Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Photo to Drool Over

This one

I'm a little torn inside. I love instructing, but there are other things I have been wanting to do, and I recognize that it would not be possible to do both long-term. At least not here.

I admit to a strong dose of wanderlust in my system. Add to it the abysmal income that usually accompanies instructing, and I find myself revisiting in my mind, a career that I had long ago put on hold. Aerial spraying. Flying an Air Tractor holds a good bit of fascination for me. The lifestyle is the other draw. Spend a few months working your tail off, and make enough money to not need to work the rest of the year if you don't want to.

But that job would open up oportunities to do other interesting jobs. I'm not too far from a commercial helicopter license, if I spend a little more money. A good season of spraying would leave me time and money to add on the helicopter licensing. Other aerial seasonal work could then be found in helicopters.

The other benefit is travel. Most people figure travel to be a hassle. I get tired of staying in the same place so much. I keep getting the feeling that I have spent too much time living in states that border the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of these thoughts arise when I spend too much time flying with students locally, and not enough on cross-country flights. But to an extent, the thought of getting to see other parts of the country while working, has a lot of appeal.

I first thought about that kind of work several years ago. I was still fresh off my instructor license, and I put it to the back of my mind, figuring that I needed experience before I worried about any of that. Then I suddenly woke up the other day and realized I have nearly 1,800 hours, a little bit of time in turbine aircraft, and a whole lot of practical experience.

It makes me wonder. As much as I enjoy instructing, I would be that close to having a huge jump in income, getting to travel around a lot more, flying much bigger and more powerful aircraft.

The big concern about it would be my committment to this company. I will not leave them in a lurch. Whatever I have to do there, I'll do. I guess Im a little puzzled. I've long had the goal of eventually becoming a designated pilot examiner as a job for many years down the road. Somehow I thought this would be the best route, but I don't know.

The process of transition would be:
  1. Figure out how to transition from this business without hurting the owners or company.
  2. Get in touch with one of my tailwheel instructor friends to get that endorsement, then find the cheapest way to build 50-100 hours in a tailwheel plane.
  3. Contact a couple people who know the business, and dig for information.
  4. Spend some money for an agricultural spraying course. That would be the biggest cost of the whole process.
This is all very tempting, and something that I should have examined more closely a couple years ago, rather than putting it on the back burner. Often in the past, I've amused myself with thoughts of other types of work, but most of that had been frustrations with the current income. This is a little different, and must be wholly considered. I do like instructing, but I flew today with one of my students, and asked myself in the process, how many chandelles I've performed over the years.

Any pilots out there who can give me good first-hand information, please let me know.


At 4:28 AM, Anonymous Ruth Holman said...

Air Tractor? Same as Ag Tractor? I've seen them fly at an air show, pretty impressive performance. You should see our top-dressers too! (Pacific Aerospace Fletchers and Crescos). I love the Piper Pawnee, it reminds me of the Ag Tractor a little bit. The local glider club has a Pawnee as a towplane. I've sat in the cockpit of that a couple of times- they even let me clean the prop and help wash it lol!
I went down to the aero club last weekend and had a good talk to the instructor(Simon) who took me for my last 2 (rather disastrous) lessons back in January. I can see more where I went wrong - I blew it actually! But that's OK because with the benefit of hindsight I can recognise it. I may be going for a flight in a couple of weeks- it will be more of a flightsee, not a lesson- my son-in-law and littlest granddaughter want to go for a flight, and I need to get back in the air, get used to the sensation again (I've discovered after a break I can get vertigo). It'll be in a Grumman, as Simon isn't current in a 172 at the moment.
Is there much in the way of Aerial Spraying jobs in the US?


At 8:47 AM, Blogger also-known-as said...

I don't know much about the job market on spraying. Just something I've been interested in doing, and had put off thinking about for so long.

You say you blew it on your last two lessons. Can you be more specific?

Another question: you said Simon isn't current in a 172. What kind of Grumman? What are the currency requirements in NZ? Here, currency applies to all single-engine land planes, if you're current in any of them. Just curious.


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