The Bachelor: On The Wings of Love?

Jake Pavelka The BachelorThe Captain of Her Heart?

When I first heard that the new season of ABC’s The Bachelor was going to feature an airline pilot, I thought it was a joke. Knowing what I know as the wife of a pilot, I was baffled that any woman would willingly thrust herself into the pilot wifestyle. Then I realized that most of these women probably DON’T know the reality of being a pilot wife.

This is what I know so far about the Bachelor, Jake Pavelka:

31-year-old Jake Pavelka is out to prove to the world that nice guys don’t finish last. No, they finish in love. Fasten your seatbelts and leave your relationship baggage at the door as this handsome commercial pilot from Dallas prepares to take flight as The Bachelor.

“Jake knows himself well enough to know that he’s not made to live alone. He just needs to find the right woman — his best friend and soul mate – and that’s whom he’ll marry. Searching for a woman who is intelligent, confident, energetic and spontaneous, he admits that he can’t wait for fatherhood.

“Jake Pavelka grew up in Denton, Texas and attended University of North Texas and Embry Engineering University for Aerospace Science. He discovered his passion for flying at a young age, as he started taking lessons at age 12. As an accomplished pilot, he was fortunate to discover his passion at a young age, Jake started taking flying lessons at age 12. An accomplished pilot, he became an airline captain flight instructor at 23. On his days off, he has fun flying acrobatic planes, taking dance lessons and woodworking at the home he owns near Dallas.” (“In person, he’s feeling nothing but love from fans, many of whom are passengers who greet him as they deplane. (Pavelka is a captain and airline flight instructor for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a Delta Connection carrier.) “Everything’s been so flattering,” he says. “I’ll go to different airports in different parts of the country, and there are really great people going, ‘Hey, so glad you came back.’ That’s really humbling.”(Dallas News)

The Bachelor Jake Pavelka

This first thing that hit me was the fact that he attended Embry-Riddle Engineering University for Aerospace Science. Within the first few minutes of episode one, Jake mentions that he was fortunate to have a “storybook childhood” and that he was the only one in his family to not pursue medicine. For anyone who knows anything about flight training and education, Embry Riddle is typically where you go when your family is rolling in the big bucks. According to the Embry-Riddle website:

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. It is the only accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world.

Undergraduate Cost of Attendance

Tuition and Fees $28,600
Room and Board $8,500
Books (estimated) $1,200
Total, non-flight students $38,300
Estimated annual flight costs* $15,000
Total with Flight $53,300

* Flight Instruction: Embry-Riddle’s flight program is designed to allow students to earn their ratings in just three years (unlike many other schools). Flight students can estimate average annual costs for the first and second year at approximately $15,000 per year. The average cost for the third year of instruction is $10,000.

From what you see, Embry-Riddle’s program appears to cost a little over $53k. But when you read the fine print, it says that flight instruction is $15k for years one and two, and $10k for year three. Add that together….you’re looking at $78,300 to attend the “Ivy League” flight program. To achieve comparable training at a state university (such as UND or UVU), your undergrad studies would be slashed by 2/3rds (plus flight costs).

The next frustration was the wording of the bio on the website: “An airline captain flight instructor at 23.” To quote Jake in the introduction of episode one, “I’ve been in the pilot seat for most of my life…I’ve been a commercial pilot for 10 years. My office is at 37,000 feet. There’s really no word to describe my passion for aviation.” He goes on to talk about his obsession with aerobatic airplanes (another luxury of the wealthy pilot)

Now what exactly is an airline captain flight instructor? Oh yeah….there’s no such thing. To paraphrase Wikipedia for a moment; One cannot become a commercial pilot (CPL) until age 18, nor an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) until age 23. Although one technically could become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) once completing one’s CPL, it is highly unlikely that said instructor would be airline captain flight instructor at age 31. A more appropriate description would be “a regional airline captain who flight instructs on the side.”

Jake Pavelka ShirtlessOne thing ABC did get spot on, is the typical pilot obsession for fitness and staying in shape. Pilots must be evaluated by a medical examiner frequently, and many common ailments can disqualify you from flight. My pilot is very concerned with his health and appearance, which can be difficult to keep up with rigorous schedules and limited availability to fitness centers during trips.

