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Thread: Alaska Flying time and Jobs

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    Default Alaska Flying time and Jobs

    Hi ya’ll, When I first started looking into flying in Alaska, I had no idea that there was a special category there for Alaska Flying Time. So what is the typical process for getting a job to build the time? I currently have a Commercial SE, ME, helicopter, and an instrument rating for fixed wing. My TT is about 1350 and about 700 are in tail draggers and about 85 hours turbine from flying the Bell 206. Anyone have a tip on what route I should take in order to get up there and do some flying? I also have a B.S. in Professional Aeronautics, which I was told in Alaska, that and $6.00 might get me a Sealburger and fries. Thanks Todd

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    The Alaska time is not a "special category". It's the way the insurance companies that insure the 135 operators view your qualifications. Flying in Alaska is generally safer if you have experience with the weather and mountains in Alaska. They would rather you have time in Alaska flying without the liability of having paying passengers as you learn.

    Most 135 operators have to submit pilot resumes to their insurance company as part of their insurance policy. No Alaska time is an issue with the insurers and rightfully the 135 operators.

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    Thanks Windy, I figured it was most likely an insurance requirement, but there must be a way of going about getting the Alaska Time and work for someone at the same time. I’ve owned 3 tail draggers and I love flying them, therefore, I was under the assumption that my best opportunity for a flying job which I could utilize my tail dragger experience would be in Alaska. I got out of the Army in 2006, Just finished my Degree, and I've always wanted to go to Alaska, So trying to get a Bush Pilot job in Alaska seemed like the obvious next step. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

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    Default flight instruction

    If you can get a job instructing and get 500 hrs like that. I know a couple guys in your boat who have done that. If you don't mind getting your next 500 in a 152.
    Some of the air services out west sometimes put guys in the right seat with less time but you make somewhere in the neighborhood of $0. BUT You can learn to fly Alaska with someone who knows how (hopefully knows how) and see the country. Better have some money saved up to live off of before going this route. Good luck. I'd almost rather be in Enterprise right now. Its about -30 out and we're the hotspot of the state.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK-HUNT View Post

    Some of the air services out west sometimes put guys in the right seat with less time but you make somewhere in the neighborhood of $0.
    I wouldn't mind trying to give that a try for a couple of months. Since I just finished School, I'm on the broke side, but if I could fly for a couple of months and get to know the area and people, Moreover, get to log some "Alaska Time". Do you have any leeds for some air services that may do it? It would be nice to have something set up before going up there. Thanks

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    Default probably not for you

    My thought is it would be more than "a couple months". You would have to log 500 hours AK this way. I'm guessing closer to a year and you won't be making anything the whole time. If you don't have a bunch of dough saved up prior you are asking for it. Anyway, try Hageland or Arctic Circle or Grant. Lots of others. Good luck, this is liable to be a wild goose chase but worth a try I suppose. There are probably other options if you pester them enough.

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    Try the regional airlines, Penn Air and ERA for starters and the best way to get hired is to carry in your resume and at least they know you can find Alaska. Lots of people apply for job and never show for the interview in Alaska. Then there is the long walk system. Thats where you walk around lake hood and hand out a resume and chat at every operator all the way around the lake. Then do the same at Merrill Field. The question is how bad do you want the work? You may have to keep it up but people remember someone that is working hard to get a job and that goes a long way over someone whose mail in resume just started the wood stove that morning! Good luck, Tom

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    Default Grizzly 1

    Quote Originally Posted by mcvikair View Post
    Hi ya’ll, When I first started looking into flying in Alaska, I had no idea that there was a special category there for Alaska Flying Time. So what is the typical process for getting a job to build the time? I currently have a Commercial SE, ME, helicopter, and an instrument rating for fixed wing. My TT is about 1350 and about 700 are in tail draggers and about 85 hours turbine from flying the Bell 206. Anyone have a tip on what route I should take in order to get up there and do some flying? I also have a B.S. in Professional Aeronautics, which I was told in Alaska, that and $6.00 might get me a Sealburger and fries. Thanks Todd
    H'lo, Todd,

