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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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How To Build Flight Hours

 "I want to be a pilot, 
how do I get the hours?"

"I am 30 years old, 
am I too old to become a pilot?" 

"How can I afford flying while I'm working 
to support my family?"

These are examples of many of the emails I receive daily.
I say.... Do the math.

Let's pretend you are a 30-year-old professional who was contemplating shifting careers to flying. But you're not sure of the future, how to build hours, how to survive... and what if it doesn't work? What if you quit your job, spend your money and can't make the dream come true?  

I am going to share a couple secrets with you:

Time flies, and perseverance pays off. 


Let's look at that thirty year old who is thinking about changing careers. This process will work for anyone younger. 

What if you spent your vacation, starbucks, clothing, movies, and playtime money on taking flying lessons, and flew two hours a week and earned an instructor's license. You continue to earn your instrument, commercial, multi-engine ratings... etc., while working at your normal job to fund this.

If you make a commitment to fly two hours per week, you would have 104 hours your first year with an instructor's license. Then you could teach on the weekend. If you instructed ten hours a week, you would have an additional 520 hours per year. At the end of ten years, you would have 5304 hours. During this time you'll get an instrument, commercial and multi-engine rating. All this training will go to total time.

You could write your ticket to whatever flying job you wanted with that kind of time. There is going to be a pilot shortage. I suspect you would get hired with half that time.

Reality is, once you get flying you can become a part time instructor you'll make connections and more flying opportunities will arise to build time more quickly. If you're working, you'll be exposed to people, and connections to a possible flying job. This is the unwritten law of the world... Opportunities are there, you just have to keep your eyes open and meet people.

If it took ten years, and you got hired at 40, you could have a 25-year career as an Airline Pilot. How awesome is that?

So here you go... 

Do the math... 
Fly every week for ten years and
you can become an Airline Pilot.

How easy is that? If you think ten years sounds a lifetime away... just blink and ten years will be gone. Don't be sitting in that future saying, "Wow... I should have."

Enjoy the journey, and enjoy every day. One flight at a time!  Click HERE to see how I build Flight Hours. Times have changed...but get creative.

XO Karlene


  1. Great comment Karlene. This is showing the possibility of persistence and tenacity. Like water chipping away at the rock, water is persistence yet is still simply water. Over time, water wins over the rock.

    Let me make this other observation. We have a very powerful rational mind. Unfortunately, many times that inner voice is distracted by things not entirely based on the realities on the ground. The challenge becomes overcoming that voice to see the path ahead, the one based on possibilities and facts. After all, you'll never be ready for opportunities unless you take that first step to be prepared.



    1. Tom, isn't that the truth. This weekend I met many people who said, "I'm too old.... I wished I would have." But they are not too old. They still can.

      In stories, we have one antagonist. That person going after us to stop us from our goals. In life we have two antagonists... that person on the outside telling us we can't. And those voices you speak of on the inside agreeing. In real life our protagonist must be that much stronger.

      We can... persistence and a little bit at a time we can take over any rock.

      Thank you for your comments!

  2. Excellent post!

    But, you would need a CPL before you can get an instructor rating! According to §61.183

    1. Thank you Cecilie~ Yes... we'll need that license. And... the most fun. lol. You can fly! Unlike kids starting out, professionals who don't like their jobs anymore, more than likely will have the money to make this happen. Or... be able to get loans. Mortgage the house... etc. It's all possible.

    2. That is very true Karlene. It is never too late to change careers! (well, maybe when you're 2-3 years away from retirement age lol - but even then one should go after their dreams, even if that is "just" a PPL of whatever)

  3. I like the "This process will work for anyone younger" I am 24 (or 13 martian yrs old) and already not going to starbuck, on vacation, saving from phone plan just to pay for the pilot's license. I am considering being an airline pilot while applying for the astronaut corps. Sounds like a good plan according to this article!

    1. This is an excellent plan! I have no doubt you'll make it! Keep the plan. One flight at a time! So... I'm 50... how many martian years old am I? Thank you for your comment!

  4. Thanks to you for all the supportive articles and comments!!! By reading this blog I have only one option: fly to success ;-)
    You're 26.5 Martian years old, all your life is still in front of you!!!! I had no doubt about it, though ;-)

    1. And Fly to Success you will! I'm looking forward to that life in front of me too. Headed full speed into it. Mach .88

  5. Hello karlene.

    Your entries never failed to boost my confidence up to achieve my dream. *clap clap*

    (Don't be sitting in that future saying, "Wow... I should have." )

    Definitely will always remember this words. Well time to work hard! :)

    1. Fabulous! Thank you so much for the wonderful comment. Never, ever should say... "I should have." Time for me to work too.

