Today was my last amateur flight for the foreseeable future. It was one of those test flights where someone more important than my normal instructor evaluates me. It wasn’t a relaxing enjoyable flight and it was more of a nerve-wracking pain in the ass but I passed. I think now would be a good time to express a couple of the reasons why I got out of it.
- I’m not a very good pilot. Out of four of these test flights, I’ve failed two for doing something wrong. Not a little wrong, borderline dangerous wrong. I don’t take failures lightly and it was very embarrassing to me, which is why I never talk about them. I know this is one of those things that gets better with time and experience but I am 28. I’m not old but I’m a little old to be stumbling through the entry level of a career when I already have a lot of skill in another field.
- Aviation is not as fulfilling to me as working in tech. I can fly the airplane, and I can plan flights, and I can do some basic weather analysis, and I can interpret charts and graphs, and none of it feels as good as fixing a good computer problem. Maybe that will come with time, and maybe it won’t.
- I care more about tech than I do aviation. I read and keep up on a whole lot of tech news. I tried to do the same thing with aviation and I just could not give a fuck. It’s all business. The tech sector is so broad and constantly evolving. The aviation industry feels turgid and sluggish by comparison.
- The aviation industry has been a lot of doom and gloom lately. It will bounce back to some degree but some of the problems in the industry for pilots, and especially new pilots, are not getting better. Pilots will continue to be stretched thin and overworked because the industry wants more flights, more passengers, less downtime, and less pay. Seriously, investigate the way a new pilot at a regional carrier lives. It’s worse than a private in the Army, and the private may even get paid more.
- Finally, and perhaps the most important, pilots in the cockpit flying the airplane are not the future; drones are the future. Unmanned are where the growth in aviation is coming from, and you don’t necessarily need a pilot to fly a drone. In nearly every case I know of, drones are flown by people who aren’t pilots. They’re (more or less) Joe Schmoe, pulled off the street and given a bunch of training and sent on his way. The FAA does not have a drone pilot certificate. The FAA regulations don’t even cover drones, at all! Right now, unmanned are primarily used for military applications but a future in which drones handle most non-passenger carrying flights is coming.
So that’s it. There are a couple less important reasons but the short of it is that working with tech makes me happier and, in my opinion, has a brighter future for me. My time flying hasn’t been wasted, I do hold a private pilot certificate and all of my logged flight hours. I can still fly wherever I go, if I want to pay to rent an airplane to do so. It’s just not what I’ll be doing for a living, and that’s fine with me.