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What does it take to be a Bush Pilot?

Old 10th Oct 2014, 10:24
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Question What does it take to be a Bush Pilot?

Hi,

First post here so i am hoping i have selected the right catorgory to post in!

I am currently 17, 18 in under a month, and have always shown an interest in aviation and adventure! I started as many of us have as a hanger rat when i was 12, sweeping hangers and doing odd jobs in exchange for flights which then took me to getting a job at the flying school! I then got to the stage in which i was eager to fly more frequently and when i chose to, i splashed all my savings on a Paramotor ( this being as i could not afford a PPL and the upkeep) not only for the fact it is cheap to run and store, but i felt closest to being a bird and continue to do this now. However! i am now getting to the stage where i need to start making career choices and i am trying to figure out whether being a Pilot is a realistic target for me and whether taking the Bush pilot route is an option! I am going to list some questions below to make it easier and hopefully someone could please answer them

1.) What costs are involved and is it possible to make any money to suvive from it?
2.) Has anyone done it? could you please tell me about your experiences?
3.) does it help to get into commercial?
4.) is it who you know and whether you have rich parents, or can a standard young adventurous but determined individual do it?
5.) Grades! i am currently studying at 6form, but have never excelled in education, i have 8 GCSE'S and a C in english and maths ( not science ) and am struggling through A levels... ?
5.) any others things you would recommend!

Thank you!
Jawskk is offline  
Old 10th Oct 2014, 21:38
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1.) What costs are involved and is it possible to make any money to suvive from it?

It depends on how you do it. There are some part sponsored schemes out there which you can do a search for. These are hugely competitive. If going it alone, expect costs between £35000 and £120000 depending on how you want to do it (modular vs integrated thread at the top).

2.) Has anyone done it? could you please tell me about your experiences?

I trained modularly, worked very hard, got good pass marks in theory exams and first time passes in practicals. I was (relatively) lucky and got a job flying piston twins soon after getting my licence and after over a year of that got a job in a commercial airline.

3.) does it help to get into commercial?

I'm not 100% sure what you mean. If you want to know if it helps to get a commercial licence to do it for a living, then it is almost a necessity as apart from a couple of scenarios you are not allowed to earn money without a CPL. If you mean does it help to fly commercially (airlines etc) over general aviation flying in order to earn a living, then in general yes, because although there are some well paid GA jobs out there, there are less of them and you tend to need experience to get them.

4.) is it who you know and whether you have rich parents, or can a standard young adventurous but determined individual do it?

Who you know is a very large part in getting started. Once you have experience it is less important but still plays a big part. Rich parents, well.... if you mean rich and high status to try to get you a job then it helps in a lot of countries outside of Europe, inside Europe less so but it still happens.

5.) Grades! i am currently studying at 6form, but have never excelled in education, i have 8 GCSE'S and a C in english and maths ( not science ) and am struggling through A levels... ?

Good grades are not required except they will help if you are looking for part sponsored/mentored schemes. A decent understanding of GCSE level maths, and to a lesser degree perhaps physics will ease the theory exams a bit, but you don't need to be brilliantly smart to pass them.

5.) any others things you would recommend!

Do a lot of research, speak to as many people as you can, think about it long and hard and consider all your options. It is a big amount of money to spend and the chances of getting a job afterwards are on the slim side.
OhNoCB is offline  
Old 10th Oct 2014, 22:50
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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Channel 4

Hello

Love your enthusiasm for this game.

Did you watch the C4 series Worst Place to be a Pilot?

If not not, do so. The Susi thread will also answer some of your Qs and why not msg a Susi pilot for some first-hand experience.

I'm also considering bush work.
CaptainCriticalAngle is offline  
Old 10th Oct 2014, 23:32
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The fact that you're 17 will probably work against you in all honesty. Early / mid 20s yeah maybe but a lot of GA chief pilots won't trust their aircraft and customers to someone who's barely even old enough to drive a car.

If I was you I'd kill two birds with one stone, go do another job for a couple of years, grow up a bit and save the money for pilot training.
Luke SkyToddler is offline  
Old 11th Oct 2014, 04:22
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Life experience will be everything in the jobs you're aspiring to, agree with Luke and to blunt, never gonna happen at your age! As mentioned, so much to think about now at the bottom of the training ladder in becoming a pilot, especially in the UK!

Start with a trip to your local flying club...meet people, socialise and enjoy your PPL! Plenty of time....
JB007 is offline  
Old 14th Oct 2014, 13:41
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What does it take to be a Bush pilot?

