Finding that lost childhood dream of flying…
What pushed me to become a pilot was the childhood dream of having all these adventures in my everyday life. These fantasy dreams were a mixture of being a pirate in the Caribbean, a whaler in the pursuit of Moby Dick, a submarine or an ocean liner captain. I grew up in a time when there was no internet yet, when television just came and very few people had it. All these dreams of adventure came from reading books in the library. Once in a while we would watch movies, and it had to be about pirates or war. This was just about the only place where my dreams became alive, and also where I saw aerial dogfights in action. When I discovered airplanes all the other fantasies disappeared. All I could think of was flying in an airplane up there in the blue skies above. I dreamed of the Red Baron, Eddie Rickenbacker and the dogfights over the golden fields in France. I saw the movie “The Blue Max” when I was in high school. I was hooked and after that flying was the only thing in my mind. I started to take flying lessons immediately as soon as I was able to a few years later, and within 3 years after going through a series of flying jobs from dropping skydivers to being a flight instructor, I ended up in a government owned scheduled cargo and passenger operator called Philippine Aerotransport, Inc.
At 20 years old, my childhood fantasies of “The Blue Max” was still very fresh in me. But reality quickly set in, and the adventure that pushed me to where I was at the moment was non-existent. Flying a scheduled route quickly turned into a boring routine, much like a 9-5 job. Of course, for me it was still the best job in the world. I was getting paid to do something that I was happily willing to do for free. But we never tell them that. After working here for 3 years, I was hired by Malaysian Airline Systems and stayed with them for 5 years, doing pretty much the same regular scheduled flight routine. At the age of 28, I immigrated to the US and “hung up” my flying “gloves”, never to return to professional flying.
Ok, so you might want to ask, what is my point in this story? Well, for one thing, I’m very sure that most if not all of us pilots still have that little boy’s dream alive inside us. It just got thrown in the bottom of the pile because we have to go through the realities of life. Need a job, feed a family, raise kids, becoming part of a community, etc. We become fixated in what’s in the real world, which I would add is not wrong, that we tend to forget about those dreams that brought us here to where we’re at right now. I was such, and it is one of my regrets in life. I say it is a regret because I could have lived this childhood dream in real life if I just realized early on that, other than being a military pilot, commercial flying jobs can still be that terrific adventure that we only had in our dreams.
Ferry pilot jobs – where the adventure begins
I am talking about ferry pilot jobs. Although I’ve know about this since I started flying, it really never hit me as a pilot career by itself. When I was at Philippine Aerotransport we would ferry our own aircraft from our outlying stations to our main base in Manila for major maintenance. I never thought of it as a serious job, much so as a career. I just totally forgot about it until very recently when I was browsing some Kindle books at Amazon.com and came across Spike Nasmyth’s “So You Want To Be Ferry Pilot” book. This was published way back in 2003 and if I read it then things could be a little different in my life today. It opened my eyes to what being a ferry pilot was all about, and what is really involved in these ferry pilot jobs. If there’s one place left in the world of aviation where swashbuckling buccaneers and spoiled prima donna pilots still thrive, this is it. I mentioned prima donna because back in my days as a professional pilot most of these guys (of course, I wasn’t one of them 🙂 ) were such and were kind of looked at as mini-gods. Not anymore these days. It doesn’t matter if you are flying a $300 million Airbus A380 with 800 passengers on board, to most people you’re just a driver of an oversized limo. The awe and admiration that people saw in an airplane pilot is long gone. Be a prima donna pilot now and it won’t be long before you get fired.
Being a ferry pilot will make you live that dream. I am not talking about ferrying a Cessna 150 from La Verne, California to Bangor, Maine although in it’s own way it could be. I am talking about ferrying a Cessna 172 from say Seattle, Washington to Munich, Germany. Or how about flying a Beechcraft Bonanza from Chicago, Illinois to Sao Paulo, Brazil? How about flying a Cessna 421 from Dallas, Texas to Perth, Australia? These are just theoretical routes I mentioned but these kinds of flying do happen. These ferry pilot jobs are available today. Knowing what I know now, these ferry pilots are a class by themselves, much like the top gun in the military. This is one job that takes so much skill and courage that you can compare them to the ace pilots in the past. Flying 3000 miles over land where you have an almost infinite choice of places to land is one thing, crossing the Atlantic or Pacific oceans in a single engine Cessna is another. It takes a combination of brains, balls and stamina do be able to accomplish these tasks, nothing less.
Words cannot describe what it is to take on the adventure of these ferry pilot jobs. Please watch the video below so you can experience in a way how a ferry flight goes, from the planning stage to the execution to handling problems that pop up along the way. It’s a little bit long (42 minutes) but I’m sure you will enjoy it and put you in that cockpit where all the adventure happens.