Thursday, 10 March 2011

Tow Pilot job

For many people, including pilots, getting a job during a recession is not an easy task.
For us, pilots, the tough part starts with having to stand out from the crowd.

I've got a few things that could slightly help: an English ICAO Level 6 (which most people of French Nationality don't have), a few flights as a safety pilot on a King Air Be90 and a University Degree related to aviation, but this is usually not enough.
All the rest looks the same as to what everyone's got: a JAA (European) frozen ATPL licence with 250 flight hours.
A great amount of luck is an obvious key factor in this industry, and this is something you can, and have to, trigger yourself.

What are the airlines looking for, other than a nice chap with good CRM skills?
Being type rated and having a reasonable amount of experience on the aircraft is probably the number one element they want to see on your CV, especially right now where there are hundreds or even thousands of experienced pilots previously laid off and looking for a job.
But hey, you can't just go on a random type rating course and buy some 500 hours on the aircraft and hope this is the aircraft your future employer will use, without serious contact beforehand. Some people give it a try but I don't intend to do this with 250 hrs total time. And even if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford it.

Number two key line on your CV is the amount of flying time you've got. And this is something you can work on much more easily that doing an A320 or 737NG Type Rating, and then buying 500 hours in the right hand seat of an airliner full of passengers and hoping that will get you a job.
And this 'number two key line' is what I chose to work on.

I finally managed to get a flying job.
Nothing very impressive, no big airliner with two big jet engines, no uniform with stripes, but hey, a flying job is a flying job, and I wouldn't give it away for anything!
I'm going to be a tow pilot for the European biggest soaring airfield. My job is fairly straightforward: towing gliders up to 2-3000 ft, and getting back to the ground asap, ready to tow the next one, and so on.
I passed the interview and flight test yesterday, and the course starts on monday, which I'm really looking forward to!

Some of my relatives were actually disappointed for me, but this actually more than fulfills my expectations. I am going to have a pretty awesome time flying those little planes, building up my hours (400 flight hours over the next 7 ~ 8 months), and sharpening my flying skills in a very busy environment.
On the plus side, on top of getting paid to do what I love the most, I get free accomodation and free food everyday, and I get to live in sunny South France. I also get to fly gliders (including instruction) for free. And, there's a swimming pool... What else?

Airborne life continues...


Alex M. said...

Congratulations! Have fun building up those hours, and flying gliders for free!

Rich said...

Congratulations-well deserved,sounds idyllic!

Rayan14 said...

Félicitations et quelle chance!! J'aurais en plus jamais pensé à travailler en aéroclub!

Greystone said...

Hey congratulations mate! Have fun in the south!

Chris said...

Congratulations - you will have a ball!

PropellerHead said...

Congratulations - enjoy. I just hope the 200-hour 737 pilots have someone experienced in the left-hand seat!! I get to see the CTC "learners" some of whom will go on to be these 200-hour types here in Hamilton cluttering up our circuit!!

Ahmed said...


Which aviation related degree you have got?

Golfcharlie232 said...

Aerospace Engineering.

Luis said...

Congratulations :). I've been reading you since the time building. Now I have just started the way to the modular ATPL.
Best regards, and god luck in the skies!

Irishrover63 said...

Congratulations mate, well deserved.
I would love to fly a glider, probably one of the cheapest flying licenses out there. I did try hang gliding back in the 80's.