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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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Changing Degrees

This week I received an email from Xavier...

Hi Karlene ! I wanted to ask you advice:

Xavier: I'm currently political science major. However, I am having second thoughts on this major. And as you may know, my true passion lies in aviation. I am considering transferring to Auburn University to participate in their Professional Flight Management program. In case you aren't familiar with the degree program, it is a combination of business oriented curriculum and flying. I wanted to ask if it would be worth it to major in such a thing, considering this is what I would like to go into.

Karlene: YES! Go for it. That sounds like a fantastic major.

Xavier: Do you think its worthwhile for someone to obtain an aviation related college degree? I've heard so many things, along the lines of "don't major in aviation-have a fall back blah blah blah".

Karlene: A Management degree is a great degree... and that fall back too. I say, "do what you love." Follow your passion. If the pilot thing doesn't workout for whatever reason, you'll have a great education under your belt and could do anything. My advice on what you should take in school... take what you love.

Xavier: Also, I wanted to ask you what do you think about the future of the American airline industry, say in the next 10 to 20 years?

Karlene: Hard to believe where we'll be in the next 20 years. I wish I had that crystal ball. But we'll need brilliant people doing brilliant things and the planes... they'll be the more advanced than we can imagine. Can you imagine yourself being part of that? I can.

Xavier: What do you think job security will be like, and what do you think about your retirement pension being at the mercy at the airline (say, in the even that it were to be wiped out because the airline went bankrupt and/or out of business), and what do you think should and will be done about it(if anything)?

Karlene: Job security? Pensions? What's that? ;) I think it's up to the pilots, the public and our unions to take a stand and make sure that our pilots are paid a good wage, with security, and a pension. The responsibility we have daily is like none other. We want our pilots stable, so they can think about what they're doing in the air, and not worrying about how to pay their bills on the ground. Job security is the only way to make the industry safe. Do I see that happening in the future? Yes. It has to.

Xavier: Also, do you think that due to the supposed pilot shortage in the coming years, the airline will value them/us more (ie: better pay, benefits, etc?) I read about so much doom and gloom about the US airline industries future.

Karlene: There will be a pilot shortage. At that time will the airlines value the pilots more and pay more? I hope some. Hopefully that happens before the pilot shortage. Pay increase with supply and demand sounds great in theory. But it's all up to the negotiations. Pay, benefits and respect need to come back to this industry. People forget that their lives are in the hands of their pilots.

Also...Don't listen to the doom and gloom. We can find that anywhere. If people spent a fraction as much time trying to make things better, as they do complaining about what's wrong... the world be a better place.

Thanks and Blue Skys,

You are welcome! I hoped I helped answer your questions. If anyone has some advice for Xavier, we would love for you to share it too. Thanks.

Enjoy the Journey~

XOX Karlene


  1. Xavier,
    Evaluate pros and cons, SWOT, passions, the past, the present, the future, DREAM BIG ... then, go for it! There is no limit to our potential, as long as we "let it fly."
    I am almost 50 and back in University, and loving it, working towards a Degree in Professional Aeronautics with Minors in Aviation Safety and Airport Management.
    When I grow up I would like to fly jets around the world and manage a General Aviation airport!
    Right now? I am a full time C.O.O. in Rome, Italy, I have over 30 years of successful business experience, I am mother to a wonderful 28 year old young lady, I am Aunt to 3 fun kids, ... and mentor others to follow their dreams and consider any obstacles as opportunities of growth and success.
    Creativity, preparation and resilience is the key. When the opportunities open up ... BE QUALIFIED and READY to jump in the PIC seat and lead your career to even greater heights.
    Bad things will and do happen ... we can change ONLY what we do about it.
    Enjoy the journey, as Karlene says and remember "we will always have the office with the best view!"

  2. What great questions and answers. Hey, I thought of you last weekend when I flew in a little plane with my son. I'll blog about it on Saturday, but needless to say, I was terrified and impressed at the same time!

  3. Well said Karlene! Only by following our dreams can we be truly happy and in the end that's all that really matters.

  4. If it is the personal dream, Go For It. Over time, the job(s) may not be perfect, but one will be doing what one really wishes to do. Jumping puddles or landing on rivers and lakes may not be as 'elegant' as planting a 747 at SEA, but it IS very real flying. I'd suggest keeping the skills high and flying in an environment of pleasure. Mechanical, high-tech flying is great for some, but others need more adventure. Where is this youngster? In either case, absolute mastery of the machine and the environment are key - so say I. Yes, I loved your recent comment/question to Fabulious Flyer about **re-teaching** you how to fly a 152 or 172. (No how many hours, each type... and he A330 does not translate well to 152/172 flying. I sure enjoy this space!! -C.

  5. That Professional Flight Management program sounds like a gem--it seems to combine two excellent foci. (focuses??) Anyway, from an outsider's perspective, it sounds really good.
    Your discussion of the future made my imagination run wild, Karlene. With the speed of technological development,it seems like huge advances could be made. How exciting.

  6. Good post, Karlene. Positivity...optimism...passion - it is what got me going and what keeps me going. There are always doomists and gloomists...too bad for the rest of us who have to share the world with them! (Or is that how they feel about us??? :) )

  7. Michelle, Thanks for your great comment. You are so right... bad things will happen. But our attitude and how we deal with those problems is the key to success. Thanks for your support an motivation.

  8. Thanks Julie. I loved your post too! You are a supermom.

  9. Thanks Heather, You are dream follower, and it shows!

  10. C, nothing in life is perfect except our dreams. And what makes like fun is the challenges that help us grow into the people we become to create new dreams or stretch the old. Thanks for the great comment!

  11. Thanks for the comment Linda. Yes... it's hard to imagine where we'll be in the future. How much farther can we go? We'll see.

  12. Thanks for the comment Kathy! It's a funny thing about sharing the world with doomists and gloomists... while they are weighed down with the struggles of life the positive people are flying above free to dream.


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