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What is the best way to build flight time as a commercial pilot besides being a flight instructor and how do you get the opportunities for other jobs?

I'm currently in the 11th grade and I have my private pilot license and am considering ATP Flight School for the rest of my training. Once I'm done there, I'd like to find a job besides instructing to build time.

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James Constantine’s Answer

Hi,

Building Flight Time as a Commercial Pilot

As a commercial pilot, there are several ways to build flight time beyond being a flight instructor. Here are some of the best methods to accumulate flight hours and the opportunities for other jobs in the aviation industry.

1. Banner Towing and Aerial Photography Engaging in banner towing or aerial photography can provide valuable flight hours. Banner towing involves flying an aircraft that pulls advertising banners, while aerial photography often requires pilots to fly at low altitudes, providing an opportunity to log flight time.

2. Pipeline Patrol and Wildlife Survey Participating in pipeline patrol or wildlife survey flights can also contribute to building flight time. These roles involve flying over specific areas to monitor pipelines or conduct wildlife surveys, allowing pilots to gain valuable experience.

3. Air Ambulance Services Working for air ambulance services can be another avenue to accumulate flight hours. Pilots in this sector often fly under various conditions, including adverse weather, which can enhance their skills and experience.

4. Agricultural Aviation Agricultural aviation, commonly known as crop dusting, offers an opportunity for pilots to log significant flight hours while performing essential agricultural tasks such as pesticide application and crop monitoring.

5. Regional Airlines and Charter Operations After completing training at ATP Flight School or a similar institution, aspiring commercial pilots can seek employment with regional airlines or charter operations. These positions allow pilots to gain experience in commercial operations while building their flight time.

Opportunities for Other Jobs

To secure opportunities for non-instructor roles in the aviation industry, aspiring commercial pilots can explore various avenues:

1. Networking Building a strong professional network within the aviation community is crucial for accessing job opportunities beyond flight instruction. Attending industry events, joining professional associations, and connecting with experienced pilots and industry professionals can open doors to non-instructor positions.

2. Internships and Entry-Level Positions Seeking internships or entry-level positions with airlines, aviation companies, or government agencies can provide valuable exposure to different roles within the aviation sector. These opportunities allow individuals to gain insights into various career paths and establish connections that may lead to future job prospects.

3. Specialized Training Programs Exploring specialized training programs in areas such as aircraft maintenance, air traffic control, or aviation management can broaden career options for commercial pilots. Acquiring additional certifications or qualifications can make individuals more competitive for non-instructor positions.

In conclusion, while becoming a flight instructor is a common path for building flight time as a commercial pilot, there are alternative avenues such as banner towing, pipeline patrol, air ambulance services, agricultural aviation, regional airlines, and charter operations. Additionally, networking, internships, entry-level positions, and specialized training programs are essential for accessing non-instructor job opportunities within the aviation industry.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used in Answering this Question:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA)

The information provided in the response was sourced from these authoritative organizations to ensure accuracy and reliability.

GOD BLESS
JIM
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Matthew’s Answer

Just came across this article which will have all the answers you're looking for:
https://aerocrewnews.com/education-2/takeoff/learn-to-fly/non-instructing-career-options/

As others have said, with fast track schools like ATP and the UA Aviate Academy you need to be focused. They will wash you out if you fail multiple checkrides. Stay focused, for once I can say you are at the right place at the right time.
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Ishtiaq’s Answer

The opportunities and avenues of building flight hours depend a lot on your location (The state and the city where you are located) and the economic activities around it. Is it a tourist destination, agriculture based economy or close to aviation related manufacturing plants? etc. etc. You will have to exercise your curiosity and judgment in enquiring and finding out the existing opportunities from your training institution co-workers and persons around you who have similar interests. Below are the type of activities for building up experience in air.
1. Aerial Tour Pilot
2. Glider Tow Pilot
3. Traffic Watch Pilot
4. Banner Tow Pilot
5. Pipeline and Power line Patrol Pilot
6. Certified Flight Instructor
7. Aerial Photography Pilot
8. Skydive Pilot
9. Ferry Pilot
10. Aerial Survey Pilot
11. Agriculture Pilot

Other than the above, as you build up flying hours or obtain multi-engine certification, more opportunities may open up for you (such as to be accepted as a Co-Pilot on Turbine engine multi crew aircraft) which can be a great experience for future prospects and selection in airline jobs.
Piece of advice:
You may build up flight time in many ways, full or part-time, (depending upon your career goals), always use it as an opportunity to hone your skills, consider each flight hour a learning experience, go with full preparation for the mission, not only about the aeroplane you fly, but also keeping abreast with the latest rules, regulations and innovations in the flying profession. FLYING IS AN ACTIVITY WHICH REQUIRES DEDICATION AND ATTENTION AT ALL TIMES. THERE IS AN OFT REPEATED PHRASE CALLED “SITUATIONAL AWARENESS” WHICH MEANS BEING ALERT NOT ONLY TO THE MACHINE THAT YOU ARE FLYING BUT ALSO TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU AND BEING PREPARED TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATIONS USING YOUR SKILL, KNOWLEDGE AND PRIOR PREPARATION.
As an instructor in particular, your knowledge and skill will be judged not only by your employer but also by your students. Your assigned students will only be eager and keen to fly with you if you take your task seriously and impart value to their training by transferring knowledge and skill.
Finally, from among the tens of thousands of CPL holders, all will not get a chance to become Airline Pilots, so adaptation may be necessary to select a changed career path and choosing to stay in one of the positions which you used for building up your flight time. It may be more satisfying and suitable to your temperament and lifestyle.
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Tony’s Answer

How do you get a job without experience, and how do you gain experience without a job?
An age-old question that crosses all industries but is particularly vexing in aviation.

Unfortunately the American model directs you to become a CFI to build time to move into the entry level jobs listed above, but there are alternatives.

The first and easiest step is to spend your time around aviators. Networking with local pilots at the FBO or municipal airport exposes you to flying opportunities most miss. Make yourself available to wash, clean, polish, service or move aircraft. Help lift and carry heavy loads or hold a flashlight. Hang out with maintenance folks. Get to know aircraft owners who generally wish they had time to fly more often than they do. Being known as the guy who is always willing to help and eager to fly will buy a lot of good will.

Meanwhile, one of the fastest tracks to building flight time is military service. If you're suited to service, military experience can expose you to some of the highest performance aircraft in existence and give you flight time as a co-pilot and later mission pilot that you will find nowhere else. I recommend Army or even Coast Guard for helicopter pilots but they also have fixed wing opportunities. The Army even has a program for flight training without a college degree.
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Aftab’s Answer

d Aviate program | Become a pilot at United ...
Aviate is United's industry-leading pilot career development program offering aspiring and established pilots the most direct path to commercial aviation pilot career

United Airlines Aviate School May be the fastest route to join the commercial airline pilot career at low risk
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