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ggladwin33
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2022 12:18 am

Hey I'm looking for some insight and wisdom for starting my aviation career. I have recieved a few job offers and want to make sure I chose the best route for career advancement given the current job market. The first position I recieved was a loader position for an Ag company that would include some 172 flying and potentially lead to a seat in an Ag plane some day. I also recieved an offer from the flight school I did my CPL at to instruct and some other 172 flying, though I would have to get my instructor rating. And lastly I recieved an offer for flying a 172 and handling freight for a company in northern Alberta that does have some larger Cessnas to potentially move up into. The Ag loading position seemed like a good fit to me and is something I'd be interested in making a career in, but at the same time it is seasonal and I feel like the 172/freight position would be the best for building hours and getting ahead with my career. I'm not dead set on any pathway with my career, I just want to fly and make a decent living doing it some day. Thanks in advance for any advice and reading all that


Nark
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:29 pm
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First off welcome to the forum.

You'll find all sorts of folks here, take nothing personally and remember; only you can control your career.


I'm a former Canadian who left in 2004 for greener pastures, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Knowing what I know now, after trying to slug it in to the industry and now arguably risen to the top of it, this is solely my opinion: gain hours as fast as you can to get to the next hiring minimums.

I don't know your financial situation, nor geographic area, however if its reasonable to pay for the flight instructing rating and return to the flight school with a flying job; that sounds like the quickest path.
If not, up north hauling rubber dogshit to BF nowhere would be my second bet, lastly grunting it out with the Ag outfit.

You''ll learn in due time that hours don't equal experience and many small time outfits will promise you the world (ie occasional flights) to get you to do the heavy lifting.

When I left active duty military in 2009, the major airlines required a 4-year degree and 1000 Multi-turbine PIC. A few years later that requirement has dropped. For no other reason than demand and supply of pilots.


Additionally: be flexible with your career goals. My goal when I was learning to fly (commercial cert's) in 1999/2000 was to fly for Canadian Airlines on the 747. Later; I was determined to fly a Hornet for the Marine Corps.
Neither happened, however I'm in much better position in life.
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Squaretail
Posts: 440
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:21 pm
Location: Group W Bench

From experience, I would say avoid job that dangle a carrot of "maybe" flight experience. At the end of the year you'll find you got a sore back and very few hours in the book. The market for pilots has shifted and there are lots of opportunities to get flying jobs with 200 hours and a CPL. Look for a position with one of the survey places that fly 172s, 182s 177s or something. There are more and more of them all the time. Sensors are smaller and the appetite for data collection of all sorts is only growing. Kids are able to get that magic 1000 hours they need to move up the ladder.

Why 1000 hours? That's usually the magic amount of time you need to start flying single pilot IFR. That's your ticket to the Navajo or maybe the King Air. I'd personally avoid a right seat position out of school, get that PIC time first. Guys I find who have lots of SIC but no PIC end up at a bit of a dead end, and I hate to say it in my experience are worse to hire. Get that PIC time in your book flying a bit of an adventure while you're young. Then you're off to the races.

Personally I'd only do the job you are looking at if the owner was going to sign an agreement to fund you crop dusting school, and aerial application was a route you wanted to go into. Handling chemicals is a sucky job with high potential for long term health impacts.
The details of my life are quite inconsequential...
David MacRay
Posts: 796
Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:16 am

I’m just a private pilot but I like chirping.

I might be lacking information but, the “ offer for flying a 172 and handling freight for a company in northern Alberta that does have some larger Cessnas to potentially move up into.” sounds like the best of the three to me, as long as they actually have you flying regularly. Then you’ll be getting paid and building experience and hours right away.

You might get more hours instructing but, if you wanted to be an instructor I feel like you would just do that instead of asking about it.

If you want to pay for more flying. Maybe instead of becoming an instructor do some night cross country flying. I have seen a lot of guys wanting to get their ATPL and asking how to get night PIC time. If you can afford it, build some of that time.

Shiny explained it well. These days there are companies actually looking for pilots. I don’t think I would try the ag outfit unless I was still working on getting a commercial license.
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Colonel
Posts: 2481
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:02 pm
Location: Over The Runway

Good advice above. Get hours in your logbook (legitimately) and stay alive.

