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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Question of the week!

Last night I received a wonderful question for Martin, a student who is planning his career.

Martin says....

I am still in high school, still lots of choices can be made. What should I take for high school or University/college? Should I go directly to pilot school?

Also, is near sightedness (glasses/contacts) a big no no for pilot these days? My father always uses that excuse to discourage me from being a pilot. I have well, kinda bad eye sight, not blind, but kinda bad, is there a limit where many airlines dislike hiring those pilots, or do they hire anyone as long as they can see 20/20 with glasses/contacts?

Martin, these are an excellent questions.

First, as long as you can correct your vision to 20/20 you can hold a first class medical certificate and are legal to fly.

Historically, airlines varied their hiring based on supply and demand. When we had a lot of pilots coming out of the military, more than there were jobs to offer, the airlines could be very strict. However, as the pilot supply diminished they lowered their standards.

There was a time when airlines wouldn’t hire a pilot with glasses. Not today. I’m thinking American Airlines has always given the most attention to medical. However, I will ask my AA friends to comment on that. Actually, we’ll ask all the airlines to chime in.

And what should you study in school? Take what you love! Actually, math and science classes are a good match for flying airplanes. However, I am a firm believer that there are many other ways to go too.

I recently finished my MBA, and a solid business program will teach you management and communication skills. Flight deck management is a key to flying airplanes today and in the future, and exceptional communication skills are the core of CRM. Crew Resource Management.

Psychology is also an excellent degree. The one program that will provide the greatest insight to human nature… and could help with the psychology of the interview process, and understanding people.

If I could go back to college, my undergraduate degree would have been in writing, as I discovered later in life this is a new passion that I plan on continuing while I continue my aviation career.
Now that I have confused you...

The question is … what do you love? What would you do if you decided you no longer wanted to fly, or all the aviation jobs dried up? I recommend you take classes, and plan for a degree with a ‘back up’ career in mind.

Most major airlines desire their pilots to have a degree. They don’t require the type of degree. They want to know that you have the aptitude and ability to start, finish, and excel in your studies. As they will know you can fly by your aviation experience you bring to the interview.

As pilots, we always have an alternate if the weather is too severe to continue the approach. Meaning, educate yourself with something you love, that you can fall back on, while you pursue your aviation career in the process.

Trust me, you can have it all!

Have a Great Day! ~ Karlene


  1. I love how you put that Karlene, 'what do you love?' That's what its all about in the end! Bravo to Martin for taking the initiative and asking such great questions. It shows he's on the right track!

  2. Thanks Heather, it does! Soon you will be doing "only" what you love.


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