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badtransam97

Working in the GOM

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There are no seasons in the Gulf of Mexico, just as there are no holidays in the Gulf of Mexico. It's 7 days/week, 365 days/year, every week, every month, every year. The weather changes, but the flights go on. Pilot requirements and chances for advancement change also. When I started, everyone started in light ships, no exceptions. You moved up to medium SIC based on seniority and company needs. I was told I would be an SIC in 3 years, but the oil patch hit a slowdown and I spent about 15 years flying small ships, mostly 206s, before I got a chance to upgrade. But I made IFR PIC in less than 3 years, because things had picked up. It's all based on seniority and company needs, no matter what they promise you. They all lie just to keep in practice.

 

I knew many SICs who stayed there because they didn't want the responsibility of being a PIC, and because the seniority starts all over again when you upgrade, and if you're at a base you like, you don't want to go back into the pool or get stuck in Fourchon, which is one of many hell-holes in southern Louisiana. Many pilots won't even go to medium SIC because they're in a good job as a small ship pilot and don't want to have to drive all over. It's different for everyone depending on the company and on the times. It's just not possible to give one correct answer for anything. Right now you can probably become an SIC fairly quickly, and move up to PIC in a few years. But if the oil companies decide to quit drilling for awhile, it can come to a screeching halt overnight. There are no guarantees of anything. But expecting to be a PIC in one year with no prior turbine time is unrealistic. It ain't gonna happen. You'll certainly need an ATP first, no matter what. As a PIC you'll get an expanded ATP checkride every 6 months anyway, so get it as soon as you can. It's not a regulatory requirement to have one, but pretty much every company requires it, because the oil companies require it. If you stick around, you'll almost certainly get a chance at medium PIC within 20 years or so, and sooner if you're lucky, but again, there are no guarantees.

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...as your questions don't make much sense or have bad information...

 

As a new hire, you may be offered a SIC position in mediums if: you have an ATP or if you have experience in twins and have or meet the requirements for the ATP.

 

...I'm guessing you are civilian low time instructor, so it will probably go like this: hire on as light ship pilot...

 

...They money is about the same between light ships and mediums until you make captain. It then goes up quite a bit.

 

They used to tell us that a 500hr pilot with an IR could get hired in the GOM to fly SIC. That's why every so often one of us low-time guys inquires about the path from SIC to PIC,...and probably why you say the questions make no sense?

 

It sounds like, though, that that was just BS? So, is the only reason to go from PIC in a "light" to SIC in a "medium", the prospect of more money one day?

:huh:

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To the guys that are or have went from GOM to EMS or vise versa, what are the pros and cons of each, and which do you think is the better job?? Just wanting to see what the guys who have done both think about it....

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They used to tell us that a 500hr pilot with an IR could get hired in the GOM to fly SIC. That's why every so often one of us low-time guys inquires about the path from SIC to PIC,...and probably why you say the questions make no sense?

 

It sounds like, though, that that was just BS? So, is the only reason to go from PIC in a "light" to SIC in a "medium", the prospect of more money one day?

:huh:

 

There were programs at one point that took lower time pilots and put them as a "SIC" in a light ship like a 206 or 407. They done it because the contract required 2 pilots. There aren't very many of them contracts from what I hear though. So the odds of getting hired for something like that are probably something similar to winning the lottery, that's if anyone were actually hiring low time SICs!

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They used to tell us that a 500hr pilot with an IR could get hired in the GOM to fly SIC. That's why every so often one of us low-time guys inquires about the path from SIC to PIC,...and probably why you say the questions make no sense?

 

It sounds like, though, that that was just BS? So, is the only reason to go from PIC in a "light" to SIC in a "medium", the prospect of more money one day?

:huh:

 

Butters, I knew a guy who got on like this. It was in 07 though when I was just getting my PPL. Back then, I remember Instructors getting hired offshore the week after they got their 1000 hrs. It used to be if you from the gulf coast, and you flew down there, you were pretty much promised the express lane to offshore if you acted right.

 

However...the times have changed.

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Thanks for all the great info. I really appreciate it. I've been thinking about my career and trying to decide the best route to take for the long run. I've been thinking if it would be better to stay an instructor for another year get up to 1200PIC in the Robinson and then move on to the Gulf or if it would be better to go for SIC and sacrafice PIC time for the tubine time. I was worried that if I was to do that, my lack of building up my PIC time to the 1200 would trap me forever in an SIC position with no chance of getting out.

 

Thanks again

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To the guys that are or have went from GOM to EMS or vise versa, what are the pros and cons of each, and which do you think is the better job?? Just wanting to see what the guys who have done both think about it....

 

EMs vs GOM thoughts-

 

EMS- home every night, or day, depending on what you're covering.

GOM- RON at the house 3, 4 times a year.

 

EMS- kinda, sorta, regular schedule. Call-ins happen, no relief pilots, O/T (if time and a half is paid) cheaper than out of service while a relief located.

GOM- 7&7 or 14&14. I never, ever was called in, no mandatory O/T, period. I hear that's changed somewhat, but I expect the majors still have scheduling departments and pool pilots to save a buck in O/T.

 

EMS- 24/7/365, 12 hour shifts.

GOM- 365 DAYS a year, 14 hour shifts (wink, wink).

