Getting started in Aviation

Aviation is a relatively small community with many people interested, who are unsure at how to get their foot in the door. This can be a daunting task for people, specifically those of which who do not have long family history of pilots, mechanics, or flight attendants.

I personally come from a family that is not in aviation, my dad is a business owner and my mom worked briefly in the business world after college. I was always interested in getting my pilots license, but did not think it was possible to do as a career due to the time commitment, and difficulty of knowing where to start.

I have put together a list of a few things that are the first things people should do in order to get started in the aviation industry, specifically seeking to be a pilot.

The first thing to do when you are interesting in becoming a pilot is to go and hangout at the local municipal airport. Many of these airports have FBOs (Fixed Base Operators) which typically offer services such as gas, coffee, cookies, and a lounge to hang out. FBOs welcome everybody, not just pilots that fly in. Often times, during the summer, they host weekly or biweekly events that promote up to 30-60 planes to fly in for a ‘hamburger fly in’ or ‘pancake breakfast’. As I said above, aviation is a small community, with one common interest. The people that you meet at FBOs will always be willing to help, and sometimes even offer you to take a ride in their plane with them.

The second thing to help you get started in aviation is to watch YouTube videos. There is so much free content on YouTube to not only learn from, but to get an idea of what your career will be like in aviation. More specifically, there are a lot of videos revolved around flight school that give a good glimpse of what it is like to be a student pilot.

Finally, the next step is to contact a local flight school. Almost every airport has a flight school, that has a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Contact them and they will point you in the right direction in terms of officially starting training.

Aviation is a small community and has open arms for anyone that wants to join. A friend once told me that every person you meet in aviation, you should treat like someone that has a potential job for you. Since aviation is such a small world, you never know who that person might know, and how that could make beneficial connections for you in the future.

COVID-19 Impact on airlines

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit many different industries very hard, the aviation industry is no exception. I am currently on a professional pilot career path so I have been immersed in this world of aviation throughout the entirety of the pandemic.

I work for Wisconsin’s largest Fixed Base Operator (FBO) which handles not only airlines, but also private charter operations. The impact that COVID-19 has had on not only our company, but also many smaller companies, is undeniable. I work first hand with multiple people that were laid off, or furloughed by airlines.

One of the airlines that went bankrupt, being Trans States Airlines, was among the hardest hit. This United regional carrier was not the only one however, many of the United States major carriers are among the hardest hit. In a recent article from Flight Global, they expect as many as 11,000 pilots to be laid off from the 1st of October, through May 2021.

With the airlines still struggling, the future is looking quite grim for these large companies, as many experts say that they do not expect the industry to fully recover for a few years. The airline stimulus aid that was brought forth at the beginning of the pandemic is set to run out in the coming weeks, and this almost certainly will guarantee more layoffs for the industries pilots and flight attendants.

While the future is very unclear for the majority of the people both in the airlines, and on their way to the airlines, the news in the coming weeks and months will has the potential to save thousands of jobs, or to alter thousands of families lives for the coming future.