Hi, I am in the ATP ACP program, and with the way things are right now, with the lack of pilot jobs out there I was looking into other ways to supplement my income and marketability.
I am still sitting on 1/2 of my GI Bill and was wondering about aviation maintenance, I've only known a couple of pilot mechanics, is there a demand for that sort of thing out there?
It seems everyone here is looking to get into the airlines, I see my self flying skydivers and trying to get into corporate aviation some how, so that is the route I want to go.
Any thoughts at all? Thanks.
I'll chime in as I am a Pilot/Mechanic.
The A&P can be both a blessing and a curse, and this was told to me when I was in A&P school and have had first hand experience as well. The A&P will open doors that may not have been otherwise open, but very often you will end up doing much more turning wrenches than flying. Believe me, I love to maintain what I fly, but one of the hardest things for a pilot/mechanic is to get an airplane ready, push it out of the hangar, and watch two other pilots get in and fly it away.
Another drawback is the more time you spend in the hangar, the less time you fly. Maybe your A&P ticket was "the ticket" to getting hired with lower time, but now you're not doing much flying so you're not getting the hours needed to satisfy the insurance companies. Pretty soon you're not current. An opening comes up, and they need someone who is current and qualified, and you're neither. They sincerely appreciate all the hard work that you're doing in the shop, but "there's just nothing that they can do." So they hire a pilot from the outside. Has this happened to me? You betcha.
Now, it isn't all bad. To be honest, where you want to go with flying skydivers it will be a huge plus. Most dz's have pretty low insurance requirements (if they have insurance) and shoestring budgets. Someone who can fly and fix the jump plane(s) is a bonus for them. My word of caution is this, go in with both eyes wide open. Some of the sketchiest mx I've seen is on jump-planes. I am not bashing an entire industry, but there are some shady operators out there. Using automotive hardware because it's cheaper may not be "unsafe", but it will lead to your certificate suspension if you signed off on the 100 hour/annual. No, this is not from experience, but I have walked away from potential jobs because I would not want my name in the logbooks.
The secret to the cushy 91 jet job where you perform only line maintenance as you fly Mr. Big the globe-trotter around the world? I'll let you know as soon as I find it out for myself. Right now I'm not even turning wrenches at all. Honestly, I miss it. Nothing gives you a greater understanding of an aircraft than getting your hands dirty on it. There is also a tremendous satisfaction in maintaining aircraft.
One more word of advice: Do all of us pilot/mechanics a favor and be sure to NOT give an employer "two for the price of one." Be sure to be paid extra for the extra work that you do. Now at my current job, I am not doing any maintenance, so I am only getting paid as a pilot. And I won't perform any maintenance, either (can't anyway as I am not on a drug/alcohol program).
Anyway, good luck to you and the others who are interested in pursuing their A&P. Let me know if I can be of anymore help.