Thinking of moving to Alaska...

PFGiardino

Well-Known Member
Hey all,

I'm currently a full time instructor/student, let's just say it's at a "big part 142 univesirty in Florida.."

Anyways, I've always wanted to get into bush flying/AK flying am starting to play with the idea of relocating in mid 2009. I've been researching UAA... does anyone know anything about their flight program? Also, if I had part 135 minimums (I probably will by that time), how difficult would it be to get hired for 135 without AK experience?

Thanks for anything you can offer.

-Paul
 

Buzo

Well-Known Member
Look into the Elmendorf Aero club. They are a 141 school also. I instructed there in 2003-2004. It helped me get a job flying 135 up there.
 

TallFlyer

Well-Known Member
Look into the Elmendorf Aero club. They are a 141 school also. I instructed there in 2003-2004. It helped me get a job flying 135 up there.
Ditto. I'm a recent student there (just finished CMEL last month) and they're looking for instructors. The Chief Instructor would be a good man to work for and they have a 180 HP 172 on floats you could get your rating in as well, if you're interested.
 

ASpilot2be

Qbicle seat warmer
Hey all,

I'm currently a full time instructor/student, let's just say it's at a "big part 142 univesirty in Florida.."

Anyways, I've always wanted to get into bush flying/AK flying am starting to play with the idea of relocating in mid 2009. I've been researching UAA... does anyone know anything about their flight program? Also, if I had part 135 minimums (I probably will by that time), how difficult would it be to get hired for 135 without AK experience?

Thanks for anything you can offer.

-Paul
I am currently attending UAA, and am enrolled in the flight program. Is there anything in particular you would like to know?

So far I am really enjoying the program. My only complaint is the shortage of instructors.
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
Hey all,

I'm currently a full time instructor/student, let's just say it's at a "big part 142 univesirty in Florida.."

Anyways, I've always wanted to get into bush flying/AK flying am starting to play with the idea of relocating in mid 2009. I've been researching UAA... does anyone know anything about their flight program? Also, if I had part 135 minimums (I probably will by that time), how difficult would it be to get hired for 135 without AK experience?

Thanks for anything you can offer.

-Paul
135 mins in AK aren't what they are down in the states (almost nobody does single pilot 135 ifr here, its all VFR, so 500 and you're golden) that being said, You'll need at least some alaska time, as for UAA, ehhh, I go there, and don't particularly like it, further, I've never (never) heard anyone say anything good about the aviation courses there. Plus, the pay absolutely sucks. You'd get paid more to work at as a line boy here than you would to CFI at UAA (last I heard, they're paying around $12/hr, no benes, no reduced tuition).

I'm just waiting for a job down stateside to pull me out, that being said, I grew up here, and trying to flee the nest is natural I suppose. Its a decent place to live, and there is a lot to do if you're out doorsy, that being said, the flying is nothing like flying down in the states (what little of it I've done). In some ways its easier, in some ways its more difficult. Jobs are also a little bit different than down south. A navajo would not be an entry level job up here with 135.243mins. In fact you'd be lucky to get a single engine VFR job if you didn't have any alaska time with those hours. A navajo would be a job you get after several years of experience with a company, and have shown to them that they can trust you not to fly into a mountain, or otherwise crash. As for the actual mountain flying aspect to the job, you probably won't do much of it. You'll probably work out west (in Bethel) which is flat, or on the North Slope (also flat). If you do get a job in Kodiak, or in South East, you'll be scared as you fly around at 200AGL on the GPS a mile out over the water trying to get back home. IFR flying up here is different too. Icing is continuous, but seldom bad (maybe once per month will you get serious ice if you do fly IFR), also there are only a few places in the state where you actually have radar covereage down low (anchorage and fairbanks, maybe galena haven't been there in a while). Scud running is often used in lieu of IFR because the approaches don't get you down low enough, or the visibility has to be too high for TERPS to allow it, that's ok, though, because other than the ground there is seldom anything to hit. A lot of bootleg IFR goes on, I don't condone it, but it is pretty much continuous out west. Further, busting mins is common practice at some companies, to the extent where they even have gone to great lengths to discuss what things you need to see when, and how low you can really go before you get within 100' etc.

