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Thread: pilot pay

  1. #1
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    Default pilot pay

    how much does the average pilot make in a season

  2. #2
    Member BeaverDriver's Avatar
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    Season? Have to be more specific. Herring spotting? Lodge Work? Pt. 135 Tourist work in SE or South Central? Or Pt 135 Fishing fleet support as well as hunting and sport fishing in Kodiak? Also Pt 135 work in Bethel, Nome, Kotz, or the North Slope. The season lengths vary as does the pay and the flight time.

  3. #3
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    As Beaver Driver stated it varies wildly.
    Around here an Air Taxi pilot running back and forth to the villages across the bay and across Cook Inlet might make $30 to $35 an hour of FLIGHT TIME. Sometimes with the company telling you how much time they think the flight should have been.
    So loading, unloading, washing the plane, chasing down ticket and cargo money is all on the pilots own time. Oh and there is that 14 hour duty day.
    Another company pays by the day. A much better deal.

    Lodges often pay pilots as another type of worker. You are a handyman who just happens to take folks flying. So it comes out to a monthly or weekly salary depending on your experience and how much the clients seem to like you. Lodge flying means getting up super early to get the plane and gear ready and have everything warmed up for the fishing clients to leave the lodge early enough to hit the best fishing times. Then taking care of everything after the fishing day is over. Unfortunately those jobs oly last 3 to 4 months per summer. So you might make $15 to $21 thousand before taxes, but you pay your own medical ect.... Then you have to find a job for the winter. A lot of those guys and gals are only in Alaska on a seasonal basis. Something of an irritant and a relief to those of us who are full time residents.

    CFIs, have seen a real down-turn in flying income over the past couple of years. This year being the worst. I went from making $40k a couple summers ago to making 8k this summer. And that's gross as the owner.
    On hire CFIs might do OK up in a place like Anchorage as long as the marry somebody who has a good job.

    Remember we have a limited infrastructure up here and a very limited number of jobs. And you cannot just go squat on a piece of land someplace and call it a homestead. We have truck loads of unemployed folks showing up here this summer and they all are lining up at the local welfare office.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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  4. #4

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    I work as a lodge pilot in SW Alaska and I'd be surprised to hear of any lodge pilots in this area that make less than $30,000. Most will make between $30-$40,000 for a season that generally runs for four months or a little less. I don't know anyone who makes less, because clients don't like them. If you're a dick, and because of that clients don't like you, you probably won't be invited back for the next season but I can't imagine your salary being cut. I'm not a lodge handyman, nor are any of the pilots that I know, fortunately for the lodge. The lodge maintenance guy is the handyman.
    In my experience pilots are expected to fly and that's about it. I do put my passengers bags and gear into the plane and I fuel it. Our mechanic cleans inside and out daily, tops off the oil and pumps the floats in the morning, but that's not typical. At most lodges pilots are expected to do those things themselves.
    I guess I do get up "super early". I generally set my alarm for somewhere between 5-6AM depending on my first flight and I'm usually done for the day around 6PM, though I have worked as late as 8PM. I have paperwork to do after my flying is done that takes somewhere between 1 to 2 minutes, but that doesn't strike me as overtaxing. I work 6 days a week and my room and board is all covered, so other than a bar tab of about $10/week I have no expenses.
    It seems to me that lodge pilots are paid and treated pretty well. Some of the flying can be difficult. I'm sometimes flying in pretty poor weather conditions and operate in and out of some tight places, but I think that just comes with flying in Alaska. Experience and local knowledge helps a lot, so holding on to a good pilot from year to year is pretty important to most lodge owners.
    When I read the preceding post it sounded to me that my job must be one of the worst in the world, but the truth is that it's a great job. I've got to come clean though, and tell you that while I used to live in Alaska I'm now one of those "irritants" that live Outside during the winter months. I do hope though, that my input into the discussion will be of some value.




    [/QUOTE]Lodges often pay pilots as another type of worker. You are a handyman who just happens to take folks flying. So it comes out to a monthly or weekly salary depending on your experience and how much the clients seem to like you. Lodge flying means getting up super early to get the plane and gear ready and have everything warmed up for the fishing clients to leave the lodge early enough to hit the best fishing times. Then taking care of everything after the fishing day is over. Unfortunately those jobs oly last 3 to 4 months per summer. So you might make $15 to $21 thousand before taxes, but you pay your own medical ect.... Then you have to find a job for the winter. A lot of those guys and gals are only in Alaska on a seasonal basis. Something of an irritant and a relief to those of us who are full time residents. [/QUOTE]

  5. #5
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    If you're a dick, and because of that clients don't like you, you probably won't be invited back for the next season
    holding on to a good pilot from year to year is pretty important to most lodge owners.
    That was my point about the clients and staff liking or at least trusting the pilot / staff member.

