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Westjet pilots strike vote

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15 hours ago, Johnny said:

68/hr capt, 38/hr FO, 70 hrs per month pay guarantee. So this amounts to 58k and 31k per year respectively.

This is even below DH8 FO stating salaries during the late 90s. If memory serves, it was $34.5K at QK. Is it any wonder we are where we are or that they are where they are… madness!

Edited by Wolfhunter

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31 minutes ago, Wolfhunter said:

This is even below DH8 FO stating salaries during the late 90s. If memory serves, it was $34.5K at QK. Is it any wonder we are where we are or that they are where they are… madness!

And yet, every single pilot, at Encore, chose, willingly, to accept the job at that pay. Makes you wonder how people make decisions.

In 1987, when I went looking for my first full-time pilot job (I had 800 single engine hours from (i) flying tow plane for the Air Cadets, (ii) being a pointer pilot for the budworm spray program in NB, and (iii) flying my dad's C-150 around the Maritimes), I could have found employment with Carl Millard (and possibly learned a few other things...) had I chose to pay him $7000 (1987 dollars) and then lived in the hangar on the north end of the airport, while receiving, IIRC, $200 a week (this number is not reliable as my memory is fading) in pay, as well as a PPC on, I think, a C-46 or something. I can't remember. If I had the money I would probably have paid it, as the jobs were scarce, and people work willing to work for free for a chance to fly. I chose not to accept the offer and then didn't touch a multi-engined aircraft for pay until 1994, when a man named Klaus S. gave me a job flying a Piper Seneca on Grand Manan, NB. That decision, not to advance my career by accepting the job under the Millard terms, cost me 7 years of no twin time (to be fair, I could have chased other low paying twin jobs along the way).

Contrast that market, 30 years ago, with today's market. If you have a heart beat and a commercial licence and a multi-engined rating, you are tripping over offers.

That's how the market system works. Supply and demand. You don't like the terms, don't take the job. If enough people do that, pay eventually rises in order to supply the employer with the manpower it needs to make its product. If pay rises too much, leading to price increases to the customer, the price of the product may become too high, and the market collapses for the employer's product (see de-regulation in the USA/Canada, airline salaries in the USA pre/post 9/11, auto industry up to 2007/8 etc). That, or a new entrant sees a chance to deliver the product at a lower price because they entice lower paid workers, or find a way to deliver the product by lowering input costs (see WestJet 1996, asnd Swoop 2018).

I disagree with the whining I see here and elsewhere and the same that I hear in flight decks. I briefly worked at Air Atlantic and saw first hand how a poor business plan affects competitiveness. I worked at Royal airlines and saw how a sloppy business can initially thrive, until it can't. I worked at Canada 3000 and shouted along with my other pilot colleagues at an ALPA union meeting when we all praised our negotitiating team as they claimed that only 5 dollars per ticket would give us, 95% of Air Canada wages. Comrades!!! Within one year we were all without jobs. 

Life isn't fair. You make a different decision(s) from your buddy who graduated from Sault College the same year and all of a sudden he's Captain on a 340, and you're are barely hanging on to your Dash 8 FO position.  

In the scheme of things, I have a great job. Fifteen years of continued employment at the airline that brought the industry non-seniority scheduling for monthly schedules and vacation bidding. The first airline that brought a date of hire carry over for regional pilots flowing to mainline. The airline that did a way with the mentality that said I've been here longer than you, so I get to choose everything before you. The first airline in Canada that has a chance of some day equaling Air Canada's market presence (let's not include the never profitable CAI experiment).

I may be the only one at WJ who elects to cross a picket line (if it ever happens) but I'm okay with that. In the scheme of things, if that makes me a pariah in a post-strike environment where FO's don't talk to me and and I'm shunned by the rest of the pilot community, well, I'll just use that as a simulation of what it's like to fly in China.

