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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:49 pm 
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Hello,

I am a currently finishing my CPL in Ottawa. I plan on having my CPL by March, and a float rating seems like the logical next step. I would like to get into float flying and bush flying, but I'm not really sure how. I will hopefully be moving to British Columbia next year for university. The 50 hour bush courses in BC seem great, but there's no way I can afford that at this time. In a perfect world, I would like to get a job maybe up north or out west this summer after completing a float rating.

Realistically, I am prepared to work to docks/ramp before actually flying. Do you actually need 50 hours on floats to fly floats commercially? Because then I need to do a 50 hour no matter what then, right?

I am just looking for a couple tips on how to get started. Is it worth getting more time on floats? Does the 50 hour course basically guarentee me a job as a pilot somewhere in Canada, or close to it?

thanks!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:13 pm 
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There are many ways to start a bush flying career. The "50 hr" thing is absolutely not mandatory to fly floats. You do need a rating, however. You could even save yourself a few bucks and incorporate it in to your CPL & gain some float time while getting to the 200 hr mark. Tough to do if you're trying to finish by March in Ontario.

Attending the regular fall & winter semesters at Uni & working the dock somewhere (preferably somewhere north) in the summer is a possibility that could work & lead to a flying position. You could even try for a part time gig at one of the year-round coastal seaplane operators while attending school if you're not too far away. ( Harbour Air, Seair, Saltspring Air...)

Do your research.
Don't waste money you don't have. 50 hrs on floats will not guarantee a commercial float job.
Networking is very important. (Avcanada can be a very good resource, but you really have to get out there & talk to people in the industry).
Have fun! Good Luck.



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:44 pm 
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Thanks! I guess what I'm trying to figure out is whether it's worth the money to get 50 hours float time, as opposed to working the docks for a couple of years. Anyone know the likelihood of getting hired as a pilot after completing 50 hours on floats?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:07 am 
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I did a 50 hour course and in my experience, that money could have been better spent.

A season on the dock at a decent operator will 'lurn ya a lot more about stuff that WILL get you a job flying floats.

On the dock, you will learn about how the business runs, is it charters or a fishing lodge operation? What do the guests/customers want, appreciate, hate. How does the owner want his equipment operated? All kinds of things that you will not find in any 50 hour course I have seen.

Take the 15K the 50 hour course will cost you, spend 1/3 of that investing in a road trip to get a dock spot for next season. The other 2/3 will come in handy subsidizing your dismal standard of living on what you will make that summer and possibly the summer after.

In my opinion, a resume that says you know how to fix outboard motors, build docks, repair propane fridges, cook a shore lunch and have actually seen, rode in, loaded, cleaned, caught, launched and wiped puke off working aircraft in a float operation is light years ahead of one that has a license and a 50 hour course.

A decent operator will not only teach you these things, but once you know them, and can do a half ass job of them, would encourage you to come back and fly for them the next year.

Everything you will learn in your 50 hour course will be taught again by your employer anyways, first by watching and talking to those doing it and then again when they decide you can be trusted with an airplane.

Not to disparage all 50 hour courses, but, for the average pilot starting out, 10-15K is a lot of dosh. When I look back at the return on the investment, it doesn't really add up. I was no further ahead after a season then the guy next to me who started the season with a 7 hour float endorsement. As far as claims of a 50 hour course leading directly to a flying spot, I'd put it up there with the 250 hour guys flying for Jazz... Sure, it happened, but we're talking lottery odds.

Good luck!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:50 am 
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Thanks for the great response! Assuming you've done some dock time and that your operator decides he wants you flying, will he give you training in the right seat on his aircraft? Will they really let you build that much time in their aircraft? Or do you have to go back to a flying school?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:13 pm 
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bush pilots often work job by job, they are not guaranteed a standard 40-hour week. Thus, some pilots charge by the day or, depending on the assignment.Bush pilots' earnings are related to where they fly. The higher the risk, the higher the fee a pilot can charge. The number of hours logged also influences the yearly earnings pilots who are able to negotiate more trips have more income. The level and certifications the pilot holds are another factor, with more experienced, higher-level bush pilots earning better rates.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:53 pm 
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Some wise words above. But do arrive for that dock job with at least a ten hour float rating in a 185, so if the opportunity comes up, you at least have taken the time to learn the basics in a machine that actually works commercially and you might be able to log a little more empty leg time on.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:41 am 
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The above posts all carry as good advice as you could get so there's no need for me to say anything.

