Pilots Paying for Own Training

Q: I know a pilot who says he was required to pay for his own training at a regional airline. Could this be true?

This was a fairly common practice during the 1990s, but is much more rare these days. After meeting acceptance standards, pilots at many regional airlines were required to pay upwards of $10,000 or more for their training on a sophisticated turboprop or regional jet, upon completion of which they could then look forward to a starting salary somewhere in the range of $15,000. Suffering for our art, as I touched on in an earlier column, indeed.


This Q&A is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.