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Flying Tours Too Long?

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I heard from some people who I fly tours with that if you stay in tours for more than about 2 years, some employers might see that as a negative. A couple of caveats:

 

- They were specifically talking about EMS companies seeing it as a negative.

 

- They may have been speaking out of their hindquarters.

 

Can anyone here substantiate this claim? I realize that there might be ONE company that they heard that from and suddenly it became an EMS-Wide FACT from there. I know how these myths become legends. I also know that if I chose to do tours longer than most, I believe I could articulate why I chose to do so when the time comes to move on.

 

Anyone have an opinion on this?

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I don't see anything wrong with staying in a steady job. I think that could be easily justified to any future employers. I guess an argument could be made on the experience side of things but yeah, if the tour company pays well and the living is good why the hell would you leave?

Edited by SBuzzkill

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EMS has had a relatively disproportionate number of mishaps. EMS experience isn't viewed negatively, especially if working for one of the larger providers out there, but working for the wrong provider (one that's experienced more mishaps) or having a mishap can establish an unfavorable history.

 

You have to qualify the question. If seeking employment with an EMS operator, then EMS experience can be immensely helpful. That is also subjective; experience with a competitor or an operator with a poor reputation can damage one's chances. If you've had an incident or mishap, that can damage chances.

 

It's a bit like ag flying. Ag work takes a high degree of attention, coordination, and skill. It's also very free-range: there's virtually no supervision or oversight out there, so one may be a dedicated professional or a real cowboy, and nobody would know. Unfortunately, over the decades, it's the cowboys that have made the papers and the reputation, and ag experience can be detrimental down the line when by default it paints the pilot as undisciplined, rogue, and even reckless. This is most often not the case, but it's not an uncommon point of view for many employers who don't know ag work, but only the reputation. I can speak to that personally. My first employment right out of the gate after high school was ag flying, and it's something to which I've returned again and again. I've had a number of employers or potential employers speak of it as a negative reflection or a potential one; it becomes a matter of guilt by association.

 

Is this true of tour operators or EMS? No. But it can be.

 

How a particular operator perceives tour flying or EMS flying can have a big impact, so while there's nothing negative about flying tours, even doing so for several years, that fact may not matter to a particular operator. Same for EMS.

 

I think that most operators view extended stable employment as a big plus. After all, if you're going to come work for me, I don't want to invest money training you to know you'll leave the first time someone else offers you a dollar more an hour. I want to know that I can have a long term employee, and while part of that might be what the employer pays and the quality of life and the environment, a big part of it is found in the nature of the pilot. A pilot that stays put suggests someone who sticks with a job, and speaks to dependability and reliability. It also says that the pilot was worth keeping around for the long run.

 

A pilot who sticks with a questionable job or operator for an extended period is not a good sign. If the operator is one with questionable maintenance or operating practices, or that has a history of violations or mishaps, makes one wonder about the type of pilot that would stay there. Is he unable to find work elsewhere? What's the reason. Important questions for an employer to ask, when the employer is risking his business, reputation, and equipment on the choice of pilot.

 

I've flown EMS for several operators, and have done several years of EMS work. Likewise, I've done a few years of tour work, too. Both respectable jobs, and I learned and grew in both positions. Tour work didn't pay particularly well, but at the time it did offer a lot of flying, and that was what I needed. EMS work wasn't the highest paying, either, but it was fairly stable, I had a schedule, and I felt a purpose in what I did. If you are happy with your job, forget those who say it's a negative. What's more important is your own attitude and who you are as an employee and a person. That will say far more about you and your employability than the number of years you flew tours or patients.

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I heard from some people who I fly tours with that if you stay in tours for more than about 2 years, some employers might see that as a negative. A couple of caveats:

 

- They were specifically talking about EMS companies seeing it as a negative.

 

- They may have been speaking out of their hindquarters.

 

Can anyone here substantiate this claim? I realize that there might be ONE company that they heard that from and suddenly it became an EMS-Wide FACT from there. I know how these myths become legends. I also know that if I chose to do tours longer than most, I believe I could articulate why I chose to do so when the time comes to move on.

