My Journey into Aviation

A generic Airbus A320 Aircraft
Posted by JoshWhit

Getting into aviation has been a long strange trip, to quote The Office

I got my Bachelor Degree in English and kind of thought I would always be a writer or go get my PhD and become a college professor. 

It was crazy though, because I never felt like I chose the path to get me to become a flight attendant, I kind of resented the idea of being tied to aviation. 

Now, I’ve been doing the flight attendant thing for almost 3 years of October 2020, and I have the goal and basic plan to make my way to the flight deck and become a pilot for the rest of my career. 

How I Became A Flight Attendant

The view while flying to CA in the morning.

For legal reasons, the airline I work for can’t be posted online or on my social media outlets. 

I kind of felt like I’ve never really chosen my jobs. I started working as a server at a TexMex restaurant in high school because my brother worked there and they were flexible with scheduling. Then I moved to work at a sports store just cause I was tired of food service. Then I moved on to working at a grocery store and serving at the restaurant again in college because it made sense to work as much as possible. I was mainly saving money to move with my then fiance, now wife, to Georgia so she could get her Masters degree. 

None of these jobs were what I really wanted to do though. I had simply done them because it made and I had a way into all of them. 

Then when my wife and I got to Georgia, I started as an assistant manager at an Asian fusion restaurant. 

Mainly because it made sense and I just needed a job. 

I started working there and putting in 10 to 12 hour work days 7 days a week. I worked there for over 6 months before I took my first day off. It was my birthday, and I wanted to hang out with my wife. 

Then I went back to the salt mines the next day. 

After working there for about 8 months, give or take some time, there was a hurricane that was destroying Florida and headed straight for where we were near Savannah, Georgia. 

My wife and I decided to take the optional evacuation issued by the city and the university she was attending and drove back to Texas to see family. The general manager at the restaurant I worked at didn’t particularly like that idea, so he kind of warned me that they were going to try and stay open while I was gone. 

While we were gone, my wife’s cousin’s husband, so my cousin through marriage, said that the airline he had been a flight attendant at for over 10 years was hiring. I decided to apply, and since I was applying for that I might as well go ahead and apply for almost all mainline airlines. 

He had actually been telling me since I was in high school that I had the perfect demeanor to be a flight attendant and it would be a great gig to get started at while I was young because of the benefits and flexibility after building some seniority. 

As you would expect a young, testosterone fueled kid to say, I continually shot him down. 

But as I got back to Georgia, I was essentially fired as assistant manager then rehired as assistant kitchen manager at a lower pay. I was only making $11 an hour to begin with, so the pay decrease and hour decrease really made me not want to stay. 

I then followed in my family footsteps and started a sales gig. I was selling vacations that got people discounted rates on vacations as long as they attended a timeshare presentation.

I was one of those guys and I despised it. I felt like a serious irritation to people and it was the worst. 

Not long after starting that job, I got an email invite to go to a massive group interview. 

Which I nailed. 

The next month, exactly 2 weeks after I got married, I left to go to training in Florida for a month. 

Life as a Flight Attendant

A picture out the window of an airplane while I commuted.

That first year at the airline, I hated it. 

I was commuting and on call. It drove me crazy because I would be on call for up to 6 days in a row then home with my new wife for as little as 2 days before going back on call. I was based in DFW, Texas and flying back and forth between Savannah and DFW to be home for fewer days than I was at work. 

This was a really tough time for me mentally. I felt like I lost my friends when I moved to Georgia then never got settled to really find anyone besides my wife and her friends she was making in her grad program. 

When I was back in Texas I was on call and couldn’t commit to going and hanging out with everyone. On top of that, I didn’t have enough excess income to go hangout at the bars with my friends anyway. 

Thank the good Lord in Heaven for my family checking in on me and my wife getting psychology training in her degree. She really helped me in dealing with my mental state. 

My amazing wife really helped me internalize the message of Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning: You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can always control how you react to that situation. 

I began to focus on the fact that I got to fly to a bunch of really cool destinations. I also got to meet a lot of cool people. 

A belief I internalized back in college, because I came from a politically conservative household then got my degree in a very politically liberal degree, that it is absolutely imperative that people, especially those with differing beliefs, talk about important topics. All those things you’re “not supposed” to talk about at work, are the most important topics to life and can help everyone understand that those with differing opinions are still people and have a reason for their beliefs. 

So, I have a job of going and visiting different cool locations, talking with a wide variety of people with different beliefs and from different backgrounds, AND I get the great benefits of free travel on my days off, AND the health benefits are crazy awesome too. 

After I got an actual line and quit being on call, this job became the best.

Desire to Become a Pilot

Airplane hobby meme

It’s pretty common for flight attendants to think about becoming a pilot. Especially at a legacy carrier. You get all the same benefits, but you get considerably more pay and don’t have to deal with some horrors that barely qualify as passengers.

The seeds were planted for me when I was a little boy. I always wanted to be a fighter pilot in the Air Force…well, actually I wanted that for a couple of months until my friend told me that you have to have 20/20 vision to be a pilot. For some weird reason, I internalized this to mean all kinds of pilots. Also for some unknown reason, I didn’t actually look this up myself.

I wasn’t always the smartest child.

However, when I started training to be a flight attendant, everyone in my class said something along the lines of “you look like a pilot,” or “I bet you end up as a pilot.”

This really is where that dormant seed got a little bit of water. 

It was always in the back of my mind of jumping to the flight deck and becoming a pilot. I would make up lame excuses like “I can’t imagine sitting in there for so many hours at a time” or “it’s just too expensive. I don’t think you can do it without having planned for it from birth.” 

Both of these were just excuses. Just like with anything, if you want it bad enough, you can find a way to make it work. 

The idea of being a pilot would float in and out of my mind throughout my time as a flight attendant. When the pilots have to go to the bathroom in flight, we have to have a flight attendant trade spots with them. During this time, I would always ask some questions and see what the lifestyle was like. 

Surprise, surprise! It’s the exact same as being a flight attendant, but you get paid considerably more. 

I also have noticed that pilots get the best treatment in the company, as well as occasionally in public because it’s such a cool and prestigious career.  

The decision to pursue a pilot career came when my wife and I went to Disney World on her birthday this past year. It had only recently opened back up since closing for the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was absolutely amazing. But while we were there, I mentioned how if I was a pilot we could go do this all the time because I would have better benefits and be making way more money. 

My wife said, “If you’re seriously considering it, look into it more. Sit on it for a while because you kind of flip flop on career ideas though.” 

We continued to occasionally joke about me being a pilot, but after a couple more months, we decided I should actually look into it deeper. 

I began almost interviewing every pilot I flew with at work. Two of them gave me a rundown of what it was like to fly and hung out with me a good deal to help me understand the process. They let me into the flight deck to ask serious questions and show me what it’s like to really fly. Of course, they also went to the bathroom during this time, but they both took their time going pee so I could get a bit longer time in the flight deck. 

After that I knew I wanted to do it, but I took another month before I set up a discovery flight. 

The discovery flight sealed the deal for sure. I really want to be a pilot, and I’m doing whatever I can to make that happen.

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