However I had an idea while reading the other posts to you about starting out in the bush. I think this could be a good place for other pilots who fly in the bush or once did to write any story about their start in aviation, be it funny, interesting, unusual or maybe just downright crazy.

So I'll start first. Here's my story:

I heard through a friend about a place in Northern Saskatchewan that was looking for a dock boy, so I flew to Prince Albert applied for (by asking at the desk)a job as a dock boy up in one of the northern bases and was given the job on the spot. There was a 172 flying up that day so off I went.

The job of dock boy is as undefined as any job anywhere. Your duties vary from helping load the airplanes at the dock, cleaning up the garbage, painting anything that doesn't move, washing the planes, driving the trucks, picking up passengers and pilots from the airstrip and taking them to the dock and riding in the right seat of the Single Otter with the Boss. I wasn't there to fly either, I was there to load and unload pax and freight, fuel it and wash it.

So my day would start early in the morning, every morning. No days off up there. Anyway the only thing to do when not working was to drink and chase the girls. What girls? Well they were there but as the Boss said "If I catch any of you motherfuckers squaw-humping in the staff house you'll be down the road". That never even slowed us down.

Now each day the Boss would start tucking into his rye sometime after noon. He had bottles hidden all around the base. He had one down the well in his basement hanging from a rope. His wife was an avid AA member and would throw out his booze if she found it. My wife does that now! If you weren't on his shit list you would be invited into the freight shed for a couple shots anytime throughout the afternoon. It was an honor to be part of that group but we all had our week during the summer season when we were on his shit-list and commonly referred to as the "useless squawhumping sonofabitch" And when in the shed drinking rye and 7up you had to nod and agree that yes he was a "useless squawhumping sonofabitch"

One day the Otter came taxiing toward the dock at quite a clip and hit it with a glancing blow to the left float putting a not too insignificant dent in the nose. The Boss climbed out and and said "Boy come here" so I followed him the the shed. He pulled a bottle hidden under some boxes, told me to get a couple cups and poured us each a couple of stiff rye and 7ups. Then he told me I was to fly the next flight in the Otter. He'd had too much rye he said. "OK" was all I could muster.

So we loaded it up, I climbed up the stairs, sat in his seat and imitating the he'd done it, I pumped the throttle a couple times and hit the starter. It caught and I taxied away wondering to myself just how on earth I had gotten myself into this mess. Well I wasn't going to turn this down by admitting to myself or anyone else that maybe I wasn't quite ready for this. I also couldn't imagine the names he might come up with for me if I had pointed out that I had never flown this or any other float plane and had been given no training on it.

So I pulled it off and over the next few weeks repeated the flight on several occasions. I was given a proper checkout on the 185 soon after and flew that for about two years before moving on to a larger town with larger airplanes.

I doubt anything like that is likely to happen today and I hope it never does but if given the choice I wouldn't trade it for the world. I left Canada 30 years ago so am not certain what the rules and regulations are like now but they're bound to be more closely governed.

So that's my story of how I got my start in aviation. What's yours?



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:58 pm 
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Good thread, I've been wondering the same thing.

If I could add a couple more inquiries along these lines:

-Is PIC instructing time worth anything when those hiring are looking at a resume? Am I better off instructing for a few years (and maybe getting my 7 hr float rating in the meantime) and then applying to float operators in the hopes of flying a 185 or something right off the bat, or will I have to work the dock anyway? I'm not opposed to working the dock, of course, just wondering if instructing & PIC time would sort of fast-track you into a flying position at a float operator?

-I assume there is no point in a multi-IFR rating? I know you need it to fly the Twin Otter but it'll be years before you get an opportunity to fly right seat...I assume it's a rating you can get once you're more established and experienced in the float industry? Same would go for the ATPL, I take it?

-Do you need a night rating, or is it an advantage to have it? I assume most float operations are strictly day-VFR...

Basically I think my questions boil down to: should I just get my CPL and my 200 hrs and my 7-hr float rating and go job hunting, or are there other things I should consider doing first?

By the way, great story Banana, if not a little scary...looking forward to more from you vets!



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:42 pm 
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M.G!

Is he still in Buffalo? Good story Banana, I was there, flew the 206. He and Ethyl had a brand new Buick Whatchamacallit, fire-engine red, white interior, the 2-door coupe with the tail that looked like a Corvette; she used to fire it up and drive it out of the garage to the local grocery store (maybe 100 metres?) load up the groceries and drive it back into the garage. As far as I knew, that was the only time she (or the car) ever went out.
Once, while under the influence, M.G. came into the pilot house, found one of the pilots "involved" with a local beauty and proceeded to thoroughly beat up the pilot, who was a few sheets to the wind himself and 'under-dressed' at the time. After that, I slept with my old military .303 by the bed, loaded, making it clear that if he entered the pilot house while I was in there I would assume he meant evil and I'd shoot him. Seemed to work... I preferred to visit the lovely nurses in the hospital in Ile a la Crosse, about 30 miles south. They had some keg parties...



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:20 pm 
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I would suggest that doing your commercial time building ON a float plane would be money well spent. Kind of "double dipping" in your own favour I'd call it. Don't waste time or money on a multi or IFR, do that when you've had enough bush life and want a real job. Then go work the ramp and when the boss is too drunk to fly... super funny story banana dude :lol: ...you meet insurance requirements already.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:51 pm 
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You Gotta have common sense!!! If you don't have common sense: time doesn't mean squat.

You can't study For this!!!


BH



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:16 pm 
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So,co-joe....is flying bush not considered a REAL JOB......Don't tell my wife that ,cause she's always thought I was going to work for the last 30+years...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:17 pm 
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So,co-joe....is flying bush not considered a REAL JOB......Don't tell my wife that ,cause she's always thought I was going to work for the last 30+years...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:05 pm 
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The best way to start a bush flying career is to fail at everything else in the business world. Then you will be so desperate, you will do anything to make a wage below minimum. Also, be single, drink scotch (most people don't like it, so more for you) and enjoy early mornings, late nights and every known biting insect in the world. Also skin out a fall bear and wear it. It is thickest known skin I can think of. :drinkers: :drinkers:


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:02 pm 
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Lost Lake, I disagree. Failing at everything else in the business world will get you a job in aviation management, but only if you're not a pilot. Self-styled "businessmen" swirl down the drain and land in small aviation at some point or other. If you've already got a pilot's license then it's too late for this kind of job.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:13 am 
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.......................................................

Hey Meatservo, the above are a few grains of salt. I've done the bush thing for almost 25 years. Love the job, just hate being away from home. I sure wouldn't want to start over today though. :D



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:31 am 
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Real or not,it's the best job ,and life style I could imagine.....I might have another 10 years in me before they lock me up for having way too much fun in my life.....something too many people lack today...cause their trying to get to a bigger ,faster airplane and by the time they get there,someone's built something bigger and faster...so they never get there..........


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:36 am 
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I don't know what a real job is never had one. Come to think of it haven't had a hair cut in the past 3 years so even if a real job came along who would hire the long hair guy anyway.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:32 am 
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I just saw an ad in the jobs section for a 206 float pilot claiming that he only needed 100 float time to get hired. Awesome! So a 50 hour course would be worth it.

I flew a Beaver for a guy in Sewer Look-out many years ago and it was a fun town. I lived in a camper on a point, bathed in the lake (yep even in October) and flew my brains out. Just about got beaten up in a bar because the locals wanted the pool table and couldn't wait.

Lots of opportunity out there. You won't get rich but you'll have fun. Make sure you arrive with a serviceable car and enough escape cash to make the next town. And as Lost Lake intoned, learn to drink scotch, nobody else like that delicious liquid :rolleyes:



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