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What was your first job after instructing?


ralpez
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I have been researching a possible career change and reading through this forum the last few months has been extremely beneficial to my outlook on the industry as a whole. I finally have a question that i haven't been able to answer through the search box.

 

I understand that most pilots get their CFI/CFII so they can become instructors after training, mainly because those are the jobs available for a pilot with 200-300hrs. Those that do get hired on at a school tend to stay until they get 1000-1500hrs. But what is the next step in career progression? I don't assume that 1000 hrs in an R22 would mean anything to a company in the Gulf.

 

From those with experience I would like to know how you did it and from guys still in training I would like to know what jobs/industries you are looking at.

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Well, this is the way that I hope to see my career progression take shape:

 

Instruct right out of training until I get the magic number,

 

Get hired by ERA Alaska and do the tours / gulf combo until I reach 2500-3000 hours,

 

Get hired by Air Methods back here in Colorado and work EMS for the rest of my career.

 

I realize that it may not turn out like that at all, that's why I said "hope". In a perfect world, it would look exactly like that though.

 

So......here's to hope!

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I went to Alaska at 1300. One company there, Temsco will take you at 1000 if you have an instrument rating and having turbine time is not necessary. Then after one season there I got a utility/LL job. Working in AK opens lots of doors. Plus it's amazingly beautiful. I wouldn't bother going to the GOM or the Grand Canyon unless that's something you want to do.

 

Biggest suggestion is no matter your time level, go to Heli Success in Vegas every year. Networking or more important than any amount of time you'll log. This industry is all about timing and who you know. Some won't admit it but its downright true. Get out there, make friends, and fly safe. You'll do great.

 

And for white shadow, not to spoil anything, but ERA is weird about their AK/GOM stuff. It's either one or the other. Say if you get on in AK, which they won't even talk to you unless you have 2000, and then you want to go GOM, kiss AK goodbye. Once your in the GOM system, there's no going back. I have lots of friends there and there is only one person they know of that got to do that. But they are a great operator in AK. They have good retention because they pay well and treat their pilots well. Plus they offer room for advancement. A good friend of mine started flying tours in the summer and that winter they offered him a SIC seat in a 212. So he did that during the winter and then went back to the Astar in the summer. Then the next winter he's PIC in the 212. So if you like Alaska, and want to fly Astars and get paid well, they are an excellent company to fly for!

 

Safe sky's!

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My first job, at 1100 hrs PIC, all Robinson time, was for RLC in the GOM. I bought a plane ticket to Orlando to attend the Heli-Expo job fair. Job fair was a disappointment. Everyone wanted way more hours than I had at the time. While at the Expo, I bumped into an old acquaintance of mine who ended up being the reference that got me in the door at RLC. At the same time, I had a couple references that almost led to Papillon in the Grand Canyon. I promised RLC I would work for 2 years. That time is almost up and I plan on moving on to work for PHI. After that, probably Air Methods or whatever.

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Jibbs, thanks for all the great info. That's one reason I put it all out there. I figured someone would chime in with something to say. I have always wanted to go to Alaska, at least for a while. I figured if I can get paid to be there, great! I guess if I had to choose and get "stuck" somewhere, Alaska would be where I want to be. At least I have a little more info to go on. Thanks a lot.

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I went to Alaska at 1300. One company there, Temsco will take you at 1000 if you have an instrument rating and having turbine time is not necessary. Then after one season there I got a utility/LL job. Working in AK opens lots of doors. Plus it's amazingly beautiful. I wouldn't bother going to the GOM or the Grand Canyon unless that's something you want to do.

 

Biggest suggestion is no matter your time level, go to Heli Success in Vegas every year. Networking or more important than any amount of time you'll log. This industry is all about timing and who you know. Some won't admit it but its downright true. Get out there, make friends, and fly safe. You'll do great.

 

And for white shadow, not to spoil anything, but ERA is weird about their AK/GOM stuff. It's either one or the other. Say if you get on in AK, which they won't even talk to you unless you have 2000, and then you want to go GOM, kiss AK goodbye. Once your in the GOM system, there's no going back. I have lots of friends there and there is only one person they know of that got to do that. But they are a great operator in AK. They have good retention because they pay well and treat their pilots well. Plus they offer room for advancement. A good friend of mine started flying tours in the summer and that winter they offered him a SIC seat in a 212. So he did that during the winter and then went back to the Astar in the summer. Then the next winter he's PIC in the 212. So if you like Alaska, and want to fly Astars and get paid well, they are an excellent company to fly for!

 

Safe sky's!

 

I'd love to fly in AK - but from what I've heard jobs up there are predominantly seasonal. What are the winter jobs like up there?

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After instructing I worked at Island Express Helicopters in Long Beach,CA flying Astars. Mostly Catalina Island charters, TV show work, L.A. area charters and tours. Pay was low which for ed me to move to Las Vegas, where I flew for Maverick. I had a feeling the economy was going to take a hit in 2008 so I left there to work for Tri-State CareFlight. I now work for REACH Air Medical in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

That was how I progressed. The short version anyway.

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At 800 I got in with an ag/utility company. Worked on the ground and flew also. Moved on to powerline utility company from there at 1300 (first turbine job) and stayed there for 9 months until I got an offer with the company I actually wanted to work for, doing powerline maintenance.

Edited by Trans Lift
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I flew tours in AK this past summer and plan on going back next season. I got on with 1200 hours.

 

Regarding the question about the off season, if you're smart about it you can make enough in the summer to get you through most of the winter if you plan on going back the following season. Quite a few of the first season guys I worked with got jobs in Hawaii and the GOM, but don't plan on returning.

 

Quick word of advice too, squeeze out as much time as you can before getting out of instructing. The "magic" number is no longer magic or automatic. At 1200, I was in the bottom 3 or 4 out of 20 new hires this season. Networking is crucial.

