When countries all over the world closed their borders, it hung airlines out to dry. With most planes grounded, airlines are burning millions by the day, largely due to plane leases. What most people don't realize is that airlines usually don't own most of their planes and those plane leases don\u2019t pay themselves. In a desperate fight for survival, they jettisoned pilot jobs, gave pay cuts and unpaid leaves to cut costs. For many pilots who have only ever known the cockpit, this turn of bad weather has been challenging. Fortunately, pilots are trained to think on their feet. Thrust unwillingly into this new reality, these 5 pilots open up about the impact Covid-19 has on their rice bowl: 1) Lau Yishern: "I plan wedding proposals." Yishern is a pilot with experience on both turboprop and jet aircraft. He has been flying for 5 years. Flying was a means to put food on the table for his family and single mother. In 2019, he also founded Yours Truly Entertainment, an events consultancy company that focused on weddings and corporate events. After he was made redundant, Yishern felt depressed and overwhelmed. He had bills to pay and a wife who was 6 months pregnant. \u201cDark thoughts ran through my mind. What if I can't afford the baby and hospital fees? How am I supposed to pay my mortgage when the moratorium is over?\u201d Rather than throwing in the towel, he instead threw himself into Yours Truly Entertainment. By that time, mass gatherings were frowned upon for their role in virus-transmission, so he had to adapt. Yishern remembered the hassle he had to go through when proposing to his wife. Besides, he has a lot of ideas for proposals. As a result, he decided to pivot and specialize in marriage proposals. \u201cPlanning someone\u2019s proposal is exciting but tedious. For the moment to be as perfect as possible, everything boils down to timing,\u201d he enthused. Yishern\u2019s services included decorations, choreography, planning, ideas, and of course, the execution on the day itself. "I\u2019m a person who loves sappy romantic comedies, so I have a lot of ideas on how a proposal should be,\u201d Yishern said. Yishern says he looks forward to returning to the cockpit he loves when the industry eventually recovers. But for now, planning proposals has become his passion. In fact, it\u2019s often not about the money anymore. \u201cI find fulfillment in being part of a couple\u2019s big moment. I love the role I play in their happiness. Each and every experience is very rewarding.\u201d 2) Hazelinder Kaur: "I help people understand their finances."\u00a0 Since she was a little girl, all Hazel wanted to do was fly. And fly she has \u2014 for 7 and a half years. But when Covid-19 swept through our world, she took a big pay cut and had to dig into her reserves to make ends meet. \u201cIt was worrying,\u201d she said. \u201cI was in deficit every month. I had to cancel my gym membership, downgrade my internet and mobile data plans, and canceled a credit card. I snapped into survival mode.\u201d To make matters worse, her family is not here with her in Malaysia, although they do offer her moral support from afar. She realized that this major downturn could last for a while, so she looked to her side gig as a Unit Trust Consultant. This pandemic has forced many people to mature financially. When she first ventured into consultancy, it was small-scale, handling her own and her family\u2019s finances. Now she helps her friends and colleagues plan their finances. And although Hazel is eager to go back to flying like she used to, she is confident that tough times don't last. Hazel\u2019s advice for the rest of the year: \u201cSpend your money wisely by planning your day-to-day expenses. Every cent matters.\u201d 3) Vinodh Varma: "I run a gym as a personal trainer."\u00a0 Varma loves everything about being a pilot, from the uniform to the job scope and the sensation of being airborne. \u201cMore than anything, it was my dream to pick up flying, but my parents insisted that I earn a solid degree first.\u201d So he dabbled in different university courses before finally getting the green light to pursue his dream of flying. When he graduated from flying school with a Commercial Pilot License, it was the happiest day of his life. However, the airline job market in the early 2010s was unfavorable, and many fresh grads had trouble finding a job. For one year he tried to get a flying job, without success. \u201cI nearly gave up on my dream.... But since I enjoy gymming, I thought \u2014 why not get certified as a fitness trainer?