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The Married Life of a Pilot


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Hi all.

Well I'm working towards becoming a career pilot and all and I'm really curious as to how some marriages have turned out. I ask for a couple of reasons one being that I'm engaged to be married this coming April. The fiance seems to have no problems moving around and the fact I won't have a "9-5" job and be home every night, but I'm still a little wary about that. And two, I've heard a lot of stories about pilots and the ex's so I'm curious as to how it turned out for anyone else... <_<

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It will work if you both make it work.


She might not mind moving around, but how would she feel if you got a job with a 3 week tour or longer?


How would you feel if she said it was either her or helicopters? It happens a lot, and we all know what the answer would be.


How it turned out for anyone else means nothing for you and your soon to be wife. Like I said, it will work if you make it. And trust me... you will have to make it. Nothing in aviation, even relationships, ever comes easy.

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Well, well, well JD

you have your work cut out for ya.

This industry has an infection called A.I.D.S., Aiviation Induced Divorce Syndrome.


the begining of your career is going to be a struggle, with low wages and alot of lack of luxury.

your soon to be wife needs to understand the drive that's brought you to this industry, and understand that this is not an instant gold mine, you'll be on a up hill climb, from out of the trenches that brought you here financially.


you may/can spend many days/weeks away from home. in order to acheive what you need to advance your career to a point that is better or more suitable to what your currently living.


remember your path to this industry started as a dream and/or passion for this and as I've said before you must grab it with a death grip and hang on for the ride as it's going to be a long winding road.


as long as she is willing to sacrafice her way of life to help you persue yours you will have a lady to truely charish.


I wish you both the best wishes and good luck in your endevor

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I got permission to use this post

this is from the Canadian Site ( www.verticalmag.com )


"As mentioned just about every company is hard up for pilots and engineers. Sure the lack of training over the last little while is a factor but there are people who are deciding that being away for 8 months a year isn't worth while anymore. The aviation industry espically the rotor wing side needs a serious serious overhaul. The procedures that are believed to be the standard need to be changed sooner then later. The money SUCKS! The lifestyle SUCKS! If your willing work your life away, never be home and also be single then the helicopter industry is perfect for you.


I know lots of people after only 5 years in the industry that are looking for a way out of aviation industry. The only thing holding them back is the LARGE sums of easy money you can make in the summer if there is a good fire season. As for the average age of pilots and engineers the age continues to drop just like the numbers of workers and its becoming harder and harder to attract people. How can you convience someone that they are going to artic for 4 weeks and your gonna make less money the working at your local Canadian Tire if you choose to become an automotive tech?


CHL hiring tatics are very amusing, espically the lastest ad on this website.'Can you sketch a clear picture of your career path" Well in general any company you choose your career path will mean living out of your hockey bag,hardly anytime at home, no social life at home, single and a very poor financial situation depending on who your working for. It's amazing how some companies keep everyone one starving so they don't know any better. I heard a three year licensed engineer who is endorsed on a 500's is getting paid 17 bucks and hours? Not blaming company for that one, if they can get away with it good for them.


Another big negative in this industry are companies who run on the workers personal bank accounts and lines of credit. THAT IS PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE! It's almost a requirment for a new apprentice out in the field to have himself a nice big line of credit so he can dish money up front to pay for food, hotels, supplies and so on. Before long you have a large sum of YOUR money paying for the companies benefit and then you have to wait for weeks till your are paid back. Companies will not issue credit cards or give advances good enough to pay for the tour because they don't have too and my guess would be they can't afford it. In CHL defense while I worked there they always issued an advance good enough to cover all expenses for the tour, thats a major bonus.


As long as there are people espically 100 hour wonders who are willing to work for nothing, things are not going to change. Think about it, there are companies who do not have a revolving door and there is a reason. They go out of there way to keep the guys happy and pay them a fair rate. Not to mention changing rotations to 3/2 or 2/2 where people have more time at home and less time away. Employeers have choosen to accept the higher cost of crew changes because ultimately they a gaining production and the safety factor is there with tired workers ready to go home.


