The "Professional" Pilot

FindaPilot guest post by:

Clint White

Clint White

CEO Jet Right Aviation Services/Jet Sales Representative- SkyWater Group
FindaPilot Member since 2008

In these tough economic times,(still), aviation profession continues to go through profound changes. Gone are the “Glory Days” where pilots were just one step below astronauts. In many cases we feel like we are treated more like “Glorified bus drivers” In this environment I hear all the time “We are professionals!” “We should be treated as professionals”. All fine words and in most cases very true,but what exactly is a “Professional Pilot?”

Webster’s Dictionary Defines Professional as: characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.

Very clean and technical, but a few years ago an old and very wise pilot called professionalism this: What you do and how your act when no one is looking. So what qualities define the professional pilot today?

A professional pilot should always look presentable: Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but too many times have I seen pilots looking like slobs with messy wrinkled shirts, 5 o’clock shadows and I-pods permanently attached to their ears in the FBO and in some cases, terminals. What kind of image does this send? In this world where “image is everything” how you look either inspires confidence or doubt. A sharp, neatly pressed, captain or first officer, no matter what part of aviation you work in, says that I care about my profession, my passengers and my fellow crewmembers. This image also comes down to the luggage you are carrying. I have seen some young pilots carrying backpacks these days. I know they are convenient, but we arent in college anymore. I strongly recommend investing in some quality luggage. You may or may not be paid well for what you do, but at least look the part.

A professional pilot sets the example: How you act both inside and outside the cockpit is also the sign of a professional. On or off duty you still represent the company and of course yourself. Inappropraite behavor is simply not acceptable and you will quickly find yourself on the street. Many times young crewmembers may want to imitate the way you act. You want to make sure that you ALWAYS act in an appropriate and respectful way. I have heard stories of experienced pilots with profanity laced tirades in the FBO against their crew or staff. Your clients and crew are watching. What kind of example does that send? Is that someone you want to fly with? Another important point, with the myriad of chat rooms, blogs and message boards these days, what you say or upload can stay with you for a VERY long time. What you post on the web is pretty much there forever and the lack of civility I see these days is disturbing. Personal attacks against crewmembers on a web page or message board can have a detrimental effect to your future career. Remember that your online reputation can be as important as your offline one and employers do look for your online activities when they are considering hiring you. Having an opinion is fine, but be please respectful to others.

A professional pilot takes care of his/her crew: When I became a Captain, one of the first things I realized was that taking care of my crew was EVERY bit as important as taking care of my clients. In charter or fractional operations where you might be flying with the same crewmember for several days at a time, how you take care of your crew can make the tour enjoyable or torturous. This means, not only having a positive,open attitude during flight operations but also after your crew duty is over. For Captains this also means making sure things like crew meals are set up properly, being the LAST one in the van on the way to the hotel, and the LAST one to your room. For senior staff that get hotel perks, take care of your crew by helping getting them upgraded rooms, free breakfasts or internet. Its the least you can do. I also STRONLY recommend that you buy your F/O and/or crew, a meal once in a while. You often make a lot more than they do and trust me, it will be greatly appreciated. Lastly, dont be a “slam-clicker”. We all have our bad days or even weeks, but isolating your crewmembers isnt going to go a long way to enhancing your reputation. We arent all extroverts, but I believe you have an obligation to associate, on some level, with your crew mates. If you want to be alone all the time, then perhaps professional aviation isnt for you.

A professional pilot has integrity: This is the simple “A person is only as good as their word”. If all you do is BS all day about how great you are as a pilot or lie about an answer you dont know, you are going to weaken the bond of trust that is critical to crew coordination. Theres few things worse than a pilot that is braggart who claims they know everything, or one who makes up answers to important questions. Of the many of the phrases I truly respect “I dont know” is one of them. I would rather hear that phrase than a wrong answer. You can parse it by saying “I will get the answer for you”….and of course DO IT. In a world where honesty is in short supply, it will be noticed and respected. A breakdown of integrity can be very dangerous in the cockpit. Crew coordination comes from mutual trust and if the crewmembers cant trust each other, than they are not going to work well together when it counts.

A professional pilot respects his crew: Mostly gone are the days of “flaps up, gear up, shut up”. The use of CRM (crew resource management) has pretty much put that attitude to rest, but I still hear stories of captains considering their first officers little more than “seat warmers”. These days, where a first officer might sit in the right seat for several years before upgrading and experienced pilots in the fractional, cargo, and charter world, the guy or gal sitting next to you might have as much or more exposure than you do. These people are a valuable resource. I think the most important thing a Captain can say to his F/O is “what do you think?”. Many times I flew with people in the right seat who were 10 even 20 years older than me. These people where flying when I was in diapers and I learned early in life that I dont know EVERYTHING. Their advice has helped make the flight more efficient, more comfortable and especially safer simply by asking the “what do you think” question. Some of the most valuable lessons I ever learned as a new Captain came from people who were sitting in that other seat either as F/O or Co-Captain. Many of the older pilots took me “under the wing” so to speak, and taught me lessons I could NEVER learn in a classroom. Just by asking these individuals “what do you think” I gained knowledge that I am eternally grateful for. This same respect should also go to your flight attendants as well. Respect them and they will respect you.

