It’s hard for a young person to project into the future, but it is necessary at times, especially for someone who wants to pursue a career in aviation. I know a pilot who has been flying for the regionals for nearly 20 years, and he can’t catch a break. We flew together when we were budding CFIs, building time and experience, before going our separate ways.
I recently heard from a mutual friend about this pilot, and he’s still trying to get on with a major. But he has developed a couple of strikes against him. First, he apparently turned into the Grumpy Captain whom folks try to avoid. He isn’t so bad that his first officers are calling in sick, but he has definitely lost a lot of his enthusiasm for the job. It’s quite possible that he burned a few bridges with pilots who have left his carrier, and they may have done what they can to prevent him from getting an interview—let alone a job.
The second strike is a more serious one. Apparently at one time he worked as an under-the-table security individual, and he got arrested after a physical altercation. I don’t know if he was ever charged with anything, but violence of any sort never looks good. It’s difficult if not impossible to explain away. In this case, the infraction took place well over a decade ago, but it may not matter.
Infractions involving alcohol are also not uncommon, but they can generate roadblocks that will significantly delay your career progression. Canada does not allow foreigners who have a DUI or DWI to enter the country, and the airlines don’t want to hire anyone who can’t go somewhere because of such a stupid act. In my previous job, I knew a couple of flight attendants who had to be taken off trips because of the rule, and I knew a few pilots who had to be removed from their own trips for the same reason. I don’t know if any of them ever got another job.
The simplest rule to follow when it comes to certain decisions is this one: If you have to think for a minute about whether or not something is a good idea, it probably isn’t. Put another way, if you think you might want to hide what you’re doing (or will have done), you should probably not do it. I can’t say for sure that my friend has been “blacklisted,” or has torpedoed his own chances, but aviation is a small industry, and people have long memories.
If you make a poor decision, expect to pay the consequences.—Chip Wright