 

EMS- Don't fly much, 150-200 hours a year typical.

GOM- Fly at least twice as much, if not more.

 

EMS- Mostly a team and you're responsible for the aviation side. Get crosswise with the medical side and you have a problem, Mr Pilot.

GOM- Pilots are meat servoes, the company is a module plucker keeping the helo working.

 

EMS- City lights, chained to the seat, you fly to/from the arm pits and crotches of the world.

GOM- Electricity, running water optional, you're based at the "arm pits and crotches" and work the other side of nowhere. I once reported to base where 5 transient pilots shared a standard-sized bedroom and a (1, one-each) shower stall and commode.

Offshore varies from really nice 'barracks' to a discarded rental portable building.

 

EMS- Never, ever "take a look"

GOM- Take a look. Now. I can almost see the helicopter. I once had potential passenger tell me "He didn't care if he was killed (in a weather crash) trying to get home..."

 

EMS- Nothing sucks worse than having a really, really sick patient who's "circling the drain" and crappy weather, unless it's-

GOM- Really crappy weather and no place to land, time to go IFR in a VFR bird or blow the floats. You're "circling the drain".

 

EMS- I like scene calls, except kids or burns. Occasional miracles.

GOM- It's a job and that's not all bad.

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Thanks for all the great info. I really appreciate it. I've been thinking about my career and trying to decide the best route to take for the long run. I've been thinking if it would be better to stay an instructor for another year get up to 1200PIC in the Robinson and then move on to the Gulf or if it would be better to go for SIC and sacrafice PIC time for the tubine time. I was worried that if I was to do that, my lack of building up my PIC time to the 1200 would trap me forever in an SIC position with no chance of getting out.

 

Thanks again

 

Unfortunately, 1200 PIC isn't cutting it anymore either it seems. I have about 1600 PIC and still can't get a job down there. PHi wants 1500 PIC and at least 100 night(I have about 80), Bristow hasn't hired in years, era wants military pilots, and lastly, RLC is on and off so just gotta wait until your resume hits the top of the pile!

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I actually know a couple of guys who got hired down there, somewhat, recently,...both were at 2000hrs.

 

It seems that minimums just keep going up?

:mellow:

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I was just reading another forum and came across a post that said many companies in the GOM will not even look at you if you are over 35. Is this true that your age is a hiring factor with the big companies in the Gulf, or anywhere for that matter?

 

I ask because by the time I am at the employable qualifications I will be in my upper 30's. From what I have read the average student pilot these days is more in thier 30's to early 40's these days.

 

I look forward to being an instructor, if I am good enough/lucky enough to get hired doing that. I would like to think that outside Instructing there would be options to work other jobs within the industry.

 

Edit:

Note: The thread I was reading was old (03-04) so hopefully this practice has also changed.

Edited by gary-mike

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I was just reading another forum and came across a post that said many companies in the GOM will not even look at you if you are over 35. Is this true that your age is a hiring factor with the big companies in the Gulf, or anywhere for that matter?

 

I ask because by the time I am at the employable qualifications I will be in my upper 30's. From what I have read the average student pilot these days is more in thier 30's to early 40's these days.

 

I look forward to being an instructor, if I am good enough/lucky enough to get hired doing that. I would like to think that outside Instructing there would be options to work other jobs within the industry.

 

Edit:

Note: The thread I was reading was old (03-04) so hopefully this practice has also changed.

 

That isn't true about the age thing, there are at least 4 new hires that are over 40

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That isn't true about the age thing, there are at least 4 new hires that are over 40

 

Thanks Pohi, I thought that sounded a little discriminitory. The question may have been answered later in that thread but, I didn't want to read through everyone of the 58 pages and 1142 posts.

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I think it needs to be said one more time. The GOM is not a homogeneous, monolithic place. Conditions are different at different companies, and change all the time, depending on what the oil companies are doing this week. I put in something over 30 years down there, and things were different just about every year, and different at different companies all the time. Things are always fluid, and nothing is ever set in stone.

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I think everyone probably knows things can change down here. It's hardly exclusive to helicopters. Down here, it all depends on the price of oil. For the past 10 years, oil has been relatively high and companies, for the most part, have been hiring all along. If oil goes to $10 a barrel, many of us will be looking for jobs. It can be volitile, but it has been pretty stable, fortunately, for quite some time. Even the depression and moratorium had little effect.

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In my experience the most important things to getting hired, regardless of what your resume says, are 1) who you know and 2) timing

I was one of the few hired by PHI with 600hours TT back in 07' because of who I knew. I made the commute from San Diego to Lafayette for 2.5 years. I chose to stay single engine because I wanted to fly the 407, but most of my friends were S-76 SIC within six months. Talking with my friends still working for PHI they say the fast track to mediums is still going. Bristow should start hiring again soon, they just sent a letter to a friend of mine furloughed over two years ago asking if he wanted to return. It also sounds like oil companies are starting to drill again. This should ramp up the pilot hiring process as well.

The GOM is a great place to work, I had a blast there and my experience at PHI was topnotch. But the traveling back and forth chewed into my budget and I didn't want to relocate permanently to the Gulf area so I made a move elsewhere. (though the payscale is continuously trending upward from what I hear)

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