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Thread: How much do Bush Pilots make?

  1. #1
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    Default How much do Bush Pilots make?

    I was wondering if you folks could post what todays wages are for Bush Pilots,
    from beginners to seasoned veterans? Empolyees to owner operators.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Member mit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LOGDOG View Post
    I was wondering if you folks could post what todays wages are for Bush Pilots,
    from beginners to seasoned veterans? Empolyees to owner operators.

    Thanks.
    The Bush Pilot ERA ended 50 years ago, except in the minds of some people.
    Tim

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    But the other thread said bush pilots fly 207's out of bethel.
    Capstone or not.

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    Why do you say that mit? I'm 35 and grew up flying into remote lakes all over Ontario, CA in floatplanes like the Beavers and Otters. Someone was flying those planes. People are still flying freight into remote parts of Alaska and Canado aren't they- not to mention all the air tours, and fishermen and hunters they still carry in? Just wondering what the guys doing it make on average.

  5. #5

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    The pilot is the cheapest part of the whole airline package. In my helicopter flying, the pay is based on a duty day that is long and by the hour you won't make much. That said the flying is great though very challenging at times.

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    Assuming that LOGDOG want's to know how much pilots earn flying small planes to remote areas (not a bush pilot mind you) , it varies quite a bit. The rules controlling this type of commercial operation in the US limit the time a pilot can be "On Duty" to 14 hours a day. The pilot can only fly for 8 hours in a duty day. Most companies pay for flight hours, not time on duty. Most companies start out new pilots around $50 per flight hour. Most companies will guarantee a monthly minimum number of flight hours, usually around 75 hours per month. So if the weather is bad or business is slow the pilot won't starve. Keep in mind that your day starts at 7:00 or 8:00AM and all the time you spend fueling, loading, unloading and everything else is unpaid time. Your day ends at 9:00 or 10:00PM. If your busy you might make ten, 30 minute flights in a duty day. That's 5 hours of flying time. The flight time starts when the wheels leave the ground (or water) and end when the wheels touch the ground (or water). You can log hobbs time (the entire time the engine is running like when your renting a plane) but you are only paid for flight time, when your in the air. Some days are so busy you eat your lunch while your flying the plane, other days you sit, read books, take long naps or hang around and annoy the mechanics.

    Right now I make $5000 a month with a monthly minimum of 75 hours. I make $55 and hour for flight time in addition to my monthly minimum. I work from the middle of May to the middle of September. I suspect there is a great deal of variation in pilot pay. Maybe some others will jump in now that we're not using that "B" word.

    As for owner operators? They don't have any guaranteed monthly minimum so sometimes they make nothing!

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    Some outfits pay you by engine tach time. So if for instance you're flying out of Lake Hood on floats, you're getting paid for taxi time as well as flight time. Taxi time on Lake Hood can sometimes be fairly time consuming with long taxiing in the slow channel from Lake Hood to Lake Spenard for a westerly takeoff. Being sequenced for takeoff between arrivals and departures and sometimes number three or four behind other departing float planes can eat up a fair amount of time as well.

    As for daily flight time, that depends on the area you're in and the types of flights you're taking. Having flown for Rust's for several years, I know that almost all of their flights go well beyond 30 minutes. Some of them last all day. Going through the Alaska Range to lakes on the "far side" for hunters etc., or for bear viewing at Brooks Camp east of King Salmon, or flights into Prince William sound can be very long. I even had a flight from Lake Hood to Old Harbor on Kodiak Island...in a beaver.

    "Ten 30 minute flights in a day" sounds like tralika may be flying out of Bethel to any of dozens of eskimo villages scattered throughout the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta. It depends on where and who you're flying for and the nature of the mission.

