High Finances: Where I’m From

Meet our new columnist, professional pilot and finance expert Jason Depew.

Fellow aviators, I’m truly honored to have this opportunity to write about finances for Flying—things like retirement, taxes, and ways that you can keep more of your money.

But before we dive in, I want you to know where I’m coming from.

I started flying in Cessna 172s and Piper Cherokees out of Loveland, Colorado (KFNL). I taught glider flying over the Ramparts at the USAF Academy (TG-4A and TG-10B/C/D) before flying the B-1B, U-28A (Pilatus PC-12), T-6A, and E-11A (Bombardier Global Express) on active duty.

I spent many hours supporting Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I’m very proud of the flying I did there and miss it. And yes, the B-1 is as awesome as you imagine, and more. It’s so fast!

For the past few years, my day job has been flying for a major U.S. airline. As I write this, I’m upgrading to the left seat on the Boeing 737.

I love general aviation, and I’ve held a CFI (almost continuously) since 2003. I owned a Cessna 170 for many years, and I’m actively teaching in a Cherokee, a Fairchild PT-26, and the Icon A5. Yes, the A5 is as fun as you think, and more. Yes, the PT-26 is still a fantastic primary trainer.

While I feel credible writing about aviation in general, my focus here will be covering personal finance for pilots. If you just asked, “Why would Flying hire someone to write about personal finance?” then I’m definitely writing for you.

Why Finances?

I started covering this topic because of Poor Old Joe; I’m sure you know him.

He flies the most amazing military aircraft humanity has ever produced, or he mingles with the rich and famous while circling the globe in the latest Gulfstream or Global, or he’s a widebody captain at a prestigious major airline.

Despite his enviable position on a pinnacle of professional aviation, Old Joe is angry, unhealthy, and overworked. He’s earned millions during his career, yet looks on his looming retirement with terror, worried that he’ll rapidly run out of money and starve.

I feel bad for Joe, and I’ll try to help him if I can. However, I also want to help you to avoid becoming like him.

Many parts of professional aviation pay so well that it’s possible to quickly set yourself up for lifelong financial success. In fact, it’s shockingly straightforward for a pilot to build generational wealth for their family.

We’ll consider all the good habits, mindsets, and decisions that can make this happen for you.I’m also going to write articles for your boss, explaining how they can save money and headaches by implementing policies that help you both financially.

It won’t all be lofty ideals, though. We’re also going to identify specific ways to make flight training more affordable. I’ll show you how to make burdens like insurance, maintenance, and engine overhauls easier to bear. I hope to uncover as many ways as possible to help you enjoy aviation without breaking the bank.

As we get going, I also hope to hear from you. Other than the costs of fuel, insurance, gear, and…well…everything, what are your pain points when it comes to pilot finance? Send them my way, and I’ll do my best to chase down some ways to make your life easier.

Jason Depew flies as a captain for a major U.S. airline. He is also an Air Force reservist and has flown more than 300 combat missions over Afghanistan and other garden spots. Based in Tampa, Florida, he instructs in the Icon A5 and anything else he can get his hands on. His writing is focused on personal finance for pilots with the goal to help all types of aviators enjoy great careers, sometimes in spite of themselves.

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