Umm. Bush? Not a lot of it in the UK to be honest. Most of the bigger schools don't train students for that job.

I did bush flying in Australia. There you either instruct or head outback to fly.
Skills?
Independence, ability to get on with the job without being told exactly what to do all the time. Self reliance. Teamwork skills.
A healthy sense of survivability. The potential for doing silly things is high. Hence a few years of life experience is worthwhile.

Despite what many say, the confidence and decision making skills acquired when flying by yourself in remote areas is directly applicable to multi pilot aircraft.
redsnail is offline  
Old 15th Oct 2014, 12:28
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Haha. Very true

Main thing is "can I work there?" i.e. visas etc.

I worked in Australia, compared to PNG it's flat and tame. There's opportunities in Africa, Canada and the US as well. New Zealand, not so much. Most go to Australia. No idea about the market in South America.
redsnail is offline  
Old 15th Oct 2014, 13:22
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I flew Bush in Alaska for a few years.
Yes, you can make good money doing it.
Yes, it is dangerous, quite a few crashes and dead pilots/pax.
Lost friends and colleagues at a steady rate.
(Back in the 80s before GPSs came around, although some accidents were due to overloading and short strips, bad combo)
Would I do it again? Yes, if I was young again. Now I know too much and won't fly in bad weather with crapppy airplanes. That being said, some of the stuff was fun: Operate a DC-3 from beaches to pick up fresh salmon from the Eskimos, then fly to the nearest town with a cannery or processing plant, hoping you would get airborne in 1800 feet with a full load and full flaps..
Landing on frozen rivers with strong crosswinds was also fun, no need to straighten the airplane before touch down, look out the side window And land sideways. Never learned some of that stuff in flight school, figure it out and get the job done.
TowerDog is offline  
Old 18th Oct 2014, 11:27
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I would mirror what the other say here.
Go work in the real world for a while, military service depending on your country.
Earn some money, earn some experience.
For my company you need at least 250 hours total time, and I've never really heard of anyone being hired below the age of 20.
I think at some point we did have 23 as a minimum age.

So don't rush things.
susipilot is offline  
Old 23rd Oct 2014, 22:31
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1.) What costs are involved and is it possible to make any money to survive from it?
2.) Has anyone done it? could you please tell me about your experiences?
3.) does it help to get into commercial?
4.) is it who you know and whether you have rich parents, or can a standard young adventurous but determined individual do it?
5.) Grades! i am currently studying at 6form, but have never excelled in education, i have 8 GCSE'S and a C in english and maths ( not science ) and am struggling through A levels... ?
5.) any others things you would recommend!
I'll try to answer a few of your questions, and my answers will be based on Africa. For other areas, someone else can chime in.

1) Costs. Aside from your licence, which if you're European I would recommend that you get an EASA licence and convert it to whichever country you end up working in, other costs will be living costs to cover approximately six months in back packer joints and a return ticket somewhere. Salaries are usually very low. I stripped my savings supplementing my income for a large portion of the time I was there. Living is fairly cheap, but you won't be saving much.

2) Yes. I spent six years in Africa, five and a half years working as a charter pilot. Ditch the 'bush' bit, it's just pilot or charter pilot.

3) It is a commercial job. It's working as a pilot. If you mean does it help to get into airlines, then I would say it doesn't unfortunately. When I first chose to get a solid foundation in flying, easyJet were seeking 500 hours multiengine (piston). When I came back they were seeking bare minimum MPL and enough money up front to fund a small war. I don't see the situation changing. To fly in an airline, wait for an airline sponsored program, or do something else with your life. It does however give you experience that other spheres of aviation will appreciate.

4) Contacts help, as with anything in life. I went to Africa with a name and phone number of someone who would put me up for a month. It is possible to make contacts whilst there. Find the local drinking hole. If it's a backpackers as well, book a room for a month and dig in for the long haul. I burnt a fair amount of money visiting a few countries looking for the first gig, but once I got a job offer my licence conversion, work permit, training, etc… were paid for. If you have common sense, social skills and luck, you might get an interview.

5) You need a CPL ME/IR. I'd personally recommend finishing your A-Levels as a bare minimum. If you're at all academic, there a few courses out there that do a Bachelors in some form of aviation with an ATPL attached. Smaller companies are faced with the challenge of having to meet legislation that orientated towards much larger organisations, yet applied in a one-size-fits-all manner. Therefore if you can bring experience/knowledge of operations/safety management/maintenance management, etc… who knows, you could keep your CV out of the round file.

