looking for advice
Hello, new to the forum and looking for advice. I'll just keep it simple and straight forward. I want to become a professional bush pilot. I am 19 and will give it my all to get there. I live in Michigan and I am currently working on my private ticket. My plan was to move up to AK and look for work at an airport or lodge and maybe work my way up to a seat. If someone can tell me a smart path to take I would be grateful. I would leave tomorrow if someone had a spot for me. Anything to get my foot in the door.
I hate to say it but if i had a nickel for every wide eyed kid, pilot, or mechanic that lived in the lower 48 but wanted a job in Alaska without knowing anybody or even being in the state I would have a couple more airplanes in my hangar. My best advice to you is to just move up here at least for the summer. Spend a week walking around going to every 135 operator on lake hood and merrill field looking for any kind of job. Work hard, keep flight training and the connections that you can make up here in a summer will help find your dream job, or maybe after a summer you decide that you want to do something else and then you are only out of a couple of months of your life.
One path to flying job in Alaska
To fly as PIC (pilot in command) for any Alaska charter outfit you will need a minimum of 500 hours logged to satisfy FARs Part 135. Part 135 of the FARs is what most Alaska bush operators are regulated by. Nevertheless, most Alaska operators require a minimum of 1000 hours with only a handful of exceptions which require only the FAR 135 minimum of 500 hours. Many of them require 2000 hours or more.
Your best bet is to get your commercial, instrument then CFI-I and give flight instruction to build time. Get as much of your flight training in Alaska as you can. This will build your "Alaska time" hours and you'll get to know people who might be able to help you when you have the necessary time and certifications to get a bush flying job. Most Alaska operators require Alaska time. Some flight schools hire their own graduates to give flight instruction. Land & Sea Aviation might be one: http://landandseaaviationalaska.com/.
Best of luck to you
Tell us about yourself. Why do you want to come here? What other interests do you have? What kind of skills? Working experience? I know you said you're 19, so nobody expects you to be an electrical engineer, but sell yourself a little. You're willing to do anything, but are you any good at anything?? Give us something to work with. How are you going to pay for your flight time? 500 hours x 8 gallons per hour x $6 per gallon = LOTS of unskilled labor.
Not to dissuade you. I'm from the Richmond area, but I came here as an A&P, which is a great route if you are mechanical. Lots of bush mx jobs available. Your desire for bush flying without bringing something valuable to the table will require austere living (none of the nice things your friends are buying), hard work, long hours, and some luck. Good luck
(Long post, worth what you're paying for it)
I'm NOT in aviation like the other posters above. However, I was once you (19, wanted to be a pilot, almost 30 years ago) but didn't want it that bad. Got my pilot's license, put in about 100 hours, had a blast, got married and life changed. I also worked on Kodiak for a summer in the canneries and head to AK now and again to fish and/or consult. I have no regrets but the sky does and will always tug at my heart, why else would I be looking at this web forum?!?
No matter what field you're going into but especially into crowded fields like AK bush flying you MUST bring more to the table than your desire and a commercial/CFI or whatever. The world of everyone being a free agent is on us. Successful free agents bring several abilities to the table in addition to being willing to put in time sweeping, cleaning, fixing, hauling the trash. Getting an A&P is highly recommended as would other certifications (diesel tech, body shop work, hydraulics, gun smithing, etc.). You can't get enough real certifications to show that you're willing to put in time to build credibility and be flexible to earn a buck.
You also have to be easy to work with as a person with your boss, customers, staff, everyone. I've taken the flight from Ketchikan to Thorne Bay on a Beaver with my daughter four times (out and back). One pilot was a total (fill in the blank with bad words) to my daughter and me, telling people he was having a bad day. No one cares about how you're feeling on the job and no one wants to hear it. I called the company and told them the guy was a jerk and how he reflected on their operation. The other passengers did also. The other three trips were piloted by people who KNEW they were in the customer satisfaction business and safe piloting was almost secondary (it never is, but you know what I mean).
If you want to wear a flannel shirt and cool bush pilot ball cap, hauling gear and people around in an awesome old 180 or Beaver, you're in the customer satisfaction business right after safety.
I echo the guy who recommends getting a A&P. Also consider focusing on avionics technology (if there's a degree or certification or whatever). It will take time and effort and money but it shows where your heart is and what you're willing to do to reach your goals.
Your daily efforts will prove out your willingness to sacrifice and achieve your goals.
to AKHUNTER, I really wouldn't consider me like most kids. I obviously cannot show you over a forum but maybe with some trust you can believe me. I should be coming up to AK this August to do exactly what you said. I would be more than happy to push a broom around. Why AK? Because it's where true adventure and beauty is. Everything I enjoy doing is 100x's better in AK. (mountain biking, snowboarding, hunting, etc.) I was considering getting my AP ticket as well because I am mechanically inclined, I just rather have my private before. I have been working since I was 16 and have not been handed much. I do understand what hard work is even if I haven't been around long. I joined chapter 13 of the EAA two years ago. I volunteer as much as I can for any experiences I can get. I may not have any qualifications or degrees, but I have a forklift license if that means anything. Thanks for the advice. Keep in touch.
You have a good attitude. I have no doubt that you'll do just fine in Alaska. It's still one place where personal application, hard work, and a good attitude will lead you to success. When I first arrived in Anchorage back in about 1950, I only knew about airplanes from what I had seen at long range. When I left 35-years later, I had amassed more than 18,000 safe flying hours in the bush.
Originally Posted by Maxoil
It won't be easy, but you'll do well . . . . .