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Family Life And The Helicopter Business?


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Working in this industry, what works better for family life; pool position with set time away and dedicated time off at home or base life with slow but on call winters and busy but still at home summers? What do the spouses or kids think? Just curious, junior-on-the-way and wondering how this will fit into demands of work.

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The best schedule differs for everyone and is a direct result of the tolerance/understanding of the spouse/significant other. I have observed some great relationships and some awful ones, but an understanding person at home is really important.

 

When it comes to tours, some (usually women) people feel that they've been deprived of your company while you're away (which is true of course) and that you need to make it up to keep your relationship strong. The main problem with this is that you have been deprived of everything that you hold dear as well... so you need some time when you're home to do your own stuff and hang out with your buddies... but this directly cuts into your "family time"... there's no easy answer.

 

I think the vast majority of people I know with good relationships in this industry are either base type pilots who are home most nights, or couples who have children and have been together a long time... which means they're able to weather the occasional tempest.

 

For me personally... well, I'm a serial monogamist... I haven't found anything that works yet... but that might be my fault... to be honest I wouldn't stay with me either... :(

 

So... good luck!!

 

HV

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It all depends on a number of things and varies from couple to couple. In my case, my wife's dad had spent many months away at sea with the Navy, so she understood the absence and saw how her mother dealt with it also. That part was handled very well by her mother and life was petty normal and that's the way her mom tried to keep it. I was "nomadic" long before I met my wife, told her what I did and the way it would be for most of our married lives. Three children and 36 years later, I'm still married to the same partner and "bed-mate"......accent on "bed-mate". :P

 

I've always looked at it this way and I think it helped somehow....if my soon-to-be wife would have told me at the very beginning that we would live together for 12yrs, 266 days out of 20 years of marriage and that I would stay at home, "man the fort" and do most of the raising of the kids......would I have married her? The answer would have been then and would be now......an uneqivical "NO!!" It had a tendency to make me "cut her a lot of slack" and she was good enough not to take advantage of that "slack". I do think that it's of primary importance to tell them honestly exactly how bad it might get......don't "butter it up" with "pie in the sky" things about where you'll be in 10 years or what you'll be flying/making and that such and such is almost a certainity. They gotta know that life will be maintained as normal as possible, but that she's "going on a lifetime ride" with you and she better learn to "role with the punches" because there'll be one or two of those also. Not all women are prepared to do that or hear that and as a result, it takes a special kind of female to be married to one of us......and stay married to us for a lifetime. Start out telling her "crap" and very soon she'll get "a nose for crap".....and then you got BIG problems.

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Base or Pool?

 

Big question. I've done both, spent 4 years in OK's pool, had a great time, traveled all over to some great spots......Ft St John, Ft Nelson, Ft Ware, Ft Simpson, Ft Good Hope ( anyone notice a trend here?). Glad I did it, enjoyed Ellsmere, enjoyed Nahanni Park, Enjoyed a camp full of university gals on Baffin Island :up: ...But I was 21-24 years old ! I can't see how one would maintain any home life if you did that for a career. OK gave us 4-2 rotations way back then, that dropped to 6-1 when the Codfish boys took over.

Now the Pool to be in is Alpine, virtually 2-2 rotations all summer and winter, plus May, Sept, Oct, Nov off completely, AND 4 hrs a day mins on most jobs when you work. The boys are making 75 to 120 K working less than 180 days.

 

Started base work in 81, and seems to be that I've worked every day since. A Work day may only be a phone call or two, or a drive to the base, but it can be the same old 15 hr day the pool guys do...only they go home after 2 weeks.

The good points are...I only spend about 3 days away from home a year, so you can get to the Kids hockey games, you can visit the little woman in the evenings, she can bring you lunch ( so why doesn't she ??). I know the area, I know the customers, no one hassles me, I've flown them safely since they started flying, OR I've even flown some of their dads safely since they started flying. The point is...it's easy. It could get boring flogging an old 206 or 350 every day, , but I'm one of a very few Base guys to go medium in the winters...and still never leave home.

 

Oh, the #1 reason for Bases, I hate flat land ! __________________ !

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If you want to travel and see the country and even the world (which is a fantastic advantage of being in this business), do it now before you get married and/or have kids. Otherwise, it's like some of the previous posters said: you'd better have a pretty independent and reasonable mate otherwise he/she or the career will have to go!!

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Thanks so far, I should add I did the travel thing years ago,( though I missed the camp of women geologists, where was that?) mostly for CHC (agh). I guess I'm pushing 10 years base work(NOT CHC) and have been married for that time. I remember someone at CHC bragging about the business costing three wives and 60k+/- each. I really couldn't understand that. I figure a good spouse is harder to find than a job. Base work?, what 407 says, get lost in flat land and never need a map.

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I think another good point is where alot of these 'bases' are located. Helicopter Bases for the most, are not in such desirable locations. As 407D mentioned, alot start with a 'Ft.' good louck moving the family there. Sometimes alot of stress! But sometimes worth everything!

One must weigh the pro's and con's of base work vs pool, and words of advise, include your family in this discussion!

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