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Pilot Life After 60

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Just curious, but I was wondering what do pilots do after the unpopular mandatory big 6-0 birthday? I have flown on many airline flights with captains approaching the 60 mark who are in much better shape than I am. I can't believe that the FAA forces them out regardless of health, especially with all that sound experience. Are they able to fly large jets or airliners any other way once they are forced out by the airlines, or can they continue with GA jets and commuters or turbo planes commercially or privately? Also, if they remain healthy, can they continue flying indefinitely? Thanks. :-)

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They can continue to fly airliners as trainers, or ferry flights. They can transition into the training department in the simulators. I have a good friend who recently hit the big 60 while flying for JetBlue. He is still able to go to Toulouse and pick up their new Airbus aircraft. In fact, he picks up all of their new ones and ferries them back to the States. I'm sure there is much more that is allowed both at the airlines and GA.Darrell

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They also go and fly Corporate Jets.Corporate Aviation doesn't have a mandatory retirement age I believe.Shane

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Most Airline pilots are ready to retire at age 60. In fact some even plan their finances so that they can retire earlier. I retired in 1996 at age 60. I own a Baron B55 (Big Red that is available here in the library thanks to Heather)and maintain my instrument currency with a check ride enery 6 months.Airline flying can take a lot out of a person, not only physicaly but also mentally. It is a career that a Captain puts his job on the line more times in a year than most others. He must take a simulator check ride every six months during which time the performance tolerences are very tight. He also must take a physical every six months which usually does not fall at the same time as his check ride, including after age 45, an EKG once a year. Any number of dificiencies that would not cause other occupations to loose their jobs will cause a pilot to be grounded. An FAA inspector or company check airman can show up at anytime to ride the jump seat to give an enroute check. Every time he bids and is awarded a different aircraft type to fly he must go through a very excellerated ground school and sinulator program that failure of any part could mean his career.International flying which for a Captain usually comes in the latter part of his career can really take it's toll physically. During this type of flying with lots of all night flying, trips back and forth across time and date zones, trying to sleep in hotels during the day time when every body else is up and making noise. Your body telling you it's time to be eating dinner while the local clocks tell you it's time for breakfast.Now throw in the current world conditions and stupid, yes I said stupid security checks that the flight crews have to put up with each and every day at the job and it's a wonder that any pilot WANTS to go to age 60. My son flies for a major airline and I see a lot more grey hairs on him at his age than I had. The career is not as much FUN as it was when I first started but if you LOVE flying as most pilots do, you overlook all these things. :-)Ed Weber a.k.a tallpilot

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Thanks to all for your posts. Ed, I never realized it was so stressful, and I'm glad to hear you had a safe career and a well deserved retirement. Regards, Tom :-)

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Ed,It's funny, but I was in a profession with a similar level of stress (and a lot less compensation)..that of a field hospitality systems trainer. Every few months, a supervisor could drop in, audit my training, with the potential to declare me unfit for field work, throwing me back to a 90 day probation. Never happened to me, but the stress was always there. Every six months or so, we'd also be pulled into our home office, and we'd have to present peer training. That process was very intense...most of our peers would take great pleasure in picking apart our style. Constantly we were losing our voice from the 10-12 hours a day of training sessions (our clients were required to limit us to 8 hours, but under the threat of a bad client evaluation, they soaked us for every hour of training they could get). Those hours took their toll, to the point where today I have vocal cord damage, as do many of my peers.On top of that, the job had me away from home 85 percent of the time, sometimes flying 2-3 times a week to get to a site, set up, teach class, and move on. If I was working out of the country, which I often did, I was expected to fly all night, and begin training within an hour of arrival on site. My last overseas gig in '95, in Bologna, Italy, saw me awake nearly 40 hours before the client allowed us to rest--for four hours. As salaried employees, we were abused to the extent that such abuse could take place. Most of us were young, and didn't know any better. With the equipment I had to hand-carry onto aircraft, security was a challenge even pre-9/11. Since part of my job included troubleshooting network interfaces, my breakout box always raised the alarms at airports. Try explaining to a $7.00/hr. security guard how a breakout box works, let alone what it's for. As I rose in the ranks and took on the role of lead trainer, I found being the auditor was no less stressful than being the audited. If I showed favor, and we lost a contract due to a trainer blunder, my career in a very close knit profession would have been over. I was considered "old" when I left the field at age 40, taking on a more sedate role as a network admin. I was happy to leave on good terms, but never again. 11 years was enough! But it was 11 years of constant immersion in aviation, so there was a fringe benefit...!-John

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Hi John,That's why I said most jobs and not all jobs. Certainly Firemen and Policemen have a high level of stress both physical and mental in their occupation and many of them don't make it to a ripe old age in those careers.The point I was trying to make is that an Airline Pilot job is not as rosey as hollywood and the TV sitcoms make it out to be and that there are stress involved and that is why most pilots are ready to retire at age 60 or even sooner. The love of flying is what keeps retired pilots involved in aviation one way or another after their airline career is over as long as they are physicaly able.The reason for the salary that pilots are paid is not based on the stress factor but is due to the responsibility they have. Regards,Ed Webera.k.a tallpilot

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"....not based on the stress factor but is due to the responsibility they have...."Responsibility? 200-300 souls, a multi-million dollar airplane, and of course landing and taking off on-time when a delay might mean your 757 ends up 1000 miles away from it's origination point at the end of the day?I think the compensation is due to the courage airline pilots have! :)

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John,I never thought of myself as couragous. :-) Military pilots are couragous, after all somebody may be trying to shoot them down.What I did consider myself is fortunate to have a job doing what I love, flying. Like most pilots (not all, but most) I chose the career for the flying not the pay. I never told management (the union would have stoned me :-lol )but I would have done the job for less money.I never damaged an airplane and never injured a passenger.The few (only four)emergencies that I had in my 30 years of flying were handled as I was trained to and the outcome was predictable.I always made my decisions based on my evaluation of the situation as I saw it and not based on what somebody sitting in an office hundreds of miles away thought I should do. That's what being in command is all about.When asked whether I miss it I say that I miss the flying the big airplanes but I don't miss all the other things like what the FAA has become and the dumb application of security procedures to flight crews.Regards,Ed Weber a.k.a tallpilot

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Ed,How are you enjoying "the good life"? If this is the same Captain Weber that I flew with at NWA, then a HUGE "hello my friend" is in order.Either way, you sir have hit the nail on it's proverbial head....it's still a great job, but in the last few years (VERY MUCH exacerbated by 9-11) the fun factor has waned. I penned an article about just that over at the website I've been writing for the last few years..http://www.frugalsworld.com/logbooks/logbook11-1.shtmlTake care Ed (the one I flew with or not), and have fun doing that "retirement thing".Later,BBall--------------------Capt. William "BBall" BallBoeing 757, Northwest AirlinesSenior Editorwww.frugalsworld.com

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Captain Ball,How ya doin? Still have that business card I made for you in DTW? :-lolYep it's your old Cap'n enjoying the life out in the desert of Arizona.I'll check your web site.Drop me a line when you get a chance.flyers@citlink.netTale care,Ed Weber a.k.a tallpilot

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Ed,Yep, I still have it....:D.Great to hear from you! Hope life is good in your neck of the woods....don't shovel much snow down there, do you? I know you flew that WONDERFUL machine from Renton, WA...the 757, I've been on it since '97. If you're interested, I put up some pics from work over at the 767 PIC forum...some from the new 757-300, and some from my last trip.take care Captain, and keep in touch,BBall------------------William "BBall" BallSenior EditorFrugalsworld o

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