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Bush pilot options?

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Bush pilot options?

Old 24th Jul 2016, 17:45
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Bush pilot options?

Hello, new guy here, complete newbie (except lifelong love of aviation), done some flying, mostly gliders/sailplanes, but never achieved a license for powered planes.

At 43 years old I'm too old to start an airline career from scratch.

The good news is I already have a non-aviation career that pays good money so I'm interested in flying because of the love, not the money. I already have the money.


My question is being as old as I am, would it be possible to launch some kind of a part-time flying career like those bush pilots in Alaska? Part time instructor perhaps? Towing gliders? Crop dusting? What do you think?

If it's intermittent employment that's OK. I don't need steady.

Anybody has ideas?

My concern is if flying just becomes a hobby then it's the world's most expnsive hobby, probably not a good idea.

But if I can find somebody who at least pays for my aircraft time and gasoline, then I will do something I've always wanted to do, and I will build up flying experience.

Thanks in advance for replies.

Last edited by MonsterZero; 27th Jul 2016 at 02:07.
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Old 25th Jul 2016, 05:57
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First off welcome to PPRuNe. 43 is young and its the best time to get into aviation as it has ever been. Name your job and it is there. Are you taking lessons somewhere around Chicago?
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Old 25th Jul 2016, 15:31
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You are definitely not too old to start an airline career from scratch. In my new hire class (at a large part 121 regional), we had half a dozen guys over the age of 40, and the oldest guy was 55. A pilot in my company told me that he got his 63 year old dad an interview. None of these guys have prior airline experience.
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Old 27th Jul 2016, 02:07
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I'm taking an intro flight from Lake in the Hills airport tomorrow. I will have an aircraft and a pilot for 1 hr.

I haven't begun lessons yet. The good news is I can finance training without any problems, something I couldn't do when I was in my 20s and broke.

I guess there are pros and cons of getting older.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 28th Jul 2016, 03:32
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Think of it this way... All the regionals are hiring now. You can still make a decent career at a regional airline if you want. It is realistic for you to get to a regional by 46 years old. That's still a 19 year career at an airline... Not bad if you ask me. To get there, you need to get your ratings, certificates, and required flight experience.
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Old 29th Jul 2016, 02:59
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There are some pretty pessimistic videos on YouTube made by career pilots that really discourage me.

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Old 29th Jul 2016, 13:44
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43 is not too young to get started at all. But, an airline career may or mat not be what you would want to do. Lots of different ways to fly professionally, corporate, charter, flight instructor, etc. Flight instructing perhaps fits with a part-time scenario better than other gigs. Sounds like you're on your way to getting started, and it sounds like you have a reasonable approach. My advice, especially for "older" folks, don't quit your day job, don't go into debt for flight training, take it one step at a time, and have fun!
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Old 29th Jul 2016, 14:58
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I just watched that video. It is true that it can be very difficult to get into the cockpit of a 747 at your age, but if you are content with the idea of being a captain on the Embraer E175, that is a very realistic goal.
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Old 29th Jul 2016, 16:12
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My concern is if flying just becomes a hobby then it's the world's most expnsive hobby, probably not a good idea.
On balance, I'd argue that it is still CHEAPER THAN GOLF!!!

My old boss had two club memberships, all the latest kit and a new set of bats most years... add to that his golfing weekend trips away, flights to play elsewhere and associated costs and he reckoned he was well in the region of $15-20k p.a.

As I tell my wife (more often than strictly necessary) it makes the $5+k I drop on 30+ hours of float-plane rental p.a. pale in comparison.

Such a saint, I am.
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Old 29th Jul 2016, 17:15
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Hmmm...so basically the picture everybody is painting is yes, I can get into the cockpit of a regional jet by the time I'm like 46 years old, if I choose the accelerated airline program (ATP). However, after that they say I will face a financial ruin.

I'm a registered nurse, make $40/hr or more depending on my contract. Nursing offers unlimited choice of shift and I can work as many or as few days per week I want.

If a regional pilot job is 5 days per week making 20K/year then I'm screwed but if it's flexible enough to allow me to have a second job (as a nurse) then maybe I can pick up 2 nurse shift per week to save my financial ass...
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Old 29th Jul 2016, 20:57
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Absolutely. If money isn't a problem, get your ratings up to CFI. Then you can make a decision if you want to just teach part time, full time, aim for the airlines, maybe some part 135 work, banners, jumpers, etc. Crop dusting is a hard nut to crack, you have to be all in, and get down and dirty loading hoppers before you climb in a cockpit. Doable, but not really a part time beginner thing.
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Old 30th Jul 2016, 04:05
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ATP is kind of expensive. One of the benefits of going to ATP is that you get a lot of multi time, but that isn't so necessary anymore. Right now, any regional will take you with 25 hours of multi time. Only a couple years ago, the more desirable regionals were asking for 100-200 hours of multi.

