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Your First 1000 Hours


Daz
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Over the past few months I've noticed quite a few ads for pilots - the majority of which require at least 1000 hours. I'm well aware that getting to that point ain't easy (I'm about 778 shy :P), and some high times have told me "the first thousand are the hardest".

 

How did you build your first thousand hours? Ground guy getting the odd ferry and non-rev opportunity? "Seat meat" co-Jo in a medium? Pipeline/oilfield flying? If you did it over again, would you do things differently?

 

Just curious to hear everyone's experiences - thanks in advance.

 

- Darren .

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Oh, and that's "high timers", not high times (autocorrect!).

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Hi Daz,

 

Right out of school I had the very good fortune to build fixtures, clean helicopters and do some scanning for Gemini. Then I got a job flying an R22 in the Ekati area for Stu Blusson, a very successful diamond prospector. That's me in the 22 in the Discovery show about Stu and Ekati. Todd at Gemini was extremely gracious about me bailing on short notice in the middle of the season! Flew 150 hrs with Stu and it was quite an experience... Hit 250hrs.

 

Gemini hired me back the folllowing summer for an R44 contract. I flew about 200hrs in 8 months... TT 450hrs.

 

The next season was with Airborne out of Rainbow Lk. Flew 2 weeks at Paramount Bistcho, 2 weeks outta Rainbow, and 2 weeks off. Those guys at Bistcho were something, let me tell you! Hit 850 hrs.

 

Flew 2 yrs for Delta outta Lac La Biche. It was the "Hay Days" and I logged 1300 hrs there.

 

These days? Sounds like Ralph @ Kananaskis/Icefields is one route. I've worked with several great guys who got their start with Ralph. Otherwise it's pretty tough to get to 500 hrs. I know that Gemini, Airborne & Delta still hire the occasional 500 hr pilot...

 

A guy I know recently spent a year ground crewing and now the company is giving him a 206 endorsement and PPC so that he can work for Ralph and build his time. No easy answers I'm afraid...

 

Best of luck,

 

Dick Mitten

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well, first of all, I didn't go look for jobs in the middle of the Rockie Mountains with dreams of being a so called "Mountain Pilot" And when somebody set me up with a job similar to a job at Gemini, I answered "absolutely yes sir, and thank you sir!"

 

I think I hit about 800 hours that year, mostly on a 206. That was about 18 months after graduation.

 

Then, I have flown a modest 500 or more every year since, plus was given a mountain course and endorsements. It was about 2 years after graduation, and about 1000 hours and I was in a B3 on the continental divide with a long line....Lucky me yes..oh lucky me, but I also did not pass up one single opportunity and I increased my odds dramatically of flying by working in an area where I as a low timer could be used....

 

 

Looks like Dimit did the same...

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How did you build your first thousand hours? Ground guy getting the odd ferry and non-rev opportunity? "Seat meat" co-Jo in a medium? Pipeline/oilfield flying? If you did it over again, would you do things differently?

 

Just curious to hear everyone's experiences - thanks in advance.

 

- Darren .

 

 

Getting the odd ferry flight or non-rev won't get you anywhere quick if its the old carrot trick to keep the cheap labour around. Seat meat as co-jo in the vfr world isn't worth a whole lot either. Oil and gas work usually have mins from 750 - 1500hrs depending on who and what you are doing.. I would say do your research on companies look into what type of flying they do there customers and mins. Also some companies are willing to send out pilots that don't meet the mins when stuck for pilots or want to give a pilot a break. While others will not take that risk. Also it will really depend on the season which looks good this year. I have seen one pilot get on with a company and get over 1000hrs plus 3 endorsements right out of school in 2 seasons. While another new hire with the same company get 60hrs in a season.

 

I started with a company in the Rockies and spent 4 years there and was treated very well while others did not fair so well for various reasons. Only averaged about 350hrs a season but got A350 endorsement, mountain course, long line, and the type of flying has been the most challenging i have done and probably will do in my career for a long time. Now with the shortage of pilots it seems with the networking and friends i have made i almost don't even need a resume. So just because you hear the stories of those lucky guys don't expect everyone will be treated the same, you have to make your own opportunities.

 

Good luck

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Thanks for your replies.

 

well, first of all, I didn't go look for jobs in the middle of the Rockie Mountains with dreams of being a so called "Mountain Pilot" And when somebody set me up with a job similar to a job at Gemini, I answered "absolutely yes sir, and thank you sir!"
.

 

Guess I had that one coming, eh? Your point is taken. :D

 

Funny you mention that (it's like you know me :P) - a couple years ago I was set up with an opportunity, and I let my personal life get in the way. I won't bore you with the details, but it started with "D" and rhymed with schmivorce...

 

I missed a great chance and earned myself a (much deserved) earful about it. I'll never do that again!

 

So - another question: For all of you married/family guys, did you relocate away from your family, or did you luck into a rotation that let you spend your time off at home? I have a wonderful Mrs. who supports me 100% (second time's a charm...), and I don't have kids, so relocation isn't an issue. I'd still like to hear how y'all made it work.

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Guest 47yrLowTimer

I was given a few pieces of advise by an old timer in the industry (40+ years). One of them was never relocate your family for any job in the helicopter business.

 

Chances are that if you are lucky enough to find a job with your hours. The job will most likely be for the summer. Maybe you'll log enough hours that you will land a job flying next winter. Hard to say, but the chances are that where you work this summer and where you'll be working next winter will be in two entirely different locations. One thing is for sure and that is; nothing in this business is guaranteed. That includes when, where and how long you'll be there. Realistically, you will probably be hopping all over the place this summer and sleeping in a camps somewhere. Where you call home will have little bearing on your ability to visit the family. just my $0.02

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Finished off my license with a 10hr JetRanger endorsement with GSH in '07 (I paid for it), when things were still hopping. That turned into a job. Spent May to October away from home and the missus and that nearly cost us our relationship (not just because of work, but it certainly didn't help). Got up to about 350hrs that first season due to another guys' misfortune. He wrecked a machine and then cooked a turbine. After his second booboo I got punted into camp to replace him and that's how I got onto my first real job. Got another 300hrs with GSH the following season then got laid off with the recession. They wouldn't take me back post-recession because I didn't have 1000hrs. Didn't fly in '09. So by '10, desperate times called for desperate measures and I did the BC/AB road trip and took the first job offered. That was with Delta in High Level. Moved shop with the missus. That allowed me to break 1000hrs.

 

Hasn't been a cake walk, but hasn't been that hard either. No regrets. Some luck, some timing. Still loving this job overall.

 

I'd say if you and your missus are willing to move do it and make the most of it. Move to whatever base you have to, provided you will get to fly. High Level is a shitehole but I had a great time there. OR, if your lady can take it, spend April to October wherever you have to, with the chance that you may only see her once or twice in that stretch. The downside of that is you don't see her much at all in the summer (welcome to helicopters), the upside is she gets to live where she wants to and has her support network (family/friends) and you get to spend the winter with her.

 

Good luck Daz,

 

Coastal

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Don't have much time to write as i have to get out to the machine shortly but if there is one thing i can say about success in this industry, you have to learn to suck up to and kiss the a$$es of some real s o b's because unfortunately this industry is FULL of them and lots are in positions of influence just by virtue of the fact that they have been around for eons. Just nod and smile and say "wow, really! Is that what you did?" Like someone else mentioned (in another thread) it's all about HUGE egos in this biz and some of these fine people will take it upon themselves to call around and make sure you never get work if you show any back bone and stand up for yourself.

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