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Inquiry into Piloting

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Howdy, I know this may not be the exact place for this inquiry but I need to start somewhere. A little background; I’m 26, have a background in agriculture as both an operator and mechanic, and experience in the heavy equipment field. This isn’t the pitchfork and straw hat picture most will get,it is working with auto guidance, mapping, recording, and operating the newest and largest equipment in the industry. I have struggled to find my place and enjoy moving frequently to find new challenges and obstacles to tackle. I am very particular with safety and precision, which I feel may be more important in the aviation industry than ag? I prefer long periods of working in solitude but work well with a team as well. I recently ran across openings for commercial helicopter pilots who transport equipment, workers, and supplies throughout the Rockies in Canada and the US. The position was under contract and required frequent moving as contracts ended as well as experiences in other aspects of the industry such as mapping, scouting, firefighting, ect. As for pay, it seems the wages exponentially with experience and most are near my income while working half the hours. My question before even looking into schooling and a new career path is does anyone have any experience with this? Anyone i could possibly get in contact with to discuss their lifestyle and see if it may be a path I want to take? Is freelance piloting a viable career at all? How much time would be spent operating aircraft as opposed to filling out paperwork? Is it even possible to break into long line piloting? I have read alot that has dulled my enthusiasm but most posts are years old so has the demand and salary picked up? Is this even an industry that would keep my traveling lifestyle satisfied? Sorry for such newbie questions. I greatly appreciate any insight. Thanks,


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Everybody flying professionally started with zero flight time. Everybody flying professionally went through a vigorous process of elimination, even after getting all the certificates necessary to work at it.


It's possible, but it is a long and difficult process. Most, if not the great, vast majority who start will not make a career out of it. The real cull is after you get your license- a 200 hour new commercial pilot is almost unemployable- teach others or hustle, scrounge for flight time over 2-5 years.


An emphasis on safety and precision is more than important, it's a matter of survival.


I am biased as I am a solitary person, I enjoy solitude. I also enjoy working with people, I like people. Important as a professional pilot, most of your work will be relating to people. Even the flying involves determining what exactly does this next flight require of me? You'll have to be able to determine that by interacting with people, who really don't know what they're asking you to do.


If I were going to quibble, it would be with this: 'As for pay, it seems the wages exponentially with experience and most are near my income while working half the hours.' Perhaps you're confusing seven days on seven days off, a common schedule, as only half the hours? Those are usually 14 hour days and sometimes longer. I don't think I ever had a 40 hour work week flying, my average over the year was the equivalent of a 60 hour week. Not flying, my highest annual flight time was 1100 hours, just time on the job.

I worked the Gulf of Mexico for 14 years just after that phase of the industry peaked. The average pilot in my company flew 4-500 hours a year out of 2600 hours on the job annually. One would spend a little bit more than an hour of other work for every hour one flew, there, then. A lot of time watching TV (at best) or sitting in the helo waiting...

There are jobs that fly much, much less- I also did 14 years of HEMS, averaging 150 hours a year. At that rate, I dd approximately 2 hours of work related to aviation for every hour I flew.


I got my training and basic qualifications in the Army- high school, flight school and VIetnam. The military will train you and pay you. They also make you dress funny and boss you around a lot.


Compensation is increasing for pilots as the number of jobs decrease. Not a great deal of improvement at the beginner's end of the scale, but later as a journeyman professional.

Automation, UAVs will take a lot of jobs from in-the-seat pilots.


ALL helicopter pilot jobs are essentially free-lance, traveling jobs. Even with a union contract and at an established HEMS program, almost three-quarters of the bases and attached pilot jobs closed or moved. And that was the most stable pilot job I ever had, I took that seat to be ome every night. Mostly I was.


I'd be happy to communicate directly, but I retired two years ago and have been out of the job market since my last interview for HEMS...

Edited by Wally
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Best job for a solitary man is long haul trucker. Aviation (especially entry-level civilian) requires a far greater degree of people skills than I would have ever imagined in my wildest nightmares :(



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