of the spouse/partner working as well. Or other variables. We rent out our house in CA and it pays for itself and then some. It's making us money. We used a home equity loan to pay for school and have a better interest rate than a traditional loan. BS degrees were earned with scholarships and grants; no money to pay back. Right now, we are able to live just on my salary and anything A earns is dessert. Doesn't seem like we are headed for disaster at all. Plus, you can't get approved for a loan if they don't think you will be able to repay it. So those truely in danger probably wouldn't get approved anyway.

Third, I don't believe there is any "best" way to enter the industry. I chose to go to college first, getting a fall-back degree, then go to a professional flight school. All this while working my a@@ off in "other jobs" to have minimal debt. Some will go get a combined degree/flight training, some will "screw" the degree and go right to their local FBO (forget the majors and even some regionals now!). Whatever someone decides to do, I think the biggest thing is that they look at the future. Just because you want to fly more then "anyone", doesn't mean you should put yourself in a position where you simply can't cut the financial mustard. Doesn't this boil down to the fundimentals of RESPONSIBLITY...

If you have a family, you won't be able to "cut the financial mustard" and it is irresponsible to go into the profession? But really, there doesn't seem to be any basis for it at all. Yeah, not all people will be able to go about it the way we have, but to make a blanket statement is just wrong. None of this argument takes into account the positive ways that having a partner would contribute to finances. Are all the sacrifices a burgeoning pilot has to make financial?

Like I said, I would rather spend my time helping someone else figure out how to make it work with a family then debating my prior made choices. After all, there are so many varibles for each person that there is no one path to success. And who but that person can determine what "success" is? And if one way were determined to be better, would the people who then found themselves not on the best path act to remedy that (ie get married/divorced)? I doubt it. So really, for me, there is no point in aruging the case any further. But it still irritates me to hear people with self righteous beliefs about this.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Yesterday seemed to be a particularly bad day for flight students.

One about-to-be instructor, on his check out ride with the Chief Pilot, forgot to latch the door prior to take off. Went through the checklist and missed it. After take off, the plane returned to the ground and the instructor was released.

A's student had a check ride. They guy had been kind of a punk during his training- not wanting to use checklists, thinking he was better than everyone, that kind of thing. He pre-flighted the wrong plane because he didn't check and he thought he knew where the plane was parked. Needless to say, the examiner wasn't too happy. He passed though.

And the kicker, the students who accidently landed at the millitary base instead of the local airport nearby. Not sure aviation they will be doing from now on...

It's kind of like natural selection, all the bad pilots are weeding themselves out all on their own.

Monday, September 25, 2006


A's first student as an instructor passed her check ride. Â I'm so proud of him. He was so nervous. And since it was his first students checkride, the examiner and other CFI's did a little hazing on him. But he made it through and has 2 more students getting their tickets this week.
 After all of the confusion of what/when A was going to teach, he ended up as an add on instructor. So he gets people for a few days to teach them the info for additional license, like an ATP or MEI. It's definetly the hardest type of instructing, but also the fastest to accumulate hours. It's hardest because you get all sorts of people with a wide range of flight skills and he has to get them comfortable in the plane and teach them the knowlege, in as little as one day. Occasionally this involves bringing people's skills up to par.
One of the reasons he ended up teaching the add on's is his age. At 35, he is more mature and has more credibility than some of the younger guys at his school. It seems that some of these high time pilots who come in for add on certificates don't really dig being taught by a 21 year old punk. I don't blame them. He's also less likely to make an ass of himself in front of a female student. He'll probably end up with a lot of those because of it. That doesn't bother me much; if it did, I would just pop on down to the airport to bring them all a snack and make myself known. He's a good guy and knows what he's got in me.
On jetcareers, someone made a comparison that was interesting and seems right on. The private pilot students are like your children. They arrive with no skills, you spend a lot of time with them (two months or so) to teach them everything you know. Then you see them progress and you feel the pride of a parent. Add on students are like step children. They arrive out of the blue, you have no idea where they've been and what they've been taught. You spend a few days with them, teach them what you can and send them on their way.

The amount of time he is spending at the airport is definetly taking it's toll on everyone physically. We are all exhausted and he rarely has much time for us, which we all feel and hate. He comes home so tired that all he wants to do is go to bed. I've pretty much had to take over all of the household duties for the time being. I'm willing to do it for a few months, to get us through this stage, but it will not become a forever thing. If we are both working full time, it will be a 50/50 split. He knows I would never stand for that. In the meantime, I'm plying him with healthy food and vitamins to keep him going and plying myself with nice shopping trips at the mall to keep my lonliness at bay. As if I needed an excuse for that!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I have trouble with patience. I will admit that to anyone right up front. I can wait for great lengths of time for some things, but can hardly wait an hour for other things. This ties into my hatred of suprised and guessing games. I HAVE to know what is happening at all times, when it's going to start, when it's going to end and what to expect. I can hold off, as long as I know when it WILL be my turn. Just my quirk I guess.

