Aviators' Thoughts

My job search and business aviation as seen on AviationWeek

The Harbinger

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Im going off topic today because there are things that happen in life that you can explain but simply must accept. What happened to me today is one of those things….

I was returning home from my daily workout today and as I approached my apartment, I noticed a very large, white dove, roosting on the railing near my apartment. It is not unusual to have doves and pigeons in South Beach but this one was completely white from head to tail. Most unusual what this it didnt move as I approached it.

As I got closer, I expected it to fly away, just like every other bird, but it simply sat there and looked at me. I put out my hand it and it STILL DIDNT MOVE. I got close enough to touch and actually pet this bird a few time. Even then it only moved slightly. Then, just before one of my neighbors opened her door it flew away, straight up, over the roof and disappeared.

Having been raised Catholic and somewhat supertitious. I became concerned about this event since a bird near your house is sometimes considered a harbinger of an impending death. I worried about my father who had nearly died 5 years ago from a heart attack and of my wife who was away at work. What happened next took me by surprise.

Not more than a half hour at this event I received an impassioned phone call from my wife that here father has very suddenly passed. I didnt know my father in law well, but had met him a few months before his passing.  I immediately had the feeling that this dove was a sign of his visit and passing into the next life.

Apparently this is not a unique experience from some research on the web, but that dosent make it any less extraordinay. Truly, it reinforces my belief that there is something after this life and I feel privledged that I was able to experience a part of the world that lies beyond.


Written by tdwnds1

June 11, 2013 at 3:12 am

Your Job or Your Health, In Aviation It Matters!

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As I reached the dreaded “middle age” I began to notice some changes to my body an health that began to worry me. It also didn’t help that my family had a history of heart disease including “sudden death”.  I did make some changes thanks to my wife, but it really took a good scare to get me on the right path….

A few years ago,  I saw me AME and he took my blood pressure, which had been steadily rising due to age, but my first scan was an eye opener. I barely had a blood pressure under the limit to keep my medical and therefore my job. I also started having headaches, fatigue and just not feeling well. My doctor told me simply it was time to either take drugs or make a change in my life. I chose the latter.

There is nothing like having your career in jeopardy to get your motivated. I immediately joined my local gym and began a cardio regimen. It wasn’t easy and the work/life balance of flying often makes exercise secondary but I stuck with it. Yes, I started out with a trainer, but I didn’t need him. When you see the surgery scar on your fathers chest from his heart attack it makes you think every day.

After 4 months and lots of cardio, I had lost 2o lbs. Did I need to lose it…YES! My blood pressure slowly started to go down, but I also had to change the way I eat. I stopped eating the famous “machine cuisine” the many pilots eat. I CUT OUT SODA…period. I cant tell you how much of a difference this made and slowly but surely things got better.

Now after 2 years and 4 months, Im in the best shape of my life and with the support of my wife (who has always eaten healthy) and further healthy eating Im 44 years old with a six pack for the first time in my life, my blood pressure is normal and I feel and look great. Im also still flying and much less fatigued.

So how does this apply to the pilot. Well for that First Class Medical is only good for 6 moths when you are over age 40 and you MUST have a physical exam. There are a HOST of things that can cause you to lose that medical including diabetes, hypertension and other conditions that can come from obesity or unhealthy eating, never mind the stress of flying so taking care of yourself is VITAL.  I don’t just go to my AME. I also have blood tests and regular physical to avoid that scar that my father “earned”

Pilots have tremendously stressful jobs, often on the road for weeks a time with irregular sleep times, even in the best of jobs. We can take our health for granted, but in the end its really all we have. No one said staying in shape was easy. It takes work like anything else and if you are looking for a quick fix, you’ve come to the wrong place. Also, as you get older your priorities in your career might change. It is really worth it to be on the road for months at a time if its going to at the price of your health? We all like money, we all like our careers, but I would rather be flying healthy and productive that having money and remembering the “old days”.

Everyone can find their way to be healthy, we just have to remember that our health puts our job on the line every 6 months.

Written by tdwnds1

June 8, 2013 at 2:25 am

Still Working After All This Year

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This last year has certainly been an exciting one as I am enjoying my new company and my new job. Frankly, I was VERY VERY lucky in some respects that I was able to land a position through social media (Facebook) and that I have a client who treats me and my family wonderfully. I cannot say enough good things about him.

To give a quick recap, I am now working for a client here in South,FL managing and flying a Quest Kodiak (which looks like a Cessna Caravan for comparison). While it is not the jet fllying that I had done in the past, the ability to run the flight department the way I want to and to have a wonderful work/life balance has been nothing short of amazing. Frankly, based on the troubles some of my former employers have been experiencing recently, it wass the right move. Still, there are some lasting effects from the last 3 years of unemployment and uncertainty.

The biggest change was the move to Miami. We rented out our house in Central,FL for a while, but in the end were forced to “short sale” it. That process is only NOW coming to a conclusion. It was not the perferred way to sell our house, but the expense and debt that it created became unsustainable. We are hopeful the new owner will treat the residence with the same love that we put into when we bought it. For me at least, real estate has been a TERRIBLE investment and I could write a book on how many hoops we had to jump through just to get to this point.

The other effect is the amount of debt we still need to pay back. With my last two jobs ending so quickly we often had to rely on credit cards and government assistance to get by. That debt doesnt quickly go  away and its going to take YEARS to get back finacially  to wheere we were in 2008 if ever. It really is a “new normal.”

The last couple of years also leaves you a little “gun shy” about any job you have. I dont think Ill ever see employment the same way again. Nothing is “certain” anymore and the ability to move quickly when things change is now a part of our lives. That means renting insted of buying and keeping an eye out for new opportunities or new ways to create incomee “just in case.” The lack of  stability can make your life difficult but we have learned to adapt and take one day at a time. Still, there has been some benefits with my new job.

