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Thread: UAA Aviation Tech. Program Questions

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    Default UAA Aviation Tech. Program Questions

    Hi all, new to this forum, but you guys are very knowledgeable from what I have seen, and I hope you can help me out a bit here.

    I am in the middle of my college studies (23 years old but took time off to work for awhile after high school), and I have decided that I want to chase my dream of being an aviator, and more importantly, being an aviator in Alaska. I am wondering what kind of information you guys might have to offer about the Aviation Technology Program at UAA, and more specifically, the Professional Piloting program.

    My line of thinking is as follows: most, if not all, of the flying outfits up there require some 500 hours of Alaska time as part of your experience, presumably due to the unique flying conditions. The way I figure, it would behoove me to do my flight training IN Alaska, that way all of my flight hours will be Alaska time, and that will presumably save me some time and money and get me into one of those outfits sooner. My intention is to fly professionally for someone like Grant, Hageland, Ptarmigan, Era, etc. I believe that I would like to stay flying small planes, because the big jets now are pretty much just like flying a computer from what I can tell, and I'm not interested in that.

    In any case, please let me know what you guys think as far as whether this is a good way to go about getting certified and into the business. I imagine that some of the carriers must look to UAA for at least some of their pilots, but then again everything is different in Alaska, so I don't really know. That's why I ask the experts!

    Thanks in advance for any help anyone can provide.

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    Default Advice for student at UAA

    The best advice I can give you from my experience is the following:

    1# If you have the extra money after getting your Commercial License and Instrument rating
    SEL & MEL, get your CFI. I didn't get my CFI, partly because a few instructor friends of
    mine talked me out of it, and partly because I ran out of funds. The main reason I would
    recommend getting your CFI is because if you get laid-off flying charter, or from whatever
    flying job you have,.. you can always fall back on instructing.

    I got a job flying skydivers right out of Flight school, it was fun, 'really' got to those
    stick an rudder skills ( and do some crazy ass flying while trying to race the jumpers down
    to the ground, among some other things- huh-huh), racked up about 500+ hours in about 10 months.
    But in hindsight (20/20) I would have saved some money from my flight loans and got my CFI.

    And yeah, flying a CRJ or any other jet for the airlines is like flying a computer,..also you
    got the right idea going to school in AK for your ratings, that way you'll make some
    connections, and that really helps for getting hired. Good luck to ya buddy, study hard,
    drink that coffee, an then study some more..the flying will always be kick ass.

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    Hey, thanks a lot for your advice. I have actually just heard back from the guy I was trying to contact who went to UAA for that program for awhile, and to my dismay, he told me to avoid it. He said he spent a long time there and got nowhere fast, and he didn't earn a single rating while he was there. And it wasn't for lack of effort on his part. So here's one thing I'm thinking, and throw some ideas at me on this one: go to UAA for A&P mechanic certification, and then, using the good money you can make in that field, get myself fully certified and then start flying for hire. I figure it would be advantageous in a couple of ways: for one, I could save a boatload of money once I get my own plane, and for another thing, I figure a bush pilot who can fix his own plane (or the company's plane) if were to, say, break down on a gravel bar, would be a useful employee to a company.

    The guy I talked to basically said their other programs are good at UAA, just not the Professional Piloting program. So, the A&P thing sounds like a good way to go, and I could get my flight instruction at Land and Sea, or if I get hired by a company in the bush I could get my flight instruction either from a pilot with the company or from a flight school (I know they have one in Bethel, Yuut Yaqungviat). I've been told that the companies are always needing A&P mechanics and that they pay them very well, so I figure it would leave me some money after the bills are paid to pay for my flight instruction.

    One guy I talked to even bought a cheap 152 and leased it to a flying club in Valdez, and he paid for all his flight training with the money he got from leasing the plane. Now that's pretty impressive. My route sounds a bit more reliable though. Thoughts?

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    Hey Pilot,
    I would avoid UAA's PP program, its a waste of time and money, and you wont get anywhere fast, you can get better training for less $$ elsewhere. PM me if you want the details, I have very recent personal experience with the program.
    "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."
    Henry Ford

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    Hey, thanks for the reply riverboater; I can't send PM's right now for some reason, and until I get that fixed by a moderator, maybe you can tell me something or other on here. In any case, I actually heard the same thing from someone else who went there, so I am not considering the Professional Piloting program anymore. What I am thinking of doing is getting my A&P mechanic certification from UAA, and then using the money from the job I get in that field (which I have heard pays quite well), I will work on getting all my ratings, and subsequently getting a job with a company. Also, while working A&P I can make some good connections and possibly carry over with the same company from A&P mechanic to pilot. I know that most companies like to keep their good employees, and I plan on being a good employee.

    In any case, anyone who has any advice or insight about becoming and being an A&P mechanic in Alaska, I'd love to hear it. I'm very dedicated to getting myself up there, so just lay it on me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKpilotWannabe View Post
    Hey, thanks for the reply riverboater; I can't send PM's right now for some reason, and until I get that fixed by a moderator, maybe you can tell me something or other on here. In any case, I actually heard the same thing from someone else who went there, so I am not considering the Professional Piloting program anymore. What I am thinking of doing is getting my A&P mechanic certification from UAA, and then using the money from the job I get in that field (which I have heard pays quite well), I will work on getting all my ratings, and subsequently getting a job with a company. Also, while working A&P I can make some good connections and possibly carry over with the same company from A&P mechanic to pilot. I know that most companies like to keep their good employees, and I plan on being a good employee.

    In any case, anyone who has any advice or insight about becoming and being an A&P mechanic in Alaska, I'd love to hear it. I'm very dedicated to getting myself up there, so just lay it on me.
    Pay particular attention to your rag skills !!! There are a zillion fabric airplanes in Alaska, and many mechanics fall short of good fabric work. You should do well ..................

