Flight Training - June 2021 - 45

ADVANCED PILOT CAREER SPOTLIGHT

BY IAN J. TWOMBLY

SEE THE SIGHTS
FLYING AS A TOUR PILOT

MIKE FIZER

NOT ALL AVIATION JOBS ARE GLAMOROUS. SOME REQUIRE REPETI-

tive flying and extensive customer service, and offer relatively low
pay. Such is the life for a pilot needing to build time for a career.
After earning the commercial pilot certificate and beginning
a career, a pilot has a decision to make. To instruct or not to
instruct? Become a flight instructor and you can gain the experience necessary to jump from there to charter, corporate, or
the airlines. Choosing not to instruct may put you on the path to
becoming a sightseeing or air tour pilot. Depending on the area of
the country, the type of aircraft, and the company, jobs can be had
for little more than commercial pilot minimums.
Air tour pilots fly predictable shifts over familiar locations for
months on end. Their job is to safely give passengers a fun and
memorable experience seeing the local sights from the air. Aircraft can be everything from a Cessna 172 to a Viking Twin Otter
or a turbine helicopter. Prior to the pandemic, jobs were available
with very low time, but the market has since tightened. In places
with bigger operations and more competition for jobs, such as
the Grand Canyon and Hawaii (above), minimums might be 1,500
hours. Other operators might also require a tour pilot to instruct,
but will hire at commercial minimums. Helicopter pilots can
expect to be competitive in Alaska and New York City once they
hit 1,000 hours, no turbine time required.
Although the routes are routine, the flights offer good
training on interfacing with the flying public, and practicing the
division of duties as you navigate the demands of passengers, the
busy airspace, and the aircraft. As a plus, bigger aircraft offer the
chance to be part of a crew and potentially the gold standard of
turbine time. FT

QUALIFICATIONS
FAA commercial pilot certificate for the
category and class of aircraft in question.
With the current tight job market 1,000
hours to 1,500 hours is competitive.
Expect that to loosen considerably as
hiring picks up.
BENEFITS
A predictable schedule in an often beautiful location. Flight time builds quickly.
DRAWBACKS
A few months in and the flying won't be
as challenging. This type of flying can get
repetitive.
PAY
Expect to make anywhere between
$25,000 and $50,000 a year, depending
on location and equipment.

ian.twombly@aopa.org
AOPA.ORG/FT  45


http://www.AOPA.ORG/FT

Flight Training - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - June 2021

Contents
Flight Training - June 2021 - Intro
Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover1
Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover2
Flight Training - June 2021 - Contents
Flight Training - June 2021 - 2
Flight Training - June 2021 - 3
Flight Training - June 2021 - 4
Flight Training - June 2021 - 5
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Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover3
Flight Training - June 2021 - Cover4
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