About a month ago, I received a tip-off from my buddy Magnum: if you want to get your airline pilots license, now’s the time to do it.
As of today, the rules have all changed. There’s no military compensation… there’s no fast-tracking. It’s now a mandatory 30 hours of ground school ($) and 10 hours in the simulator ($$), 6 of those being a 360º, full-motion simulator ($$$!). Only after all of that can you take a written test and flying checkride. I predict the damage to come out around $15,000 to get all that done. Which puzzles me: the airlines are facing a shortage of pilots once all the baby-boomers retire (or so I’ve been reading in flying magazines)… so why make it more expensive for prospects to plug the holes?
Prior to 1 August all you had to do was study your ass off for a written test, then get a flying checkride within 2 years of the written test. Even though the new rules have gone into effect, as long as you took your written test prior to 1 August, you’re grandfathered for your 2-year time limit for the checkride.
I bought some study material for the test in the beginning of July, hoping to get the test done by mid-July (room in case I tanked it, then I could sign up again prior to the 1 August deadline). But me, being the procrastinator that I am, didn’t pick up the study materials until last Sunday. I scheduled my test for July 30th… and then I crammed for about 3 hours every day (even on the day of the test!). I haven’t felt like this since Grad School back in 2009.
Nervous? Yes. A tanked test today would mean $15,000 out of my pocket tomorrow. I mean, I don’t know if I want to do the airlines or not. To be honest, it’s probably one of the smarter things I can do: the government’s put a lot of training in me (money and time) to make me an ‘expert’ at flying, so why waste it by changing tracks to become a Walmart greeter? So really, it’d be stupid of me to not get the qualifications to keep future career doors open.
Anyway, I passed with an 84%. So now, I have until July 2016 to get a checkride knocked out and then I’ll be airline-eligible!
So until I can join Iceman over at United Airlines, I’ll be shaving with my Mach 3 and practicing my best airline pilot’s voice: “Folks, please ensure your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright and locked position…”