So what about the lucky ladies? What advice do I have for them? If you want to be a successful pilot wife, these qualities are a MUST:

: Despite a pilot’s seniority. there will ALWAYS be hiccups in his schedule. Flight mixups, freak weather, maintenance delays, etc. Or he just may have a crappy schedule in the first place. Be prepared for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays without him, year after year (and always celebrate the ones you DO have together) Don’t expect to live in the same domicile (or country!) for the rest of his career. He could be furloughed, displaced, or downgraded with no notice. His payscale may stagnate, or cut in half (if downgraded from captain to first officer)

Trust: No matter what career your man is in, there WILL be temptation. The persona of an airline pilot is suave, debonair, and powerful, which will attract both flight crews, passengers, and airport employees. Cheating happens in aviation, just as it does in medicine, finance, education, etc; but it is enabled by the provided access to hotel rooms in random cities. This isn’t to say that your pilot will cheat, but you need to keep your relationship strong, and the communication often and honest. If my husband and I don’t talk at least 3 times a day, we really start missing each other. When he’s home, smother him with affection to help him remember why he’s working so hard to support you.

Independence: The pilots who hold fabulous lines will still be gone several weeks per month. If you have children, you’ll have to act as a single parent. At some point, you’ll have to go to parent teacher conferences, recitals, and sporting events alone. You will likely have increased daycare costs (if you work outside the home). Cultivate your talents and begin new hobbies to fill up the time that you’d otherwise sit around lonely. Realize that you may be sitting on the church pew, week after week, without your man at your side. Take advantage of your flight bennies and visit a friend out of town whenever you get a whiff of jealousy of all the fabulous locales he flies to (Evansville, South Bend, Dayton, Wausau…definitely worth getting jealous over!)

Debt Management: Few pilots are as fortunate as Jake to have a “storybook childhood,” with a family able to finance flight training. My husband is a 3rd year first officer at a regional airline, with his take-home pay BARELY able to touch his monthly student loan payments. Most of the pilots I know have well over $100,000 in debt to cover plane rentals, instruction, insurance, exams, and travel expenses. Gone are the idyllic days of extremely wealthy pilots, especially as they start our their careers (except the high-seniority captains, like Sully, who have taken significant paycuts as well). You will probably have to bring in supplemental income to cover the inevitable living expenses beyond his paycheck. Many pilots have to take on second jobs on their off days. Learn how to budget and live within your means.

A good support network
: There are many cities that you pilot may be based: MEM, JFK, DTW, LAX, CVG, MSP, DFW, ATL, etc. Sometimes you will have no control over where you’ll be assigned, and it can be VERY lonely to be in a new city with no friends and family (just look at my posts from Detroit and Atlanta….lonely times) Or your pilot may commute, as mine does, and that is even more time that you are without your significant other. Make it a priority to establish a great LOCAL network of friends, family, neighbors, and church members . Join some of the established websites such as Pilot Wives Club or Wives and Girlfriends of Pilots Facebook page.

Now that I’ve said my two bits, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the romantic reality drama!

Pilot Wives Club Meetup in Chicago: Oh, What a Night!

I’m back from Chicago now, and what an exciting/fun/crazy trip it was! This is me with Misty at gate D1A. We were so sad that it ended up being such an ordeal to get out of Atlanta. There had been really bad thunderstorms and a tornado watch in Atlanta the night before, which caused a huge backup of standby passengers all through Friday. We had tried for a Chicago flight together with Becky, but it was oversold and we tried for Milwaukee. About 20 minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave, Misty realized that she had lost her iPhone. Becky and I made it on the flight, but didn’t have a way to contact Misty. She tried for many flights out of ATL, including ones home to Orlando, and was stranded in ATL for the night.

Becky and I arrived in Milwaukee around 5 pm, and we were picked up by my old friend Shanna. We used to do plays together at the Draper Theater in 1995. She had moved to MKE for school and work, and we hadn’t seen each other in a decade. She saw my status message on Facebook, and she graciously offered to drive us down to Chicago. We had 90 minutes to chat and get caught up. We arrived in Chicago around 7 pm (after a series of wrong turns from bad cell phone map directions). We had dinner at Basil’s restuarant in the hotel. Kristen from PWC was from Chicago and joined us for dinner and dessert. Because of the people that couldn’t come due to missed connections and no flights with open seats, there was room at the hotel for Shanna to stay for the night.

In the morning we had breakfast at the hotel. There was a nice breakfast provided with made-to-order omelettes…yum! After eating, Shanna drove us to the Bless Spa, which Summer had gotten a recommendation through the hotel for. The “spa” ended up being a cut-rate slightly shady hair salon with bad decor and Russian and Latvian women who spoke with heavy accents. We almost bolted before getting the services, but did it anyway. Massages, pedicures, manicures, and waxing commenced. Here are my cute toes post-mani:

After the *ahem* spa, we walked across the street to Ram Brewpub for lunch. I got a grilled havarti and turkey sandwich with salad and sweet potato fries. The food was good, and the conversation better. We shared carrot cake and watched part of the Bulls basketball game. After a quick stop for necessities at the 7-11, we went back to our hotel to take it easy and get ready for our night on the town. Unfortunately, flight loads from Detroit were bad because of the Final Four, and she was unable to join us for the evening. Summer unveiled the new Pilot Wives Club logo, and details of the updated website.

Summer and Becky with their cute silver purses

Me and Summer

All ready for a night out on the town with the ladies! Notice the cute necklace courtesy of Jen.

Becky, Nicole, Summer and Jen…Pilot Wives Club represent!

Waiting for the “El”train to downtown

Inner city pressure

View of Dearborn Street…We got a little lost, as Jen hurriedly checked her GPS on her phone to find the right way for us to go. After crossing the same street 6 times, we finally found the Bank of America theater to pick up our tickets for Jersey Boys at will call.

This is Chicago! We finally made it!

Becky and Summer waiting for dinner

Jen and I

The Marquee for Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys was so fantastic! It was the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and the music was incredible! A must see! All their best hits…Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man, Rag Doll, Dawn, Let’s Hang On, Workin’ My Way Back to You, Opus 17, and of course…Oh, What a Night! The absolute highlight of the show was the Frankie’s solo of “Can’t Take my Eyes Off You” with full brass. I had goosebumps from head to toe! If you have the chance to see Jersey Boys, you will love the music and energy. (Disclaimer: there is some language and sexual innuendo, so I would say it’s not for the kids or young teens)

We took the blue line train back towards O’Hare to our hotel, and decided to go back to the airport and take the shuttle (instead of walking in the dark streets back to the hotel) Unfortunately, there were some big problems with the shuttle driver, we waited an hour despite confirming with the driver multiple times, and we didn’t get picked up until after 12:30 am ! (Becky arranged to have another hotel’s shuttle pick us up) We stayed up eating chocolate, courtesy of Kristin, till about 2 am. Becky and I got two hours of sleep because Becky and I had the alarm set for the wrong time zone. Since we were up and ready, headed back to Atlanta on an earlier flight. She got on the 7:00 flight, and I got on the 8:15 flight. Taylor and Rosie picked me up, and we arrived home just in time to watch General Conference.

Crazy Way to Chicago

Finally in Chicago, by way of Milwaukee. Bumped flights, lost phones, lost wives, lost on the tollway with not enough change, reconnected with an old friend with a charitible streak. It feels like a feat to be here. I feel sick about what happened with Misty…more details to come.

Indiana with Julie

Last week I talked about how I really wanted to get out of town for the weekend. I had hoped for Orlando, but it wasn’t in the cards for the weekend. LAX, SLC, CVG, DTW, PDX and other locations I typically visit were booked solid. I put out a message on Pilot Wives Club to see if anyone wanted to get together for the weekend. Julie in Indiana was more than happy to have me visit while her husband was on a weekend trip. We had a phone number miscommunique Friday night, but we talked on the phone for an hour and decided that I should try to fly out Saturday morning on the first flight.
Julie picked me up from SBN around noon on Saturday. First we went to Michigan City, IN to the Lighthouse Factory Stores. I scored some cute yoga pants at the Old Navy Outlet, and a little hunk of maple fudge from the dessert shop. Next we went to Mt. Baldy and the beach of Lake Michigan.
We had to climb the crest of Mt. Baldy around through some sand dunes to finally see the lake. When we made it to the top, the view was beautiful!

Here’s me above the beach!

Julie and I took a few pictures, but I think the better ones are on her camera. I kept having issues with my zoom, and ended up with a bunch of closeups.

Two adventurous pilot wives = Fun!

Mount Baldy is actually a big sand dune next to the lake. It was deceptively further to the beach than we anticipated. Luckily, we got a lot of excercise in the process, and proceded to blow our efforts at a little pub in town.

We had to do a lot of driving on rural roads. Here is Fail Road. Awesome.

Our next stop was back in South Bend at the Notre Dame campus. I decided I’m an absolute college campus junkie. I love the vibrant spirit of the students, the mix of historical and modern achitecture, the abundant walkways, and the beautiful cathedrals.

This was my favorite shot on campus.

We ran into Bagpipe Band practice, and listened for a few minutes.
Jesus statue
“Touchdown Jesus”

After Notre Dame, we saw “Revolutionary Road” at the dollar theater. On the way back to her home, I saw a DEL TACO and made her practically swerve across lanes to be able to turn right to get to it. I got my two 99-cent chicken soft tacos that I’ve been craving for months. When we got back to her house, we logged into the Pilot Wives Club chat for an hour or so. We tried to start a movie, but both of us were dozing within 15 minutes. And because my flight departed at 5:50, and we had to be up at 4:00…we tucked in at 12:30. What a weekend!

Pilot Wife Resources

My hubby’s plane

Some of you may have noticed my badges for Pilot Wives Club on my sidebar, as well as me being the featured wife of the month for January. I wanted to give you a list of some of my other favorite aviation and pilot wife/gf/so websites and groups for those who are looking for a little more support and friends in your situation…or for those who love to stalk and want to know more about the realities of pilot wifestyle. Here are my favorite groups:

Pilot Wives Club
Wives and Girlfriends (or Boyfriends!) of Pilots Facebook Group
Love My Pilot
Jet Girls

As well as a variety of pilot wife/gf/so blogs.Here’s my current blogroll…

If I missed you, let me know!

I’m Featured!

I’m the pin-up girl of the month at Pilot Wives Club! Check me out here. Now you can find out more about this girl who blogs, but actually leaves out a lot of the details. Any pilots wives out there not a part of PWC? Join at

Meeting Blogger Friends: Brittany

This is just my lucky week in meeting blogger friends! Brittany and I have been emailing for several months, as soon as she found my blog and knew I was moving to Atlanta. She lives down in Peachtree City, which isn’t the closest place to Decatur (she told me she was secretly hoping I’d move there). We’re both part of the Pilot Wives Club, and follow dozens of the same blogs. We both have the same stalker habit of finding a new blog, starting at the earliest post (even if it’s years in the past) and reading all the way up to the current.

She and I spent a good chunk of our lives in the Salt Lake City area. Our parents live minutes apart. We love the same restaurants. It’s like we’re long lost friends, and I’m so excited we finally met. We’ve both been through horrible “starter marriages” and love the relationships we have with our pilots. Our husbands seem to have a lot in common, and I’m sure they’ll hit it off when they meet, and spend WAY too much on XBOX Live. Her son Kaden and my Rosie hit it off great. We had dinner at Taco Mac and Kaden slid under the table to sit by Rosie. Back at the house, he was running around with his shirt off, trying to impress Rosie.

What do you think….arranged marriages for pilot children?

Rosie and Kaden hamming it up

If any of you pilot wives in the Atlanta area want to meet up sometime, Brittany and I would love to meet you. Or even if you live far away, come on in! We’re looking forward to the Pilot Wives Club meet-up in Chicago in March. And I’ll be having a birthday party the first weekend of February (as long as Taylor’s schedule permits) that you’re invited to attend. Email me for details.

Pilot Wife Resorces

Support Groups (for when the pilot is away)

Pilot Wife (and girlfriend) Blogs – Oh the Life of a Pilot’s Wife – Musings of a Pilot’s Wife – Musings of Cpt. J’s Wife – Elsja’s Bloggity Blog – The Rambling Pilot Wife – Global Gal – A Day in the Life of a Regional Girlfriend – Crazy Days of Summer – Meet Me at the Corner of Peachtree and Peachtree – Diaries of a Pilot’s Wife – My Pilot Followed His Dream to India, I Followed My Heart – First You Make a Roux – North Carolina New Beginnings – The Culture-Loving Pilot Wife – Life In A Holding Pattern – Kassik Chronicles – A Pilots Wife Travel Tips – It’s a Pilot’s Wife for Me – The Fly By Wife – Shelley Pott’s Blog – The Pilot’s Wife – The Secretive Pilot’s Wife

Other Aviation Sites of Interest: Pilots, Flight Attendants, Travel Info, Etc – Blogging from FL250 – Another Flight Attendant Writing – Aircrew Buzz – Heather Poole’s Laviators – The Flying Pinto – Cockpit Conversation – Free Flying Mom – My Flying Journey