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Baja Guy

Ultimate Fixed Wing Instrument Option

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If I may, I'd like to share an ambitious plan I undertook that ultimately landed a great job out of the bush. This is going to take a while. Please bare with me.

In May 2012, I bought a Mooney M20C. I'd never flown an airplane in my life and been flying rotary for 15 years. But the plan was several years in the making, and required extensive understanding of standard 421.

I decided on cpl-a rather that ppl-a to start. I hold the medical anyway. 40 hours of ground school and arranging a private flight instructor during my days off from my bush job, and by holding cpl-h, there is no requirement to start with ppl-a and you only need 100 hours instead to the usual 200.

By September I had the cpl-a with night rating, and moved onto IFR. I chose multi group 1 at a school, but could've done just group 3 in the Mooney much much cheaper. Kind of regret the multi group 1, I'll probably never use it.

There's only a 4 or 5 hour transition from fixed wing night to rotary night, and by holding a group 1, 2, or 3 IFR, you can convert that to group 4 with just a recommend and a flight test. Now it's time to fly the Mooney at night. A lot. And here's why:

ATPL-h requires the exams, some instrument (which you'll have by now), and 50 hours night pic or co pilot (dual doesn't count). However, only 15 must be in helicopters which means 35 can be in the Mooney. The biggy is the requirement for demonstrating proficiency in a two crew helicopter, but at least you can get to be ATPL-h eligible minus the two crew thing.

This is now April 2013. A year goes by. Starting to wonder. Gonna have to move. But, in the meantime, keep flying that plane. Night, hood with a licensed buddy or relative, and, yes, actual IFR as well. I may not have mentioned the Mooney if full blown certified IFR (non icing) until April 2016. Getting me to my contract job in Ft. Mac every week. Fly these hours lots, and here's why:

When you finally land your rotary IFR/night job, you will be a first officer until a company-specified number of night/IFR hours are accumulated. The Mooney has accelerated my captaincy by well over a year, bringing on the $20,000 per year pay raise much quicker. Other companies may have an even greater pay hike when upgrading, I don't know.

So I guess I bought my job. Maybe yes, maybe no. I can say that the little airplane has done its job. I can confidently fly into non icing, non convective cloud. I have the job I want, and I can see captaincy relatively soon. So, the cost is truely relative when you consider what the end result is. My fixed wing credentials are in my back pocket, but, well, you never know.

This is kind of starting to sound like a sales pitch, and here's why:

It is. Stay tuned in the marketplace in about a month. Because, when a plan comes together, it can be worth a lot more than that new pickup you're thinking of buying......Hmmmmm.....

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You said, "So I guess I bought my job. Maybe yes, maybe no"

I'd say certainly NOT. You invested in yourself, your career and your family, if you got one. You took a bold approach to separate yourself from the herd and found a good stable job in the end. Like Helilog56 said, kudos to you! There's too many people here that would rather complain than take the steps on their own to secure a good stable job.

Did my IFR a while back, got my job of a lifetime and haven't looked back.

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it will always be a good thing to invest in your own training, it's all yours, you own nothing to anybody and you can be proud of the accomplishment. Plus now you are able to walk to any opportunity with out any question regarding who gave you the training. Great job in finding a constructive way of doing your IFR

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$11000 fuel and instructor for commercial airplane/night rating and ground school

$12000 multi engine and group 1 IFR (could have done group 3 in the Mooney for about $2500)

$4500 rotary night rating (only needed 5 hours)

$2500 group 4 IFR (only needed 4 hours simulator, 1.5 hours R44 for the recommend, 1.2 hours for the flight test)

I'm probably missing some other fees for flight tests, written tests, TC fees, etc but the above is pretty close.

The bad new is the Mooney costs a flat $6300 per year for insurance, hangar, and annual. That's before starting the engine one single time. My night/IFR time building toward ATPL-H and my upgrade to captain within my job is only around $70 - 75 per hour for fuel, oil change every 50 hours, and the odd snag. I also have to add $15 per hour toward engine and prop overhaul if I kept the plane that long.

Lots of the time building is commuting to my work though. Commuted to Ft. Mac for 1 year and Regina now. Try to go at night whenever possible.

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Sorry, a quick Appendix (i) to the above. Total cost of just training ads up to about $30,000. But remember that's for ab initio commercial airplane as well. I completed the training within the first year of ownership so the $6300 for insurance, hangar, and an annual has to be added. Therefore, to answer the total training investment question, about $36,000.

The initial purchase and avionics upgrades were $60,000 which I will try to re-coup as best I can come sale time.

It's more difficult though to quantify the value of the additional time building. I'm quite convinced it contributed to my new multi/IFR/night career. It certainly contributed to my ATPL-H, and it's rapidly contributing to an early upgrade to captain, and the 5 figure raise it brings.

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