My name is John. I'm a Captain at WestJet. WestJet hired me on January 6, 2003 and I am drawing my line in the sand. I have a right to report to work and will continue to do so regardless of what ALPA does, as long as the Flight Operations Leadership Team has flying for me.

 

 

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6 hours ago, MD2 said:

Conducting a strike vote BEFORE the end of conciliation period and last negotiations is not in the spirit of negotiating an agreement during first contact. It may prove costly.

Ya right.  Why don’t the pilots just let WJA management slow play negotiations right through the summer so that they can get Swoop started up with outsourced labour?

There is no such thing as a “spirit of negotiating”, thats how chumps get played.  Its just business.

 

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John. I don't think you realize how untied our Westjet pilot group is. You can't scab 100 flights per day can you? Good luck with that.

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Well John, I guess your opinion sums up the largest problem with our profession - "It's All About Me" - rather than trying to improve conditions for everyone.  Encore pulled off the poverty wages (and worse yet the WestJet Pilots allowed it,) simply because it was a substantially different job market.  They would never be able to do it now, proven by Swoop attempting to hire foreign Pilots.

I don't believe you will be put to the Acid Test John, as I will go on record that a strike will never happen.  You have been kicked around a cruel business and I certainly understand your outlook.  However, how can you support a management that wants to outsource the future of your F/O's to another carrier?

Edited by Johnny

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8 hours ago, MD2 said:

Conducting a strike vote BEFORE the end of conciliation period and last negotiations is not in the spirit of negotiating an agreement during first contact. It may prove costly.

Conducting a strike vote during conciliation is no more ill advised than subcontracting bargaining unit work using an alter ego subsidiary while the bargaining process is still technically ongoing (you actually have to meet to be considered bargaining, don’t you?)

The axiom that a company gets the union it deserves is very a propos when it comes to WJ. The new CEO had a chance to right the wrong when he took over. There is no evidence that is happening.

So, strike vote it is. The cost of a labour conflict in the near term is far less for a WJ pilots career path than allowing expanded and unfettered transfer of work away from the bargaining unit.

Ironic looking back at old posts from WJ boosters critical of labour relations dysfunction at AC. Now it seems that WJ senior management was a poor student of history.

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2 minutes ago, rudder said:

Ironic looking back at old posts from WJ boosters critical of labour relations dysfunction at AC. Now it seems that WJ senior management was a poor student of history.

Unfortunately nothing will change with WJ management or the CEO of the day until either CB dies, resigns or is declared mentally unfit to be Chairman of the Board.

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FYI - top scale CA NB pay is approaching US$300k at the American carriers and higher in China. New hire First Officer pay at the US regionals is US$65k+.

Yet for some reason in Canada operators attempt to build competitive models based on NB CA pay of C$125k and regional new-hire pay of C$36k.Windfall gain for the operator if they can fill those seats. Nightmare for the profession.

Airline Pilots in Canada need to stand up, sign up, speak collectively, and remove pilot wages as a competitive tool pitting pilots against each other. Failure to do so will continue to erode the value of the commercial piloting vocation.

Kudos to the WJ pilots for doing their part in stopping the devaluation of the profession.

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80K / Year (before overtime) to start as a 737 F/O at Sunwing,  and they have hired the odd 250 Hour Pilot.  Who in their right mind would apply to Swoop!!

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3 hours ago, johnny dangerous said:

And yet, every single pilot, at Encore, chose, willingly, to accept the job at that pay. Makes you wonder how people make decisions.

In 1987, when I went looking for my first full-time pilot job (I had 800 single engine hours from (i) flying tow plane for the Air Cadets, (ii) being a pointer pilot for the budworm spray program in NB, and (iii) flying my dad's C-150 around the Maritimes), I could have found employment with Carl Millard (and possibly learned a few other things...) had I chose to pay him $7000 (1987 dollars) and then lived in the hangar on the north end of the airport, while receiving, IIRC, $200 a week (this number is not reliable as my memory is fading) in pay, as well as a PPC on, I think, a C-46 or something. I can't remember. If I had the money I would probably have paid it, as the jobs were scarce, and people work willing to work for free for a chance to fly. I chose not to accept the offer and then didn't touch a multi-engined aircraft for pay until 1994, when a man named Klaus S. gave me a job flying a Piper Seneca on Grand Manan, NB. That decision, not to advance my career by accepting the job under the Millard terms, cost me 7 years of no twin time (to be fair, I could have chased other low paying twin jobs along the way).