\u201d So Varma started off at a commercial gym, where he learned the workings of the fitness world. By 2013, he earned the title of \u2018Top Trainer\u2019 and was eventually promoted to fitness manager. After 3 years, he became a freelance trainer and then started V Fitness, a warehouse gym located in Puchong. Varma loved the fitness business, and could work 17-hour days without complaint. But he did not forget his other love: Flying. So when the opportunity to join an airline presented itself in 2019, he jumped at it. Unfortunately, in 2020, flights were grounded as all international borders closed, and Varma was put on no pay leave. Finding himself back at square one, he was devastated that his new-found fortune in the aviation industry turned sour so quickly. But with experience came acceptance: \u201cInstead of moping over this dip in luck, I am grateful that I can focus on what I already have.\u201d So he poured his heart back into his gym. With everyone staying at home, he expanded into food delivery with V Fit Kitchen, a healthy meal prep service. Varma thinks that the aviation industry will take some time to recover, but he is not disheartened. \u201cI\u2019ve always wanted to create a name for V-fitness so I\u2019ve used this time to strengthen my fitness brand.\u201d 4) Amirul Hakim bin Mohd Rizal: "I turned to selling real estate." Once upon a time, Amirul was a helicopter pilot based in Miri where his duties included aerial photography and cargo transportation. Like most pilots, flying was Amirul\u2019s childhood dream. He later decided to transition into fixed-wing operation. But just as he was making the switch, Amirul was placed on furlough. \u201cIt was really stressful,\u201d he confided. \u201cI think most pilots are stressed out now, and I am no exception.\u201d But having always been a resourceful person, he instinctively clicked into survival mode. Aware that the pandemic had rendered countless people jobless, Amirul foresaw steep competition in his job search. As such, he decided to grab whatever opportunity presented itself, no matter how different from his role. \u201cWhen my friend suggested becoming a Real Estate Negotiator, I didn\u2019t think twice \u2014 I jumped at the opportunity and got certified.\u201d Having no experience in the field, it was a steep learning curve. He forced himself to learn and thrive. Of course, Amirul can\u2019t wait to get back to flying. Nonetheless, he\u2019s come to recognize his property gig as a viable source of income and plans to pursue it \u2014 \u00a0even after returning to the cockpit. \u201cThere are opportunities everywhere,\u201d he commented. \u201cJust learn to adapt. Be willing to accept any opportunity and don\u2019t be fussy. That is how we survive.\u201d 5) Captain Tommy Tham Swee Lin: "I've built a fruit business." Captain Tommy has 13 years of experience in the aviation industry. But from the moment he stepped into the flying school\u2014the ground subjects; the flight training\u2014it was love at first flight. But then, Covid-19 took a giant chunk out of his rice bowl. \u201cWhen I received my retrenchment notice, it was very sudden. At first, I couldn\u2019t digest the news.\u201d \u201c2 or 3 days later, I fixated on the sweet memories I\u2019ve accumulated over my many years of flying, and I wondered, was that the end of my flying career? \u201cHowever, my wife helped me out of my rut. Although airlines around the world are mostly on a hiring freeze, I sent my resumes out within a week.\u201d \u201cI told myself that as long as I\u2019m breathing, I will wake up every morning with gratitude for my health and the opportunity to pursue the things I desire.\u201d Next, along with his supportive wife, they started Fruto, selling imported fresh premium fruits from all over the globe. To prepare himself, Captain Tommy worked in a wholesale fruit company for 2 to 3 weeks. There, he learned about fruits, equipment, dealing with suppliers; he equipped himself to run a fruit business. Captain Tommy admits that he misses flying. Despite that, he busies himself making deliveries all over the Klang Valley. He has poured his heart and soul into this business. When the author of this article received her delivery, it came with a personalized card, nestled in a box of mangoes. Sweet, fresh, and full of love. For more stories like this, read: 5 Facts You Didn\u2019t Know About Being a Helicopter Pilot and\u00a0My Husband Was A Major With The Malaysian Airforce. Here\u2019s How He Was Trained.