    My 21 should have been 31. Since I was figuring 6K to 7.5k a month, Typo

    You guys are really getting up at 5 to 6 and not airborne by 5 or 6? Cool...

    I was not suggesting that flying is a horrible job. I think flying is the most amount of fun you have have with your pants on....
    ...However compared to other jobs I have had over the years it pays much less for the comparable educational requirements and physical input. Fortunately I can currently afford to fly when and how I want, due to retiring from two other careers.
    Kids, houses, planes, boats, guns ex-wives and now grandkids and multi college tuitions, all take their toll.

    It should be pointed out that a low time, fairly new commercial pilot with little or no Alaska time would have to compete for jobs with high time lodge pilots like yourself. So he should think twice before giving up his day job.. But he could start as an Air Taxi driver out in Bethel and build up some Alaska time and contacts.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
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  6. #6

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    I'd agree with you that nobody's going to get rich doing lodge flying because it's only a seasonal job, but I think that your corrected salary numbers are still pretty low. I'm actually not a high time pilot. I've only got about 2300 hours and this is only my second year flying for a lodge and I'm pretty low on the totum pole but I'll make in the low 30's this year. My time is very low for a lodge pilot but I got the job because I was out here as a guide for 13 years. More than ten years ago I was sometimes involved in the hiring process of our pilots and back then, a first year 206 pilot made $6500/month and the Beaver drivers made $7500. Tips would usually add $800-$1200 a month on top of that. Those wages would have been in the same ballpark as other high end fly out lodges. I would think that an accurate monthly salary range for this flying is in the neighborhood of $7500-$9500 a month now.
    I'm in full agreement with you that an Air Taxi job in somewhere is the most likely way for someone to find a job and start building some Alaska time. Minimum insurance requirements for most lodge jobs (Beavers) start at 2000TT, 500AK and 500Float but 135 outfits can hire pilots with less time.
    The initial question was pretty vague and my guess is that he's long gone so now we're just talking to each other.
    You're completly right about the time and education put in vs the money earned maybe doesn't make a lot of sense. It sure is a lot of fun though, ain't it?



    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    That was my point about the clients and staff liking or at least trusting the pilot / staff member.

    My 21 should have been 31. Since I was figuring 6K to 7.5k a month, Typo

    You guys are really getting up at 5 to 6 and not airborne by 5 or 6? Cool...

    I was not suggesting that flying is a horrible job. I think flying is the most amount of fun you have have with your pants on....
    ...However compared to other jobs I have had over the years it pays much less for the comparable educational requirements and physical input. Fortunately I can currently afford to fly when and how I want, due to retiring from two other careers.
    Kids, houses, planes, boats, guns ex-wives and now grandkids and multi college tuitions, all take their toll.

    It should be pointed out that a low time, fairly new commercial pilot with little or no Alaska time would have to compete for jobs with high time lodge pilots like yourself. So he should think twice before giving up his day job.. But he could start as an Air Taxi driver out in Bethel and build up some Alaska time and contacts.

  7. #7
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    My question was kind of generic mostly because i don't know exactly what to ask as far as a specific job. I am almost done with my instrument rating and intend on training untill i get my cfi rating my wife and i both want to come to alaska for a few years maybe longer and pilot pay numbers are hard to find so from the sound of things that have been said on here i will probably need a winter job which i have a cdl also so that wouldn't be a problem i don't think thanks for everyones input i appreciate it

  8. #8
    Member Rich_in_AK's Avatar
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    This may sound harsh but take some advise from an experienced Alaska bush pilot:

    With your low overall experience level and zero Alaska time you will not be in a position to ask for anything up here. You will have a hard time finding any flying job period and if you do it will be at minimal pay for a newcomer.

    I hope you are a real good truck driver.

  9. #9
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    How did you get experience, someone started you out I imagine. I don't plan on getting rich just make a living besides that if it was easy everybody would be doing it right?

  10. #10
    Member Rich_in_AK's Avatar
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    I started my Alaska flying by flying my super cub for fishing and hunting and also flying a lot of search and rescue missions with CAP. With about 500 hours float time in a beaver and close to 1000 hours taildragger time I was able to get a job in the bush flying floatplanes. This at starter pay and a lot of extra labor. Not enough pay to pay for a family back in Anchorage for sure. But she was working full time there to help out.

    Bottom line, there are a lot of new pilots already here in Alaska with experience looking for that first job. You will have much competition. Dont brag about any new ratings to an employer here. That is just an indicator of zero experience.

  11. #11
    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Bottom line, there are a lot of new pilots already here in Alaska with experience looking for that first job.
    Heck-Fire,, there are a lot of us old pilots trying to find another job......
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
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