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Welcome to my blog!  If you are interested in retirement issues, you are welcome to come along with me as I "think out loud" about my recent retirement.  The most recent article that I have written appears at the top when you arrive at this site; previous articles are listed along the right margin; just click on the title of any article that may interest you.  I hope you will find some of them of interest.  You can also reach me through my web site:

An Aviation Legend, Mrs. Evelyn Johnson

I hope that some of you saw the article in the USA Today edition of Friday, November 9, 2007 on the third page of the first section.  The article was about an amazing lady named Evelyn Johnson.  Mrs. Johnson has long been a legend in Tennessee aviation circles, and now this article has brought her nationwide attention.  Mrs. Johnson is currently 98 years young and is still managing the Morristown Airport in Morristown, Tennessee.  She has more verifiable flight time, 56,000+ hours, than anyone save for one 84 year old gentleman in Alabama.  She lost part of a leg in a car accident a couple of years ago and had to give up flying for the present, but says that as soon a she learns how to get the prosthesis into the cockpit, she will be back in the air.  She has given more the 9,000 checkrides during her career, and I was the fortunate recipient of one of those checkrides back in early 1972 when I went up for my private pilot's certificate.  She was at the time over 62 years of age, ancient by my standards then, and the terminal building at the Morristown airport had already been named in her honor.  I remember the check ride as being very thorough with a great deal of time spent on the ground while I convinced her that I knew how to plan a VFR (visual flight rules) flight plan.  The ride lasted about an hour, and the only surprise was the amount of time she made me spend under the hood simulating instrument flight.  She has influenced the lives of a great many fliers, and I am ever grateful that she saw fit to pass me on that day some 36 years ago.  I recently spoke with Mrs. Johnson to congratulate her on her career and to thank her again for all that she has meant to aviation, and to me personally.  I commented that I might very well retire from flying before she did, and she quickly let me  know that she certainly has no immediate plans to retire.  The term amazing does not to justice to this one-of-a-kind lady.  I wanted to share this with you because Mrs. Johnson's story is certainly an encouragement to me, and it should be to you.  It illustrates how much time we may have left in our retirements, and that we need not limit ourselves as we think about what retirement may hold in store for us.

By the way, that day I flew from little Powell airport in Knoxville, Tennessee where I had received my training through the Air Force ROTC flight instruction program, to Morristown for my appointment with Mrs. Johnson.  Upon my return to Powell, with the ink barely dry on my brand new private pilot's license, my future wife ran out of the FBO building and jumped into the Cessna 150 without my ever shutting off the engine.  Then we went for an airplane ride with her as my first passenger.  Can you even imagine your sweet, innocent, young daughter doing such a thing?  If her father had only known of our wild and reckless behaviour, we both would have been in big trouble.  Fortunately, my wife has proven not nearly so reckless in her later years.


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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