So you want to be an airline pilot and are looking for ways to build your total flight time? We've got you covered! These tips come right from First Officer Swayne Martin who knows a thing or two about the path to flying for the airlines. Getting between 1000 and 1500 hours might sound challenging when you are just starting out. We get it. But the following 10 jobs are all great ways to both build up those hours and get the opportunity to fly different aircraft in different situations.
1. Flight Instructor
Flight instruction is probably the most common job for building flight time. Depending on your hours and experience, you might be working with brand new students who have never sat in the left seat, or more experienced pilots working on different type ratings. This is a great job if you like working with people, and spending this amount of time teaching will help you memorize and master even the smallest details of what it means to be a pilot. Flight instructor jobs are available almost everywhere and are available year round so you can build hours quickly!
2. Part 135 Pilot
As a Part 135 pilot you can both build flight time and learn many valuable skills that will be very useful in the airlines. Whether you fly charter, taxi, or cargo flights you will have the chance to get a look into many of the aspects of flying for a larger airline. You will be able to see what it is like working with other crew members, passengers, dispatch, ground crew, and more. Most Part 135 jobs are available to pilots with around 500 hours of total flight time, so they are a great option to follow some of the others on this list.
3. Part 91 Pilot
While it is rare to find a full time Part 91 job and therefore won't build hours as quickly, it can still be a great option! Part 91 flying can be a really fun way to fly different types of aircraft, from small pistons to even light jets.
4. Pipeline/Power Line Pilot
Power companies all over need pilots to fly low and slow over pipelines and power lines to keep an eye out for damage or hazards. If you love looking down at the landscape below when you fly, then this could be the perfect job for you! Though weather dependent, you can usually build hours quite quickly with this kind of work. You will be flying mostly a high wing single engine aircraft for the visibility and slow speeds.
5. Aerial Survey Pilot
Everything from large construction projects to geological surveys are in need of pilots to complete aerial surveys, and this can be an interesting way to get some hours in. Often in jobs like this you will fly one aircraft for multi-week trips to survey different sites. You will usually have a trained sensor operator on board, but will need to fly with precision in order to accurately capture the necessary data. This is a great way to master your pitch, bank, and roll. These jobs are more common in the summer when light hours are long, or in mid winter when there are not leaves on the trees.
6. Personal Airplane
Owning your own plane to build flight time in isn't practical for most people, but there are other ways to use a personal plane. You can rent a plane, lease one, or join a flight club for access to their aircraft. While flying a personal aircraft is not a job, it can be extremely helpful for practicing very specific things as you have full control and flexibility of when, where, and how you fly. Without an employer or schedule calling the shots, you can fly for the exact types of time you need.
7. Skydive Pilot
Though it is a very weather dependent job, flying as a skydive pilot is exciting and especially wonderful for practicing take-offs and landings! You will be taking off and landing a lot, but will rarely have the opportunity to build cross country, night, or instrument hours.
8. Air Tour Pilot
If you live near especially beautiful or unique landscapes, then you may want to consider flying as an air tour pilot! Whether soaring over the grand canyon or the crystal blue waters of the Hawaiian islands, you can get paid to look at stunning views all day. While you won't have the chance to work on things like night and instrument hours, flying as an air tour pilot can be a ton of fun and help you learn to build rapport with passengers.
9. Ferry Pilot
Small planes in many different locations need to be ferried across the country for buying, selling, or maintenance. Even with not many flight hours yet, you can often find ferry pilot jobs and get the chance to build lots of cross country hours! While you won't be able to build all your hours this way because each flight is usually a stand alone contract, it is still a great option, with more jobs available the more experienced you get.
10. Banner Tow Pilot
This might be a job you didn't think of, but it can be a very exciting way to get some hours. Though not usually available year round and most common over beaches, this job is perfect for pilots who have some tailwheel experience and like a little bit of danger. Towing a banner can be tricky and dangerous work, especially during capture and release of the cable. However, in the summer months you can build hours very quickly flying long days.
I hope this helps inspire you to be excited about building your flight time, instead of daunted by the long road ahead to your dream airline job. There are so many different options that will allow you to see different sights, learn new things, and fly many different aircraft types. No matter how you choose to build flight time, it is important to log it all accurately in LogTen Pro! Check out this article about why you should use an electronic logbook.
To watch Swayne's detailed video, click here!