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First Job- CFI, CFII or Commercial Ops?


What was your first job out of flight school?  

44 members have voted

  1. 1. What was your first job out of flight school?

    • Commercial, tours, photo flights, ferry, etc.
      6
    • CFI at school trained at
      7
    • CFI at different school
      5
    • CFII at school trained at
      11
    • CFII at different school
      5
    • Ag/spraying
      1
    • Military
      7
    • Other
      2
  2. 2. How long did you work your first job?

    • 1-9 months
      11
    • 1-2 years
      17
    • 3-4 years
      9
    • 5+ years
      7


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As someone still working towards my ratings, I am curious how others on VR got their first job. I plan to go all the way to CFII, but I know that isn't the case for everybody. In other words, It's good to have a plan, but I don't want to exclude any possibilities.

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All of the above. I worked where I trained, doing LOTS of part 91 R44 sightseeing tours, R44/R22 photo/video all over Western WA, and R22/R44 IFR/VFR flight instruction in the greater Puget Sound area. We also had some light Ag work, ferry trips available around the US, and occasionally corporate needs. My experience was the perfect example of the benefits of being maximally qualified. For awhile I was the only CFII, the only one with the hours and SFAR in the R44, the only one on the drug test program for tours, and the only one working on PR. I was just a LITTLE busy and reached 1000 PIC in about 18mo despite a damaged economy and Pacific Northwest weather. Great variety, loved every minute of it!

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So here is a little inside baseball, but here goes...

I am about to start my instrument rating. As far as instrument time goes, I am contemplating whether to fly all heli (at night w/foggles for the most part), for max time in type, or split it up with some fixed wing and get some actual instrument time in IMC. I have no fixed wing time, so any input is welcome.

 

Heligirl03, that just sounds ideal. 1000 PIC in 18 months, is that typical? Was the variety of flying a result of your ratings or the varied clientele of the company you worked for? (i.e. a result of choosing a good school)

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I would go all night time with foggles. Night time will be more valuable to you than actual IMC.

 

I'll second that!

 

Every so often someone comes on here asking how they can get more night hours (mainly because they want to fly EMS, who can require up to 300).

 

I've never read a post by someone desiring more "actual" IMC.

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All of the above. I worked where I trained, doing LOTS of part 91 R44 sightseeing tours, R44/R22 photo/video all over Western WA, and R22/R44 IFR/VFR flight instruction in the greater Puget Sound area. We also had some light Ag work, ferry trips available around the US, and occasionally corporate needs. My experience was the perfect example of the benefits of being maximally qualified. For awhile I was the only CFII, the only one with the hours and SFAR in the R44, the only one on the drug test program for tours, and the only one working on PR. I was just a LITTLE busy and reached 1000 PIC in about 18mo despite a damaged economy and Pacific Northwest weather. Great variety, loved every minute of it!

 

This should be, or rather is, the template for success in this business.

Nice job heligril03!

Edited by Spike
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All of the above. I worked where I trained, doing LOTS of part 91 R44 sightseeing tours, R44/R22 photo/video all over Western WA, and R22/R44 IFR/VFR flight instruction in the greater Puget Sound area. We also had some light Ag work, ferry trips available around the US, and occasionally corporate needs. My experience was the perfect example of the benefits of being maximally qualified. For awhile I was the only CFII, the only one with the hours and SFAR in the R44, the only one on the drug test program for tours, and the only one working on PR. I was just a LITTLE busy and reached 1000 PIC in about 18mo despite a damaged economy and Pacific Northwest weather. Great variety, loved every minute of it!

 

The best pilot I ever flew with had a similar attitude. If she was interested in something, she was 100% into it and probably the best at it one had ever seen.

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"maximally qualified" + working your butt off! :) seems to be the recipe.

 

I didn't get a job at the school where I trained, and though I didn't have the SFAR signoff (yet) when I applied where I work, it was key that I had the CFII. Remember just having a 'job' as a CFI isn't nearly as useful as having a job & having STUDENTS, and things like a 44 signoff, Instrument Instructor rating and low weight all combine to get you more students.

 

I started looking as soon as I got my CFI (and it's NEVER too early to start networking) but it was only after I got my CFII that I got that break.

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All of the above. I worked where I trained, doing LOTS of part 91 R44 sightseeing tours, R44/R22 photo/video all over Western WA, and R22/R44 IFR/VFR flight instruction in the greater Puget Sound area. We also had some light Ag work, ferry trips available around the US, and occasionally corporate needs. My experience was the perfect example of the benefits of being maximally qualified. For awhile I was the only CFII, the only one with the hours and SFAR in the R44, the only one on the drug test program for tours, and the only one working on PR. I was just a LITTLE busy and reached 1000 PIC in about 18mo despite a damaged economy and Pacific Northwest weather. Great variety, loved every minute of it!

 

This is extremely encouraging for me....I'm going to do my training at HNW and plan on maxing out my ratings and basically doing exactly what you did. 18mo is less than half of the time frame I had in mind! Time to bust my butt!

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This is extremely encouraging for me....I'm going to do my training at HNW and plan on maxing out my ratings and basically doing exactly what you did. 18mo is less than half of the time frame I had in mind! Time to bust my butt!

 

I want to clarify in case I misled...my post referenced time on the job, so the 18mo was 230TT-1100TT or thereabouts. I spent a previous 18mo getting my ratings over a 2yr period (there was a 6mo gap between CFI/CFII). So all in all it was just under 4yrs to go 0-1100TT.