Contrast that market, 30 years ago, with today's market. If you have a heart beat and a commercial licence and a multi-engined rating, you are tripping over offers.

That's how the market system works. Supply and demand. You don't like the terms, don't take the job. If enough people do that, pay eventually rises in order to supply the employer with the manpower it needs to make its product. If pay rises too much, leading to price increases to the customer, the price of the product may become too high, and the market collapses for the employer's product (see de-regulation in the USA/Canada, airline salaries in the USA pre/post 9/11, auto industry up to 2007/8 etc). That, or a new entrant sees a chance to deliver the product at a lower price because they entice lower paid workers, or find a way to deliver the product by lowering input costs (see WestJet 1996, asnd Swoop 2018).

I disagree with the whining I see here and elsewhere and the same that I hear in flight decks. I briefly worked at Air Atlantic and saw first hand how a poor business plan affects competitiveness. I worked at Royal airlines and saw how a sloppy business can initially thrive, until it can't. I worked at Canada 3000 and shouted along with my other pilot colleagues at an ALPA union meeting when we all praised our negotitiating team as they claimed that only 5 dollars per ticket would give us, 95% of Air Canada wages. Comrades!!! Within one year we were all without jobs. 

Life isn't fair. You make a different decision(s) from your buddy who graduated from Sault College the same year and all of a sudden he's Captain on a 340, and you're are barely hanging on to your Dash 8 FO position.  

In the scheme of things, I have a great job. Fifteen years of continued employment at the airline that brought the industry non-seniority scheduling for monthly schedules and vacation bidding. The first airline that brought a date of hire carry over for regional pilots flowing to mainline. The airline that did a way with the mentality that said I've been here longer than you, so I get to choose everything before you. The first airline in Canada that has a chance of some day equaling Air Canada's market presence (let's not include the never profitable CAI experiment).

I may be the only one at WJ who elects to cross a picket line (if it ever happens) but I'm okay with that. In the scheme of things, if that makes me a pariah in a post-strike environment where FO's don't talk to me and and I'm shunned by the rest of the pilot community, well, I'll just use that as a simulation of what it's like to fly in China.

My name is John. I'm a Captain at WestJet. WestJet hired me on January 6, 2003 and I am drawing my line in the sand. I have a right to report to work and will continue to do so regardless of what ALPA does, as long as the Flight Operations Leadership Team has flying for me.

 

 

There are so many non-sequiturs and totally irrelevant BS in this post I don't even know where to begin responding.  

C3 had nowhere near 95% of AC wages and even if they did pilot wages are not what put C3 into bankruptcy, poor executive decisions (India in the A340 and the takeover Royal without proper due diligence) and 9/11 sealed their fate.  ALPA or pilot wages had nothing to do with it.

From Wikipedia:

In 2000, Canada 3000 went public, raising $30 million in an IPO. In January 2001, Canada 3000 bought charter carrier Royal Aviation or Royal Airlines of Montreal, Quebec for $84 million.[8] The company also acquired Royal Airlines' cargo operation, renaming it Canada 3000 Cargo. In March 2001 it also took over CanJet Airlines for $7.5 million[8] in stock.[4] In May 2001, following the merger of Canadian Airlines International with Air Canada, Canada 3000 also started operating scheduled flights.[8] In October 2001, one month before its demise, Canada 3000 became the first airline to operate non-stop service from North America to India.[9]

