Monday, January 7, 2013

Dont Let Others Dissuade You

This post goes as a coupling with a post Karlene wrote today on her blog; some more about my story and what I have faced. In addition, she answers some questions that were really relavent to me, in deciding if being a pilot is the right path for me. Her post can be found on her blog: Flight to Success

Starting off researching becoming a pilot, the first thing I did was join an online forum for pilots. Looking back on it, wow... what a terrible decision. If you want to research the dark side of aviation, go there. There is an opportunity given by online forums to share information and be constructive. Sadly, I found relatively none of this. The one bright/dark side (depends how you want to think about it) is that you do see the other side of aviation, when things don't always work out. In many places on the forums, I felt like I was surrounded by disgruntled workers. 

I have essentially given up using the forums because I got very little from them in return. When people would respond to a thread, it often turned into a rant about their own careers rather than answering the original question, or at least trying to be constructive. 

Here are a few highlights of negative responses which I received via the forums:
  • “Good luck man, but if it were me knowing what I know now, I'd run man.... run fast.... run away...”
  • “You could end up multi-divorced, bankrupt with no retirement, and permanently disqualified from flying (medical, violation, training failures).”
  • “It can be thoroughly rewarding, just don't be surprised if you become a divorced, depressed alcoholic along the way.”

And my personal favorite, about this blog
  • “I started a journal of the same nature when I began college and started my pilot training. It's remarkable/comical looking back on it. I was SOOOOO excited to become a pilot.” 
Needless to say, comments like these are hard for someone like me to hear, especially when it is your passion/dream. 

Just know, if you are an aspiring pilot, THERE IS an OPPOSITE SIDE  to this. In relation to this, here is what two pilots, Karlene and Brad, said (both have fantastic blogs): 

“I think staying out of the forums is an excellent a matter of fact, I do the same.  The union representing the pilots of American Airlines hosts a forum for pilots to discuss their thoughts and concerns with like minded individuals.  Unfortunately, the forum has degraded over the years to a small group of pilots who constantly see only the negative side of the profession.  It is easy to get to this point of your career and forget how good you have it.  I don't like being influenced by people like that, so I don't participate in the forums.  It's too bad really, because there is a lot of good information to be passed around if the forum was being used as it was designed. I think you are going to be an inspiration to many young people who may be discouraged by the state of the airline industry in the past ten years or so and beat down by the negativity present in so many public forums. Stand your ground and don't let the naysayers get to you Swayne.”   -Brad Tate, the blog: Airline Pilot Chatter

“Swayne, there are always people who are negative with whatever they do. Do you think when you meet the woman of your dreams and you date that the same level of excitement will last forever? Of course not. It shifts. Romance of flying will shift too. But it doesn't have to go away. Life changes. Life is hard work. Flying is hard work. But very rewarding. I'm not sure of anyone who started their dream job can be as excited about it... in any the end of the day. I guess it depends if you are flying for the end goal, or the journey.  But the point is... you should never listen to someone else and what they think and don't like, or do like. Do what makes you happy and what you want to do. If it turns out you don't like it anymore, then change jobs. There are no guarantees in life. For anything. You just have to love what you're doing when you're doing it.

My answer is run from those people. There will always be people pulling you down because life did not live up to their expectations. If there is something you want to do… do it. This is your one and only life. Remember one thing—Happiness is a choice. Some of my best times were the most challenging. No matter what challenges we face, we can look for the good. We can find the good”   -Karlene Petitt, the blog: Flight to Success

For aspiring pilots: What I have gotten from so many pilots online and off, is this: It is ALL about attitude. Make the best of what you have and remember what you are doing and why you are doing it. Just like in anything, there is a certain amount of risk that corresponds with becoming a pilot. The industry is ever changing, and it can be hard to figure out which steps to take in order to become truly "successful." In the end, the career can and likely will pay off if you work hard, stay positive, and keep your enthusiasm. Just remember why you started in the first place. 


I'll end with this great quote from Cap'n Aux (Eric Auxier, Author of the Last Bush Pilots). He also has a great blog:
  • But rather than worry about whether this career is going to be worth it, turn this question around.  Do you dare risk NOT doing it??  If you let those jaded cynics talk you out of it, forever will you wonder "what if" other words, you'll be miserable!”  -Cap’n Aux

^I know I would regret it forever if I don't at least give this career a shot. What about you?


  1. Hey this is Mima~
    Wow.... I really love how you write your post. It's just amazing. It's true, along my personal journey, I've meet with two types of people. Wait, it's three. 1-who support me, 2-who don't give a damn and 3-who pinned me down, mocking and laugh at it.
    Yeah, the type 3 is the one that I hate the most because sometimes, they did succeed in bringing down my spirit but the type 1 and my own self able to get up and fight for it. It's funny to think that they can have their own dream (whatever it is) but they still find times to laugh at others.

