CRJ200 Airline Pilot

The personal experiences, thoughts of an CRJ captain


5 Thing Every Airlines Pilot Needs To Know

Posted by Jeffrey on October 17, 2008

Though flying for an airline pays well (unless you are a first year, first officer), it is an occupation that sits on the edge all the time.

Like any job, it can be here today and gone tomorrow. You only have to look at the history of any industry to know that no job is ever completely safe.

Some of the biggest airlines and industries have moved on to the history books, and for various reasons.

So what I tell all my first officers is that you have to have something to back it up. In 2001, after the attacks, luckily I had enough money to survive off till everything turned around plus I had an education to fall back on.

With the latest downturn in flying and the major airlines STILL struggling, life at a regional airline is still in a precarious situation. Last November, I went from a line holder to a reserve line holder within a few months. This November, the same thing is happening again, but this year though I’m a little better prepared.

Still there are 5 things that I think every pilot should know, and it’s probably not what you think…

Get A Bachelor’s Degree

First, get a bachelor’s degree…and not in a major like Aviation Management or something useless like that. You want a degree that gives you a business background such as marketing, finance, or entrepreneurship. Business and sales are still where the money is at, so leverage yourself to make as much money as you can.

If you want to get a degree in an engineering discipline, go for it, but realize that unless you have stayed up acedemically with your chosen discipline, you will need to continue you education while you are flying otherwise you may not be able to get back into the field if something happens in aviation and you can’t fly anymore.


What is “networking?”

Networking is building relationships with people that have common and maybe not-so-common interests as yourself. This is important, because when you want to go get another (airline) job, a lot of times you need a referral.

FedEx and SouthWest both rely heavily on referrals, so you need to have them in place when you submit your application and resume. Some pilots think that they have to know and be “best friends” with this person, but that is not always the case. A friend-of-a-friend, who flies for the airline you want to work with will do. So ask your friend to ask their friend. Pilots love to help out other pilots and they will probably say “Yes.” It doesn’t hurt, the worst they could say is “No.” Right?

Another word on networking…if you have a friend in aviation that works somewhere besides where you do, try to stay in touch. A text message, a phone call, or an email is just the thing to keep those lines of communication open.

Focus on Your Health

If you aren’t exercising in some way or form, you need to. It has been proven that exercise helps on so many levels: physical, mental, and emotional, to name a few. In addition, as a pilot, you need to look professional and the appearance of being fit is very important.

You are probably thinking, yeah, yeah, heard it all before and that’s true. Personally, I yo-yo back and forth. I will exercise regularly for a long time and then I will go into a state of not working out for awhile till my uniform is getting a little snug and then I’m motivated to work out again, but I probably work out more than I don’t. I never get to far from a weight that is comfortable for me, plus I have worked out my whole life so I know what works for me.

Regardless, you need to pick up the book, The Caveman’s Guide to Fitness. The guys that put this together know what they are doing. You can do these workouts in your hotel room or at home. They don’t take long but the biggest benefit is that you will stay fit and healthy. Click here to get your copy.


On my last trip, my first officer and I were talking about some of the things we have seen other pilots do. He commented that it was annoying when other pilots used the old adage, “Well, at <put your old company here> we didn’t do <whatever> that way so I’m not going to do it that way either.”

In essence, whatever airline you fly for, they pay you to fly their way.

All airlines and charter operations have developed their standard operating procedures (SOP) over years of experience. It is possible that you don’t agree with what your company is doing or how they are doing it, but you, as a professional pilot, are still responsible for flying their way. Believe it or not, it also increases safety since everyone is standardized and doing it the same way.

When I fly the worst, is when my first officer doesn’t accomplish his tasks as stated in the SOP. It gets my rhythm off because now it is not “standard.” So do everyone a favor, fly your SOP.

Get Another Job

I flew with a first officer the other day that is $100,000 in debt. Between him going to University of North Dakota to get his degree/flight training and his wife getting her nursing degree, this couple at the rip age of early 20’s was $100,00 IN DEBT!

How are they going to pay this off?

Right now, on $100,000 of debt, hypothetically speaking, if the interest rate is 3% and they make payments of around $550 per month, it is going to take them 20 years to pay it off and will end up paying an additional $33,000 over the life of the loan. A first officer at SkyWest makes around $20+ per flight hour their first year. An entry level nurse probably makes the same. Believe me, there is no way they are making a $550 payment each month.

So what should they do?

One option is to get another job. Even as a captain, I work as a substitute teacher, I have my own window cleaning business, and I have this blog. My substitute teaching makes me $80 per day. On a good window cleaning day, I make about $180 per day working four to six hours. This blog makes me about $100 per day through affiliate marketing.

Quick note: Affiliate marketing is selling other company’s products through your website and/or blog.

How I got started was I bought The Super Affiliate Handbookby Rosiland Gardner. At only $47, this book is a steal. Rosiland lays it out step-by-step on how to make money on the Internet. Click here to get started.


Being a “good” pilot doesn’t work anymore. The airlines aren’t going to take care of you and the glory days of flying a long gone. Don’t get me wrong, flying is blast. Reality is that if you want to fly, you are always going to worry whether your airline is the next to go. What I have outlined here are a few things that you need to pay attention to and they will help you keep going. My last suggestion is probably the most important. If you don’t have another job and it debt pick up The Super Affiliate Handbook and The Debt Buster System and give yourself a chance to do more than living paycheck to paycheck. You owe it to yourself and your future.

Till next time…


2 Responses to “5 Thing Every Airlines Pilot Needs To Know”

  1. […] 5 Thing Every Airlines Pilot Needs To Know […]

  2. […] Five Things Every Pilot Needs to Know […]

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