My last post and the response in the comments section made me realize something today.
I'm really getting tired of moaning and complaining about the downfall of the airline industry and the piloting profession.
True, things have become worse the last few years. Yes, old-timers would be appallled to see how far the profession has fallen. And yes, anybody considering a career in aviation needs to take a good look at the true cost of this career before jumping in.
But the reality is, it can still be a pretty good career. I very much enjoy what I do for a living. It's usually interesting, I work with great people, and I see breathtaking sights every day. Even at the "regional" level, it's paying the bills and I'm living comfortably, albeit with two incomes and without kids. I've had some neat adventures here and abroad thanks to this job.
Furthermore, I should be about the last guy to talk about the uncertainty and suffering that an aviation career can bring, because I haven't experienced any of it. The worst I've dealt with is some unexpected time freight-dogging, a little time in a hiring pool that didn't pan out, and the prospect of a longer-than-average upgrade. Boo-freaking-hoo. To learn about the worst that aviation can do, there are plenty of furloughees and merger survivors and newly pensionless retirees you can talk to. I really have no right to do so.
But the main reason I'm tired of complaining is that it really doesn't change anything. My blog posts, crew room gripe-fests, flightinfo.com bitterness - has it all done anything to reverse the slide? I'm not sure it has. What are we expecting to achieve, anyhow? Are we hoping that by making aviation look so horrible, we'll shrink the incoming labor pool and thereby improve our lot? If so, it's dishonest and unfair. Having achieved our goals, it's hypocritical to deny others theirs. When nice guys like LoadmasterC141 want to get into flying, I should be encouraging him, not dissuading him.
None of this is to say we should ignore the problems bedeviling aviation. It might still be a decent field but if the present slide continues, it will not always be. The generation that came before us did a pretty lousy job; we need to do better.This starts with educating the pilots coming up through the ranks. Those of us currently at the airlines need to do a better job of reaching out to those just starting their own careers, helping them in their advancement as well as educating them in the history and responsibilities of their chosen profession. Without hitting them over the head with gloom and doom, we need to make it clear to them that the future of this career is in their hands, and depends on them rolling up their sleeves and getting involved.
So those of you who are new to aviation, who are considering a career as a pilot, who are working their way up the ladder: I apologize for occasionally discouraging your dreams with gloomy pronouncements of what a shambles aviation is in. I should be encouraging and helping you. At the same time, I do want to urge you to get informed on what's going on in your profession, and do your part to make it better. "What can I do?" you ask. In general terms, consider yourself a caretaker of the profession and resolve to leave it better than you found it. Consider the effects each of your choices has not only on your career but also on those who come after you. Specifically, once you work at a unionized carrier, get involved in your union. They're only as good as their volunteers. They can use your skills. No part is too trivial - even seemingly boring jobs free up resources for other important tasks. This is a small price to pay for a rewarding career and a job that you love.