Back to School

daytona international speedwayWell, I made it.

Pretty easily, considering there was supposed to be a hurricane bearing down on the airport I was connecting at. As always though, nature was fickle and the hurricane veered north, allowing me to arrive only 10 minutes later than originally scheduled. Lunch at the connection with the two other new hires on my flight was pleasant, and we spent the time between bites of perfectly-acceptable airport food discussing the regional airlines we hoped to be at and sharing the odd “war story” of our time in training.

The positive first impressions continued with our pickup at the airport. Brian, one of the lead pilots, arrived and was charismatic and affable as he whisked us to the motel. After some time to settle in and verify that the WiFi was indeed operative we rode down the street for a meal. The venerable Chicken Club was, as ever, a good choice. There were smiles all around the table and the atmosphere was electric. Each of us was there because they wanted to be, and the eyes of every pilot at the table were alight with visions of the year to come.

We spent the dinner peppering the three folks from management with questions: When will we ship out? How do you choose who gets the twin engine airplanes? What’s the best hotel rewards card?

This is where things began to get interesting. It was remarkable to hear the varied priorities around the table. Some were delving deep into how best to shave nanometers off each penny, while others worried mostly about ways to maximize their flight hours. Each of us though, had a magic number. This is the number of flight hours required to transition to the airlines. Mine is 1500. If I can have 1500 hours in my logbook at the end of the year, and I haven’t missed any loan payments, I’ll be happy man.

Before racking up any hours though, we have to train. Our first day was spent in the classroom, learning company procedures and some “classified” details about the imaging system we’d be using. Museum Interior

The venue: The Museum of Arts and Sciences. Rather than being cooped up in the side room in a office building for the 11 hours of training that day, the company sprung for this inviting environment, nicely appointed.

As the day went on, my excitement would only grow. Learning about the company and their expectations of us was a huge relief – we are expected to work hard, but are rewarded for it and never asked to compromise safety. While that may seem like a given, entry level pilot jobs are infamous for their disregard for the well being of the new aviators as they “pay their dues”.

All told, I can safely say this will be a good year.

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