Most local schools can get you finished in 6 months. I have seen guys finish that quickly and only spend 2/3rds the cost of ATP. Shop around and see what you can find.

Also, there are a lot of flight schools that are willing to pay for your CFI certificates if you commit to them. These schools are often located in Florida and Arizona. This can save you some money.

As a flight instructor, I was making $33/hr, and I saw some guys make $6000 net in a month if they really worked their butt off. Those are on good months and not all months are the same, obviously. Weather dependent...

Once you get to a regional, most of the regionals have raised first year pay. A few have not, and some of them have bonuses for new hires (so second year pay ends up being a pay cut). If you include per diem, there are FOs at my company making $45,000+ gross first year. Only Mesa is still paying $22 per hour. Many regionals have increased first year pay to $35+/hr.

At my company, we have plenty of extra flying available. On my days off (within the limitations of FAR 117), I often times pick up extra flying. We also have flying available at up to 150% pay. Some companies are offering extra flying at 200% pay. If you want, you could probably do some nursing shifts on your days off, but if you just want to fly, there are ways to make extra money.
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Old 2nd Aug 2016, 04:32
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Get your Instructor ratings and teach for a while. Great way to build hours, flexible schedule, exposure to a number of different aircraft. Then re-evaluate. My experience: you'll learn more from your first 200 hours of teaching people to fly than you did in your first 200 hours of learning to fly.

I would hate to see you abandon a good nursing career for loads of debt to score a $20k per year job that might disappear.

My Dad was one of the LUCKY ones. Retired as an international L1011 Capt with a major airline. Flew all over the world. When I was young, I wanted to be just like him so bad I could just taste it. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near competitive with all the ex military pilots getting out after Vietnam. Dad told me the real fun of flying was flying your own airplane how, when, where you want, not driving a "bus". (his word)

Wound up in ATC. Finished 31 years, retired, fly my own plane when/where/how I want. Govt pension. And nearly every major US airline that existed in 1976 has either vanished or gone bankrupt and slashed their retirement funds.

Dad was sooooo right, and I tell him "Thank You" often.
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Old 26th Aug 2016, 18:29
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I'm back! First, thanks for all the replies.

Second, I've spent last few days looking at schools/programs. There are so many I'm overwhelmed. I don't know where to go.

Somebody recommended ATP so I sent them a message. They didn't even have courtesy to respond.

Also, somebody else said ATP has unacceptable cost.

Don't know what to do.
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Old 27th Aug 2016, 01:50
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Start locally and start talking to flight schools. Talk to the students. You could probably find a school and instructors willing to get you done real fast. I work part time at a flight school and we have had guys finish from 0 to hero in 6 months at 2/3rds the cost of ATP.
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Old 8th Sep 2016, 04:34
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How spooky, I just posted nearly the exact same question in the Canadian section this afternoon. Similar sort of thing, recently hit 40, and I had the same question. I'm not aspiring to be am A330 Captain, just want to be paid to fly, I'd be happy flying private charter, medevac etc, or even regional.

I know that in Europe (where I used to live) it get's hard to get into it at this age. But During my 6 yrs here in Canada/North America, I've found there's more encouragement for us older guys to take second careers at 40. So even though this thread mainly relates to the other side of the 49th parallel its an encouraging read.
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Old 8th Sep 2016, 17:04
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your worried that its going to become an expensive hobby? Oh im sorry mr I get paid "good money" Why dont you take a lesson first and see how that works out before you even start to start posting what you think you dont know.
If you did that you would probably know that you could part time instruct and know that you would need a commercial at least to banner tow or crop dust which you will not get as you have 0 experience.

For the people who tell you 43 is too old btw they are full of MERICA bs hope. 43 is too old and starting at a regional any later than 22 is a waste of time and lifeblood.
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Old 8th Sep 2016, 22:26
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@soakingpilot:

Did someone pee in your Cheerios today?
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Old 9th Sep 2016, 02:21
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just sick of these people who say oh wont it be so glorious and fun to tell everyone im a bush pilot as his title suggests. take a lesson and go give 20$ to aopa and leave the slaving away for the people who do it and hate it and are stuck with it.

im sure if the money was any decent you would have done the flying gig a long time ago but you chose not too so dont even talk about getting a job frankly. you sound like a sellout poser and always will be . you are that guy in the crew room who has 3 bars etched on his rollerboard and the ass hole who buys the kiss me im a pilot bib in your "good money" backyard

really do us all a favor and go buy front row tickets to sully while wearing your new aopa hat

Last edited by soakingpilot; 9th Sep 2016 at 03:23.
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Old 9th Sep 2016, 23:04
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Wow, you must be fun to fly with on a 4 day trip.
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