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How Becoming an Airline Pilot Works

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Joel Freeman, a commercial pilot, on a Boeing 727
Joel Freeman, a commercial pilot, on a Boeing 727

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About the Author

Joel Freeman has an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and flies for the world's largest package delivery company. He's currently a semi-senior first officer on a Boeing 727.

Previously, he flew as a flight engineer on the 727, as an IOE captain and first officer for a regional affiliate of a major passenger airline, as a first officer for a charter airline and as a flight instructor. His civilian career started in a university aviation program and has included four airlines, one airline bankruptcy, a short furlough, several rejection letters and five different airplane types. He always wanted to be a pilot, and since he started flying in the early 1980s, he has accumulated 4,500 hours of flight time and two aircraft type ratings on his pilot certificate.

He's married to the daughter of an airline pilot, who, he says, "knew exactly what she was getting involved with." Joel and his wife have two children.