The end is in sight! Tomorrow is the final checkride. In fact, 24 hours from now I should be back in Orange County.
You know, these two weeks have flown by (no pun intended). And yet in many ways I feel as thought I’ve been in Las Vegas for months. The program started with such a bang, and yet seems to be ending with a whimper. Richard and I are the only students left, and the flight board is nearly blank. We each have our flights tomorrow with the examiner, and that’s about it.
This evening I was on my way to dinner at a little cafe inside the hotel when I heard someone calling my name. I looked over and saw all three ATP instructors standing in the buffet line. They invited me to join them, and I figured “why not?”. We had a pleasant conversation over dinner and I felt like one of the gang. Appropriate, I suppose, since I actually will be one of them after tomorrow.
I feel for these guys. They’re getting up at 3 a.m. and either flying or working in the office all day long. And in exchange, they get $1,000 a month. Minus the $200 per month that ATP deducts for company housing. And any withholding for tax, Social Security, etc. How anyone can live on a gross salary of $12,000 per year is beyond me.
You’d think things get better after they land an airline job, but it ain’t necessarily so. One of the guys, Bobby, is leaving soon for a job with Express Jet. Apparently they don’t pay much more than ATP, though you get a type rating and plenty of multi-engine turbine time. It’s odd to think of a $15 million jet being flown by a pilot making only $15,000 per year.
Anyway, now that the ATP office feels like home, I’m leaving. Isn’t that how it always is? My bags are packed, the car is full of gas, and I’m ready to put in another hour or so of studying before heading to bed.