On November 8, 2001 the company suddenly collapsed with no warning for travelers or employees. The company filed for bankruptcy, citing a downturn in air travel during the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.[10] The fleet was left grounded at various airports around the world, leaving 50,000[8] vacationers stranded.[11] September 10, 2001 was a record booking day, but within a few days air traffic declined by 50%. The airline was offered a $75 million loan guarantee from the Canadian government under the condition of a 'viable business plan' being produced. By November 7, 2001, the airline had $260 million in debt, and only had $1.49 million in cash. In secret, it had applied to the Canada Labour Board for permission to cut labour costs by 30% by closing its Royal division immediately. The Board would not approve without union agreement. Union offers to cut 700 pilot and flight attendant positions did not provide enough savings immediately and the airline applied for bankruptcy protection on November 8, while it planned to continue flying.[8] By the end of the day, airport authorities in Toronto and St. John's, Newfoundland has seized planes under court authority and the company directors decided to cease operations.[12]

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Johny - I won’t go through your post line by line as I’m short of time and it likely wouldn’t matter anyway. While I’m always loath to paraphrase a lengthy post because of contextual issues, the tone to me is one of suck it up, it is what it is, and if you don’t like it go somewhere else. If I got that wrong, my apologies.

As you might imagine, that attitude has been the typical RCAF fare (in my view) as well. The Air Force is now haemorrhaging pilots, not because it’s a bad job, people are simply leaving their bosses, not the job. In short, the point is they aren’t (generally) leaving because of poor pay and benefits. When viewed in the context of intake/training and releases of experienced  aviators, the net result is manifestly unsustainable and anyone with a calculator can easily chart the results and extrapolate the net effect.

I mention this only because the first wave of the “pilot shortage” has beat the RCAF about the head and ears like a baby seal and it serves as a cautionary tale for airline MBA folks. Beware, lest thy steps tread the same path. The only thing that will stem the blood letting is a down turn in the economy…. it didn’t have to be that way, in fact it was easily avoided says I.

Now here is the crux of it because the two streams flow in parallel but to different lakes… In the RCAF the problem is leadership and in the civilian world its low wages. Dead stupid low wages. By any comparison you are better off doing almost anything else… it’s not much of a recruiting poster. So in short, the RCAF can no longer train its way out of the problem and operational tempo will suffer. As soon as the airlines are in a position of not being able to train themselves out of the hole (due to poaching instructors and a host of other reasons) the real shortage will set in. Right now, there are lots of us that would rather fly but can’t afford the hobby.

Edited by Wolfhunter

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My name is John. I'm a Captain at WestJet. WestJet hired me on January 6, 2003 and I am drawing my line in the sand. I have a right to report to work and will continue to do so regardless of what ALPA does, as long as the Flight Operations Leadership Team has flying for me.

I doubt John at this point in your flying career you would cross any fellow pilot’s picket line. I’ve never done that either but I know others that did and they were forever branded with a nasty sounding title. Nice guys, good pilots but even on the radio their voices would be recognized and called out. Not something you want to carry through after a many successful and safe years in aviation. What most pilots don’t realize is how unimportant they are when it’s all over. 

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I highly doubt Westjet would operate in the event of a strike. Not knowing how many pilots would cross a picket line, they wouldn't have schedule integrity. 

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6 hours ago, Ex 9A Guy said:

From Wikipedia:

In 2000, Canada 3000 went public, raising $30 million in an IPO. In January 2001, Canada 3000 bought charter carrier Royal Aviation or Royal Airlines of Montreal, Quebec for $84 million.[8] The company also acquired Royal Airlines' cargo operation, renaming it Canada 3000 Cargo. In March 2001 it also took over CanJet Airlines for $7.5 million[8] in stock.[4] In May 2001, following the merger of Canadian Airlines International with Air Canada, Canada 3000 also started operating scheduled flights.[8] In October 2001, one month before its demise, Canada 3000 became the first airline to operate non-stop service from North America to India.[9]