    I too, find my journey was incredibly hard but that doesn't stop me. And I think your journey was amazing too.

    1. Mima,
      Great to hear from you here! So glad you've met a circle of POSITIVE pilots who LOVE their career, whatever it may be, and wherever it takes us. Life is an unexpected ADVENTURE...


    2. Thanks for commenting!

      Don't let those people get you down. While I am fortunate to have most people in my life supporting me, there are always exceptions (who might think its dumb, etc). Anyways, I just push those people out, they aren't worth my time, so I shouldn't get too discouraged by them.

      The "type 3" people you described are always the hardest to deal with. Often times, they are so caught up with what they are doing, they forget to think about what those around them might think. I've encountered people like that, especially in school, who are always sarcastic about how "cool" it is to fly.

      I always remind myself that it is MY dream, and they can't take that away from me.

      Thanks for the comment, hope you enjoy the blog! My email is -- feel free to contact me!

  2. Wow, Swayne, you never cease to amaze me! Your wisdom, focus and drive is very apparent. And I can see your attitude and experience has ALREADY influenced others FOR THE GOOD. Keep it up, my friend!

    Brad, Karlene and I write about flying b/c we LOVE it. Has our careers met or exceeded that dream we had going in? No! But as you can tell, we all REFUSE to let that take us down! Just like your photo says, are you in it for the journey, or the end goal?

    I say your journey, in this career and in life, IS your goal!

    1. Thanks! I am so glad that I can influence some other people who are aspiring pilots (or anyone), not just here in the USA, but around the world!

      I really like what you said, I've never thought about it that way, but I love it!:

      "I say your journey, in this career and in life, IS your goal!"

      Many Thanks, your blog has influenced so many people, including myself, I couldn't be more grateful!

  3. It really is good advice to just stay out of the internet forums. In my experience, it's a place where the outliers of the profession go to complain.

    1. That's what I've seen too... pretty sad. There is a great opportunity for something great to be done with forums. But I see relatively none of this.

      Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy,

  4. True story!
    Last summer I decided to realize my old dream to become a professionial pilot. I'm 39 years old and working as an IT-architect, also a private pilot since 14 years. It was a hard decision to take, leaving a well paid 9 to 5 Office job for a uncertain future. I went to a lot of online forums just to try figure out what the job market for pilots was like. It made me depressed! According to those forums you're just wasting your time and money, you don't get a job, but if you do it's just a low paid contract and you have to move to another part of the world...

    I don't read those forums any more. I know that I will regret it for the rest of my live if I don't go for it. In my case I allways have my old career to fall back on. In your case, you'll still have the opportunity to make a career change. But you have to give it shot!

    Good luck! / Staffan

    1. Thanks for your response and telling us a little about yourself! I appreciate that.

      It seems to be a common theme for people to be depressed by the forums when starting off. The ones that get through all of that and still want to go for it will most likely be the ones who succeed (the more motivated people).

      I do need to take that shot! I know I will regret it if I don't.

      Best of luck to you and your flying career, feel free to contact me anytime,
      Swayne Martin

  5. I've found that it matters what forum you choose as to what responses you get. To be honest, I'm not particularly active in any forums, but I think the more niche forums (type clubs, backcountry pilot, etc) are much better and generally much more constructive.

    As a realist (some may call me a pessimist), I think it is important to not completely discount the naysayers, but it is more important that you don't let them hold you back from pursuing your dream either. They tend to have valid points--the pilot's life isn't perfect (even non-career fliers), but it's rarely that bad; I mean honestly the worst thing that happens to most pilots is they run out of money. Sometimes it just doesn't work out and it's never going to be cheap, but I've never thought flying in general was unobtainable for the average person unless they really wanted it to be. Sure you probably can't run out and drop 600k on a brand new Cirrus (I don't think I could ever even get that much credit), but it seems like there's always a way to get in the air. In that way, learning to fly and flying as a career aren't all rainbows and puppies, but I think the negatives just make the positives that much better.

    As a final note I can safely say, I honestly can't think of a single time I ever regretted the $7000 I spent getting my private pilot certificate.

  6. I've read through the forum you were referring to. Honestly, you're in a really enviable position because it seems like your family is financially well-off. At the same time, I do not discount those naysayers (or negative people as you call them). And I honestly find it quite sad that they're on your page and labelled as the negative people who are trying to dissuade you from aviation, and don't have anything constructive to say.

    On the contrary, I find that they're being realistic. If anything, I really appreciate their comments. Yes they might sound a tad too negative or even cynical, but I honestly believe none of them intended for any aviator to be dissuaded in the world of aviation. They are after all, like you and I, when they were of your age.

