How long did it take you pilots to become a commercial airline pilot.?

Can you start from college to flight school to all the jobs.

Best Answer:

Andrew: When I became pilot, was in the 1960's – so that was quite different from now –

I became private pilot when I was 17, as I had completed high school –
That was in Europe, I was cadet member of an airline's aeroclub –
But my mother had married an American, he adopted me, so had to move to USA –

I went to college with the Air Force ROTC, became an Air Force pilot (flying KC-135) –
I joined the Air Force Reserve, got hired by an airline (a major airline) –
Back then there were no "regional" airline per say – all airlines were "major" –
That airline flew only overseas routes from USA –
It took me 10 years to progress from flight engineer to first officer then to captain –

Then my airline became bankrupt in 1991, I could not find decent pilot employment in USA –
At that time I was 747 captain – All I was offered was to be a 727 flight engineer again…!
So I looked for positions overseas – in Asia, Europe or South America –

I got hired by a foreign airline as 747 captain direct entry – and moved to Argentina –
Became citizen, got married, I retired from the airline on my 65th birthday –
I still visit USA occasionally (for shopping in Miami), but do not want go back to live there –
I still fly with Super Cubs L-21 – I own a banner and glider tow operation and 3 airplanes –

Nowadays, to become airline pilot with major airlines (in USA)…
Go to college (best is AF or Navy ROTC) – Serve 10 years as pilot in the military –
Then get hired by major airline – and avoid having to be a flight instructor and be regional pilot –
… and having to survive on food stamps…!

Other answer:

(1) First, let's improve your terminology. By definition, ALL airlines are commercial because they are involved in commerce for profit, therefore it is redundant to say "commercial airline". Just say airline, the "commercial" part is implicit. You'll sound slightly less green about the ears if you do.

(2) Second is that there are very few pilots on this forum who are or ever were airline pilots. The stories of a few people are not going to give you much insight that is indicative of the whole.

(3) Third is that you should differentiate between regional airline and major airlines. It is relatively quick and easy to get into a regional airline but not so for the major carriers. Roughly 40% of airline pilots work for the regionals and never make it above that level.

(4) In the USA, FAA statistics show that the average of new-hire at the regional airlines is 25 and the average age of new-hires at the majors is 34. The typical regional applicant is 2-3 years out of college with flight instructing as their main experience, and the typical major airline new-hire is either ex-military (10 year commitment) or has 10 years under their belt as a working civilian regional airline or charter pilot after leaving school.

(5) I got a late start (entered college at 24). My own story is not atypical however. 2 years college and getting certificates / ratings. 3 years flight instructing, another year flying traffic watch for a radio station and doing sightseeing tours and other odd pick-up jobs. Finally finished a BS degree studying nights and then went to a regional airline for a number of years.I eventually gave up chasing the majors when I hit age 40 and quit the regional airline I was working for due to absurdly low pay (even as captain) and an extremely demanding schedule. I have worked more enjoyably in other sectors of aviation for the past 15 years.

The small commuter airlines got the name "regional" in the 1970's. originally the "commuter airlines" operated FAR 135 with small airplanes limited to 19 passenger seats. Now they call themselves regionals with jets and 80 passenger seats, but no better qualified pilots and still low pay despite having "graduated" to 121 operations…

Piero, what you called "regionals" then have merged with major airlines, like Ozark with TWA. like Southern into Delta, like AirCal to American, or PSA to US Air… all that are left now are commuters who try to convince the public they are American, Delta or United…!

I started with AirCal, that is the way I became a pilot with American.

No regional's in the 60s?? North Central. Piedmont. Central. Trans Texas. Pacific Southwest. Frontier. Alleghany. Many others.