I now live a MUCH healthier lifestyle. I work out, eat right and have the time to take care of myself. In fact Im in the BEST shape of my life! I dont miss the stress of being on the road 250 or more days a year and my wife and I have been able to grow closer as I am home most nights.  I also feel I have much more control of my life with my own company. We also moved to a more urban environment were you really dont need a car to get around.

Certainly 2008-2011 was very difficult period for my family, but at least for now, things are looking up, but life is NEVER going to be the same as it was before and that might just be a good thing.


Written by tdwnds1

February 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Back and better than ever

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I realize its been a while since Ive posted on this blog. Big changes have happened in the last year and I plan to share them in my new post “still working after all this year” look for it in the near future.

Written by tdwnds1

February 17, 2012 at 3:57 am

3rd Time’s the Charm!

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I am happy to report that after several months on the job hunt, literally penniless and on food stamps, I once again FOUND A JOB and it is still in the aviation industry! I think this job hunt was by far the toughest because financially the clock was ticking pretty fast.  Truly, not being able to buy food for your family is one of the most humbling experiences you will ever encounter.

Many people discount the power of social media in the job search,but that is EXACTLY how I found this last opening. Facebook is truly becoming a powerful networking tool in the online world and its use as a job seeking source should never be disregarded. I friended many individuals in the aviation industry through Facebook and was lucky enough to friend that one individual who lead me to my new position. This job is unlike the others in that I am taking a senior role in a flight department, in fact I am building a corporate flight department from the ground up!

The advice that I can give to job seekers out there, is  to continue to build your network and base, talk to everyone you can and learn to leverage your best talents.  This new position has still allowed me to stay in my chosen industry, while being able to use my talents outside of aviation (social media and management) more effectively.  I also have started my company Jet Right Aviation Services as an aviation consulting group and my new boss is also my first client. It is incredibly challenging and exciting at the same time.

Even with my current employment, I take nothing for granted. My network has only continued to grow and many of those individuals have given me quite an education in building a new flight department and I am happy to help them in their business as well. For my wife and I ,this difficult experience has actually brought us closer together and we are now partners in our new business, a powerful team!

In the future, I would like to write a book about my two and 1/2 year experience looking for work, losing 3 job and yet being able to find work again in the worst job market since the Great Depression. To say this has been life changing event woud be an understatement and I would love to share my experiences with others who need help.

It is certainly my hope that my new position will be a long-lasting one. I have a great client and plan on offering him the absolute best service that I can offer.  As an advocate of Business Aviation it is the least I can do!

I will continue to use this blog as a tool for the job seeker and for the business aviation community. Once again, I want to thank everyone who has offered their help and support during this long and winding road. I continue to be forever grateful.

Written by tdwnds1

October 31, 2010 at 2:54 pm

From Ferragamo to Food Stamps

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What a difference two years can make. Back before my first job loss I was on top of the world financially. My six figure salary easily paid our bills, my wife and I were planning a big wedding and our financial future looked bright. I remember going into the Mall at Millenia and looking at Ferragamo shoes and easily being able to afford them. Now, after my last layoff, I have found out that I have been denied unemployment and have been forced file for food stamps to feed my family.

I don’t take these decisions lightly, I am young, healthy and ready to work. I have been looking for a job, any job that will pay the bills. I do not like to take any government or family assistance and frankly if I didn’t have to take another dime from the state or the government because I have a job I would be happy.You might think I am panicking, but strangely, I am not. There are still bright spots in this grim picture.

The last two years has really forced me to reinvent myself. I have taken up this blog, gotten some notoriety and attention that simply would not have happened if I had not gone through this period. I have built up my network and they continue to feed me leads on a regular basis. Not all of them work out, but I am grateful for the help from the people I have met. My wife continues to support my endeavours and is working just as hard to find employment. It has been a difficult time, but in the end it is only “stuff” that you lose. As long as I have family and friends I still have something. Being a pilot forces you to often pack or sell everything and move to another place to start over again. I’ve done it a few times already and I can do it again.

My job search continues and I remain optimistic about the results. Some contacts have resulted in interviews and in one case the process is moving along. While there is no job offer yet, I am cautiously hopeful. In the meantime I pursue multiple tracks to find employment both inside and outside my industry. At this point I MUST keep working at finding work. Yes, the fear is there, but like I have said before, I use it to power my search forward and continue with the same optimism that has gotten me through the last two years.

I also continue to help others find employment as well. Many of my fellow aviators are also out of work and have called me on a fairly regular basis for advice or just support. After all, when you have been at this job hunt as long as I have with its ups and downs you do gain some experience. Even in my situation, I consider it my duty as a person to always help others in these tough times.

Lastly, I am also branching out into starting my own consulting business. I have gained considerable experience in helping build a flight department from my contract work and also helping utilize my experience in the charter and corporate world.I also have learned to navigate the social media world both for job hunting and for advocating Business Aviation which I would like to teach others. It may not make money overnight, but the one truth in this new economy is that you need to have a side business to survive a sudden layoff (or 3).

I have never known tougher times in my 40 years on this earth, but continue to see “opportunity in adversity”. It is truly my hope that in the near future I can once again post here that I have gained full-time employment, this time for good.

Today is Still the Day!

Written by tdwnds1

August 1, 2010 at 4:52 am

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My New Consulting Service

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While I look for work, I am also farming out my skills for private consulting. If you need help with your new or current flight department, I may be of service. You can find my profile on Zintro.com


Written by tdwnds1

July 31, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized