Who do you work for?
What is your job?
Commercial Helicopter pilot / Flight instructor.
Where do you work?
Meadows Field Airport, Bakersfield, California, USA.
How did you start in this line of work?
I have wanted to fly helicopters since I was about 16 years old, then finally at 35 I was made redundant from a good career in IT. The money from this settlement was enough to pay for my retraining as a helicopter pilot. It was now or never!
How did you find out about the job? Or where did you get the idea?
I found the job by doing lots of searching on the Internet and by sending out my CV to as many places as possible.
How did you get the job?
With a sit down interview in New Orleans and a flight test in Bakersfield.
What do you do on an average day?
This can vary tremendously, but typically I fly with students and perhaps a photo or sight seeing flight. Ensure aircraft and student records are kept up to date, and talk to potential new students on the phone and via email.
What hours do you work?
Again this is quite variable. Usually its fairly 9 - 5 time wise, but often times can vary and weekend work can often occur.
What’s the best part of the job?
I get paid to fly helicopters - what more do you want?!? My office is usually either hovering 5 feet above the ground or at 500 feet and 100mph - It's just the coolest thing!
And the worst?
The days when you don't get to fly, or flights get cancelled at the last minute.
What can you not do your job without - Qualifications, licences, insurance, comfy shoes, eye for detail, sense of humour?
All of the above, well nearly! The insurance and comfy shoes are optional.
Is there a Society, Association, Union for people in your line of work?
Helicopter Association International (HAI) is one of the main ones. There are smaller regional/specialised associations.
How much initial investment did you have to spend to get started in your career?
About £35,000 (gulp!) for all the flight training.
How does the pay and career path compare to other people you know? Can you support yourself, a family, a house on the income from this work?
Like a lot of careers it's often difficult getting that first break as initially you have no experience in that field. Once you get going though it has reasonable career progression prospects and can certainly pay enough to support me and my family.
Does your organisation ever advertise for staff? Where?
Our company is only small at the moment so has not needed much in the way of advertising for staff (and definitely not for pilots). We have been advertising for a aircraft mechanic without luck as these guys are in real short supply at the moment. Any advertising would be in industry publications/websites.
Have you ever seen other jobs like yours advertised? Where?
I have seem other jobs like mine advertised, usually on the company's own web site or other industry websites.
What would you be doing if not in this line of work?
Probably something like I was doing, technology or computer related. Then again, being a racing driver sounds pretty cool too!... Or perhaps an astronaut!?!