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    I don't think UAA (or most any A&P) due rag and tube anymore. At least thats what they told me when I toured the place some time ago.
    -Out-of-State for school, remembering why I love Alaska so much

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    I don't know anything about the professional piloting program at UAA, but I think you're on the right track by pursuing your A&P. I'd recommend finishing a bachelor degree also.

    The school here in Fairbanks has a good 1 year A&P program and they do teach fabric work: http://www.ctc.uaf.edu/programs/amt/index.html

    Louis
    Louis Knapp

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    Talking to a recent grad of UAA's A&P program, he said they don't have a rag and tube section anymore. Thanks for that info Louis, my daughter is thinking of going to UAF in 2013 and my son will follow one year later. Sure would be nice to get them setup in the same living quarters off campus if possible.

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    Default A&P, "good idea"

    To AKpilotwanabe,

    I would say gettin your A&P ticket would be a really good idea,..if you have
    the patience to be a mechanic that is- I wrenched on Cessnas, and did a lot
    of 100 hours and Annuals with one of my bosses when I wasn't flying. It was
    a good experience.
    Basically if you actually got your A&P and then got your ratings to fly,..you would
    be very marketable. That's a fact. Plus you wouldn't be broke like a lot of us pilots
    are (still payin off student loans).

    I don't know anything about Flight schools in AK, I got all my training in Arizona.
    But I did have a buddy there that went to school at Emmery Riddle to be a mechanic,
    AND, 1st year out of school he made $70k. I don't know about you, but that's a
    pretty **** good salary to me-

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    I heard a wise man recommend going to A&P school even if you never use it to work on an airplane and have no idea what you want to do with your life because of all the skills learned which are useful for both work and life in general.

    AKDoug: I'm planning for our sons to go to UAF also, but we're looking at around 2019 or so. Having a place off campus for your kids sounds like a good idea. At this point, with the rents here, and what you get for the money, if I was in your shoes I'd look at the economics of buying a place . It's my impression that the mortgage on a modest, but decent house isn't that different than what some folks are paying for rent for a shack with outdoor plumbing.

    I'd be happy to keep an eye open for any good house deals here when you're ready to start looking....Louis
    Louis Knapp

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    The 500 hours you refer to is an FAA minimum pilot experience requirement to fly as pilot-in-command under FARs Part 135. Most Alaska flight operations require at least 1000 hours of flight time in a new hire and most of them are regulated by Part 135 of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Of the 500 hour minimum required, 100 hours of it has to be cross country time (a landing at least 50 miles from airport of origin). Of that 100 hours of cross country time 25 hours of it has to be night cross country.

    In light of these minimum experience requirements, getting your CFI-I would be a great way to build time, especially if you could do that in Alaska and then give instruction in Alaska. Giving flight instruction is a great way to learn more than you would already know and in my opinion, the best way to build flight time.There are occasional co-pilot jobs that come up for outfits operating under FARs Part 121. These require only the commercial instrument and multi-engine ratings, but those jobs are few and far between, don't pay much and aren't all that interesting.

    A fresh seaplane rating won't get you a job flying floats. Most Alaska float plane operators require a minimum of at least 200 hours on floats. Most Alaska pilot experience minimums are dictated by the insurance companies.
    One way to get into float flying is to go to work for a company that flies both wheel and float planes. Fly wheels for them and astound them with your amazing work ethic, your incomparable skill and judgment, your scintillating personality, and your phenomenal rapport with passengers of every stripe. Eventually the company might just get you into float flying on an insurance waiver.

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    Hi guys, thanks for all the info so far, I really do appreciate it. I have been thinking it over, and though I haven't made the decision as of yet, I'm really really thinking that I'd like to just go to a flight school (such as Land and Sea) and get all my ratings first and foremost. Then go to work either giving flight instruction, flying charter, whatever I can get a job doing. Really this is because what I want to do is fly airplanes, not work on them, so I would rather use the money that I have allotted for school (or whatever career training I choose to do) to pay for the flight training, since it's more expensive than the A&P ticket.

    I figure once I'm flying for a living and making some money, I can set some of that aside and go to UAF for the A&P ticket, because it's something I want both so that I can work on my own plane (when I get one one day) and so that I can be a more marketable pilot/employee in general. Also, once I've already been in the state working and making money and paying taxes to the state of Alaska, I'll have in-state status for tuition purposes, so that will make it more affordable.

    So when you guys talk about giving flight instruction as a great way to build hours and experience and all, how hard is it to get yourself in a position to be a flight instructor somewhere in Alaska? I was thinking I could just get on the phone and call around to airports in various towns throughout the state and see if any of them need a flight instructor in their community. Seems like some of the more remote communities don't have much opportunity as far as learning to fly, so perhaps I could provide a useful and marketable service. Anyone have any idea how difficult it is to get something like that set up?

    I find a lot of the time it can be more discouraging to ask around about what people think than it is to just get out there and get after it. I am just excited to have realized that this is what I really love to do, and this is what I want to make my money at. I just want to know before I take the plunge how hard it is to get going, and whether it's likely to happen in general. I mean, I'm sure it's not the kind of thing where it just won't happen, just seems like it will take a good bit of time before I'm at the level of flying for air charter companies and all that. Interested in any and all replies about this career trajectory (flying first, then pursuing the A&P ticket, that is).

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    sorry, accidental post

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    Wow, guess I'm the lone holdout here. I was in the UAA PP program for awhile and thought they were very good. My flight instruction, with the exception of one instructor, was outstanding and the classroom sessions were very in depth. I think it's a great way to go but very expensive.

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