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Step 5: How to build flight time.

Step 5 will help you identify the various methods of building flight-time and potential employers.

How to Build Flight Time
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How To Build Flight Time

Building flight time is a challenge for many pilots. The method in which you build flight time will be different than your fellow pilots. Many pilot hold several flying jobs to help them build the minimum flight experiences (link) required by the major/national airlines and large corporations. You should expect to spend four to six years building the required flight hours and experience to qualify for a position at a major/national airline or large corporation.

After earning your pilot certificates and ratings (i.e. commercial certificate, instrument and multi-engine ratings), you may have approximately 200-300 hours of total flight time. This may be enough hours to help you start your first flying job, but not enough to “land” you a job with a major/national airline, corporation, or business due to your inexperience.

When searching for a pilot job, many employers will ask you about your total flight time, pilot-in-command (PIC) time, multi-engine time, instrument time, night-time, cross-country time, and possibly others such as turbine time which is dependent on their type of operation.

Here is a sample list of practical methods to build flight time. If you have other time-building ideas, please forward them to us.

Become a Flight Instructor
Earn your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate and/or Certified Instrument Instructor (CFII), and Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI) ratings to teach other students how to fly, build flight time, and earn money. This is the easiest, quickest, and cheapest method to build quality flight time.
Tow Banners
Banner-towing consists of flying a small airplane with a company’s large banner sign attached to the airplane’s tail to market their products or services.
Aerial Photography
Aerial photography involves flying photographers around landmarks, farmland, etc. to allow them to take photographs.
Tow Gliders
Towing gliders involves helping the glider become airborne and releasing a cable to allow them to sail the sky.
Drop Skydivers
Dropping skydivers involve flying to a pre-determined altitude and allowing the skydivers to jump out the plane.
Fly for Traffic Watch
Many local radio and TV stations hire pilots to report traffic or to fly their traffic reporters around the city to report traffic congestion, delays, accidents, etc.
Fly as a Safety Pilot
There are many instrument rated pilots that need to keep current, you should offer to be a safety pilot and allow them to fly under the hood (simulated instrument flying) and execute a few approaches. In exchange for flying as a safety pilot, ask if you could execute a few approaches for helping them out.
Split flight time with other pilots
There are other pilots seeking ways to build flight time who are willing to split the cost of renting an airplane, especially a multi-engine airplane.
Ferry Aircrafts
Some companies hire pilots to deliver airplanes from one airport to another such as the showroom, maintenance facility, or to the owner’s location.
Hang out at the airport
Hanging out at the airport will allow you to meet other pilots, especially pilots with their own airplane. Some pilots will ask others to fly with them on a trip to have lunch or something, since flying alone is boring. If you offer to ride along with some pilots, it may lead to you earning some flight time.
Join a Flying Club
Join a flying club or organization and rent their airplane(s). Flying clubs allow their members to rent the clubs aircraft at a reasonable hourly fee. As a member, you will also have to pay membership dues, which are typically used for aircraft maintenance, fuel, etc. Register and search My AvScholars’ Organizations/Clubs Directory to find a Flying Club near you.
Volunteer your flying services
Volunteer your flying services to various organizations (i.e. Angel Flight) that need pilots.
Charter Companies/Corporations
Many charter companies and businesses that have their own airplane may have a single pilot operation (meaning: there’s only one pilot flying customers or the boss around). Ask the pilot and the company, if you could ride along. This type of initiative may lead to a possible job offer, whenever a job position is vacant.
Network with fellow pilots and others within the aviation industry. “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Networking in any field will help you learn about various job opportunities, industry trends, etc.
Purchase “Block-time”
Some flight schools allow pilots to purchase a certain number of flight hours (“Block-time”) at a reduced rate. If you purchase “block-time”, you should be informed about the company’s scheduling, no-show, cancellation, and refund policies. This is the most expensive method of building flight time.
Buy an airplane
If you have the money, buy an airplane on your own or with a partner. If you buy an airplane with a partner, you should have some form of agreement about maintenance, scheduling, etc.
Fly Checks or Cargo
There are a few companies that hire pilots to fly cancelled checks or cargo to nearby cities.
Apply to a Regional Airline
Many pilots use the regional airlines as a “stepping stone” to accumulate the necessary flight hours and experience to apply to the major/national airlines. Some regional airlines hire pilots from flight schools, in which they have formed a partnership. Regional airline pilots fly under FAR Part 121, turbine powered airplanes, modern equipment and avionics into high traffic airports. Major/national airlines prefer to hire pilots whose background consist of working for regional airlines due to their flight experience.

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Employment Sectors and Employers

Written by: Sedgwick Hines Copyright 2004-2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.




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Learn to Fly: Become a Pilot is your one-stop source to information on flight training, flying lessons, flight schools, and helicopter schools. Learn about the entire flight training process to help you earn your pilot certificates or ratings such as student pilot certificate, commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating, and others.

Copyright © 2003 - 2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.