Monthly Archives: February 2012



For all the hungry young pilots that are excited about an aviation career but not very optimistic about the job market, please be advised the FAA has finally stepped forward to give you a boost. The long over-due FAA regulation revisions will result in a much-needed spike in pilot hiring in the next two years. The reduction from 16 to 13 hours of maximum duty time for domestic flights along with the reduction of the maximum flight time depending on the time of day that the duty period begins are going to create a need for thousands of extra pilots to fill those seats. The downside is that the airlines have been given another two years to adopt the new rules. The severely procrastinated legislation was a direct result of the airlines dragging their heels regarding the implementation time frame. Most pilots are not severely overworked unless they end up in the non-sked/ “freight dog” world of commercial aviation but the regional carriers have been working 16 hour duty days for far too long. Unfortunately, these young aspiring legacy airline pilots will still be trapped in a job that pays them a deplorably low salary.

Ridiculously enough, the FAA has said that pilots flying cargo-only aircraft will still be subject to the old and often draconian rules that result in tired pilots in the cockpit and a much higher accident/incident rate. On the bright side there are many factions amongst the movers-and-shakers of aviation that are attempting to inject some common sense into the situation and are attempting to have all commercial pilots operate under the new and more restrictive regulations. It should be concluded that the Boeing 747 filled with Jet Fuel and cargo will have the same effect on the school that it crashes into as would a passenger-filled 747. The FAAs’ buckling under to the special interest and lobbyists of K Street in Washington, DC is one of the great acts of unjustifiable hypocrisy in the history of aviation. I am hopeful that the aviation unions and cargo pilots will continue to scream and shout until the FAA relinquishes its unjustifiable position that undermines aviation safety.

Along with the thousands of additional pilots needed to solve this airline manning dilemma the rate of retirements amongst the legacy air carriers in the next few years will skyrocket. Furthermore, very few of the military pilots are leaving the security of their government jobs. More aviation employment upside is the burgeoning of commercial aviation in India and China and it is likely they will be seeking U.S. trained aviators. For elaboaration and confirmation please google the following phrase; “China recruits experiencd pilots from the U.S.-ABC News.” Cathay Pacific, Japan Air Lines and Korean Airlines have traditionally hired American pilots. Latin carriers such as Copa have been hiring American pilots in recent years. Bombardier, a large supplier of aircraft to the corporate jet set delivered 182 jets in 2011.

An aviation career is an adventure and unless you are an ex-naval aviator with carrier landing experience there are no certainties. For purposes of motivation I suggest that you read The Rogue Aviator: in the Back Alleys of Aviation by Ace Abbott ( While the book reveals some of the dark under-belly of the aviation world it also points out that an aviation career can be a lot of fun. Very few career pilots have ever said, “I sure wish I had taken that job selling insurance.”

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator (



Airline Announcements?

United Flight Attendant announced, ‘People, people we’re not picking   out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!

On landing, the stewardess said, ‘Please be sure to take all of your belongings.   If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something we’d like   to have. ‘

‘There may be 50 ways   to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.’
An airline pilot wrote   that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway   really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to   stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a ‘Thanks   for flying our airline.’ He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a   hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have   a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady   walking with a cane.
She said, ‘Sir, do you   mind if I ask you a question?’

‘Why, no, Ma’am,’ said   the pilot. ‘What is it?’

The little old lady   said, ‘Did we land, or were we shot down?’
As the plane landed   and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan, a lone voice came over the   loudspeaker: ‘Whoa, big fella, WHOA!’
After a particularly   rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a   Northwest flight announced, ‘Please take care when opening the overhead   compartments because sure as hell everything has shifted after a landing like   that.’

Another flight   attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing: ‘We ask you to please   remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.’

Overheard on an   American Airlines flight into Amarillo , Texas on a particularly windy and   bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight   it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, ‘Ladies and   Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo . Please remain in your seats with your seat   belts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the   gate!’

‘Your seat cushions   can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing,   please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.’

‘As you exit the   plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will   be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave   children or spouses……except for that gentleman over there.’

Heard on Southwest Airlines   just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City . The flight attendant came   on the intercom and said, ‘That was quite a bump, and I know what y’all are   thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the   pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendant’s fault, it was the asphalt.’

After a real crusher   of a landing in Phoenix , the attendant came on with, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen,   please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the   aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has   cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can   pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.’

Part of a flight   attendant’s arrival announcement: ‘We’d like to thank you folks for flying   with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting   through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of US   Airways.’
Heard on a Southwest   Airline flight – ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking   section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light ’em, you can   smoke ’em.’



