The Great Ongoing General Aviation Thread

Yes, it’s done in the US.

As for the hours you describe It depends when you decide you want to fly as a commercial pilot.

there are those who want an easy paycheck and there are those who like to fly and decide it would be great to get paid for it. that’s in the US. I would imagine that’s it really expensive to rent a plane as a hobby in places like Japan so it’s harder to go the hobby route.

It’s just marketing. They will take you through a structured course to get your necessary ratings and then you might get a job as an instructor afterwards, or you might not. From there it’s working your way up the normal way through charter, small turboprop, large turboprop, jet etc. In some parts of the world you do a course like that then you sit in the right seat of a B737 with about 250 hours in your log book, that’s my concept of zero to commercial that I don’t think happens in the USA (it can’t due to their 1500 hour requirements anyway).

I doubt it was ever common to do significant private flying prior to going commercial. I’ve known lots of pilots in my ~28 years of flying and none of them have been private pilots who subsequently decide to fly commercially.

Neither of those options imply flying privately for any significant length of time.

I’m definitely in the “like to fly and decide it would be great to get paid for it” camp
and I did the bare minimum of private flying before commercial flying. That’s because I liked flying and wanted to get paid for it, I wasn’t about to waste my money paying for it myself.

I definitely agree that some pilots get to large airlines in a way that skips an important part of the process but private flying isn’t what’s missing.

Yep. Courses for people who have gobs of money, but they don’t actually get you into the right seat. You could probably get the same training cheaper at your local FBO, but they offer an intensive ‘all-in-one’ course that removes excuses (unless you want to lose your sizeable investment).

The value proposition of the “zero to hero” programs is the connection they have to one or another employer, typically an RJ operator these days. That’s what you get for your money that you dont’ get going to a generic FBO and going through the Part 143 PPL & CPL track.

I would have done a course like that if I could have afforded it. One of the guys I work with in my new non-aviation industry (choo choo trains) is also a redundant pilot and has a $150,000 NZD student loan from his flight training. I think I needed $60,000 to do something similar in 1993, the difference was you couldn’t get a student loan back then so I would’ve had to come up with the cash myself, not possible. I ended up plugging away at the local flight school and spending around $35,000 all up.

Before they added the “RJ FOs need an ATP” rule, in the USA there were a lot of 250 hour newbies driving RJs. And causing lots of risk and consternation for their captains. Fortunately we’ve put the worst of that behind us.

Although there are a lot of ways to get from 250 to the 1500 hours needed for an ATP, and not all of them are actually developing the decision-making “airmanship” skills plus the raw stick and rudder aviating skills that @Magiver rightly suggests need to come from somewhere during a professional pilot’s maturation process.

If COVID eventually gets under control we (the US) will be back into a severe pilot shortage in 5-ish years. Something will have to change, whether that’s training, funding for training, required minimum experience, or the practical viability of RJs altogether.

I’m one of those pilots that started private, flew for a few hundred hours then decided to get my commercial license.

I didn’t get it, because I applied for the commercial medical using ‘flexibility under vision’ because I was outside the 3 diopter limit ( I was just over 5). It was granted and I got my commercial medical and started taking the commercial course. Got halfway through it when I got a letter saying that flexibility had been granted in error, and my medical was downgraded back to class 3 private only. I wouldn’t say I flushed $5,000 down the drain because all training is valuable, but it was a huge disappointment. I did get my 15 hours of instrument time for the private night rating out of it, though.

A friend at the same flying club started his commercial about the same time, and he eventually finished it, became an instructor at the club to build hours while working on his multi IFR, then took a job doing something like flying fishermen up north in a 182 on floats. A few years later l caught up with him and he was flying corporate work in a Kjng Air. By then he had his ATR (ATP in the US), and eventually moved into the regiknal airlines. I lost contact with him after that.

I actually knew a few people who got their PPL for fun and later decided to go commercial. Two of them were just happy to become flight instructors and never had any intention of going further. One had his private for at least a decade and maybe two before he decided to get the commercial.

Those 250 hour pilots weren’t missing 1250 hours of private flying though were they? They were missing instructing, charter, scenic flying etc.

Yes. It seems that pretty much nobody gets that 1250 hours by boring holes in the sky while writing checks to pay to rent the plane. By and large they were/are doing menial flying for small pay.

I don’t doubt that it happens, I just doubt that it’s a key part of the progress that commercial pilots used to get, don’t get anymore and/or are at risk of not getting due to the cost of private ownership.

Private flying is very different from commercial flying anyway. No one cares if you don’t want to fly your C172 today because the crosswind is 15 knots and you’re only comfortable with 10. Conversely no one will likely know or care if you decide to head out in a 30 knot crosswind. It’s entirely up to you the pilot which means it can be as hard/easy/risky/conservative as you make it.

Oh, I agree with that. The most common pattern I saw for new students is that they’d either get the PPL and then either vanish or show up a few times to fly circuits then vanish, or they’d gomstraight into a commercil program, build hours as a flight instructor or pipeline flying or something like that while they worked on their multi-IFRs, and take a commercial job flying somewhere the second they could get one, like my buddy who took a job flying fishermen in the morth. It’s one long intentional progression from PPL to an ATR and then hopefully the right seat of a regional or a corporate gig to get some type ratings and jet time.

No, it’s not. I personally know someone who went through a college (aviation degree) and after logging times as an instructor landed a right seat job in a commuter airline. I forget how many hrs were needed but there wouldn’t have been any turbine time. I want to say 1500 hrs but I’m not sure.

It might be a case of mass retirements opening things up but it happened.

Again, in this category I know many people who did this. A lot of them bought planes as a hobby and it just snowballed. Now consider Everybody I know goes to Oshkosh every year with their planes so it’s a bit of a built in sample bias.

One of my friends from HS actually did this in his late 40’s. He’d flown all kinds of planes as a hobby and had enough money to take a financial hit on the charter circuit for a couple of years and then to corporate flying which is what he really wanted to do. He was already making a comfortable living so it wasn’t about the Benjamins. Another person I know from Oshkosh did it in his late 30’s.

Again, my sample set isn’t in the 1000’s but the people who taught me to fly were serious hobbyist before transitioning. They would buy float planes, trade it for an aerobatic plane and trade that for a twin. It’s possible I hang around a more “all things flying” crowd and that is my bias

I think there is an advantage flying your own plane that cannot be duplicated in charters. It allows you to push yourself and your plane in a way that can’t be done once the commercial flying begins. But that’s an opinion based on the people I know.

Sounds more like the “all things flying and can afford their own airplane” crowd. Most budding commercial pilots couldn’t afford a plane even if it cost the same as a car.

Not really. At least from the people I know. They started flying early as teenagers and went on to get jobs outside of aviation. Flying was their hobby. As teenagers they worked after school to pay for lessons… I was late to the game and did it in college. I got involved in rebuilding a plane with some friends and they taught me to fly.

We’re talking about the Baby Boom generation. I suspect that love of flying took a hit with the age of computer games. We’re trying to counter that with the Young Eagles Program that takes kids flying.

Again, keep in mind my sphere of friends and acquaintances come from a base that feeds off of pilots who own their own plane or belong to a club. So the airline pilots I know are almost always plane owners who started flying young as a hobby.