Anatomy of a Hangar Fly

by Jason Depew, TPN Staff Writer

Having an online Network of more than 25,000 pilots is awesome. The breadth of knowledge and access to nearly instant mutual support makes a difference in all our lives. It’s also really nice sometimes to have a group of people to talk flying with, because the rest of the poor schmucks in the world are just clueless.

Matt & Adam have done a good job of working to continue these benefits beyond the confines of the internet. TPN members have hosted Hangar Fly events all over the world, and I always enjoy attending them. We recently had a gathering in Tampa, and it had quite a diverse group:

  • A military pilot who flew for Southwest and now flies for American. He facilitates interview prep seminars for TPN sponsor Emerald Coast Interview Consulting as a side hustle. (https://emeraldcoastinterviewconsulting.com/)
  • A military pilot actively preparing for airline interviews
  • A Delta A350 FO
  • The Chief of Training Programs for Icon Aircraft, a former military pilot
  • A former Delta Air Lines flight attendant who now runs operations for ECIC
  • Yours truly, a Delta A220 FO who has a few side hustles. (https://community.thepilotnetwork.org/posts/soside-hustles)

The folks from Emerald Coast co-hosted this Hangar Fly as an experiment in mutual support between TPN and one of our long-time sponsors. We figured that the prospect of hanging out and enjoying some adult beverages with fellow pilots the night before training would give ECIC customers extra value from the experience. We were excited to have some ECIC reps available to answer questions. Our group was small, but we definitely achieved all of those goals and more.

One of my favorite things about these Hangar Fly events is that they give people the chance to do real-world Networking. This isn’t “I have 25,034 contacts on LinkedIn!” networking. This is “talk to a real person and get your questions directly from the proverbial horse’s mouth” Networking. It’s “finding out that you have something in common with someone else and discovering all kinds of new opportunities” Networking. It’s the kind of Networking that we got to do at TPNx, but closer to home and (eventually) more often. (https://community.thepilotnetwork.org/posts/tpnx-beyond-all-expectations)

This kind of Networking is important. I can write all day long here, but sometimes you just need to hear something in person. I got to have an in-person discussion that helped a fellow pilot in a way that writing never will. I took part in or overheard all kinds of other great conversations. As a result of this evening, I feel like several valuable things will happen in the future:

  • Someone who wasn’t interested in the airlines may pursue them because the pay is amazing and the job leaves plenty of time for pursuing other things.
  • More than one person is interested in flying, or potentially even buying, an Icon A5. “Would you consider a leaseback to use for training other customers?” “Absolutely!”
  • I realized that I really need to spend some time as a widebody FO during my career. The destinations, the money, and the even more ridiculous amount of time spent not at work are almost too good to be true.
  • I got to talk to someone who had a job at a company any of us would be lucky to work for, yet he jumped ship and went somewhere else, ala: https://community.thepilotnetwork.org/posts/a-100-knot-tailwind-with-continuous-light-chopoccasional-moderate. He’s very happy with his decision, despite losing some seniority in the process.
  • I was pleased to hear one of ECIC’s facilitators explain that, although the job does pay well, he enjoys running seminars because it makes a difference in others’ lives. He feels like he’s giving back to our community with his work. (There’s a reason that ECIC is such a great fit as a TPN Sponsor….)

I also got to talk with JerriLynn from ECIC. She has really enjoyed refining and streamlining the service that Aaron Hagan set up. I asked her lots of questions about interview prep and got some fascinating insight.

I mentioned an occasional criticism some pilots get from interviewers: that their answers sounded a little canned. She said Emerald Coast gets this feedback most from customers who either rush through or don’t complete their whole course. I’d say her feedback is spot-on. I had a question go this way in my Delta interview, and it didn’t surprise JerriLynn to hear that I hadn’t made time to attend an in-person seminar with them. (In my defense, I was in Kandahar when I submitted my application, and they called after just a few weeks.)

Noted. What can I tell people to help them avoid an experience like mine?

JerriLynn’s emphatic response was that a pilot should not wait to start interview prep until he or she has an interview invite! If a pilot waits until the last minute, there may not be a seminar available in a location he or she can get to. Emerald Coast will do an online seminar for you, but you’re always better off practicing in person, for the in-person interview. The other drawback about waiting until the last minute is that your stress levels will naturally be elevated. Some stress can help increase performance, but most pilots go beyond any useful levels in this situation.

Emerald Coast would rather get you to a seminar in person long before you have an interview scheduled. You’re more relaxed, so you learn better. There’s also something to be said for giving things time to percolate in your unconscious. How many times have gone to bed after failing to grasp something you were studying only to wake up and find that you figured it out? Giving your brain time to work on your interview prep will have a similar effect and help you perform better in the long run.

Ever happy to play the Devil’s Advocate, I argued that if people do interview prep too far before the interview they might get rusty. JerriLynn countered by reminding me that when you sign up for Emerald Coast’s program, you’re welcome to attend an unlimited number of their practice seminars–online and in person. (One of the other pilots at the event mentioned that he’d been so nervous about airline interviews that he’d attended a half-dozen seminars…and it got him hired at two of the top airlines in the country.) JerriLynn wants pilots to go through their entire program early, then come back for a refresher right before an interview. She even suggested that if a pilot has multiple interviews, it’s nice to focus on responses specific to one company at each seminar. I ran out of straw men for her to knock down.

For me, this is the beauty of an in-person event like a Hangar Fly. We can debate interview prep tactics all day long in the comment threads on TPN, but by showing up and talking to the pros who have helped literally thousands of pilots get hired I got direct access to the best advice available.

I’ve done a terrible job with getting these events scheduled for the Networkers in the Tampa area, but I intend on fixing that because these things are just too enjoyable and too valuable. If you’re interested in having a Hangar Fly in your area be sure to reach out to Matt & Adam on the TPN Community website (https://community.thepilotnetwork.org/) or shoot an email to heyguys@thepilotnetwork.org. If there isn’t a designated host in your area, I suspect they’ll be happy to work with you to set up an event.

Also don’t forget, TPNx is happening again this Veteran’s Day weekend at the Orlando Airport. (It was fantastic last year, and with an extra day and more resources, it’s going to be even better this year. Whether it’s in a jetway, at a Hangar Fly, or at TPNx, I hope to see you there.

You can sign up for TPNx here: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tpnx-2019-pilot-attendee-tickets-46480504440