On November 8, 2001 the company suddenly collapsed with no warning for travelers or employees. The company filed for bankruptcy, citing a downturn in air travel during the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.[10] The fleet was left grounded at various airports around the world, leaving 50,000[8] vacationers stranded.[11] September 10, 2001 was a record booking day, but within a few days air traffic declined by 50%. The airline was offered a $75 million loan guarantee from the Canadian government under the condition of a 'viable business plan' being produced. By November 7, 2001, the airline had $260 million in debt, and only had $1.49 million in cash. In secret, it had applied to the Canada Labour Board for permission to cut labour costs by 30% by closing its Royal division immediately. The Board would not approve without union agreement. Union offers to cut 700 pilot and flight attendant positions did not provide enough savings immediately and the airline applied for bankruptcy protection on November 8, while it planned to continue flying.[8] By the end of the day, airport authorities in Toronto and St. John's, Newfoundland has seized planes under court authority and the company directors decided to cease operations.[12]

Wikipedia. So many inaccurate bits of information. Such as “viable business plan”. Should read “nearly impossible business plan” with a minimum time deadline.

Wikipedia might add that the feds directed by Chrétien wanted nothing to do with a C3 bail out plan. Even though it was easily read as Canada Trois Mille en francais it was considered an anglophone operation and as such would never carry the national flag. Also, AC was going to benefit and carry on without any further competition so all was good. However, somehow Collenette managed to convince them otherwise and a loan guarantee was put together but contained so many conditions making it impossible to negotiate in the time available. 

It’s been a long time gone now but those of us who experienced the loss of one of the best airline jobs in Canada at that time would appreciate a more accurate recounting of the events as they happened. 

Edited by blues deville

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11 hours ago, rudder said:

FYI - top scale CA NB pay is approaching US$300k at the American carriers and higher in China. New hire First Officer pay at the US regionals is US$65k+.

Yet for some reason in Canada operators attempt to build competitive models based on NB CA pay of C$125k and regional new-hire pay of C$36k.Windfall gain for the operator if they can fill those seats. Nightmare for the profession.

Airline Pilots in Canada need to stand up, sign up, speak collectively, and remove pilot wages as a competitive tool pitting pilots against each other. Failure to do so will continue to erode the value of the commercial piloting vocation.

Kudos to the WJ pilots for doing their part in stopping the devaluation of the profession.

You mention the entry pay at U.S carriers which have gone up to be in the 80s and that's great, but what's the entry pay for pilots at Air Canada and how long does the low pay last? That's where the problem is as it sets the standard and dampens pilot wages in Canada. Air Canada, a heavily unionized shop for decades. Unions don't necessarily solve the problem, sometimes, in fact most times, they add to it.

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Starting pay at majors can lag because it’s the top pay that attracts people to the profession not the starting pay. In a 25+ yr career (or 40+ yrs, like many retiring boomers today) at a major who’s getting torqued about the first few years, especially when upward movement is fast? It’s high at US carriers now, because they are competing for pilots. AC is not, really, because it’s only other major competitor for pilots in Canada is in a major labour dispute. Were Canadian airlines forced to compete for pilots with American or other carriers- domicile and quality of life would factor too- pay would likely need to go up because the gap is large and widening. 

To get through this I’d say it’s WJ that will need to do something substantial vis a vis compensation because if I were a starting pilot I wouldn’t be keen to jump into that situation with average pay, little to no movement, hundreds of regional pilots ahead of me, and young demographics, and this kind of corporate level hostility towards the pilot group. 

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To large extent I agree with you.

My comments were in response to previous poster that suggested unions such as ALPA are needed in achieving "great" contracts and great compensation, and that is not true, case in point Air Canada. In fact I posit that unions have turned the piloting profession into a bit of "blue collar" profession and all previous experience means nothing when pilots transfer to a new company, except just to get them there. Their ranks are not the same as other professionals such as doctors and lawyers, but more like factory workers. This effect is due to unions. 