So now that A is a CFI, I'm already going nuts. It's only been a few weeks and it's already wearing on me. Not so much the 14-16 hour days, 7 days a week that he's working, nor is it not knowing how long we'll be doing this for (although I'm sure that will start up soon enough). It's the little crap like- is he going to be home for dinner or not? Not knowing what to plan for is killing me. He tries to keep me updated, but when he's with a student flying or in the sim, it's hard to keep track of time and impossible to call and update me. So it's hard to plan anything because I never know his evening ETA. At least if he had a jet job, I'd know when he was off and on. All mine vs. the companies. But right now we are at this blurry in between stage.

I do my best to forgive him when I get angry about things related to timing. I know it's not his fault and things aren't exactly the way he would like them either. He forgives me for my temper and knows it's the situation I'm angry at and not him personally. It's not him being gone that bothers me so much (we've done the long distance thing before), it's the being unsure of when he'll be available. If I knew he was arriving at 8:15 on Flight 123 and he would be mine for 3 days and then be gone again, it would be easier to deal.

We have so many plans for the future and none of them currently have an ETA. I'm 30 and he's 35. We want to have more children. Can't do that until he's got a stable job (at least as stable as we can get in this industry) and I can stop working. Can't do that until he gets hired somewhere. Can't do that until he has enough hours to apply. And we are working on that. At least having some forward momentum makes it feel like we are getting somewhere and will arrive eventually.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where will he end up today?

Now that A is actually out flight instructing, I get calls like this:

Someday: Hello, this is Someday, how can I help you?

A: Hi babe, it's me, I'm in Stuart

S: Hey, what are you doing there?

A: Well, we were going to fly to Atlanta to deliver a package, but the weather looked bad so they sent us to Stuart instead.

S: Oh, ok, ummm, where is Stuart again? I know you've been there before.

A: South FL, about 2 hours away. I have to go, there is no place to eat lunch here, so we want to get back to Jax and eat. And beat the afternoon storms

S: Oh, ok, well have a nice flight, talk to you later.

They say that good communication is key to having a successful relationship with a pilot. I wonder if this counts.

Tomorrow me and Kidzilla are flying out to San Francisco for a friends wedding. It will be the first time I've been there in 8 months so I'm excited to see lots of friends. I have some busy days planned. It's kind of exciting that, since I'm flying Continental/ExpressJet, I may actually know one of the pilots. It would be a random fluke, but you never know. We know more than a few who are flying for them now. It will be interesting to see, as we progress in the industry, how often that happens.

I've gotta get packing.

Friday, September 8, 2006


A lot of people have asked me "Someday, why did you up and move to Florida instead of keeping the life you had and sending A off to flight school alone". Two reasons- it was the right time in my life for a major change and I'm a control freak.

I was newly divorced, living in the house I had shared with my former spouse, trying to put my life back together. After 13 years, there were memories in every corner of our house and our neighborhood. It felt like it was time to break free and be in a place where I wouldn't constantly be reminded of what had been. I had been at my job for 5 years and it had become routine. I wasn't interested in moving up to my boss' job and there wasn't anywhere laterally to go. And I just wasn't interested in a long distance relationship with someone on the other side of the country. Moving gave us an opportunity to build our relationship as free as we possibly could be of reminders of other relationships (well, beside that pesky kid from a prior relationship issue...). We didn't kill each other on the 5 day drive out. In fact, I don't think we even argued. That was a good sign.

I also knew that unless I was there to actually see what was going on, I would be preoccupied with wanting to know what was going on in Jax. Not that I was concerned about infidelity, it was more of just general nosiness. If something was happening to someone close to me, I wanted to know all about it. I would have gone nuts not knowing what the daily grind entailed. Was he studying? Should he be? What does the hanger look like? What does a sim look like? Are wild dogs ravaging the apt and he's running around in a paper sack because I haven't been there to clean and do laundry? (Yes, he is more grown up than that and had lived on his own just fine, but I still like to think that his world would collapse if not for me...) Did he run off to GA with a hot flight attendant and is making up stories about his "training" ? I knew I would drive him nuts with my curious questions.

Part of my motivation was also selfish. I wanted to be with him. It's easier to parent when you have help part of the time vs. none of the time. At least if I was near, he'd be able to fawn over me occasionally. More often than if we were on opposite coasts. I'd be able to feel like more than just a money machine if I were out there interacting and taking care of him.