 

It certainly wouldn't have happened like that if I hadn't planned to maximize my experience, but as is always the case in this industry, I got lucky with timing.... When I finished there were 3 other CFIs but none flew the R44 or had a CFII. These days there are something like 4 CFIs, 3 CFIIs, 2 dedicated tour pilots, and the CFI/IIs also fly tours. Soooo, you can see how quickly things change, I only left 10 months ago. It goes in cycles, so hope for the best and plan for the worst. Regardless, BFI is a great place to learn!

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First job was CFII for the school I trained at. This particular school wouldn't take you unless you went all the way through to CFII, but didn't care if you were 44 qualified or not. Didn't do much other than flight instruction, maybe 1 or 2 photo flights but still managed to get 1000pic within 12 months. Teaching only cfi students slowed flight hours down a bit but I managed to get about 1200 pic in 16 months and that was enough to get hired on elsewhere.

 

As was stated above, if you're going to do something like this you need to do it all the way. Be the best candidate for the job you want and do everything you can to expand your qualifications. The go-getters are the ones who come out ahead in this industry. (Besides the schmoozers and the pencil whippers of course)

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My first job was working as a "Helicopter Operations Coordinator" in northern Canada. I was a 160 hour pilot both TC and FAA commercial. They gave me 5 hours Bell 206 training (I had 30 hours 206 previous) and I passed the PPC checkride, good to go to work. Spent the season near the arctic circle working 42 on 14 off, 14 hour days. It was mostly a ground job but they did get me flying and gave me a start. The economy tanked soon after and they laid off the low timers (1500 or less). I was able to get a job giving glider tours and instruction for 320 hours mountain flying and worked towards the CFI. With fresh CFI and 300 heli hours I leased a 22 and found students and time builders. That was a big risk in every sense, but was able to land a Part 135 job in Alaska the next spring. I immediately rolled a machine in whiteout on a glacier but no injuries just bruised ego and huge helping of humble pie. This business is not forgiving of mistakes, but fortunately I am still flying in Alaska now. Minus 27 C today only light to 20 kt winds flew 4.9 with vis down to .5 mile thru a pass. Spent 2 hours checking Wx before sunrise and go/no go decision. Carried full covers, heaters, stove, sleeping bag, survival, etc to make it easy to stay put if need be. Not sure if this kind of pilot life is what the flightschool advertised!

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Thanks Az, my story is unconventional by both Canadian and US norms but it worked. The ingredient was perseverance and hard work. Now after 4.5 years from starting there is a shortage of 2K pilots in Canada since the flow of new blood virtually stopped. I have 5 verbal job offers to start in Jan. What a change from my situation only a year ago. Leaning towards an Astar job in Fort St "Nowhere" 21 on 10 off likely live on top of a line for the summer.

 

I had many challenges but was able to get over the hump. To newcomers I advise be realistic how hard it is to break in. Almost anyone can do it but for some it may not be worth the sacrifice and effort involved. DO NOT pencil whip but definitely schmooze. Developing contacts is key. Be the hardest worker, and stay positive. Professionalism starts with your first intro flight. Use every advantage because everyone wants to succeed so you have to get organized and be one of the best and the hardest worker. We are all different and have strengths and weaknesses but effort and hard work is recognized.

 

Last piece of advice, eventually you may settle down flying close to "home", but it's easier if you are prepared to go anywhere. I've gone through two relationships since starting and don't expect to settle down for another few years. I've seen pilots make it work but usually after getting established. Be realistic about the lifestyle. 14 hour days are the norm. Looking back it has been worth it and I love the job. I'm not sure if all starry eyed newbies would like the end result.

 

Sitting here watching the snow fall and not flying. Hope everyone had a great thanksgiving. Got invited to dinner by a random stranger who took pity on a vagabond pilot.

 

Rant over!

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

TransLift, I decided to fly as much as possible at night. It really changes the way I fly with the foggles, (I've been up once) and especially in the north woods, there are no lights to get your bearings with. All in all, it must be as near IMC you can get simulated. The night adm and sprm is also challenging. it is disorienting and difficult. learning from mistakes is humbling too. unfortunately there is no foggled and perplexed emoticon.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would take whatever first job you can get. We take in a lot of cfii's that don't get jobs at the school that they trained at and we groom them in our boat photo program. This last year included cfii's from Bristow, Hillsboro, Maua Lona, etc. We do about three times as much boat photo as we do primary training so we are school that is a net provider of jobs. We have one helicopter out tonight on frost patrol (www.frostpatrol.com) here in Florida as the temp forecast is near freezing so if you don't like our normal sea level, warm, bikini type weather enjoy the cold flying with us on some nippy evenings. Most of our pilot train with us and everyone in our school that makes it to cfi gets a job because we do mostly photo. A lot of JAA pilots come over to build 100 or more hours and they can get this done in a month during the summer (June, July and August). Many just come to us to train as if you have a pplh it is just $200/hour. So, to the original poster if your school gives you that shaft and doesn't hire you because that is a mathematical impossibility for most schools keep us in mind. www.r22.us explains most of our programs. We are currently flying in Pensacola, Sarasota, Ft Myers, Orlando, Miami, Chicago, Lake Havasu, Torrance, Houston, Austin and Annapolis but if you are funded you can fly anywhere on our google map. We also have a cfi class that runs for four days and starts Jan 9 and all you need is to have your cfi written completed. Tom 561-346-2816 www.HelicotperAcademy.com (and ten year advertiser on JH and VR).

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"We have one helicopter out tonight on frost patrol (www.frostpatrol.com) here in Florida as the temp forecast is near freezing so if you don't like our normal sea level, warm, bikini type weather enjoy the cold flying with us on some nippy evenings."

 

Do you do that with the R22?

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