Every day I hear from newly qualified pilots about how difficult it is to get that first pilot job and to break into the industry.
Last year there was downturn in the aviation industry and pretty much no one was hiring. This year has seen a lot more movement; we are seeing many pilots move from instructing and general aviation into the regional airlines and regional pilots heading towards the jets.
But! Getting your foot in the door and your hours up will always be challenging as hundreds of new pilots qualify each year. Sometimes you need to think outside the box.
I was in Africa a few years ago and who do you think was flying me into the wonderful Safari Camps? You guessed it. Aussie and Kiwi pilots were everywhere, and what a way to build up your hours. The flying is interesting, regular and the scenery, well come on, the scenery…
On one trip we flew low so we could practically see the tusks of a huge migrating herd of elephants and we watched giraffes gallop underneath our wings, much to the chagrin of my travel buddy who was scared of flying, low flying in particular. I remember landing near the Makgadikgadi salt pans, the white salty scorched earth was blinding and my heart pounded from the excitement of the journey.
Our young and very friendly Aussie pilot told us all about the area as we flew and dropped us off to be greeted by our local guide and guest liaison. The latter turned out to be a Kiwi who’s dad I had coached for a major airline job! It was weird, in the middle of Botswana, to hear the guest liaison say “Kirsty Ferguson… I know you. I will be coming to see you when I get back, as I just qualified as a pilot”. I was very glad I brought business cards with me, as I found myself handing them out on every flight.
This could be you. Enjoy an adventure while you build up your hours. Places to consider charter safari operations would be Namibia, Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya and South Africa.
Don’t take my word for it, read the story of Wilderness Air and Brisbane pilot Kristy Fraser. Enjoy!