Yesterday ATP was visited by Sheri Hudson who is the lead recruiter for Ameriflight, the leading Part 135 air cargo company in the United States. Sheri visited us with a very interesting message that I wanted to share with you and yesterday I posted the first part of Sheri’s comments. The following is the second half of her comments.
“Please consider Part 135 Cargo as an intriguing career step. Contrary to popular belief, the Part 135 cargo pilots are some of the most gifted, compliant, and intelligent pilots in the aviation profession. These individuals not only talk the talk, they walk the walk. They are stepping into the same airspace as their fellow pilots; yet they are by themselves, without too much sophisticated automation, without someone to help them with their workload, and many times without magenta lines to follow. What they do have is a big smile on their face as they prove their determination to complete a flight safely and compliantly. They wait patiently and excitedly for a chance to takeoff into conditions that they once avoided due to lack of experience or equipment capabilities. They are satisfied when another flight comes to a safe conclusion after breaking out at the decision height. These are 135 cargo pilots!
These pilots have the knowledge and skills to safely fly in the same National Airspace System and they are having the time of their lives! They’re not just a number on the seniority list, they are very well known by their company management. They passed through a screening process that doesn’t allow for anything less than the best and the brightest. They’ve chosen to join the air cargo industry for many reasons; stability, regular schedules, higher pay, and a safety record that continues to prove that there is indeed “One level of Safety” that is advocated by the FAA. They are more qualified and experienced than entry-level regional pilots because they possess 1200 hours total time with 500 hours cross-country, 100 hours night and 75 hours instrument. Following training, they continue building that holy grail of flight time – Pilot In Command!
OK; so what can you DO now to prepare yourself for the myriad opportunities, including 135 cargo? If you’re currently a flight instructor, KEEP INSTRUCTING and seek out opportunities to strengthen your IFR knowledge and skills by passing on this knowledge to instrument students. Do not hesitate to instruct in flight training devices as this builds invaluable situational awareness of airspace, clearances, and pilot performance.
Being a CFI – AIM at a large flight school prepares you for the structure, oversight, and standardization of flight departments in all areas of aviation. It also affords the opportunity to train and fly consistently by the sheer number of students that are enrolled. As an active, seasoned CFI, you coordinate and choreograph each flight while you act as a safety pilot and instructor. As a seasoned CFI, you’re better able to anticipate and carryout last minute ATC changes, notice nuance changes in weather that might foretell of dramatic changes to flight plans, prepare for your student to (unintentionally) threaten your career or (even worse!) life by making silly mistakes which you’ve seen before. Remember that just because your hands aren’t on the flight controls does not mean that you’re not flying. “Hands On” flying is a required skill, no doubt, but flying is above all a mental game and CFIs do it best.
All of these skills take some time to build, but they are worth it because these are the skills that will be used for the rest of your aviation career. If you’re a student, private, commercial, and/or instrument pilot, consider your next step to be as a flight instructor for the reasons stated above. This is the most valuable learning experience for our pilots. There is a big reason why Part 135 minimum flight experience is 1200 hours: it is assumed that you’ve gained diverse experiences and learned tremendous lessons along the way. With such high standards, and so much at stake, why would pilots short-change themselves by simply putting flight hours in their logbook without some real experience to go with it?
Think carefully about the many opportunities that will be available and choose the one that makes you happiest! Good luck to everyone and Hang On! We’re going into the most exciting aviation times sooner than you think!”
Pilot Recruiter for Ameriflight, LLC.