It has been tough times in recent years for those young pilots that want to earn a living while flying airplanes. Despite the increased cost of jet fuel and the still slumbering U.S. economy there is an optimistic future—at least for the next decade or so. Despite the projected furloughs of several hundred pilots at American Airlines there is still optimism in the future for those people that want to commit to a career as a pilot. It won’t be a walk in the park and it will be a long time before you will reach that six figure income plateau. If you start at the bottom of the commercial pilot heap as a regional carrier pilot, you better have a little extra earning potential (such as a working spouse) because you are going to be mired into a despicable low income for a few years. On the other side of the coin, you will be building flight time and gaining experience while not setting in a cubicle or waiting for the unemployment compensation to  run out.

Corporate aviation is actually doing quite well as the recession had very little effect on those wealthy one percent who can afford this wonderful amenity—once you have had the private jet experience, the thought of sitting back in the cabin on a commercial jet is emotionally trying. Companies such as FlexJet, Marquis Jets, Delta Private Jets, and Piaggio Avanti Charter, just to name a few, employ thousands of pilots. Although the starting salary might only be in the $35,000 to $40,000 per year category, it is a nice lifestyle and you do not end up in low end hotels, or engage in high-speed “bag-drags” around ORD or PHL, without enough time to get a bite to eat. Most captains in the private jet charter world are making at least $70,000 per year. If you can wriggle into the corporate flight department the salaries and benefits then become quite livable with captains frequently being rewarded with $150,000 per annum salaries for keeping “Mr. Big” comfortable and safe. Quite often, the CEOs and executives form a very strong bond with their pilots and the ensuing rewards can be very profound—five star hotels and restaurants and golf at Pebble Beach, for instance.

The major factor in this projected upcoming shortage of pilots is related to mass retirements in the next few years amongst the major airlines, UPS, and FEDEX. The long overdue and absurdly slowly implemented revised FAR 121 flight and duty times will result in a need amongst all airlines to hire more pilots since the new rules result in many instances, of less flight or duty time available from each pilot. Also, many senior pilots are capitalizing on overseas pilot positions. Airlines such as JAL, KAL, Cathay Pacific, and many airlines in the Middle East are constantly in search of U.S. trained pilots. Commercial aviation in India and China is burgeoning and there will be pilot openings for those that will venture away to another culture and lifestyle to make a decent living as a pilot. In China, there are numerous “expatriate” communities evolving for those people who want to be close to their fellow westerners. Quite often these overseas jobs appear onerous but can provide wonderful travel experiences while greatly broadening one’s horizons while being exposed to different cultures. Near the end of my career I very reluctantly took a job flying freight out of Liege’ Belgium and it turned out to be the high point of my aviation career. My book, The Rogue Aviator; in the Back Alleys of Aviation elaborates on this wonderful excursion (

An aviation career is similar to every flight that you experience in that it is an adventure. If you pursue your pilot career as an adventure, the “back alleys of aviation” can become tolerable. There is a near certainty that you will miss birthdays and anniversaries and work many weekends but in my 36 year career that took me to 44 countries, the positives trumped the negatives by a wide margin. If you pursue an aviation career to achieve wealth and leisure you will possibly spend a lot of time in the doldrums crying in your beer. The aviation career may not be a bed of roses, but very few retired pilots ever look back and say, “Darn, I wish I had sold insurance.” If you want inspiration to keep the nose to the grindstone in order to pursue that career, my book, The Rogue Aviator will provide such. I will issue a small caveat and that is the rapidly decreasing supply of fossil fuels will require a lot of innovation regarding a source of energy to provide the thrust that creates the lift. Meanwhile, “keep your airspeed up in the turns.”

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator (



Celebration of our biggest religious holiday (The Super Bowl-celebrates our cultural favorites: violence, decadence, and gluttony) is over and now we can get back to work. It should be noted that both the winners and losers were winners as a result of union representation. The NFL Players Association has represented their workers well. To complement their comfortable salary and benefits the New York Giants received an additional $78,000 per player for their win and the Patriots were held to a mere $46,000 for their afternoon of glory.  The message here is that union workers can, and do, provide a quality product for their employer. Hopefully, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and his union busting accomplices in the state government will now reconsider their efforts to eliminate collective-bargaining amongst the many workers in Indiana, who require union protection to avoid being shoved into servitude.

There are recent victories for unions, particularly in the airline flight attendant realm. With the two unions that represent the recently merged Air Tran and Southwest Airline flight attendants have reached an agreement regarding the, always difficult, seniority list merger problem. A highlight of this agreement is that Southwest has now created a flight attendant domicile in Atlanta since most of the Air Tran flight attendants were already based there. It is interesting that Southwest Airlines has shown continual profits since its inception despite the fact that many of their workers enjoyed union representation. The Harvard business school, Wall Street Journal, and the other anti-labor entities will continue to blame company bankruptcies on the union labor, rather than the actual culprit, severe mis-management and executive greed. Sadly, too many working-class people have been buying into this misinformation and disinformation to their own detriment.