5 part II) Anything else… Being a charter pilot in a more remote area needs to be approached with a healthy dose of reality. If successful, you will be operating as PIC of an aircraft in an environment that offers little support, a lot of difficult decisions, and no experience or guidance to fall back on. The learning curve is steep. You will fly long days, in tough conditions, in noisy old aircraft, staying in an assortment of basic accommodation. You will be encouraged to explore the darker grey areas of day to day operational decisions. You'll make some really, really big mistakes. You may make a few you only walk away from by sheer luck alone. You'll learn a huge amount about yourself, aviation, and friendship. It is impossible to sum up the experience in an internet post. Suffice to say, if I were to do it all again, I'd make the same decisions. Where will it get you? If you get into aviation to fly, rather than for big jets and uniforms, it'll help with the general aviation side. I went from charter pilot to regional airline captain, to charter jet captain; so it's not a complete dead end.

Good luck and enjoy.
Journey Man is offline  
Old 24th Oct 2014, 06:24
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Guys,
I am planning to visit africa in the coming months to secure a job as a pilot.I have a UK CPL/IR.My MEP and SEP have expired but my MEIR is still current.Should I renew it before I leave for africa or can I renew it after I secure a job prior to the license conversion?
Any Help much appreciated.
Thanks.
pilot4eva is offline  
Old 24th Oct 2014, 08:34
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Renew it first.
M-ONGO is offline  
Old 24th Oct 2014, 12:56
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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Renew it.

When I was recruiting, I had so many similar CVs that you start looking for reasons to cut one from the pile. Have a usable licence. If you get a job you can start immediately with the license validation or conversion.
Journey Man is offline  
Old 26th Oct 2014, 11:11
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Thank you for your replies.Just one more question
I was thinking or renewing only the SEP and not the MEP because there are hardly any twin engine pistons owned by companies most are SEP's.The slightly larger turboprop's have their own rating so is it necessary to do have the MEP rating?Are the type ratings in africa sponsored by the company?
pilot4eva is offline  
Old 28th Oct 2014, 00:26
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The majority of jobs are SEP. However, there are a few MEP jobs and if you can afford to renew the MEP it may be worth it. When you factor in the costs of air fares, etc…, you need to maximise your employment opportunities.

There are also a number of C208B F/O positions, which would require a type rating. If an operator picks you up and puts you on an aircraft requiring a type rating, you've won the lottery. Yes. it could be possible; but chances are you'll be shooting for a C182, C206 or right seat C208B gig.

Have a good look at Sefos, and then start goggle-ing operators from Tanzania to Botswana.
Journey Man is offline  
Old 28th Oct 2014, 08:16
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@Journey Man thansk a lot for the advice!cheers
pilot4eva is offline  
Old 30th Oct 2014, 12:55
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Over the past couple of days I have been calling up operators in Tanzania,Kenya,botswana etc and many of them who are actually hiring/going to start hiring soon have said the requirements are up to 500TT due to insurance requirements,rating on some specific a/c like 206 etc.which countries there still hiring with 250 hours?Can definitely rule botswana out.

Last edited by pilot4eva; 30th Oct 2014 at 13:23.
pilot4eva is offline  
Old 2nd Nov 2014, 14:56
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This depends on the country and there is a lot of change occurring, with a growing number of indigenous pilots. The local guys should get priority, with the caveat that they meet all licencing standards and requirements. Often, training will take place under the SAA and then the licence converted to the home country.

Many African countries have a 'type rating' for each specific aircraft rather than a class rating on the smaller aircraft. It is usually sufficient to have exercised the privileges of your class rating at home to carry out a flight in a C206, for example, and then on converting your licence to a country's CAA/DGAC, the aircraft type will be endorsed on your licence. i.e. you have a UK issued EASA CPL with a valid SEP rating. You fly in a C206 for an hour. You go to an African country and convert your EASA CPL to a local CPL with a C206 'rating'.

Minimum requirements are increasing, although many countries still issue exemptions to operators who cannot find a local pilot. The minimum hour requirements you are talking about are broadly used only when converting a foreign issued licence. A local pilot with a minima hours for local licence issue will be eligible to exercise the privileges of that licence.

Finally, generally there are enough guys in country waiting for a chance to fly that operators can satisfy their operators crew requirements fairly easily. Very few jobs will be had by emailing/cold calling from abroad. The impression often given about this type of flying is that you simply try to get into an airline in Europe and if you can't you just apply to 'Africa' to go 'bush' flying. It's not how it works; it's not the fall back job many think it is; and it's damned hard. But well worth it. Research and go down for a once in a lifetime adventure.
Journey Man is offline  

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