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Why is it so difficult to get that first flying job?

Posted 7 years 128 days ago ago by Randy Mains

Reshaaz Mohammed, a helicopter pilot from Trinidad wrote asking me, “Why is it so difficult to get that first flying job?”  Here is what he had to say:

Hi there. I totally enjoyed reading the story you wrote in your column, Why Become a Helicopter Pilot http://www.justhelicopters.com/Blog/tabid/554/Article/84524/Why-Become-A-Helicopter-Pilot.aspx#sthash.L3j4Bjtz.dpuf

I sometimes have the same feeling. I am a low hour helicopter pilot from Trinidad and I was wondering why does it take so long to get hired with any companies? Here in Trinidad we have Bristow helicopters, National Helicopter Services Ltd, the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard and I have only managed to get one interview, and that was with Bristow helicopters.  Apparently I did not pass the written exam for the interview but I was told that I passed the oral part which is the main introduction interview where you sit facing a board of senior captains which, in my mind, I would have thought would be the most difficult part of the interview. 

I have met other pilots who did not get through with their first or second interviews but were successful in future attempts.  So I hold out hope that I can get hired one of these days. I do other jobs but in the back of my mind, my dream is to become a full time helicopter pilot.

So what advice can you give to me? 

Looking forward for your reply, and have a great day Sir. 

Reshaaz Mohammed 

My response:

Hello Reshaaz 

Thank you for taking the time to write to let me know you enjoyed my story in Rotorcraft Pro.  I’m glad to hear you say you have the same sense of feeling when you’re flying as what I described in the article.

You asked me why I think it takes so long to get hired by helicopter companies.  Well, you did mention you are a low-time pilot so that is most likely the reason.  Companies have to employ pilots who meet certain hour criteria to satisfy the insurance company that insures them.  

Also, one never knows when a company will suddenly need to hire pilots.  At Abu Dhabi Aviation, for example, they suddenly were awarded an air medical contract in Saudi Arabia and needed 50 pilots immediately so the recruiters went to the States and interviewed brand new airline transport pilots usually who were instrument instructors who had never flown anything but a Robinson R-22.  Of the 50 pilots we needed for the contract the company hired 10 of those Robinson pilots.  We trained them to fly the Bell 412 medium twin and they all did just fine.  It was their big break and none of them could believe their luck.

Before getting that break they were like you, asking what it would take to get that first job.

Getting your first flying job, that first break, is admittedly the hardest thing you will accomplish.  But the key is do not give up, keep trying, try not to get discouraged because you are in good company because every one of us in the business has been where you are now in your career.  

I’ve found that a pilot’s attitude is the most important quality he or she can bring to the interview table.  It must be a given that you are a pro, that you are a safe and conscientious pilot and that you have the integrity to be a dependable and loyal employee.  Keep your attitude positive.  Be the person other pilots want to have on their team, someone they want to have around.  And above all, be a professional, that is, someone who does the right thing whether someone else is watching or not. 

Keep studying; know your aircraft and the flight regulations inside and out.  Be the go-to person if someone has a question about the aircraft or the regulations.  That way you become an asset to the company and to your team mates.

Also, keep building those flight hours.  That’s your major hurdle right now. If you follow my advice I promise you will eventually get hired.

Best of luck,

Randy Mains

About Randy: Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Aero. He may be contacted at [email protected]