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11 Answers

Intoductory low-time aviation jobs

Asked by: 12568 views
Commercial Pilot, Instrument Rating, Private Pilot

I am a student at a 4 year university studying for my Professional Pilots B.S., with about 180 hours.  By the end of the semester, I will have my instrument and commercial ratings.  I was looking for suggestions of good parttime aviation jobs.  Ideally it would be something where I could actually fly, but I know that is not likely with those few hours.  I will be applying for line tech jobs at the FBO's, as well as with the actual airport.  I just want to hear your ideas in case I overlook other possibilities.  I am located right by Spirit Of St. Louis Airport (KSUS), but am willing to travel elsewhere.  Thanks for your input!  -Jim Foley 

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11 Answers

  1. Brian on Jan 16, 2011

    Hi Jim,
    Anything with an FBO, flying or not, is a good thing. This industry is 90 percent who you know, so getting started at the local FBO as a line crew member, or something else, can’t hurt.
    Civil air patrol is a great option to help build hours. You can start flying for them as a student pilot, even, or so I’ve been told.
    Finally, a call to the local government might reveal some survey jobs that you would be eligible for.
    Good luck,

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  2. Jim Foley on Jan 16, 2011

    Thanks for the suggestions Brian.  Can you elaborate on government jobs?  I have never heard of low-time jobs with them, and honestly wouldn’t have a clue where to start.  Thanks so much!

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  3. SkyBoy98046 on Jan 16, 2011


    Get your CFI, CFII and most important MEI. That’s the best way to build hours. Do not expect a pilot job until you have over 1200 hours, 300 being multi-engine ( if your aggressive). You’ll get your commercial at 250-300. So you’ll have a long way to go. It’s about a year or two as a CFI to get there. If you’re wealthly, you can buy right seat hours in a couple different passenger time building programs but be weary of the many scams out there in the time building world. And like Brian said, jobs are so much about who you know, so make yourself visibly to the aviation market. Get to know other working pilots. They are the ones that will get you a job in most cases.

    Also, I am active Civil Air Patrol. You’ll get very little hours in CAP unless you pay for them. Although cheaper than renting from a FBO, CAP charges members a fee to fly their aircraft. Unless you’re on an assigned mission, which is rare and few.

    Flying SkyDivers is also a quick route to building hours.

    Time and patience is the key. But consider, I have friends with over 5000 hours that cannot find work. Have a side plan and don’t give up. Good luck! :-)

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  4. SkyBoy98046 on Jan 16, 2011

    Also Jim,

    There are many small Operation low-time jobs, like pipeline pilots, VFR charter pilots at 500 hours. But new regulations due to the Colgan Air disaster in Buffalo, New York, has pretty much eliminated the low hour real jobs.

    Plus, a benefit to being an instructor is that you maintain and improve your knowledge & experience. So much more than flying up and down a pipeline for example. This will keep you sharp for when you are ready to interview for a real job. I’ve seen 7 year military pilots, recent out of Iraq, fail an interview due to lack of knowledge.

    I have friends, Embry Riddle Masters degree Graduates, unable to find work. It’s 50% luck (knowing people) and 50% persistence.

    Finally, research any company that offers you a job. Generally you’re under contract. And if you find out it sucks, you’re stuck unless you pay a huge penalty to get out of your contract. This is sad stuff to hear, but oh so real in our industry. Don’t let it deter you though.

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  5. Kent Shook on Jan 17, 2011

    Plenty of things out there – Pipeline and powerline patrol, aerial mapping, crop dusting, banner and glider towing, flying skydivers, etc. – that you can do with your commercial. However, it really is about who you know and your social skills as well as your piloting skills and knowledge. The FBO is a great place to start. If nothing else, you may get to ride along on some flights and learn something, even if you can’t log it.

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  6. Brian on Jan 17, 2011

    …Qt: Jim Foley – “Thanks for the suggestions Brian.  Can you elaborate on government jobs?”…
    Any job the government might be running, such as pipeline and traffic survey. You could give a call to your local city hall and ask if they know of any pilot jobs available in their city. Typically, they will have local airport information on file.
    The best way is still, in my opinion, to just go and visit the local airports. Hang out at the FBO’s for a few days and just talk to people. Remember, it is all about who you know. :)
    One last thing. . .get business cards. It is always good to leave contact information in a professional manner. However, writing your name and number on their hand with red permanent marker might make you unforgettable. So who really knows, but good luck with your search.

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  7. Brian on Jan 17, 2011

    Crop dusting is no place for a 200 hour pilot. The stick and rudder skills required to pilot 16,000 pound, 1,350 hp turbo prop aircraft are far beyond that of sub 1,000 hour pilots. I wanted to do it when I was there, till I found out it was way out of my league. The aircraft is also tailwheel, which is why I wanted the job! 
    Might be some small time crop dusting that is better for lower time pilots, but not that I’ve heard of. If anyone has, I’d be interested.

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  8. James MacGregor on Jan 19, 2011

    Realisticly, you have a few options:

    1) CFI, easy and a good way to go if you need to live in a major city

    2) Meat Bomber, AKA drop sky divers, look a diverdriver dot com or just gonto the local DZ and poke around

    3) Go over seas, get real world experience, gain skills that will blow others out of the water with the same hours, disadvantage is your overseas.

    4) if you have tail wheel time tow banners, look it up there are a few major companys.

    All you need to do is be persist, demonstrate your love of aviation and be willing to travel to shake hands.

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  9. thebushpilot on Feb 21, 2012

    Did you ever consider bush flying in Africa?There are some countries like Botswana and Namibia, where a low houred pilot (2-300 TT) can get a flying job and quickly boost the logbook to 1000 hours. There is a guide to everything you always wanted to know about scoring that first pilot job in Namibia or Maun, Botswana. The tips and tricks of scoring that first job in the African bush. There is a Cessna 206 or a Cessna 210 waiting for you as well. Look for the Low Time Pilots Guide to African Bush Flying (http://maunpilot.blogspot.com/2012/02/low-time-pilots-guide-to-african-bush.html)

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  10. fernando on Dec 05, 2012

    The best thing you may do is to learn how to write an excellent resume and cover letter. If you don’t you will probably go into the trash can in just 10 seconds( http://www.pilotwork.net/pilotresume/ ).

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  11. Heather McNevin on Dec 06, 2012

    If you can swing it, go to trade shows and aviation conferences. Often times, its not just your qualifications but who you know that can advance you in this industry.

    Be as active in the aviation community as you can. Take part in local clubs like EAA or CAP. Every bit of experience helps.

    What are your specific aviation goals? If its ATC, start visiting facilities and making contacts. Even if you don’t want to be a controller, visit facilities. It’ll make you a better pilot. If you want to fly for an airline, look for internship opportunities.

    Search for unique scholarship opportunities. As a college student, you are eligible for many scholarships that can assist with tuition, aerobatic training, tailwheel endorsements, glider training, float ratings, etc that will make you a better pilot and increase your overall value. Good luck!

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