A professional pilot is always learning: We all go through IOE, initial and recurrent training, but a professional pilot goes beyond that. Education does not end when you pass your check ride. Smart pilots continue to dive into their aircraft flight manuals, keep updated on the latest regulations (they change constantly these days) and keep familiar with the new technologies that may or may not be part of their daily duties. I had a supervisor at a previous job tell me that when you are learning or refreshing material, the most important question you can ask is “why”. Why does this work the way it does?, why is this component in this area? why do we need this in the airplane? As opposed to rote memorization the “why” question opens new paths to, not only new questions, but a deeper understanding. Attending meetings and seminars sponsored by the company or by organizations like NBAA should always be important to the professional pilot. A knowledgeable pilot is a safe one.

A professional pilot is a mentor/teacher: A concept that I gained from a former employer is that there are no “first officers” In fact, we used to call them “captains in training”. There are only so many things that can be taught in a classroom. As new pilots come into the business, much of the way they behave, act and approach their duties are shaped by those who taught them how to fly and those they sit next to during their careers. It is imperative that the experience you gain is passed on to the next generation. I KNOW that I would never have become a professional aviator if it wasnt for the mentors that helped me along the way. Their patience and understanding allowed me to grow as a pilot and learn from those rookie mistakes. I have taken a piece of everything I learned from these people and incorporated it into the way I fly. I still use many of my mentors as wells of information and advice. Like I said before, no one knows everything and sometimes another point of view or direct experience that you might not have makes all the difference. As I have gotten older, I find younger pilots asking me for advice and I happy to give it. A true professional aspires that others reach their full potential and we have a duty and obligation to make that happen. Its called “Pilots Helping Pilots”

To sum it up, if we want to be treated as professionals, we have to earn it.

Search Pilots by State

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Please note our new Facebook address

We recently updated our Facebook company page address. The new address is Our Twitter page remains the same at Thanks, Inc. 888-765-2825


FindaPilot to Launch Redesigned Website Soon!

I am pleased to announce that FindaPilot will be unveiling a new redesigned website on or around May 27th. For the last 7 months we have been developing a completely new and advanced website platform. This isn't your run of the mill website redesign, it is a custom built website with features designed specifically for pilots and aviation employers. Here is a list of just a few of the changes and improvements the new site will bring:

  • Responsive display for desktop, laptop, tablets and smartphones
  • New cloud based server for a faster browsing experience
  • Easy to use interface
  • Better profile management including employment history and education sorting
  • Advanced location search: add multiple locations of interest to your profile
  • Standardized certificates and ratings selections
  • Type rating database for improved pilot and job searches
  • Cover letter and file upload for new applications
  • Automatic pilot matching to employer job listings
  • Favorite feature for job tracking
  • Job search specific email notifications
  • Advanced privacy settings for pilot profiles
  • Enhanced email notification system for job search and pilot directory search

As part of the site upgrade we will be moving servers and migrating to a new billing system. This will require site downtime during the move. As the date gets closer we will update you on the planned downtime and the exact date of the new site launch. Thanks for using FindaPilot, John Peroyea President, Inc. 888-765-2825

The Commercial Pilot Shortage

With a commercial pilot shortage on the horizon, what new opportunities lay ahead for the next generation of commercial pilots? New trends in pilot ages and military aviation experience are emerging, changing the way the next generation of commercial pilots are being shaped. Also, with the global economy expanding and new airlines taking delivery of new commercial jetliners, the demand for commercial pilots in on the rise. But just how many new commercial pilots opportunities can we expect in the coming decades? Join us as we explore the opportunities and challenges new pilots face on a career path to fly the friendly skies as the next generation of commercial pilots.

