Pilot/AME questions...

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Daz
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Pilot/AME questions...

#1 Post by Daz » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:12 pm

Anyone here both a helicopter pilot and AME? Or do you work with one?

Which came first - flying or wrenching?

Which do you prefer?

Has it helped your career?

Any regrets?

It's mostly just idle curiosity at this point, but I am considering AME school. I'm a lowtime pilot (224 hours, all Robinson) currently looking for my next gig, but - like most low timers - it's not an easy row to hoe, especially as helicopter companies seem to be facing ever-increasing minimum hour requirements. The jobs that used to call for 250 and 500 hour minimums seem to be inflating to at least 1000, and the only way to get there is by picking up maintenance and ferry flights. I'm fine with that and I'm not in a rush to fill up my logbook, and I know I'll be spending time on the ground to get there - but if I was an apprentice, then maybe some of that ground time could go towards my AME license. If I got the odd flight in there to stay current and trained on the pilot side, so much the better.

I've always been mechanically inclined (I work on my own vehicles/bikes, and I build my own guitar amplifiers), and I like troubleshooting stuff and problem solving. BUT truth be told I like flying the most, and the AME career would be a means to open up more flying job opportunities, and to be more employable/useful when things are slow. I think having a better mechanical understanding of the machines would be beneficial, too.


Thoughts?

Cheers,

Darren

FWIW, I did read the stickies in the maintenance forum :mrgreen:
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seamus
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Re: Pilot/AME questions...

#2 Post by seamus » Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:35 pm

Honestly, you're better off picking one and just sticking with it. If you try doing both inevitably you're going to end up sucking at one of the two trades - it's a fact of life. Good pilots are goal-oriented individuals as opposed to good engineers which are predominately process-oriented people. The two professions may share the helicopter as a common, center element but require completely different mindsets to be successful at. Lastly, other engineers (mostly older salts) may not look at you too kindly once they find out you're only wrenching to pass the time while trying to get back to your 'dream' job.

Again, this may sound a bit harsh but that's the reality of it. I've seen few similar examples in the past and it was always the same thing. It would be different if you had your AME license already, at least then you have one established career to fall back on. What you're describing is trying to start two different professions concurrently - engineering being far more demanding of the two. Sounds like you have your foot in the one door already - I'd work on getting the rest of my body wedged into that gap :mrgreen:
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Daz
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Re: Pilot/AME questions...

#3 Post by Daz » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:58 am

Not harsh at all - honest and informative. Great post; thanks for your reply!

- Darren
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flingwinger
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Re: Pilot/AME questions...

#4 Post by flingwinger » Sat Jun 15, 2013 8:53 am

I disagree, it has worked out well for me. I had 120hs and a fresh M1 license and walked into a flying job. I now run a maintenance shop through the winter and put down the tools to fly for the summer. Endorsed on 7 types to fly and wrench. I have never been without work.

Having said this, it also depends on the person. You have to be mechanically inclined, and truly want to be an AME. We had an apprentice who was also a 100hr pilot and it was clear he was only there to try and get flying. He didnt have an ounce of mechanical skill. He didn't last. When I decided to become an AME, I had made the decision to give up on flying and focus on wrenching as my career. I just happened to find a job where I could do both. The other trend in pilot/engineers, is that as they build hours they tend to give up the maintenance side. I think it's important to have an equal balance. I enjoy wrenching just as much a flying. It keeps me balanced. After a long winter of turning wrenches, I'm dying to get out and fly come spring. After a long summer of being on the road, I'm dying to get back home and work in the hangar. I can't complain.

seamus wrote:Honestly, you're better off picking one and just sticking with it. If you try doing both inevitably you're going to end up sucking at one of the two trades - it's a fact of life. Good pilots are goal-oriented individuals as opposed to good engineers which are predominately process-oriented people. The two professions may share the helicopter as a common, center element but require completely different mindsets to be successful at. Lastly, other engineers (mostly older salts) may not look at you too kindly once they find out you're only wrenching to pass the time while trying to get back to your 'dream' job.

Again, this may sound a bit harsh but that's the reality of it. I've seen few similar examples in the past and it was always the same thing. It would be different if you had your AME license already, at least then you have one established career to fall back on. What you're describing is trying to start two different professions concurrently - engineering being far more demanding of the two. Sounds like you have your foot in the one door already - I'd work on getting the rest of my body wedged into that gap :mrgreen:
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helicopterray
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Re: Pilot/AME questions...

#5 Post by helicopterray » Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:11 pm

I have worked with crews who swung both ways.
Flew in the summer, wrenched in the winter. And were exceptional at both.

Most of them were pilots first, but turned to wrenching because there wasn't a lot of work for low time pilots.
As good ame's, when opportunities presented themselves, they would be available to do ground runs after maintenance, available for maintenance flights (track and balance), and eventually into ferry flights. (In each case, being checked out by the chief pilot and/or the ops manager to do those specific tasks.)
Eventually working their way into full time flying jobs.
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