I'm thinking of transitioning over to a contract pilot.

KLB

Well-Known Member
I've been looking into becoming a contract pilot. I've had someone offer to use me to fly a Merlin IVc PIC for 500 bucks a trip. It's very occassional though. We're talking maybe only once in a blue moon here. I can also fly PIC in some of the King Airs, other small turbo props, and even light twins if I had to. I was looking to maybe go SIC in some of the lighter jets.

Being that the contract business is all about networking, my question is how often do you contract guys fly?

How easy/difficult is it to find work these days with the current economic down turn?

Right now I have a full time gig making decent money, but I'm trying to transition over to a new aspect of the industry.
 

N8389P

Well-Known Member
DUDE!!!! Dont leave us!!! That means I going to get jacked over more then we have been in the last month... :)
 

Firebird2XC

Well-Known Member
I've been looking into becoming a contract pilot. I've had someone offer to use me to fly a Merlin IVc PIC for 500 bucks a trip. It's very occassional though. We're talking maybe only once in a blue moon here. I can also fly PIC in some of the King Airs, other small turbo props, and even light twins if I had to. I was looking to maybe go SIC in some of the lighter jets.

Being that the contract business is all about networking, my question is how often do you contract guys fly?

How easy/difficult is it to find work these days with the current economic down turn?

Right now I have a full time gig making decent money, but I'm trying to transition over to a new aspect of the industry.

Get it in writing. Include expenses, lodging and per diem. Think like an airline pilot writing a contract. That's effectively what you're doing, except you the pilot would be fee-per-departure, and not just the airplane.
 

KLB

Well-Known Member
DUDE!!!! Dont leave us!!! That means I going to get jacked over more then we have been in the last month... :)

Don't worry! It's going to be a sloowwwww transition. I'm not leaving until I'm absolutely sure I can generate enough business to sustain a good quality of life.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
You know, I just flew with a guy who did contract flying prior to coming to Southernjets that did very well. I'll try to get you into contact with him.
 

Stone Cold

Well-Known Member
First things first...go to www.pilots4rent.com. Sorry Doug for putting this one out there again, but it really is the best site for future contract pilots, from what I have seen.

The other thing to consider right now is the economy. There are an aweful lot of pilots on the street right now. The contract market is very slow, from what I have seen and read, depending on the airplane type, so make sure you can keep yourself working. Remember, once you make the transition, you pay for your medical insurance, recurrent, and all other expenses that a small business has.

Good luck and let us know if you have any specific questions. I now have my business set up, so if you have questions on this process, let me know. I don't know how much will translate over e-mails or on here, but I'll try to explain some stuff.
 

JDE

Well-Known Member
Next time you're in Dallas, see if you can meet up with Poe. That's what he is doing. It's hit or miss for him though, and he's PIC typed in 3 different models, but doesn't have a ton of time.

Doing SIC work is different for each company. Our insurance for instance requires the SIC be typed AND current (ie - FSI or SimuFlite) before they can sit in the right seat. We could probably use some better negotiators, but that's the way it is right now. Other places 3 t/o's and landings is good enough...of course that also depends on the aircraft type.

My best advice is obviously network, network, network, but also don't undercut everybody as this is how a lot of people make a living. And nothing is worse than when some (no offense) airline guy comes in and undercuts a full time contract guy just for "something to do" on his off day (I know that's not what you're doing, but it does happen).

And another apology Doug, but I'm going to give props to www.propilotworld.com. There are a lot of corporate guys on there and quite a bit of information on contract flying as well. It's definitely worth the $10/year.
 

KLB

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all of the info guys. There's definetely no undercutting in it for me. If I go the contract route, it will be what I'd be making a living doing. I'm also making really good money where I am right now...uh lets call it decent money. I really wouldn't say it's good money. :) I do have standards though.

I would love for a company to let me fly PIC for 500 bucks +expenses a day and give me 10 days worth of work a month though.:) That would put me at about 15 percent more than I'm making now for only a third of the work.

So far I only possibly have one day like that. Yep, I'll definitely be keeping the full time gig for a while longer.:D
 

JDE

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure how much time you spend in Dallas, but check out the right seat program (whatever it's called now) at SimuFlite. Great way to network and potentially get quite a bit of contract work.
 

CK

Well-Known Member
I am currently making my living as a contract pilot. Because of school I am unable to go full time with anyone, so all of my flying is done a daily basis with a few local companies. Obviously school limits the amount of flying I can do, but I still do one or two trips a week. If I really hustled and was willing to travel around the country, I think I could make a pretty decent amount of money. I hate airline travel and I don't like driving, so I normally turn down anything more than 100 miles away.

Finding work isn't too hard right now, but it is not like it was this time last year. Most places have slowed down and there are a lot of quality guys out on the street. Having time in an unusual airplane helps a lot. Right now there is only one Falcon 7X contract pilot. He is charging $3,000 per day and staying busy. I have gotten a few gigs because I was the only one around with time in type. Devoloping a good relationship with the insurance brokers in the area is very important. If they say you need 25 hours dual to be cut lose in a Saratoga, that company probally won't use you.

The big problem with contract work is that it is unpredictable. You will want something to supplement it. For me, that is flight instruction, and by that I do not mean doing stalls in a 152. When an owner buys a new high performance airplane, most will need quite a bit of instruction. Sitting in the right seat of a Saratoga, Baron, Malibu, ect helping the new owner get comfortable flying the airplane is another good way to make money. I developed a reputation at my local airport for helping people learn new airplanes and new avionics, this helped to bring in quite a bit of work.

I formed an LLC to do all of my flying under. I would recommend it as it makes things a little easier. Keeping track of all payments and expenses is also very important.

I have always viewed contract flying as a step to getting a full time job. I would not want to be a contract pilot for my career. I would not leave a stable job to fly contract, especially not in today's climate.

I charge a daily rate of $300 for pistons, $500 for turbines, and $300 for jet SIC, with a discount on turbines if they pay for my annual training.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Alex.
 

KLB

Well-Known Member
Thanks again for all the info guys. Like I said before, this is something I'm looking for in the future. I'm making pretty decent money with the flying gig I currently have. But eventually/inevitably I'll be looking for a change of scenery. I'm going to start off doing some part contract stuff here and there maybe on the weekends and go from there.
 
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