    The only difference being that we're not exactly well-off, and we're making a huge investment here. That's honestly something to think about. And if you're struggling to make ends now as a pilot, despite all the effort and hard work that you've put in, well.. we can't really blame them for having wished for the benefit of hindsight can we? On the other hand, had they been flying for a major now, do you really think they'd sound all negative? Of course not. I'm not being negative here. Just trying to put things in perspective.

    I myself have been dying to get into the aviation scene as a pilot too, but I'm from Singapore, and the system here works a little differently. And here, most people get into the majors (Singapore Airlines) via the cadet pilot route. For those who fly regional airlines (we call them budget airlines here), the pay is still not bad. I'd even go so far as to say they're quite good. Definitely much higher than what the numbers I've seen being thrown around for the regionals over in the US.

    I'm 26 now, but have still not even had the chance to obtain my PPL. That's partly due to the different educational and conscription commitments here, and frankly, my family's financial wellbeing. I'm not ruling the career out though (definitely not!), and despite whatever comments I've read in any forums, I will still go ahead with this dream of mine, just like you.

    I guess my point in commenting was that I just wished you cut them naysayers some slack, because it's a little unfair that they're labelled as being negative when they were once just as equally passionate and driven as you when they were your age, and had the same mindset of working hard and persevering with lots of dedication. Yeah things didn't work out for some of them despite all that and the harsh reality is brutal, hence, I do not really blame them for sounding negative. If you have many mouths to feed in your family and you don't have any cash to get by because say, you were just laid off from your flying job, flying honestly pales in comparison to the gravity of your food situation, no matter how passionate you may be.

    On the other hand, if you're really well-off, the path is clear. Pursue this dream at all cost! Those realistic comments (I prefer referring to them as realistic instead of negative) are really meant for those who are not in an unenviable position like you - well, financial-wise that is. Life is really different from that side of the grass you know :)

    Lest you think this is another one of the negative comments or naysayers like you call it, let me assure you that's not my intention! I truly admire your courage, and ambition and I sincerely wish you the best in your journey, just like how I hope to be flying for Singapore Airlines in hopefully 2-3 years' time.

    Who knows, we could be passing by each other in a major airport some time in the future, while flying for different airlines (majors hopefully!). Good luck to you and all the best my friend.

    1. Thanks for your very thorough and thoughtful response. I'm glad that you are a reader of the blog and I appreciate that you would take the time to write that comment.

      I have to agree with you on many of your points, and I fully understand the message you are trying to convey.

      For the most part, I would consider myself a realist. As I said in the post I wrote: "The one bright/dark side (depends how you want to think about it) is that you do see the other side of aviation, when things don't always work out." On the other hand I am trying to discourage people from looking on the surface. When someone gives advice about how bad a career can turn out, it is really quite meaningless to me. In ANY career path, there are certain risks and people who will never truly "make it." That is how the world works. Unless you are willing to work behind a desk/in a cubicle for your whole career, you will have to take some risks.

      ^After having been on the forums for awhile, I really did encounter the side of aviation when things don't "work out." Monetarily speaking, it can become hard to justify an airline or piloting career. There are so many more paths and careers out there which can take oneself way above what a pilot makes (and without all of the risk as well). For me, that is really meaningless. I would/am getting into this profession not because of monetary gains or money to be made, but because I truly love it. I don't want to spend the rest of my life wondering what it could be like.

      Here is an example of how people with the right mindset deal with barriers they face in their careers: this is from Brad Tate, writing on Airline Pilot Chatter:

      "When I was hired in 1999, I was told I would be a wide body international First Officer in two years and a Captain in eight. With a 30 year career ahead of me, I was told to expect a retirement account worth around $3 million with medical benefits to care for me when it was all over. Today, after almost 14 years as a pilot for a major airline, I am still a junior MD80 First Officer. My prospects for occupying the left seat are dismal, my retirement funds have been frozen or terminated and I will receive no medical benefits after I retire. I was displaced out of my home base for four years and spent most of the last ten years as a reserve pilot at the beck and call of crew schedule. Needless to say, it hasn't been the career I thought I was signing up for, but as bad as it has been, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat...and that is really the point I would like to make."

      My point being this: I wrote this post to explain to other new/aspiring aviators that there are plenty of people who will try to discourage you from a career. Sadly, many of those people are easy to find online (because they are angry about results). What an aspiring aviator might not know is that there are thousands of pilots who are still working as FO's at regionals/majors who will never become a captain in their career. BUT they still love their job and couldn't imagine doing anything else for a living.

      I brought up this post to shed light on people who may not be the "captains at a major," but who still love their jobs. Their stories are not told enough, that is why I wrote this post.

      Thanks, hope to see you flying someday,

  7. Thanks for the update. I enjoy reading your blog.
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Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin