Today makes one year at my new job. I work as a simulator instructor for KC-135 pilots from all over the country. I really dig it.
The picture to the left was taken a few months before I retired, with a picture of me from my USAF Academy days. Not much changed. Heh.
I have always enjoyed teaching. I was an instructor at the KC-135 schoolhouse for several years back in the late 90s, teaching people how to fly the KC-135 that were new to flying, meaning they had just finished going through undergraduate pilot training, which is almost a year long, or maybe they were crossing over from flying a different airframe. I did a lot of that. I trained guys changing from the F-4 and the F-15 into the tanker, as well as other weapon systems.
The major difference is we almost exclusively train during the day. The other major difference is I don’t actually get in an aircraft anymore. Just the sim.
So far I haven’t missed it. I work at the same base as I did before I retired, and get to see the same people, for the most part. Some I see rarely, but we do cross paths. I was the Operations Group Commander, so my role now is quite different. The schedule is less stressful. I don’t have to go to meetings nearly as often, which is a big plus. The other huge benefit is I don’t work weekends. At least I haven’t had to so far.
The guys I work with are fantastic, to a person. There is so much to be said for having great coworkers. And my boss is wonderful. He was my boss when I started my last job twenty years ago. He genuinely cares about the people that work for him. Can’t say enough good things about the guy.
I know how lucky I am. I retired early to take this job because it pays well enough to offset most of what I was earning before, plus it allowed me to access some of my retirement funds to pay down my outstanding debt. We are in solid shape financially.
Here is the one downside. I am a contractor now. We work from contract to contract and ours is coming up for renewal. The industry is going through some big changes right now, with major pilot shortages and instructor shortages across the board, with no real end in sight. I worry that our company will not win the next round of bidding. I’m told that we shouldn’t worry, since there simply aren’t enough instructors to fire everyone and hire new people, and historically they have rolled into the next company, but it is still a thing that worries me in the back of my mind.
Generally, I am not the type of person that worries a lot. But during the last decade or so of my military career I developed a habit pattern to think ahead and try to anticipate the issues that might come up. It has wrought a change in me, and it’s hard to break that kind of thinking. I tell people all the time not to barrow trouble from the future, so I have to take my own advice.
Life is good. I will celebrate today with a nice big cup of coffee.