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Thanks everyone for the great responses.

 

JD, if you don't mind me asking, how many hours did you have at each of those transitions?

 

I stayed in instruction until 1500 hrs. Mostly because I enjoyed it. Went to Island Express at 1200 total time, no turbine time. I had over 2300 total time going into Maverick and 3000 going into EMS. Been in EMS over 5 years.

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  • 2 months later...

I'm hoping to get on with RLC soon to make the jump to first job. Does anyone have insight to the interview process? What questions do they typically ask, is there a test administered, flight check, etc? I know they are doing interviews today so I'm hoping to get some fresh info on this topic.

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After flight school, Vietnam. After that, Fort Wolters IP for a few months, offered a second tour in Viet Nam, so I took an early out with 1500 hrs total.

After that, regular guy with real jobs for 10 years or so.

Then instructed a bit, but the owner started talking about retiring, so I went to PHI with about 1900 and stayed 13 years, leaving with 8800 or so and an ATP. I liked the GoM, I'd go back in a second but I live in my wife's hometown, all her family is here. A 10-16 hour commute sucks.

Stay at home Dad while she finished school, until the nest egg was just shell.

EMS the last 12 years.

Edited by Wally
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Ok, how about this for a story...... But only because you asked........

 

I have never instructed.

 

Commercial, instrument multi-engine airplane right after college. Then Army flight school as a guard pilot. Tried to be an airline pilot for about 3 years. Flew for a Delta connection commuter airline for a year- absolutely hated it. It was the worse year of my life. Quit and worked a "real job" for about three years while continuing to fly UH 1s then UH 60s in the Guard.

 

I was just at the right place at the right time with the right qualifications when I got my current job more than 15 years ago. I had about 2500TT evenly split between f/w and r/w. All the r/w was turbine and about half the f/w was turbine.

 

So here I am as an old guy and guess what I am doing? Adding my CFI-H. I definitely recommend that you get your CFI while you are getting all of your other ratings and all that "stuff" is fresh and current. I can't believe how much I have forgotten. Plus it is hard to teach and old dog a new trick.

 

Not what you asked on this tread, but a true and interesting path. It has been a heck of a ride.

 

Good luck to you.

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Ok, how about this for a story...... But only because you asked........

 

I have never instructed.

 

Commercial, instrument multi-engine airplane right after college. Then Army flight school as a guard pilot. Tried to be an airline pilot for about 3 years. Flew for a Delta connection commuter airline for a year- absolutely hated it. It was the worse year of my life. Quit and worked a "real job" for about three years while continuing to fly UH 1s then UH 60s in the Guard.

 

I was just at the right place at the right time with the right qualifications when I got my current job more than 15 years ago. I had about 2500TT evenly split between f/w and r/w. All the r/w was turbine and about half the f/w was turbine.

 

So here I am as an old guy and guess what I am doing? Adding my CFI-H. I definitely recommend that you get your CFI while you are getting all of your other ratings and all that "stuff" is fresh and current. I can't believe how much I have forgotten. Plus it is hard to teach and old dog a new trick.

 

Not what you asked on this tread, but a true and interesting path. It has been a heck of a ride.

 

Good luck to you.

 

For us non military pilots getting the CFI now isn't really a choice (if we want to find work)! Why would you want to cram yourself into a tiny little piston and spend your days trying to not let some newbie kill you, if you had the hours to do, any other flying job?

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For us non military pilots getting the CFI now isn't really a choice (if we want to find work)! Why would you want to cram yourself into a tiny little piston and spend your days trying to not let some newbie kill you, if you had the hours to do, any other flying job?

 

I think you question was directed to me and my current work toward a CFI.

 

I have no intention of flying a "tiny little piston" helicopter. I have been our unit training officer since 2005. Although I am not required by our Operatins Manual to have the CFI, I thought it was the professional thing to do. It will only be for internal unit training. And yes, I do have the hours, ratings and experience to do other flying jobs. It is just about professional development. But I wish I had done it 20 years ago.

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Ok, how about this for a story...... But only because you asked........

 

I have never instructed.

 

Commercial, instrument multi-engine airplane right after college. Then Army flight school as a guard pilot. Tried to be an airline pilot for about 3 years. Flew for a Delta connection commuter airline for a year- absolutely hated it. It was the worse year of my life. Quit and worked a "real job" for about three years while continuing to fly UH 1s then UH 60s in the Guard.

 

 

What didn't you like about the Delta commuter? With all of the reports of fatigue and low pay, just curious what your experience was like and what set you off from it.

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What didn't you like about the Delta commuter? With all of the reports of fatigue and low pay, just curious what your experience was like and what set you off from it.

 

OMG, there is not enough time or space on this forum to answer that question!

 

But, yes, low pay, fatigue and crappy working environment were the major factors. It was a Part 135 operation, so it is probably much better now that all scheduled service must be Part 121. Living in hotels and eating airport food gets real old fast. I don't know how anybody ever passes a flight physical after five years of that. One year was enough for me.

 

Plus, it was just boring flying. Point A to B, flying the same routes IFR everyday. You would get the exact same vectors, clearances, altitudes, etc on the same routes day after day. As a flight crew, you had absolutely no decisions in when, where or how to fly. If the weather was crappy, all you could do was delay. The decision to cancel was a business decision that could only be made by the company. If the weather was above minimums, you were going.

 

It just was not helicopter flying. Some people like it. Probably not as bad now, if you are in Part 121 Regional Jet. But I was in a Part 135 turboprop, at the bottom of the seniority, with no upward movement in sight. The only thing good that I will say about it is, it gave me some great experience and certainly helped me get the job that I have now, flying both helicopters and the occasional King Air.

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