I agree an employeer of choice does not have to advertise on the internet to find workers.


Play safe"


I added this to show how things can be, it's not just north of the border it happens here also.


anybody else please add your input.


this post reflects the life of a pilot/mechanic in the early years and it is what you can/will encounter.

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Thanks for all the input so far. I understand that every person/situation is different, but a few pointers here and there never hurt ;) I have explained many times over about me possibly...ok, probably being away for extended times while I'm building hours and stuff. We have talked quite a bit about the subject and she knows very clearly what my final goals are and hers as well(things not being a one-sided deal here). I appreciate the insight from everyone. Thanks! Joel

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A pilot's marriage can work, provided both parties are completely dedicated to making it work. There are so many opportunities for cheating on both sides, not to mention the extended time away from each other, that if there is any mistrust at all, on either side, then AIDS* is inevitable. I've been married to the same woman for more than 30 years, but I'm an exception. Almost everyone I know is divorced, some of them many times. The marriage has to be very, very strong to survive.


*Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome, a common pilot malady.

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If the marriage is making it hard to keep the job, you're in the wrong job.


If the job is making it hard to stay in the marriage, you're in the wrong marriage.

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Those are so closely intertwined, I guess you need to get out of both. Personally, changing both job and marriage is too much effort and pressure. Just because your marriage isn't completely smooth is no reason to abandon it, and jumping into aviation can be the equivalent of that in some situations. If you want a divorce, get it first, then see if you have any money left for flying. Getting it when you're earning little or nothing can be very traumatic, and you'll be earning little or nothing for several years, guaranteed, until you figure out a way to log 1000 hours.

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I'd like to hear specifically from a few people who have made it work with a wife and kids. Can you maybe give an example of a likely scenario during the first 5 years? Obviously, every situation is different, so there aren't any pat answers. I'm hoping for more than just "You get 7 on/7 off" type of answers--I'm looking for what life is like and what you do during those time to keep your family situation healthy. Here are some of my questions:

  • What would family life be like during the first 5 years with different job types?
  • When can/cant' a family follow you with different job types?
  • What specific things have you done to make it work?

I appreciate hearing from anyone who has been both a successful pilot and family man.




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I've been married to the same woman for more than 30 years, so maybe I'm successful at that, and I've been with the same company for 25 of those, so take it for what it's worth.


I've missed more than half my kid's lives. Concerts, ballgames, parties, etc, more than half missed. The wife is stuck with crises at home - water leaks, hurricanes, pests in the house, you name it, and I'm hundreds of miles away with no way to help. For most of those years there wasn't even a cell phone to keep in touch. When home, I tended to stay home, and take care of what was broken while I was gone, and that can be a full-time job. We don't often go out to eat, or to anywhere else, because there just isn't time, and I don't feel like it. With the constant overtime, recurrent training, and everything else, I usually work close to 250 days a year, sometimes more, especially the last few years. I've sold back my vacation every year, because I'm not allowed to take it. The only way I know to make the marriage work is for both spouses to be completely, absolutely loyal, and to not allow temptation to even come close. The wife has to be self-reliant and able to deal with things by herself, because she'll get precious little help from you. If there are any weaknesses in the marriage, they'll be found and constantly picked at, like scabs.


I can't speak to every type of job, of course. The above applies to jobs in the Gulf of Mexico oil patch, and to nothing else.

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Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate your perspective. These days, it says a lot to be married to the same woman for 30 years, regardless of career choice. Given your circumstances, it's even more amazing--congratulations man, you have extraordinary character. Sounds like you've definitely made some sacrifices and that it hasn't been easy. Nothing worth having ever is.


I'm trying to come up with a 5-10 year game plan that would work for me and my family. Your input definitely helps. Thanks again, and give that wife of yours some extra hugs the next time you see her :)--sounds like she's an amazing woman.


I'd love to hear from some of the other people who have been successful in their careers and marriages.



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