The Commercial Pilot Shortage

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The New ATP Rules May Affect You

Get ready. August 01 2014 is right around the corner! If you don't have your ATP rating yet the cost and time it takes to get your ATP will go up significantly. Some experts are expecting the cost of the ATP rating to go up by $10,000 or more. Here are some details of the new requirements and links to more information on the FAA ruling. FAA FINAL ATP CERTIFICATION RULE FAA Notice N 8900.225 This FAA Notice is a 16 page document that outlines the ATP rule changes that became effective on 07/10/13 and the new rules that will be implemented on 08/01/14. There are some immediate changes for pilots seeking a Restricted ATP. Restricted ATP Certificate - a.k.a. "1500 hour rule" The new rule also establishes a new ATP certificate with restricted privileges for multi-engine aircraft only. The Restricted ATP certificate can only be used to serve as a first officer at an air carrier. To obtain the certificate, an applicant must be at least 21 years old, hold a commercial pilot {C}certificate with an instrument rating, complete an ATP certification training program, and pass the ATP written and knowledge tests. For the restricted ATP certificate, applicants do get some relief as they are required to have 750 hours total time as a military pilot; at least 1,000 hours total time and a bachelor's degree with an aviation major; at least 1,250 hours total time and an associates degree with an aviation major; or 1,500 hours total time as a pilot. Under the new rules outlined in FAA Notice N 8900.225, qualifying pilots may obtain the Restricted ATP between 07/10/13 and 07/31/14 at a Part 61 flight school without completing a 30 hour ATP certification course and without receiving 10 hours of full motion sim training. The Restricted ATP certificate is for multi-engine aircraft and can only be used to serve as a first officer at an air carrier. All pilots must:

  • Be at least 21 years old;
  • Hold a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating;
  • Pass the ATP knowledge test and practical test;
  • Meet the aeronautical experience requirements of Section 61.160.

Military pilots must:

  • Have a minimum of 750 hours of total flight time as a pilot.

Civilian pilots with 1000 hours of total flight time must:

  • Be a graduate from an institution of higher education who holds a bachelor's degree with an aviation major and has completed at least 60 semester credit hours of aviation course work;
  • Have obtained the commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating from an associated part 141 pilot school.

Civilian pilots with 1250 hours of total flight time must:

  •  Be a graduate from an institution of higher education who holds a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree with an aviation major and has completed at least 30 semester credit hours of aviation course work;
  • Have obtained the commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating from an associated part 141 pilot school.

Civilian pilots with 1500 hours of total flight and 200 hours of cross country flight time qualify.     Links: FAA Information Page on ATP Certification AC 61-138, Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program (CTP)

Institutions of Higher Education

The FAA authorizes institutions of higher education to certify graduates of specific aviation degree programs for a restricted privileges ATP certificate with reduced aeronautical experience. This authority is distinct from the ATP CTP, and allows for pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours of flight time to obtain a restricted privileges ATP certificate. A restricted privileges ATP certificate allows a pilot to serve as a co-pilot until he or she obtains the necessary 1,500 hours.

  • Authorized Institutions (PDF)
  • Certifying Statement (MS Word)
  • AC 61-139, Institution of Higher Education's Application for Authority to Certify its Graduates for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with Reduced Aeronautical Experience
  • FAA Form 8700-1, Institution of Higher Education's Application for Authority to Certify its Graduates for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with Reduced Aeronautical Experience

Restricted ATP Requirements Starting 08/01/14 After 07/31/14, pilots pursuing a Restricted ATP certificate must also complete an ATP certification training program. The program will include 30 hours of ground training and 10 hours of simulator training. The program must be completed prior to  being eligible to take the ATP written and practical tests. The 10 hours of simulator training will include 6 hours of training in a level C or D (full motion) simulator. According to the rule, this course will only be offered through Part 141, 142, 135 or 121 certificate holders, not allowing for Part 61 flight schools to develop courses and provide the training.

The Making of an Attention Grabbing Cover Letter

by Rebecca Stewart If you have ever been in charge of hiring, you have probably had the daunting task of reviewing hundreds of cover letters - boring, generic cover letters.  And if you have ever applied for a job, you have probably been guilty of writing said cover letter. I/m talking about the mundane, lifeless cover letters, similar to this one:

To Whom It May Concern,I am applying for the pilot position with your company.  I have flown many different types of aircraft, from Cessna single engines, King Airs to a Citation Bravo. I meet your experience requirements. My professionalism, promptness and flying abilities will be an asset to your organization.  I offer excellent leadership skills.  Attached you will find a copy of my current resume. Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Pilot

Now ask yourself –

  1. What makes this applicant different than any other that comes across the employers desk?
  2. Would I read this whole letter if it came across my desk?
  3. Would I continue on and look at the “attached resume”?
  4. Would I hire this applicant?

If you answered NO to any or all of these keep reading… A cover letter is the first impression a potential employer sees of you.  Saint Jerome, an early theologian, once said, “First impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind.” So do you want that impression to be a bad one or a fantastic one? Your cover letter needs to be personal; it needs to grab the attention of the person reading it.  It also needs to be written by you.  Yes, I said you.  You cannot hire someone else to write your letter... that would be their cover letter, not yours.  Can you ask for help, search the Internet for ideas, and bounce ideas off of friends?  Sure, but make sure its your work, not the work of someone else. To start your cover letter, it is best to gather as much information as possible about the company that is offering the employment opportunity.  Make every attempt to address your cover letter to the chief pilot or the person who is accepting resumes within the company.  Next, get in the mindset of trying to fulfill a need the company has and address that need in your cover letter. You are probably saying to yourself, “yep – they need a pilot, I am a pilot … need met!” But do you? Many companies look for diverse employees.  Employees that are able to fly an airplane, but that also have other qualities that might eventually suit a chief pilot position or director position.  When you write your cover letter, think of your potential, tapped and untapped, and express it!  Finally, make it personal and emphasize your strengths.

Dear Mr. Smith, It is with great pleasure that I submit to you my resume seeking the Citation first officer position with Acme Drilling.  My understanding is that Acme is a growing company with growing flight department needs.My flying career began in the Houston area working for XYZ flight school.  My goal has always been to fly for Acme; however, I knew I would have to move out of the area in order to build the necessary time and experience to apply.  The past five years I have spent in New Mexico gaining the experience and flight time necessary to apply with Acme. My current position has allowed me to gain experience in aircraft acquisition, hiring of new pilots and development of pilot training schedules on multiple aircraft; skills that will be an asset to Acme’s growing flight department. As evidenced by my resume, I have an extensive background in the aviation industry and business.  My skills in communication, planning, organization and leadership are applicable to any organization and will benefit Acme’s flight department now and into the future. I am available at your convenience to discuss my resume and experience in more detail. Sincerely, Pilot

A cover letter is also a good place to address a gap in your resume. For example:

I resigned from my previous corporate flying job, in early 2005, to stay home and raise my children who are now school age.  My family relocated to south Louisiana a year ago and I am looking forward to rejoining and contributing to the corporate aviation industry.

Employers receive hundreds if not thousands of cover letters.  You want yours to stand out and get noticed.  If possible, talk to the person through your cover letter and let him/her know why you are different and why they should flip the page to your resume. Remember to make it personal and highlight your abilities!  

After you have your cover letter and you are ready to apply for pilot jobs, join!

The FAA has approved the first schools to certify its graduates for R-ATPs

The FAA has approved the first schools to certify its graduates for R-ATPs

Institutions Authorized to Certify its Graduates for an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate with Reduced Aeronautical Experience Graduates of an institution of higher education that have received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization to certify graduates may be eligible to apply for a restricted privileges airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate. The total flight time requirements for a restricted privileges ATP Certificate based on a degree with an aviation major arefound in § 61.160

  • 1,000 hours for a graduate who holds a bachelor’s degree with an aviation major and meets the remaining requirements of § 61.160(b)
  • 1,250 hours for a graduate who holds an associate’s degree with an aviation major and meets the remaining requirements of §61.160(c)
  • 1,250 hours for a graduate who holds a bachelor’s degree with an aviation major and meets the remaining requirements of § 61.160(d)

CFI to Regional Jet - With benefits! Including non-rev travel.

American Eagle Airlines has partnered with U.S. Aviation Academy and TransPac Aviation Academy to develop a career path from CFI to Regional Airline Pilot. This exciting new program gives the pilot a secured position at American Eagle Airlines while building time towards the ATP minimum flight experience requirements. Not only does the program provide this streamlined career path, but instructors are hired and employed by American Eagle while they are still instructing!

What does this mean for the CFI? It means that while flight instructing, you have medical, dental, and vision benefits, as well as travel privileges on American Airlines and American Eagle! Once Pipeline Instructors reach the ATP minimums and 50 hours of multi engine experience, they are placed into new hire pilot training at American Eagle in the next new hire class.

Applying is easy, simply complete an application on, then send an email with your resume to  Selected applicants will be flown to American Airlines/American Eagle headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas for the interview. Those selected from the recruitment process will then go to interview at one of the partner schools. Once approved by both American Eagle and the flight school, pilots will be hired by American Eagle and work as an instructor at the flight school until reaching ATP minimums.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Commercial Pilot Certification with multi-engine and instrument ratings.

  • CFI and CFII Instructor Certifications

  • Current FAA First Class Medical

  • Minimum Age: 21

  • FCC License

  • Valid Passport.

Applicants must possess the legal right to work in the United States and have the ability to travel in and out of the US and to all cities/countries served by American Eagle. Ability to work weekends, nights, shifts, holidays and overnight trips. Must fulfill government-required criminal background checks to qualify for unescorted access privileges to airport security identification display areas and secure airport authority and/or U.S. Customs security badges, if applicable. Must be able to read, write, fluently speak and understand the English language.


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