    There's a tremendous amount of floatplane flying in the Alaska outback. The rest of the world calls it a seaplane rating, but in Alaska they simply refer to it as a float rate. Used to be that four hours dual and six hours or so solo was enough to qualify the pilot (who had already earned his private or commercial ticket) to take the written and practical floatplane tests. Remember to take the COMMERCIAL tests (which are a piece of cake at any rate) so that you can fly floats for hire. You may find that this additional rating will find you a summer flying job in the Big Empty. From there, you should have made enough contacts to move forward with your plans (or dreams or nightmares or whatever they are . . . ).

    Take all this with a grain of salt, Todd. I haven't flown in Alaska for a few years, and much has changed. Still, I did log about 20,000 hours there, and I don't imagine that the requirements have changed all that much.

    Best of luck,

    Mort

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    Thanks for the info, I’m sure going to make an attempt to get my affairs in order and get up there for about a year. If things work out, maybe allot longer. The Seaplane Rating would be a good start, which might be a good thing to get up there. Is there any specialized publication or magazine for Alaska Aviation that may help in my endeavor?

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    I think the advice of walking your resume around is very good advice. The operators receive a lot of resumes and very few get the call. If they can meet you in person, like what they see and hear, your chances are a LOT higher of having them go to bat for you with their insurance company. 99% of the applicants don't do this.

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    There was an Alaska aviation magazine years ago but don't believe there's anything now. AOPA does have an Alaska forum; chances are you've found that already.

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    Whats a good time to venture to Alaska? Also, where would be a good place to start looking, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue, Dillingham, Kodiak?

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    Remote operators are your best chance of getting on. Remote bush communities have the highest pilot turnaround.
    With that being said..... you better know how to learn from your experiences. You will get lots of experiences flying in the bush. Depending on each individual as to how they will handle it mentally. Some love it and others hate it. Most are there to get the required number of hours to go do something else. But some don't even make it that far. Some newby pilots can't hack the bush lifestyle, can't adapt to the weather or flying over miles and miles of uninhabited regions. Most quit, those that can't adapt wind up bending metal or worse. So that is why the turnaround and that is why the Alaska time insurance requirement. It is a known fact that Alaska is the best place for a pilot to work to build hours. I've seen lots of young kids come up here and get the crap scared out of them. I just want to make sure you don't have a rosey picture about coming up here. Those that have a passion for it are the true bush pilots that are still flying here today. Alaska flying is full of opportunity but like the sea it can be very unforgiving.

    Now on a lighter note. Last year there was a young pilot going around looking for a job. He was all dressed up fancy. Dress slacks, button up shirt and a black tie. Word travels fast in the aviation industry up here. So we nick named this kid "The Fed". Cause that is the way most of the FAA guys up here dress. Most operators wouldn't talk to this guy because of this persauna on how he presented himself. Once he had been around the operators would call between themselves asking if they had seen the fed. I thought it was hilarious.
    When you walk in to drop off a resume or even an interview I would dress neat and casual. You want it to look like you are ready to go to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wetland Retrievers View Post
    Remote operators are your best chance of getting on. Remote bush communities have the highest pilot turnaround.
    You make some very good points. There’s no way I can know if I'll like Alaska till I get up there and live the life. While I was in the Army I tried to get out as much as possible because I always liked the outdoors. Some friends of mine which were fellow Army helicopter pilots, and participated in canoeing, hunting, camping, and fishing with me are now stationed in Alaska and absolutely love it up there. That gives me an indication that I’ll enjoy it as well.
    I would like to try my hand at getting time in the Remote bush communities, but where would I start in trying to talk with them? Alaska is so big, is there a specific city or community I could start with? Also, did, “The Fed”, finally get work?
    Thanks

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    Finding a flying job up here was actually pretty easy, my girlfriend (also a pilot) and I drove the AlCan two years ago and started knocking on doors. Neither of us had 'Alaska' time, yet we were offered a lot of jobs. You can pretty much get a job out of Bethel anytime of year. But then you have to live in Bethel, and it is remote and small. Some people absolutely love it, some don't, but you will get a lot of 'Alaska' time. Last time I heard milk was around $10 a gallon and gas about the same. Some companies provide pilot housing, usually sharing a room in a company house. Only one of the companies that we talked to offered insurance.

