I hate what has happened to the industry since I retired in 2005, after a 28 year career with Delta, preceded by 7 years as a Navy pilot. I grew up wanting to be an airline pilot. It never dawned on me that there was anyway other than being a military pilot first, to get hired by the airlines, and I never thought about anything but the majors, in fact, at the time, I don't think I even knew there were something called regional airlines. I got my private licence while in high school, by working in construction in the summer. I applied for, and got accepted to, Naval Aviation as a senior in college, in 1969. I flew fighters (F-4 Phantoms) for the most of 7 years, and in 1977, with 2500 hours, I applied to all of the majors. My first and only interview was with Delta, and I started working for them while on terminal leave from the Navy. (I had used my GI Bill to get my Flight Engineer's rating, that was the entry-level position in those days, and my ATP in a Lear Jet).
Timing was everything in those days, as I'm sure it is now, and I was very fortunate. I was never furloughed, or even had much stagnation. I was a First Officer after 2 years, and Captain after 8, making $100+/hr. I finished my career in widebodys making over $300/hr. The writing was, however, on the wall, and I had to retire 2 years early, or loose 1/2 of the retirement I worked 28 years for. Shortly thereafter, Delta filed bankruptcy, the economy crashed, and the airline industry went to s@#t.
I hate that all this has happened, and what used to be just about the greatest job in the world has become just the opposite. I'm also very sad for those of you that are now struggling with what is left, as I would have hoped each one of you would have had the career that I had. I had also hoped that my son would follow in my footsteps, but he has seen the light and elected a different path.
My hat is off to those of you hanging in there, and I know what it's like when the flying bug burrows itself into your soul. I wish I could say I think it will get better, but I can't. I can say that you all have my admiration, and my hope's and prayers for a brighter future. Good luck!
By Chris Davis, Susan Ellis, Toby Sells, and Maya Smith
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