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Thread: Breaking into Bush Flying

  1. #1
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    Default Breaking into Bush Flying

    I'm posting this in search of good advice. I've spend time reading through other posts and replies on this forum, and from what I can see I'm among a knowledgable bunch of folks here.

    I'm currently in the Navy for another 3 1/2 years or so, and my end goal is getting a job flying in Alaska once I get out and go back to school. There's plenty of time left for decision-making. My question is, what kind of qualifications/hours would make me marketable? I'm not looking for a crazy salary or the quick road to riches here, I'd just want to make enough to survive without having to dip into my savings, preferably for a smaller company or a lodge. I'm currently SEL/instrument/SES rated with complex and high performance endorsements, and I'm looking into a tailwheel endorsement before the end of the summer. Further down the road are the commercial license and possibly CFI. What else can I do before I get out to help me along? And what advice can you give me regarding this goal?

    Anything you can pass along would be greatly appreciated. I'm here to learn, so pile it on!

  2. #2

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    Wow, lots of questions. The min hours for part 135 is 500 hrs. Without the min hours you would be looking at a right seat job to build some time. The lodges typically want more experience. A lot of lodges want 1500-3000 hrs. This is mostly an insurance thing. A lot of the lodges hire one person for 3 jobs, pilot, mechanic, and fishing guide. Sounds like you have the pilot thing figured out so I would start working on the other 2 if I was you.I strongly believe that it is not what you know but who you know, especially in aviation in Alaska. Start making connections now so when a job opens up you will hear about it. A lot of the jobs are filled by word of mouth.

  3. #3
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    You would probably find that most Alaska lodge jobs are seasonal from as early as the end of May to as late as the end of September. Most of them utilize float planes and require at least two hundred hours of float time. Another common aspect of lodge flying is that you leave in the morning with clients and possibly a guide and fly to a remote location usually within an hour or less of the lodge. You stay all day, baby sitting your clients, cooking a lunch for them with some pre-made items from the lodge and maybe some of the fish caught at your fishing location. You return to the lodge in the late afternoon or early evening in time for the scheduled dinner. You might log as much as 3 hours in one day, occasionally more, more often less. I prefer air taxi flying which is more varied, more flying and not stuck (trapped) at a lodge for 4 months.

    Most Alaska operators require a minimum of 1000 hours or more, some time in type and most of them also like to see some Alaska time or equivalent, although not all of them accept equivalent time (mountain time).

    Of the 500 hours required to fly as pilot-in-command for operations regulated by FARs part 135 (most of them), 100 hours has to be cross country time ( 50 miles from point of origin). Of that 100 hours of cross country time, 25 hours of it has to be night cross country. Co-pilot jobs are few and far between and operators that utilize copilots don't often have to hire low-time pilots to fill those occasional positions. So best to set your sights on getting your commercial, instrument , flight instructor and instrument flight instructor certs. Some Alaska flight schools hire their own instructor graduates. Take Flight Alaska at Merrill Field in Anchorage is one. Aero Tech, also at Merrill Field is another. In my opinion, the best way to log flight time after obtaining your commercial and instrument is to get your CFI-I, give flight instruction in Alaska, especially in Anchorage which has the biggest aviation community in the state. You would get to know people who could be in a position to help you get that job once you've logged enough hours to be a viable candidate. www.flyalaska.com is a good resource for more information.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monguse View Post
    Some Alaska flight schools hire their own instructor graduates. Take Flight Alaska at Merrill Field in Anchorage is one. Aero Tech, also at Merrill Field is another.
    TFA (Take Flight Alaska) has closed doors. Aero Tech is still going strong. Also, being military, you might want to checkout the Aero Club at JBER (formerly Elmendorf Air Force Base).

  5. #5
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    Take Flight Alaska has merged with Land and Sea Aviation and now has a larger fleet of planes and some new instructors.

  6. #6
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    Not sure but I stink Aero Tech has closed up. Stink the owner died or some such. You'd hafta check. I went by the other day and it was closed.

  7. #7
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    Well, get your certificates and built up some flight time, most likely you will be able to get a job out in Bethel, and in a year or two you can go do what ever it is you want to do. Yute is looking for a class in Aug. a month before winter. I took my first flying job in Bethel in Oct. back in 83. It was well a bit of a shock at first, but I did enjoy the flying.

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