I got in touch with my Air Canada mentor. (I could mammalize Air Canada, but it is just too mammoth, and mammoths don't burrow. It was once government-run and has never escaped from its bureaucratic underpinnings). He agreed with Steve Badger's assessment of my probable tenure at a small airline.
"Over the next couple of years," he told me, "Air Canada is going to hire six hundred pilots."
"How am I going to get operational IFR experience?" I asked, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice.
"You'll get that on line," he said.
When he says "on line," he's not talking about a network of flight simulators on the internet. He means while actually flying a large Boeing full of passengers for Air Canada.
"Are you saying I could go from small piston airplanes to glass cockpit jets in one step?"
That's what he's saying. Current senior pilots came out of the bush with no IFR time and learned to fly jets in the 1970s. And no one can pretend that those new airplanes Boeing has on order are not easier to fly than DC-9s. He's serious. He doesn't think I should stress over the mammals, that I'll be hired straight out of where I am.
Sometime in the near future, you may be a passenger on a brand new airplane that is made of plastic and is flown by pilots who just learned to fly it (because it's brand new, and everyone just learned to fly it). The captain will be pushing sixty, and looking forward to retirement next week, while beside him is a first officer whose previous flying experience mainly involves airplanes that would fit in the baggage compartment. Enjoy your flight!