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« An Aviation Legend, Mrs. Evelyn Johnson | Main
Saturday
Nov172007

Life after the cockpit

Hello.  My name is Mike, and I have been a pilot for a major US airline for nearly 27 years.  Prior to that I was on active duty with the United States Air Force for over eight years.  Prior to that, I was in college planning to be an airline pilot.  Thus I have spent nearly 36 years, since college graduation, flying airplanes.  Now I find that I am within two years of retiring if I go at the traditional age for airline pilots, 60.  I realize that age is likely to change within the next year or two, but my hope is to retire from flying at 60 and then determine what I want to do with the rest of my life; to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, if you will.  For the next several years approximately 2000 pilots per year at major carriers will turn 60.  It would behoove all of us to spend some time planning for our life after the cockpit even if we choose to continue our flying careers past 60, because sooner rather than later all of us will be there.  That is what this space will be about, planning for that life.

So I welcome you to come along with me as I prepare for life after the cockpit.  A wise man once said that no one plans to fail, they only fail to plan.  I intend to investigate planning for retirement, living retirement, and enjoying retirement.  Most of the topics will apply to anyone retiring, and of course a few will be more narrowly focused specifically for airline pilots.  Some of the topics I want to investigate over the next few months are: resources available to help us plan; how much do I need to retire comfortably; budgeting for retirement; investing for retirement (especially as it relates to 401ks and other tax qualified plans); asset allocation; insurance (especially long-term-care); annuities; working after official retirement and where to find those jobs; where to live, where to vacation, where to play; and other topics as they arise.  I also intend to share some interviews with retired pilots and let them share with us some of their successes and failures as they relate to their retirement planning.  Occasionally I will include a review of a book or article that I find particularly pertinent.  I welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, and criticisms.  If I get something wrong, I hope someone will correct me.  I do not expect you to agree with all that I opine; to the contrary, I expect to have some disagree.  As your momma probably said, we can all learn from disagreement if we disagree agreeably.  So this is what I hope to accomplish with this blog:  to help all of us have a better retirement, or second adolescence, or third life, or whatever you may choose to call that period of your life.  You are welcome to look over my shoulder as I prepare for that period of my life.

So what makes me think that I may be remotely qualified to share my plans and that you might actually benefit?  I have spent most of my adult life thinking about and studying such topics.  Early in my airline career I worked on my days off with a financial planner and had my insurance and series 6 securities license at that time.  I soon learned that was not an undertaking tackled part time.  I have an MBA, have graduated from the College of Financial Planning's certified financial planning course, and have passed the two-day CFP board exam.  I am not a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), however, as that designation also requires three years of practical experience working in the field.  I have also read, and continue to read numerous books, magazine articles, and newsletters relating to retirement planning.  I will gladly share some of what I have learned with you.

What I do not want this to be is a place where where we debate the merits or problems of the various airlines.  I do not want to complain about contracts, mergers, union politics, or inept CEOs.  There are plenty of places you can go for those pursuits.  I want this to be a place where we look forward, not back.  We have all been on a roller coaster with our careers, but that is all about to be in our rear view mirrors.  I want to discuss what happens now, and in the soon-to-be future.  I want to discuss ways to make that future better for us and our families.  So, if any of this interest you, welcome aboard.  I look forward to a pleasant and profitable journey.  I will try to discuss a new topic every week or two.

Fly/Drive Safely!

Addendum:  On December 13, 2007 President Bush signed into law a provision that allows an airline pilot who had not turned 60 as of that date to continue his career until age 65.  This happened a little sooner than I had expected, and we now have an option to continue our careers a bit longer if we so desire.

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