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Entry Level Ag work


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#21 R22139RJ

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 22:34

try looking for an operator that does utility and ag.  may be good to start in utility and work the ag ground side and break into it.  But seriosly go knock on doors of ag businesses.  you'll be surprised how much hard work and persistance will mean to people.  Finding good help is hard and if you are willing to learn and bust your ass good things will happen.  Getting AG time is hard but once you do, there is so many opportunities!  Start by getting licensed in your state and maybe the ones around you. 


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#22 HeliJC

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 18:44

Ok sorry for reviving this thread but some of the things these guys are saying is just ridiculous. Ive worked on a farm for the past 4 years and after highschool I went to flight school for helicopters (obviously). I have roughly over 150 hours with private and commercial licenses, but Ive already been spending many of those commercial building hours practicing ag turns and low sweeps over fields (dual). I can tell you its not as hard as people make it out to be, as long as you are aware of your surroundings and can positively maneuver the helicopter with full control, then you can do it. I know a couple Ag pilots and talked to them on how pilots usually get into the business, he said that he himself (along with most companies) hire you as ground crew and in the off season, you might go practice with an ag pilot and get training hours in (whether or not you pay for it, idk but thats besides the point) The problem with having low hours is that insurance cost to insure you is insane (pilot with 600ish hours and minimal ag experience is about an extra $5,000 to insure...) and that is a cost that an owner doesnt seem beneficial enough to him to foot that bill and risk his equipment. Its not necessarily about how many hours you have total, its about how many you have in specific aircraft and in ag work (counting off season training hours). If you want to be a ag pilot in R44s (like myself) then CFI just doesnt offer those type of hours as CFI usually just racks you up hours in R22 which is not completely beneficial to you. but the upside of CFI is that if your school you teach at offers tours, then you will have a foot in for those R44 tours (or turbine, depending on what your company uses for tours) so bottom line is to get a low hour job like tours to rack up those R44 hours and then down the line, start searching for cherry drying, pollination, or even frost control gigs (those will help you rack up your "ag" hours) until you get about 1000 in desired aircraft with a large portion of it technically being "ag". This is probably the best route if you cannot buy your own helicopter like the guy I know did.... Hope this helps a little, Good Luck! 



#23 r22butters

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 10:15

So, these guys making you nervous at all about the longevity of your career niche?


The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

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#24 Jaybee

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 14:53

So, these guys making you nervous at all about the longevity of your career niche?

 

a 4 gallon tank and 30 minutes of battery time...

 

uh...

 

NO.


"In flying I have learned that carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks." — Wilbur Wright in a letter to his father, September 1900. 

 

"The foot rests have a profound impact on the outcome of today's flight ending safely" - My flight instructor.


#25 stearmann4

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 11:21

Ok sorry for reviving this thread but some of the things these guys are saying is just ridiculous. Ive worked on a farm for the past 4 years and after highschool I went to flight school for helicopters (obviously). I have roughly over 150 hours with private and commercial licenses, but Ive already been spending many of those commercial building hours practicing ag turns and low sweeps over fields (dual). I can tell you its not as hard as people make it out to be, as long as you are aware of your surroundings and can positively maneuver the helicopter with full control, then you can do it. I know a couple Ag pilots and talked to them on how pilots usually get into the business, he said that he himself (along with most companies) hire you as ground crew and in the off season, you might go practice with an ag pilot and get training hours in (whether or not you pay for it, idk but thats besides the point) The problem with having low hours is that insurance cost to insure you is insane (pilot with 600ish hours and minimal ag experience is about an extra $5,000 to insure...) and that is a cost that an owner doesnt seem beneficial enough to him to foot that bill and risk his equipment. Its not necessarily about how many hours you have total, its about how many you have in specific aircraft and in ag work (counting off season training hours). If you want to be a ag pilot in R44s (like myself) then CFI just doesnt offer those type of hours as CFI usually just racks you up hours in R22 which is not completely beneficial to you. but the upside of CFI is that if your school you teach at offers tours, then you will have a foot in for those R44 tours (or turbine, depending on what your company uses for tours) so bottom line is to get a low hour job like tours to rack up those R44 hours and then down the line, start searching for cherry drying, pollination, or even frost control gigs (those will help you rack up your "ag" hours) until you get about 1000 in desired aircraft with a large portion of it technically being "ag". This is probably the best route if you cannot buy your own helicopter like the guy I know did.... Hope this helps a little, Good Luck! 

The part you're missing is that flying is about 20% of the knowledge and skill required to be an ag-pilot. Most of it is farming and product knowledge. When you work the ground, you're not actually paying dues (well, maybe a little), you're learning the most important part of the operation. Knowing the product effects and limitations can be the difference between making a career, or subjecting your and your employer to millions of dollars in litigation. It happens all the time.

 

As for you practicing "low passes and ag turns", I highly suggest doing them under the guidance of an actual ag pilot if you're not, there's more to it than you think. You don't have the added distraction of tracking the swath guidance, flow control, looking for wires, etc.. That's also something that kills several ag pilots each season. You're likely to cost the operator more money mishandling chemicals than crashing a helicopter. Several ag insurance underwriters look favorably on a few seasons of ground work because of it.

 

If you want the real scoop on ag flying you should join the National Agricultural Aviation Association (www.agaviation.org) , it's an investment well spent. There's a lot of good information for aspiring ag pilots, and the annual conventions are where most of the networking and employment opportunities exist.

 

In case you're wondering, I'm actually a helicopter guy by trade, still active duty Army (UH-1, UH-60, MD500, MH-47s, King Airs and UH-72s). I take all my leave in the summer and fly fixed wing ag in an Air Tractor AT-602.

 

Mike-


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#26 Andrew N

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 07:26

I started ag at 160 hours

 

any tips?



#27 R22139RJ

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 14:45

I'd get your ATP and work for the S92 gig. When your buddies have lives and air conditioning you feel like you are missing out.
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