From A&P Mechanic/Pilot To Truck Driving

Topic 27214 | Page 1

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NOOB4now's Comment
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I'm 63 years old. I began my career in aviation in 1973 when I joined the Marine Corps and became a turbine engine mechanic and helicopter mechanic Crew Chief. After those 4 years, I spent 42 years in business aviation, the last 24 of which I worked for Gulfstream Aerospace in product support, assisting our customers in on site and phone technical support. Helping them troubleshoot difficult problems with their aircraft or with us. I've always had a desire to drive 18 wheelers. In the early 80's, I obtained my Class 1 CDL. I learned after that, that a bad driving record will get you no where in trucking. So I stayed in aviation. Last year, my company started looking at doing away with my department. It is in the works now. In October of this year, the had a reduction in force and let 160 employees go, my self included. Anyone who did not generate income for the company was on the chopping block, and since my department was not billable to customers, it made sense to let a few of us go, myself included. No hard feelings, it's business. So I started looking for other aviation related jobs and most are as mechanics, for which I do not want to do. You have to crawl in to tight dangerous spaces and at 63 with no curb feelers, (bald, no hair) it's dangerous back their. So I got to thinking, man, get your CDL and do what you've always wanted to do.

I studied for my written. I took and passed all of the tests including all endorsements. Obtained my DET physical. Even applied for and received a TWIC card, just in case. I was looking to get my CDL thru one of the carriers but it turns out, they all use automatics and that would leave me with a restriction on my CDL. I originally learned in a 13 speed Roadranger. With that, I learned how to float gear and used that technic in every manual transmission I drove, from cars to motorcycles. Came in real handy on desert bikes when your hands were full. Never had to hold on with just two fingers, or none depending on your clutch hand style.

Due to commitments I have, I can't start training until March 2, 2020. I will attend a local truck driving school near me and learn again in a shifter truck. I towed a 40 ft fifth wheel for years so that will be helpful. I had no problem backing in the 80's either when I learned. No I'm no expert, but I will stay in a Holiday Inn Express before I attend.

Anyway, when I do get my first job, I'm sure it will be with a major carrier to get some experience. My hope is to get a position with a carrier that I could do regional with, say 3 state, or at least the 13 western states. Although fit, I don't think I'm young enough or strong enough to be throwing 75 pound tarps on top of flat beds. Reefer , most likely not. So dry van would probably be for me. The other thing I "THINK" I'd like to try is heavy haul. Low boys, jeeps and stingers. Figuring things out. It would remind me a little of taxiing and towing 747's back in my FedEx days. I thoroughly enjoy watching the adventures of heavy hauler Serguei Dratchev on Youtube. Check him out. That said, I can't imagine someone spending the time to teach an old fart how to heavy haul when he probably has a best, on 6 or 7 working years left in him. It would be fun though.

So that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Safe travels to all of you. Be safe.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Delco Dave's Comment
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You might want to check out Roehl, they still train on manuals. Just one of many reasons I hope they accept me when I apply this winter

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the Trucking Truth site, Mike. It's good to see youngsters like yourself here. I wouldn't let wanting to drive a manual stand in the way as far as choosing the right company that fits the remainder of your needs. Autos are here and now, while most manuals are going away quickly.

I'm retired from Naval aviation and also have my A&P.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Mike!

It's a curious thing to me how people come to us for help but won't take some of our advice. The two pieces of advice that most people seem to think we are daffy on are...

1) Being an owner operator doesn't increase your pay.

2) It's not important that you learn on a manual transmission.

Everything else they love about us, but those two items will always start a disagreement.

I'm sure you'll do as you see fit, but it's really easy to get that restriction lifted later if you need to. As far as getting into heavy haul, you will need flatbed experience. So... Roehl might be your perfect choice. They can help you get your CDL through their training program. They'll pay you to train with them. They train on standard shift transmissions. They have both flatbed and oversized/heavy haul divisions.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
NOOB4now's Comment
member avatar

Delco Dave/Pack Rat/Old School, thank you all very much. I am looking in to Roehl but must mention, I live in The Socialist Republic of Kalifornia whish is a long way from the Roehl four training sites. However, I did email them to inquire about my options.

Old School, I don't know what gave you the impression I am not open to others advice. This was my first post ever as I joined the forum just today. As to manual or automatic, as I said, I learned in a 13 speed. I like them. I'd like an 18 speed. That said, I'm not adverse to driving an automatic either. I spend a great deal of time on Youtube and have yet to see flatbed or heavy haul driving automatics. Not to say they are not out there, I just haven't seen it yet. So, as I really know very little short of what I've seen on Youtube, I'm open to any and all advice. One can never know too much. And I try my best to refrain from the phrase "I know". As a mentor in things aviation, nothing shuts off the spigot of knowledge faster than the multiple use of that phrase. At least for me anyhow. If I hear it too many times I'm like, well no sense in me sharing with you than.

Share away my friend. I will listen with open ears. I'll get advice from many but in the end, will have to make a decision. I can only hope and pray it's the right decision.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Mike, for years now, I've been driving a flatbed with Volvo's I-shift auto transmission. By the way, these things are not automatic transmissions like we have in automobiles. They are still the same old standard gear box. The difference being the computer controls the clutching, engine RPM, and shifting. Mine is a 12 speed.

Forgive me, I didn't mean to sound harsh. It just still surprises me when newbies jump in here with their concerns about that auto-restriction. The truth is that very few opportunities even exist anymore for new drivers who will be shifting gears.

You're going to be way ahead of the game by starting at a major carrier, and realistically they are typically the best places to stay. They've got the financial backing to keep you in great equipment, and the infrastructure in management to keep you moving and making great money.

Here's a great podcast about working for the major carriers. Take the time to listen to it. I think it lays it out really well.

Are Major Carriers Nothing More Than Starter Companies?

Mike, I work for Knight. I'm about to turn 60. I absolutely love working for the big companies. I stay real busy, make great money, and I pretty much get to call my own shots. Seniority, when combined with productivity, gives a driver some real advantages in these large operations. Management in trucking is uniquely advantageous to the high performing drivers.

Once a driver establishes himself as a Top Tier Driver, he puts himself in a unique position. As a driver you will build a relationship with your driver manager. You will come to depend on each other. and trust each other. You will both be assisting each other in the pursuit of being highly productive. That's a magic formula for success.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hey Mike, I just wanted to address one more thing. We really find the Paid CDL Training Programs to be one of the best ways to start this career. It sounds like that's what you wanted to do until you discovered you'd be training with an auto shift transmission. I still think it's the best way to go.

Think about what you said you learned from your last attempt at trucking. It's a great point you make about your driving record. These company Sponsored programs have you vetted and approved for employment before accepting you into their program. It's really helpful. I did the private school thing at 53. I really had a difficult time getting hired. I thought paying for my own training would open up many more options for me. It actually tightened them down to very few.

Don't worry about your age. It's a non issue out here. When I started at Knight's small flatbed division I was the oldest guy they had hired yet. They were concerned and expressed it in certain ways. They didn't want me to get hurt. They would always tell me to be extremely careful about climbing up on top of my loads. They had generally only hired young bucks prior to me. They were new to flatbed and didn't realize experience trumps vigor and strength.

There are plenty of older folks doing flatbed and heavy haul work. Here's a link to a conversation where I introduced a gentleman by the name of "Eugene" to the forum. He's an 80 year old flatbedder!

Trucking For The Long Haul

Well, I guess I addressed more than one thing. Sorry, sometimes I get started and can't seem to shut-up!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
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