Breaking into a Commercial Helicopter World
I decided to start off my flying blogs with this specific topic, because of my recent layoff and because of the poor economy in Canada right now. It’s no surprise that layoffs in the winter happen, or maybe to some it is. Those who were hired and then fired in less than 6 months completely understand! I have been a bush pilot since day one, working in my parents hunting camp slinging anything from boat motors to horns to plywood and a lot of random stuff in between. I decided last fall of 2016 I wanted to start expanding my flying career to bigger helicopters and different jobs. I landed a flying gig in Fort St. John, British Columbia which is an oil and gas town. I started at the end of March 2016 and had no idea what to expect since I’ve only flown for my parents. It was definitely an eye opener! Risk assessments were only the beginning of it. Although the experience working for another company was amazing, I couldn’t tell you how much I actually remember from my 52 online exams I had to do before lifting off the tarmac! The thrill of flying forestry and having conversations with other fellow pilots was the best part of breaking into the commercial world, not to mention my love of helicopters and being around the whirly birds everyday! Oil and gas is a great start for low time pilots to build hours; staying in camps and flying lease site to lease site may not be the “dream” job but it’s a way to climb the ladder.
So now here I am in the first part of October without a flying gig. I’ve told myself, as well as other employees who were laid off, “At least we don’t have children or a mortgage.” I’m mostly saying that to make others feel better, it’s the truth for me though! I was fortunate enough to be able to leave for the summer and work with my family. However, when you’re promised that there will be work when you come back then find out that isn’t the case, it can feel discouraging. I am dodging the winter in Northern B.C., but the goal of having 2000 hrs by the New Year is going to be pushed back a bit.
I don’t regret flying for another company, especially one that let me leave for the summer months. The experience of flying into and out of a class “D” airport might not seem difficult to most airline pilots, but to a bush pilot that calls for a little more radio chat!