Flying the Line for AirTran Airways

Hello future airline pilots. My name is Michael Bailey and I currently fly the Boeing 717 for AirTran Airways, based in Atlanta, Georgia. I will be contributing to this blog periodically and am looking forward to sharing some of the things that I experience flying the line for AirTran.

I can relate to most of you because I wanted to be an airline pilot for as long as I can remember.

I grew up in a very small town in North Carolina and started taking flight lessons at the Tri-County Airport when I was in high school. I got my private rating when I was 19. But at the age of 30, I was working for a government contractor fueling military jets in Dallas, Texas and I had not flown in almost 8 years. I could never shake wanting to be an airline pilot however, and went back to work on earning my flight ratings.

A job change brought me to Jacksonville, Florida in 1998 and at that time I had 1100 hours of total time and 125 multi-engine time. Regional Airlines required 1200 of total time and 200 hours of multi-time before they would interview you then.

I had spent over forty thousand dollars and 4 years of time to get to this point, which was not where I needed to be. Thankfully, a friend of mine introduced me to Jim Koziarski of Airline Transport Professionals and in August of 1999 I was hired as an instructor at ATP.

In just ten months of teaching for ATP, I racked up 1900 hours of Total time and almost 900 hours of multi! There really is no better place to go to than ATP to get your flight training or to instruct because of all the multi-engine experience you get. Multi-engine experience is golden in the airline industry.

I was then hired by Atlantic Coast Airlines (ACA) in April of 2000 at the ripe old age of 35. I was very excited to be there and soon was assigned my first big airplane, the Jetstream 32. It was a Turbo-prop with no auto-pilot, no bathroom and no flight attendant, but I loved it.

In 11 months I upgraded to captain in the larger Jetstream 41 and then a year later to captain of the CRJ-200 Regional Jet. During that same time period, ATP started the Regional Jet Standards Certification Program and asked me to come back and instruct in their new facility. I have taught in the RJ Program ever since with a wide variety of fantastic instructors from different airlines and backgrounds. It is by far the best course in the industry.

ACA turned into Independence Air almost overnight and a year later went out of business. I went back to ATP as a full time Regional Jet instructor, which I enjoyed until September of 2006 when I was hired by AirTran Airways.

Now I am sitting in my hotel room in Detroit, and in two hours will be taking off in one of the most automated jets in the world. The Boeing 717 is an incredible airplane to fly and I am truly blessed to be an airline pilot. I am so glad that I did what it took to get here.

The airline industry has always had its ups and downs and I believe that it is starting to turn around right now. AirTran has started to bring back all of its furloughed pilots and has started to add flights. If you want to be an airline pilot, you need have yourself in a position to be able to get hired when more airlines start hiring pilots. Seniority is everything in this business and you want to be first to get hired in the next wave. Keep working hard and if I can help in any way let me know.

Until next time, fly safe