I agree with Shiny that hours spent by yourself in an airplane make you a better pilot, if that's a consideration.

If you had the money, probably the best experience you could would be to fly an airplane by yourself to
Florida. Don't hit Fat Albert's cable in Key West. Then fly west through Texas to California and check out
Jay Leno's garage at Burbank. Fly up to Alaska. Fly east to Whitehorse and Yellowknife and then to Goose Bay
then south to Gander then west to Montreal. Make some mistakes on St Catharine's St. You get the idea.
Fly everywhere in North America. That will make you a good pilot.

I have a funny story about Eric and I arriving in ABQ but probably no one wants to hear it. Next time I'm
there, I'm going to throw a pizza on a roof.

A good pilot can fly anything, anywhere.

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ggladwin33
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2022 12:18 am

Thanks everyone for the insight and advice and thanks for the welcome Nark! I've been a bit of a longtime listener, but a first time caller when it comes to this forum. I figured asking here would be a good place given the number of guys with lots of experience and a decent chance of getting some straightforward advice.

I guess I had sold myself on the Ag outfit first given it was the first real offer I got and seemed like it could be a pretty enjoyable career if it works out. That being said I was wondering if the risk of putting my life on hold for the next few summers working on the ground for them was worth it vs taking the best opportunity to build hours and advance myself. Especially with the industry and hiring minimums where they are currently. I appreciate you guys giving me your thoughts on the risk of promises in this industry and it is something that was a concern to me.

I didn't include a lot of background on myself in the first post as I didn't want to make it too long and lay out my life story though I may as well add it for context. I've got ~400 hours with multi, IFR, and float rating. I've been working in northwestern Alberta in the oilfield for a while with a decent job and own a Cherokee I've been building time in. I haven't been too keen on the instructor route as I figured I might be better off working on the ATPL requirements with my own plane while making good money vs spending the time and money on the instructor rating. I'm not against getting it and going that route if I need to though.

So far in life I have been pretty flexible with my career and try to make the most out of every opportunity I have. I'm not dead set on any career path in aviation, just hoping to start my career in the best direction I can and go from there. The only real set in stone goal I have so far is to do a FAA conversion on my ATPL once I get it so I can keep my options open to greener pastures to the south.

Thanks again everyone for providing me with their guidance as it has helped me a lot with this decision!
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The Dread Pilot Roberts
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:56 am

The market today for young pilots is nothing like I experienced back in the day. As others have stated get your time asap. 172 and freight sounds the best to me then instructing then Ag.

Ag sounds fun and challenging and could lead to water bombing but that’s a tough game to play. I know a few who had close calls and moved on and they all know someone who didn’t and were killed.

Best advice have fun with the early part of your career because I tell you what no one with grey hair talks about this one time at FL400 sipping coffee it’s all about the fun you had with a clapped out 206 or King Air up
North. Go do it, have fun and most of all learn get to know your limits. The first 100 hours is always the hardest on a new type.
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Colonel
Posts: 2481
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:02 pm
Location: Over The Runway

Interesting. In your shoes I would earn money, then fly your airplane. Rinse, lather, repeat as it says on the shampoo bottle. The faster you earn money and spend it on PIC hours, the better. Having 500 PIC will help you later.

PS try to fly long cross-countries if you can. Tremendous experience.
Squaretail
Posts: 440
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:21 pm
Location: Group W Bench

The Dread Pilot Roberts wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2024 10:03 pm
The market today for young pilots is nothing like I experienced back in the day.
No doubt. The market isn't even like what it was 10 years ago. Been lots of shifts in the industry. Instructing is a lot worse - as a job - than it was when I started. There's way more openings for low time pilots in relatively civilized places. You probably don't need to move across the country for a pilot job now. Some of the old boys are starting to disappear or be replaced, for good and bad. It feels like there's way more value in niche markets for pilots, if you got a particular set of skills or experience, there's someone willing to pay for that now.
The details of my life are quite inconsequential...
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