    The jobs flying for lodges and guides in the summer are a lot harder to come by. They usually want someone that they know or their friends know. They usually pay pretty well, and are fun, so the folks that have them don't give them up. I have flown all over the states, in Africa and South America and this is, by far, the most fun and challenging (read:scary) flying I have done. I know it has been said but if you are coming up for the money, you will be sorely disappointed.

    It was -15, and clear, the plane at gross weight flew like a bat outta hell, the mountains, glaciers and ocean were incredibly beautiful, almost ran off the end of a icefield they call a runway, and my toes hurt from the cold...I love my job.

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    I would suggest you start in Bethel. I flew there for five years and saw a large number of pilots from all parts of the world come there to get their "feet wet." I've been gone from there for a while and most of my friends from there have either left Bethel or got out of the flying business, but I'll check around, if you'd like.

    I would recommend you make sure you're instrument current and have the rust off your flying skills, like percision landings.

    If you show up out there, at least they know you're willing to make that step. Then if you demonstrate good basic flying skills, sound judgment and can get along with folks, I'd say your chances are pretty good.

    Are you also considering a helicopter position? A while back Air Logistics here in Fairbanks was looking for pilots......Louis

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    Quote Originally Posted by headoutdaplane View Post
    "Some companies provide pilot housing, usually sharing a room in a company house. Only one of the companies that we talked to offered insurance."

    "I know it has been said but if you are coming up for the money, you will be sorely disappointed."
    If I could get Pilot Housing or make enough to pay for housing, I could probably do it. I'm a Disabled Veteran (which doesn’t affect my flying at all) so I have medical through the VA. So that should help in the beginning. Would it bre a great advantage to to get my CFI,CFII before coming up?

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    Check out this month's Alaska Magazine it has an article on flying out of Bethel also check out http://community.seattletimes.nwsour...g=bushpilots14 both give a little insight into the lifestyle in Bethel. Not a whole lot of instructing up here even the 'big' schools in Anchorage and Fairbanks don't get the amount of students that you could in florida, so I don't see a lot of use for the CFI or the 'double I', maybe someday it would help to become the company instructor (but that doesn't even take a CFI). Another suggestion would be the NOAA, they are based out of Florida but fly some pretty cool missions around the states, they came through here last year a bunch of times flying a twin-otter (my personal favorite aircraft) going north flying low looking for sea lions. The pilots were really enthusiastic about their jobs. Good luck

  19. #19

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    My opinion:
    No, not really. It won't really help you get a job any faster unless you want to work as a flight instructor at a flight school. But you'd make more money by flying full time for an operator anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by headoutdaplane View Post
    Check out this month's Alaska Magazine it has an article on flying out of Bethel also check out http://community.seattletimes.nwsour...g=bushpilots14 both give a little insight into the lifestyle in Bethel. Not a whole lot of instructing up here even the 'big' schools in Anchorage and Fairbanks don't get the amount of students that you could in florida, so I don't see a lot of use for the CFI or the 'double I', maybe someday it would help to become the company instructor (but that doesn't even take a CFI). Another suggestion would be the NOAA, they are based out of Florida but fly some pretty cool missions around the states, they came through here last year a bunch of times flying a twin-otter (my personal favorite aircraft) going north flying low looking for sea lions. The pilots were really enthusiastic about their jobs. Good luck
    That is a good story in the Seattle times. It stated "The iconic bush pilot — grizzly guy in caribou coat and beaver hat — still exists". Does that mean I should get a caribou coat and beaver hat as soon as I get there? Bethel, from what I could find is an relativly an expensive place to live. Also, Should I drive up or would I need a vehicle? Looks like a small town.

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