In the end, it is never unions that drive the compensation, rather simply the market, supply and demand. In this case, you are right, Air Canada pays what it has to in order to get the pilots it needs. In other words it doesn't pay what these pilots are worth, rather what it can get away with. It is saving large amount of money due to this effect at the moment. And you are also correct that the top earning potential is very important because it shows pilots what they can make in X number of years, and it is also good for the company because they only have to pay to a small portion of the pilots. It's a win win.

There are two problems with this scenario however. First there is a supply of highly experienced pilots that due to market forces and suppressed pay in Canada have had to work overseas and are unlikely to return to these very low wages. This destabilizes the industry as the progression is not natural and based on experience. Second, what happens when the demand is much larger and faster than supply as seems to be the case these day, or when U.S carriers are forced to hire from outside including Canada?

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MD2, you say AC only pays what it needs to get pilots and not what they are worth.  To me it means that they are paying pilots based on the current demand for jobs what they are worth. If pilots want to get what they think they are worth then I guess the only way to to not hire on with AirCanada or indeed any airline that doesn't fit their pay desire.  

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You may be right, but why do you think its U.S counterparts pay almost double what Air Canada pays its new recruits? Individuals likely make decisions based on many factors including financial obligations, family situation, and most importantly what's available to them.

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6 minutes ago, MD2 said:

You may be right, but why do you think its U.S counterparts pay almost double what Air Canada pays its new recruits? Individuals likely make decisions based on many factors including financial obligations, family situation, and most importantly what's available to them.

If all of them do, I guess it is based on what the applicants want or in other words market (pool of unemployed pilots) 

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Unemployed pilots?? It's not that kind of market these days. Perhaps more like seeking growth and better opportunities...or returning home from overseas, etc.

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21 minutes ago, MD2 said:

Unemployed pilots?? It's not that kind of market these days. Perhaps more like seeking growth and better opportunities...or returning home from overseas, etc.

If the low wages are not because of surplus of Pilots then they can only be based on acceptability by the pilots queuing up for the jobs.  Why would any company pay more than what the prospective employees are asking in a such a market?  So it seems to me that any fix is in the hands of the pilots.

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Well it's not that simple. More like what type of experience do they attract with those wages, and are those experience levels enough.

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6 hours ago, MD2 said:

Well it's not that simple. More like what type of experience do they attract with those wages, and are those experience levels enough.

Agreed, that will manifest itself moving forward as boomer retirements peak.

I would still maintain we are not into a real pilot shortage in Canada yet, it might be perceived as such but there are still people doing other things and some no longer looking. You might then conclude those people don’t really count in the equation but keep in mind they would return to flying if the price was right. Some (like myself) would only do it for 5 years, so when viewed in that context, there is no long term upside to justify low starting salaries.

Despite having its own MBA crew, the RCAF now finds itself in a pickle as they have reached (or are about to reach) lock point. Given the long training lead time you can’t simply turn on the tap and create more pilots. You can’t stop critical operations or reduce the tempo (without a cost) and you don’t have the resources to divert to training because you are burning them out in operations and suffering attrition as a result. It’s a pernicious cycle that the industry should avoid like the plague.

There is still a window here for the industry but it’s almost shut for the Air Force IMO. Now is the time to be proactive and make it a profession people want to aspire to. The clock is ticking here. Failing to address it now might result in bidding wars, lots of movement and lots of training just to maintain station. As a fun fact, I retired early due to an extended ground tour and a year delay in an OTU date. So far, the Air Force has paid me a lot of money not to fly their aircraft, they couldn't retain a member who wanted to be retained. Madness takes its toll.... don't follow the same path, while the circumstances might be slightly different, they were warned by writing on a wall and chose to ignore it.

Edited by Wolfhunter
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I'm not saying this is a good thing, but when cadet programs start putting kids into "real airplanes" early in their careers the appeal will pickup dramatically.

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