“What exactly would I be doing?”
During interviews I’ve asked this question. Usually because I applied for a job that simply read…..pilot needed to fly “x” airplane, with a brief description of the experience required for the job. Finding out the business which required said airplane to be piloted, came later.
As a whole, aviation is a very unique industry. Familiar to the general public, the airlines stand out as the obvious job to acquire should one pursue a pilot career.
Of course, there are numerous types of aviation jobs out there; most pilots simply aren’t aware of them. So, if you are looking for an interesting way to fill your logbook with experience, here are a few options to consider:
- Aerial survey work comes in many forms. Sometimes the work involves low flying over pipelines or roads. In other instances, cameras are flown at higher altitudes to take photographs and topography scans of terrain. This field usually involves extensive travel to places both populated and remote. The work environment tends to allow for single pilot autonomy as well as good work experience with your camera crew.
- The environment of a skydiving school might be called hanging around the surfers of aviation, it’s a lot of fun. The route is pretty simple, you just circle above an airport all day. A benefit is you get to be home every night. Typically, the aircraft for skydiving are basic vfr airplanes ranging in size and power. Maneuvers in the airplane make the flight time entertaining; such as slow flight when jumpers are away and transitioning to steep turns as you circle back down. Some of the most memorable points are when jumpers hang off of your airplane, like monkeys. This is a fun option to gain needed flight time or even as a side job over your weekends.
- You don’t have to work for UPS or FedEx to fly cargo. There are innumerable cargo contracts smaller airline operators run; from medical hazmat, car parts, airplane parts, postal mail and more. What you carry tends to affect your schedule. Unscheduled services typically provide a mix of schedule times and a variety of routes, just be prepared to be on call a lot. Sometimes ideal routes are found in scheduled services, which consist of single day flights for the most part. A positive part about cargo is that you get to travel without having the variables passengers bring.
Flying 91 Passengers
- Many business utilize an airplane they own to cut down on travel time between offices, as well as a way for business owners to travel. Getting to fly Part 91 passengers can be fun. The airplanes tend to be well kept, the destinations mix between familiar and new. Occasionally, you, as the pilot, will get to enjoy a nice vacation of your own when the owner needs you to fly them to their vacation destination. Flying for someone under part 91 is fun because you personally know your passengers and get the opportunity to develop a close relationship with your employer. Diligent pilots are treated well by good passengers.
- Flying for an aerial tour company may be a good option for an aviation job that allows you to be home every night as well as see beautiful scenery. While big tour companies typically operate around major tourist destinations, local flight businesses also have tours over points of interest for your city. Either option allows for an interesting environment focused on the fun of tourism. So whether you want to give tours over your hometown, or hop to the Bahamas to give tours over the islands, there are plenty of options.
- If you are interested in living in a remote and rugged part of the country, you may locate a flying service which transports hikers and hunters into remote areas. This kind of flying takes skill but rewards you with some of the most untouched and scenic views of breathtaking terrain. The backcountry pilot faces some unique challenges with weather and runway (or lack thereof) environments but is rewarded tenfold with flight experience.
- Critical to fire crews on the ground, aerial firefighting pilots are essential in combatting wildfires. From picking up water to dropping supplies in to firefighters on the ground, there are a lot of kinds of aerial firefighters and the airplanes and experience needed range greatly. Some jobs allow you to live locally and other jobs send you out to different states each fire season for several months at a time. The bonus to this longer schedule is that you make plenty of money during your fire season deployment and can takes months off during the rest of the year to travel.
Of course, these jobs listed are but a few options in the world of aviation. Hopefully, you will be inspired to look into them and uncover a new dream or goal. The beauty of being a pilot is that there are so many job opportunities!
A bonus is, you don’t have to be one “kind” of pilot either. Over a full career, pilots preform many different kinds of flying duties. So pick your top five jobs and go from there! Chances are, you can find the opportunity to accomplish all those goals throughout your flying career.