I've never regret taking the adventurous route and moving to FL instead of staying in my comfort zone in CA. And I'm looking forward to more adventures.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Quick turns

Regarding when A would actually be able to get out to the airport and start instructing after having been stuck in the office for 6 weeks:

Monday: We don't know yet, if that other guy got hired, we'll need someone.

Tuesday: We need three instructors for next week since we're on the verge of losing 3. You have 3 days to practice in the Sim, prepare for your instructor standardization, and read the manuals on the seminoles (dual engine planes). We want you to standardize on the weekend and be at the airport monday.

Wednesday: Be at the airport tomorrow to standardize on the cessnas (single engine) because we need you to co-teach the new private pilot class starting on monday.

Sheesh, one would think they could plan a little farther in advance. BUT, since I'm not there, I have to reserve judgement. So goodbye to any evening plans for us for the rest of the week as he is simming and prepping. The good news is, the private pilot program is not as intense as some of the other ones (like doing add-on ratings) so at least he won't be stressed over impending student check-rides right away. This will give us time to ease back into the stress and absence.

Aviation has infiltrated our lives! The other eveing, A was helping M clean up his room. I kept hearing A make radio calls (Alpha four niner six turn right heading six one... roger that, heading six one alpha four niver six...) and I went in to see what was going on. M was standing at his kitchen sorting peas, carrots and mushrooms into the appropriate containers and A was sitting on the bed talking. I watch for a minute and when A finally noticed me, asked what was up. And he says "oh, I'm just trying to distract him and give him practice at tuning out background noise, so he'll be able to focus when he's a pilot" Oh, umm, OK, whatever... The funny part was that I just accepted this as logical and plausible and walked out without batting an eye.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The waiting game

We are currently stuck, waiting for an instructor spot to open at the school so that A can start building his hours. One of the instructors had an interview this past weekend that most likely went favorably. A is next in line in seniority, so if this instuctor does leave, it'll open up the spot for him. Hopefully we'll get good news.

The downside though is that the hours will be inconsistent and voluminous. Basically he'll be on call 24/7 to teach. Someone has to teach people to do night flying and depending on what's going on, sim sessions from 2-4am are not unheard of. That means no more 6pm dinners and weekends off for us. I'll go back to having to act as a single parent, being unable to rely on him for daycare pick-ups and zoo trips. I know this will be hard for A as well. He really wants to spend time with his family and not being able to seems to bother him more than it bothers us. It is a hard life to lead, but I know the payoffs will be worth it. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this.

Friday, September 1, 2006

How did it get to this

Just over a year ago, in August 2005, I turned to my boyfriend of 8 months and uttered those crazy words- "look, if you really want to be a pilot, then let's make it happen, otherwise, quit talking about it because I'm tired of hearing about it already." Once he got over the utter shock of what I had just said, we started making plans. It hasn't always been easy, but here we are, a year later, with him as a CFI working toward his lifelong dream.

The few months following that decision were hectic and unsettled at best. We decided that he should start the program in feb. 06, giving us 5 months to arrange financing, a cross country move, renting out a house, and numerous other details, along with maintaing our fledgling relationship. And people told me I was crazy, moving cross country with him, encouraging him to leave a well paying job to return to school, leaving my own job and family. But I knew in my heart that we could make this work. When someone holds onto a dream for so many years and then is finally give a chance to go after it, they will do whatever they can to attain it. Even he didn't believe that I was encouraging him to do this. No one ever had. I asked if he would have any qualms if I wanted us to move to Wyoming so I could follow my lifelong dream of studying sheep husbandry (I was searching for the most off the wall career I could think of) and he said no. Then I asked why he thought that I should be any less committed to his dream. That settled it.

In the ensuing rush we: failed to qualify for traditional financing so had to find a new creative method arranged an equity line of credit, found a rental agency to rent the house, notified our friends and family, negotiated for out of state child custody of my son, all moved in together to my house, sold all our belongings and bought new ones, make a weekend trip to FL to check out the school/find an apartment/find a preschool, rented a truck, loaded our belongings and drove 2500 miles (with a cat) to resettle, temporarily, in Jacksonville, FL. With a sigh of relief that we had managed everything, we settled in for him to start school in early Feb 06.

It's now been 6 full months and we are going strong. He attained all of his ratings: private pilot, commercial pilot, instrument pilot, flight instructor and aviation has thoroughly invaded most facets of our life. I tried my best to teach him to "leave it at the door" but in reality, most days it gets tracked in, the same what the humid FL air seeps in through the cracks in the door. But that's ok, we are all getting used to it. Currently, he's hired as an instructor and is working for phone center for the school waiting for an instuctor spot to open up.

I'm loving this taste of the 8-5 life once again, but I know it's not here to stay. Once he's instructing, it will be back to 24/7 on call for aviation. But to see how happy he is and to know how proud of him I am, all of the changes we had to make to get here seem worth it.