828. A Day in the Life–What's It Really Like to Be a Major Airline Pilot?
“People in the aviation world love their jobs. It’s a part of them. It’s in their blood. If you are interested in any specific occupation in the aviation world, my recommendation is to reach out to somebody who’s doing the job that you want to do. Everybody is so excited about sharing what it takes to get there and what their job is all about. United Airlines and the other major airlines have opportunities all the time for you to go to the training center and see the simulators, or go to the operation centers and see what the dispatchers do─just to give people an opportunity to see what happens on the ramp and how everybody goes through the processes that they need to move into those positions.”
Vince Kramer is a thirty-seven-year airline and military pilot with over 20,000 hours in aircraft and flight simulators. He flew seven different models of the Boeing-135 aircraft, as well as the T-37 and T-38 aircraft as an Air Force pilot, instructor and evaluator. He is a combat veteran with over one hundred combat hours during Desert Storm. Vince has flown for United Airlines and American Airlines as an airline transport pilot. He type rated in the Airbus 319/320 aircraft and the Boeing 737. Vince held positions in management and as an instructor/evaluator at United Airlines. He is currently an active pilot at United Airlines.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
I enlisted in the U.S. Airforce at 22. I knew I wanted to be a pilot and ended up
being trained on the EEC 135 aircraft. There were often generals on board who
were pilots themselves that needed instructor pilots to help them keep their
qualifications and experience up. This was such a blessing for me because I was
able to fly with a very experienced pilot, which gave me an opportunity to do
things in an airplane a young lieutenant doesn’t normally get to do. Promotions
came quickly and it was clear that future opportunities would take me out of
the cockpit. So, at 31, I made the decision to leave the military and was hired
soon after by a major commercial airline in early 1992. I’ve been a pilot for
United Airlines since 1995 and have loved every minute of it.
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
1. Opportunities open up for us all the time. You simply must be ready to take
action when they appear.
2. The power of mentors who can help you along your journey cannot be over
emphasized. I had several that were key to my continued growth in all
areas of my life and career.
3. People in the aviation world love their jobs, so if you are interested in
exploring any aspect of the occupation, reach out to someone who is doing
the job you are interested in.
4. United Airlines and other major airlines have programs that let you visit
their training center and see the simulators or go to the operations center
and see what the dispatchers do.
5. Today there are many schools and programs to explore:
• Lufthansa Aviation Training, in Northern Arizona
• Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
• The University of North Dakota
• Southern Illinois University Carbondale
• Metropolitan State University of Denver
6. I’m a firm believer that the U.S. military is the best training ground. It’s
special in so many ways and an opportunity to serve your country, which in
my opinion puts even more value on it. The Army, Air Force, Navy and
Marines each offer flight training.
Connecting With Vince Kramer
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