When I think back to my first duty assignment in the military, as an Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) student at Reese AFB, in Lubbock, TX, I remember being overwhelmed. Everything was brand new. Not only did I have to learn to fly a multi-engine, high-performance military jet, I also had to learn a ton of information about the military lifestyle in general. There were acronyms for everything and I had to figure it all out in a very short amount of time.
Your first year as an airline pilot will be very similar to your UPT experience. It’s a fire hose for sure! You’ll be learning to fly all over again, training on a large, multi-engine, jet aircraft that may be very different from anything else you’ve ever flown. All the while, you’ll be trying to decipher a maze of new acronyms. Additionally, there are a whole new set of procedures, and rules to learn. There will be an entirely foreign system of compensation and benefits to navigate. You’ll have to choose an aircraft type and domicile that will have a huge impact on your seniority (another unfamiliar concept) and quality of life (something you often sacrificed in the military but hopefully, you’re about to learn how great it can be).
Just when you finally start to feel comfortable with the airline-training world, they will kick you out of the nest and onto “the line.” The line is a fast-paced, hectic world that introduces a whole new set of virgin experiences like commuting, bidding, reserves, probation, contracts, non-revenue (non-rev for short) flying, crashpads, and adjusting to life on the road (good news, no sleeping in tents or wearing gas masks this time!).
This will be the first in a series of articles designed to help you survive your first year at the airlines. The term “survive” may seem a bit drastic to describe a possible outcome of your first year at the airlines, however, I’ll tell you why I think it’s not over stated. Remember in your military flight-training program how you were under constant threat of being washed out of the program (or as my instructor pilot put it, “Himelhoch, don’t ever forget, you’re always three rides away from being a street sweeper”)? Well, your first year at an airline is much the same.Read More