  6. Karlene,

    Wonderful post. The fact of the matter is that anything is possible as long as a person is willing to work for it. There are two types of people in the world. Dreamers and Doers. The dreamers sit around and dream, the Doers live their dreams. Either way, it is hard to learn to swim if all you do is look at the pool. You have got to get wet.

    I do have a plan B for the chickens out there. Work your tail off for ten years and make Bill Gates type of money. Then buy the airline.

    1. Yes... dreamers and doers. But then you have to ask if you're dreaming about flying... why work so hard to make money to buy a nightmare? If your love is the game of monopoly... yes, go for it.

      When I was 13 I had said that one day I was going to own an airline. Then I thought for a few minutes and said, "Maybe not. I bet one day we'll have three major airlines." Looks like we're going that way.

      Thanks for the comment!!! Remember... money can always be earned, but it can never buy your life back.

  7. Karlene, by the time you see this you will be in Tokyo, however, this post is also a power post. It's Monday Motivation come early. Next week I will be turning to Chapter 36 and this week I am doing my research like that above so I can build those hours. It is never too late and life lessons have already taught me to never give up.

    I had a Friday Foto once of my keychain with a hand on the left and the 777 tail on the right. My comment was "One down, one to go" The one down was an event in my life (I shall tell you personally sometime) that took me 8 years to complete as I was persistent. I am hoping the 777 tail will come true with the same luck. This post has pushed me even more to do just that.. speaking of Friday Foto, this week's will echo this post. I have a great one coming that I have to shoot tomorrow morning on my way into work.

    1. Hi Jeremy, I am in Tokyo... and it's 0130 in the morning. I plan on taking a second nap before I fly tonight. I'm looking forward to your one down.

      I think the problem is we can't see the end. But we do have time, if we take it one day at a time. One flight at a time... and not give up.

      Tenacity and enjoyment. And you must sit back and say... if I gave it my all and it wasn't in the wind, will you regret the effort at the end of your life? I know I won't. Never giving up means success is just around the corner.

  8. Hello, my name is Faisal Arief from Jakarta, Indonesia

    Regarding this article, I would like to comment that AGE IS JUST A NUMBER. I obtained my CPL-IR on 9 months before my 30th years, thanks to my previous employer, the now defunct Batavia Air, that has gives me an opportunity to become a pilot.

    Most of the people want to become a pilot, but due to the the high training cost, it was the big stumbling block, not to mention the difficulty to obtain jobs in the airline.

    *Thankfully in Indonesia, the airline can hire fresh grad directly from the flying school, because we already have a pilot shortage. Indonesia needs 500 pilot/yr, but all of the flying school here can only provided 100 pilot/yr* <-- but this is another story :)

    My senior colleague on flying school I trained with, he was 42, previously works as an aircraft engineer on the Batavia Air, he secured the scholarship from the company. But, take a look at his age, he still have the passion to learn again, leaving his well-paid job as an aircraft engineer and survived on meager salary as a cadet pilot.

    The point is EVERYONE CAN BE A PILOT. You may take different path to obtained that, you just need to be patient and have faith on it.

    1. Faisa, Thank you so much for the incredible comment! Yes... it is possible. And you have proven what that power of a pilot shortage can do. Times are changing. The job is changing. But it's a great job and something that does not discriminate on age... until you turn 65. So... be healthy! Study hard! Work hard! Achieve your dreams. And the greatest thing is the fact that you were pushed that way by a closer of another job.

      That is the wonderful excitement of life. Opportunities.

      Thank you for the great comment!

  9. Good Day im JJ, 30 and from South Africa. One thing that hold me back from becoming a pilot was finance issues(it still is). I started liking planes and helicopters at the age of 4 years. I grew up in a small town called Pearston (dont bother, not on the map) so if you see a plane or helicopter it was either 45000 ft up in the sky or the small planes will land on a grass run way just outside the town. Belief me if I hear theres a plane in the sky I would run outside to see it. People thought I was mad. So it kept on like that for many years and eventually moved to Port Elizabeth, did some work there. I initially thought that me eagerness will disappear to go chech every time a plane past by but Port Elizabith got a international airport so there is lots more planes that comes in and ou to watcht. So I ended up at the airport it self to watch planes land and takeoff.

    After a few years I moved to Johannesburg and worked as a copier tech. I recently discovered a flight school that would let me pay as I fly and then get my ppl within the two year bracket. This was after I phoned and visited other flight schools that want the money up front.

    So finally im busy with my PPL and then my aim is to get all the ratings after it and then do my com license. Im not planning to fly for any big airlines I just want to fly for as long as I could possibly can. I think ill be happy to fly nothing bigger than a twin turbine prop beach craft.

    Everyone can do it, you just have to keep on pushing.

    I thank you for the opportunity to read other success pilot stories and for sharing my story,and whish each and every one of you a happy and save flight.

    1. Johannesl, Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story. You are proof that anything is possible, if want it badly enough. Please keep me posted on your progress. Can you email me at


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