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    As for owner operators? They don't have any guaranteed monthly minimum so sometimes they make nothing!
    1. Find a sweetheart with a good job.
    2. Make sure they won't run off when they see your paycheck after being gone all day.
    3. Find a second job or business to help pay for your flying business.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  9. #9

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    This thread sounds kind of familiar, and the original poster might look through the threads from last summer. There might be more information there, but here's my 2 cents.
    My first flying job in Alaska was four years ago with an Air Taxi in Juneau. I had a five month season and earned $19,000, so that worked out to $3800/month. I lived pretty frugally and I'm guessing that it cost me around $5000 for room, board and expenses. I flew 400 hours that season so that worked out to $47.50/flight hour. I probably also made a couple thousand dollars in tips.
    For the past three seasons I've worked at a fly out fishing lodge in Southwest Alaska. My W-2 arrived today and it tells me that I made $41,600 last year for a season of a little less than four months so that worked out to $10,400/month. Since I live at the lodge my room and board is included so I don't really have any living expenses during the season. I flew 375 hours so that works out to $104/flight hour.
    I think you'll find employee pilots making $15,000 a year and others making above $50,000. Flying pays my bills but if you're looking to get rich I think you're better off buying lottery tickets.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    1. Find a sweetheart with a good job.
    2. Make sure they won't run off when they see your paycheck after being gone all day.
    3. Find a second job or business to help pay for your flying business.
    You sure have a lot of nice guns for someone who claims he makes no money flying

    There certainly are bush pilots left in Alaska- indepedents not afraid to land on river bars exist-Meekins and the late Jay Hudson come to mind and I am sure there are many others.
    But don't expect to do that sort of work flying for a big company.

  11. #11
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    You sure have a lot of nice guns for someone who claims he makes no money flying
    Because I spent:
    20 years as a crime fighter.
    8 years active military duty and 20 yrs. reserve duty.
    Own two other business's.
    Have a lovely bride who besides also being a military vet, also has a nice daytime job and is not afraid to work a few nights a week at another job.
    Don't sent the grand-kids anything expensive since they never say thank-you.
    Drive a 13 year old truck and a 12 year old car.
    Treat my mechanic like a Greek God.


    For the past three seasons I've worked at a fly out fishing lodge in Southwest Alaska.
    For pilots with the right experience and temperament, lodge flying seems to be a much better living than running beer, potato chips and diapers to villages every hour.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    Because I spent:
    20 years as a crime fighter.



    .
    Holy joker Bat Man!

  13. #13
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    Somebody has to suppress evil.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
    Experimental Hand-Loader, NRA Life Member
    http://site.dragonflyaero.com

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    Somebody has to suppress evil.
    With a fine 1876, no less.

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    Member RocketRick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    Because I spent:
    20 years as a crime fighter.
    8 years active military duty and 20 yrs. reserve duty.
    Own two other business's.
    Have a lovely bride who besides also being a military vet, also has a nice daytime job and is not afraid to work a few nights a week at another job.
    Don't sent the grand-kids anything expensive since they never say thank-you.
    Drive a 13 year old truck and a 12 year old car.
    Treat my mechanic like a Greek God.

    1. Find a sweetheart with a good job.
    2. Make sure they won't run off when they see your paycheck after being gone all day.
    3. Find a second job or business to help pay for your flying business.
    FP you are a riot. I mean a real riot Alice HA!. I bet there's never a dull moment at your place.

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    Thanks for the comments guys. I typed a reply the other night but I guess my laptop timed out in the middle of posting it and it didn't get posted. I guess I was curiuos if guys chose the occupation mostly for the love of flying or the money or a combination of the two. It would seem as though it's weighted towards the love of flying.

    Apprarantly not all appreciate the term "Bush Pilots". It certainly wasn't meant to take away anything from the obvious skill, training and experience it takes to be a pilot flying into remote locations.

    Thanks again.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by windypoint View Post
    The pilot is the cheapest part of the whole airline package.
    So the more expensive parts are the costs of the aircraft, insurance, fuel, hanger/dock, maintenance, remote living facility?

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    I think what mit is refering to, at least in part, is that there is no longer a "Bush Pilot" license. They were changed to "Air Taxi Operator" a long time ago. Lot's of folks still refer to it as "bush flying" though.

  19. #19
    Member mit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SERat View Post
    I think what mit is refering to, at least in part, is that there is no longer a "Bush Pilot" license. They were changed to "Air Taxi Operator" a long time ago. Lot's of folks still refer to it as "bush flying" though.

    nope.... There was never a license....bush that is..........
    Tim

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float Pilot View Post
    ...Don't sent the grand-kids anything expensive since they never say thank-you...
    I've been known to be a fairly grateful person and might be young enough to qualify for the 'grand' part. PM me if we can start such a relationship...

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