From 1987 until 1997 I worked as a Boeing 727 Captain for TEN different airlines. Please refer to Chapter 9, of my book The Rogue Aviator. The chapter title is: THE TURBULENT TEN. All of the ten airlines were nonunion and six of them went out of business while I was working for them, despite the fact that my annual salary averaged well less than $50,000 per year as a Boeing 727 Captain engaged in international charter trips. The failure of these airlines was certainly not related to expensive union employees. Luckily, I finished my aviation career with an airline, TransMeridien, that had an in-house union, and for the first time in my aviation career I received a salary that was commensurate with my experience and responsibility. Several situations erupted when the solidarity of the union stepped forward to help maintain a reasonable level of work rules and conditions. More importantly, the airlines safety quotient remained at a very high level when the check airman took stand against lowering training standards.

More good news for flight attendants: A US Airways flight attendant union recently reached an agreement with management regarding improved work rules and salaries. This was long overdue for the flight attendants at US Airways and will provide a morale boost that will create an improvement in the quality of life aboard US Airways flights. Hopefully, this agreement will reduce some of the ongoing animosity between US Airways employees and their management. More importanly, this action will benefit other airline F/As since the old cliche about the “rising tide lifts all,” is usually valid. For anyone interested in a career as a flight attendant I suggest that you go to the following website; It provides a plethora of information regarding the many aspects of being a professional flight attendant. For additional information relating to airline F/As go to: Please see the cover of my book, The Rogue Aviator, along with the final page (see above photos) to explore some of the positive possibilities. It can be fun.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: in the Back Alleys of Aviation. (



AMR, the parent company of American Airlines has finally done the inevitable. As a major “legacy” airline it had not filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the other “legacy” carriers had done years or decades ago. The airline management modus operandi  of the last 40 years is to combine severe mismanagement with exorbitant  bonuses and salaries for the executives and CEO’s, and then come running to the employees for salary and benefit cuts. Invariably the people who sacrifice the most in these “company restructuring”’ are the pilots. Since they are the highest paid workers, the company feels that they can snatch the most additional pay and benefits from the pilot group.

Let it be known that in 2003 the American Airlines management came begging to the employees and they relinquished 1.6 billion dollars in wages and benefits. Meanwhile the company mismanagement continued, primarily by operating a fleet of gas-guzzling jets, when even the janitor in the broom closet knew that fuel prices would skyrocket. The current request is for a 2.0 billion dollar “employee give-back.”  Of equal concern is that the current employees will take a major hit on their projected retirement benefits and the current retirees will also take a big hit on their monthly check. The pension fund is underfunded by 4 billion dollars.

The union worker is once again being dashed against the rocks and the timing is particular synchronistic since the Super Bowl will be played in Indiana. The governor of Indiana is working hard, along with some of his neighboring Midwest governor colleagues to break and/or eliminate all of the unions in his state. Meanwhile, here come the NFL players who are represented by a very strong and effective union and the first year minimum salary for an NFL player is $560,000 per year.  Many of the pilots that operate sophisticated aircraft into Indianapolis for the regional carriers, such as the AMR contract company American Eagle, will be working for a salary of low to mid-20 thousands per year.  We have experienced professional pilots who are eligible for food stamps and making less that the government’s declared poverty level. Wouldn’t it be great if the NFL players would step forward in a very out-spoken fashion and endorse the union workers in Indiana and the tens-of-thousands of pilots who are severely underpaid?

We have failed to improve the school teacher’s salary to a respectable level and we are now paying pilots a despicable wage for a very demanding job. Recent worldwide math exams revealed that the U.S. is 30th amongst a recent evaluation of  first-world industralizedcountries. They are crashing airplanes in India and Russia at an alarming rate as result of airlines operating their aircraft with underpaid and inexperienced pilots in the cockpit. When “Sully” Sullenberger of Hudson river fame testified before Congress nearly three years ago, he stated that it was imperative to increase pilot salaries or our commercial aviation would suffer severely.  Many of the pilots at American Airlines are seeking employment elsewhere and many more pilots will be seeking new careers in a different field.  Poor school teacher salaries is a contributor to an uneducated public but poor pilot salaries will result in a greatly reduced safety quotient when you jump on that commercial aircraft.

To get a good perspective on the underpaid pilot problem, please refer to the PBS Frontline TV special of two and one-half years ago titled, Flying Cheap.  It is available by going to PBS.ORG and finding the internet version of this very important but sparsely watched documentary by Miles O’Brien. It will give the viewer a very valid perspective of what happens when the profit factor overrides the safety factor. It represents a glaringly ugly example of the old Harvard Business School mantra of “maximum utilization of human resources.”

Wouldn’t it be great if the NFL players would step forward and endorse the union workers in  Indiana and the tens-of-thousands of pilots who are severely underpaid?

Thie blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator: in the Back Alleys of Aviation, (