 

Anyone have an opinion on this?

 

If I’m reading the question as you intend, yes, I have heard this from a senior pilot who fly’s for a major EMS operator…..

 

He said, they (the operator) are receiving a large number of applicants who’ve generally worked for 2 operators over a significant number of years. The first being the flight school where they worked as a CFI and the second being a tour operator……. Imagine, a resume with a few thousands of hours of time accumulated from 2 operators…….. Historically, not a norm for EMS but it may be a new norm in the future…. Either way, the pilot indicated the open positions are still vacant…..

Edited by Spike

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A more diverse background with a greater range of experience is a plus, as is having been evaluated and chosen by multiple employers.

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I've got to be honest. Some details are too small to worry about. I sure wouldn't leave tours based on worrying if you've been there too long.

 

On the flipside,many companies in the industry might view ems as negative. Specificly different utility and ag companies. Different lifestyles. Different environments.

 

There's too many varibles to worry about.

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If I’m reading the question as you intend, yes, I have heard this from a senior pilot who fly’s for a major EMS operator…..

 

He said, they (the operator) are receiving a large number of applicants who’ve generally worked for 2 operators over a significant number of years. The first being the flight school where they worked as a CFI and the second being a tour operator……. Imagine, a resume with a few thousands of hours of time accumulated from 2 operators…….. Historically, not a norm for EMS but it may be a new norm in the future…. Either way, the pilot indicated the open positions are still vacant…..

I'll tell you where I have run into problems and things I've heard. I worked for a very reputable UTILITY company that just so happened to do tours also. However, the tours side is the only side people ever hear of or acknowledge assuming that is how you made your hours. I have applied to a couple places that during the interview say things like "Oh, so you worked for ___ flying tours?" where no where in my resume or anything did I indicate I did tours. So to some people it looks like I spent an awful lot of time at a "Tour company" when in reality I did very little tours and mostly utility.

 

Also, I moved into EMS and now fly in that sector. However, I have attempted to get back into the utility world a couple times and keep running into the same problem. Utility doesn't look highly at EMS pilots. So even with previous utility work, they still don't look at you.

 

Point being, I don't know that the actual tenure at a company matters to a lot of hiring managers. Not in the Helicopter world. It also depends on the sector. I know utility guys that are with different companies almost ever summer it seems like. Even guys that have switched mid season. I think most utility operators expect that. In the EMS world... not so much.

 

Morale of my story... too many variables.

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My father flew for Papillion for about 10 years. 5 years in Hawaii, 5ish years in the Canyon. After a couple of years as simply a tour pilot, he moved to a line pilot and flew a lot of utility work. Long line, siesmic, film, etc for Papillion. He was the ACP before he left. He said he would fly tours to give guys piss/lunch breaks but most of the time he was frying bigger fish.

 

He racked up a ton of time.

 

He started an ag business when he left and then took an EMS job shortly afterwards to keep him busy the rest of the year. No issues getting on as an EMS pilot.

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Thanks for the responses everyone. All are appreciated and put into the vault for consideration when the time comes.

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I heard pilots working Papillion drive for Uber as well. Great money on the side!

They probably make more money with Uber...

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I dunno about that. I drove for Uber to supplement my income as a flight instructor and it didn't seem worth the trouble after tax time. I spent more time driving across town to pick up fares than I did actually carrying fares, and the cost added up. Once the gov'mint takes their chunk, whats left is laughable for the amount of time you put in. Maybe I was just in a crappy location. Now that I work for Papillon I'm doing pretty dang well. It's not the best paying company on the strip, but its not the worst either. And I get to work with awesome people like Whiteshadow!

 

We all have our reasons for staying or leaving. Often they are deeply personal. Tour jobs are usually pretty stable and steady, unless the pilot isn't. That's a big reason for me to stay, especially considering I am a family man and I don't feel like commuting or moving my family every couple years.

Edited by nightsta1ker
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