These are not admirable traits, but it is fairly common because there is no other way to make money out here sometimes other than by bending the rules, and the straight and narrow companies don't tend to do as well. It is a culture in a way, and it can be quite hard to break. Out in Bethel, you will repeatedly take off VFR in 1mile and 500OVC to fly out to some ###### little village, then load up, and fly back into town 30minutes later and have to enter a VFR holding pattern off of the VOR at 500'. (They'll say something like "Hoot 315, enter the south west hold behind the hageland 207, you're number 4"). The only fairly legit entry level operators that I can think of are PenAir (laying guys off right now) and Era (Not hiring, probably out of money) the bush operators (Grant, Hageland, Frontier, Yute, etc.) tend to follow the FARs when they see fit.

The problem is though, out west, you can still die on a day to day basis even if you follow the FARs, not that its like Iraq, and someone will shoot you down, its just that the conditions can be so demanding that unless you're used to it, getting in trouble quick can be easy, even when you're following the rules, and sometimes its impossible to have a way out. Call me a coward, but there's a reason I left my job in Kodiak, one I was away all the time, but more importantly, they consistantly asked me to do things that were spooky. Not to say that a lot of it wasn't fun, but the analytical side of one's brain contemplates these things after the fact.

Really, the thing that a guy should think about first and foremost is what he/she wants to do with their career. If they want to move onto jets as quickly as possible. If they want to be an RJ captain ASAP, then alaska is not the place to go. Come up here if and only if your primary interest is flying in Alaska. At 1500TT, you could go to work at Alpine Air Express as a 99 captain, that would not happen up here. You'd be lucky to get a 99 job at 2500TT. If you want turbine time, go elsewhere, it will take you over a year to get into the left seat of a caravan at most places (Although ACE might put you into the left seat of the 1900 after a year, the turnover there though seems to be slowing). If you want multi, go elsewhere, because at a lot of the Bush operators don't even have twins, and unless you're lucky, or a silver tongued (most upgrades up here are on merit) son of a gun, you'll be hard pressed to weasel your way into a twin right off the bat (It might happen in south east, or if you come into an outfit with a couple thousand multi.) If you want hard core IFR, you should probably go elsewhere too, because the terrain doesn't really permit IFR flying in the same way, and there is a lot of low and fast hill dodging. However, if you want to fly down the river at 500', or deploy full flaps to clear the trees, scud run, learn Yupik, or learn how much ice a 207 can really handle, then this is probably the place for you. Its dangerous, challenging, difficult, mental, and physical flying, but best of all, for the most part, its fun. I find my in town gig boring at times (we go to the same places 5 times a day) but its definitely better than flight instructing, or flying in the right seat at ACE or Penair or Era. PM me for places to go, and we'll talk. Later.

-Pat
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
I am currently attending UAA, and am enrolled in the flight program. Is there anything in particular you would like to know?

So far I am really enjoying the program. My only complaint is the shortage of instructors.
Really? You're the first I've heard good things from. I've heard that its impossible to actually fly there.
 

PFGiardino

Well-Known Member
"I am currently attending UAA, and am enrolled in the flight program. Is there anything in particular you would like to know?"

Yes, and thank you up front. What is your fleet size? How many students are there? Are the instructors mostly young (I'm 21 myself)? Lastly, I read something on the schoo's site about offering courses regarding bush operations. Are these courses any good?

ppragman, thank you & keep watching your PM...
 

ASpilot2be

Qbicle seat warmer
Really? You're the first I've heard good things from. I've heard that its impossible to actually fly there.
This past summer most of the flight instructors left due to getting jobs else where, so we are currently very short on instructors. I have to say though that the people teaching the aviation classes are excellent I think.

"I am currently attending UAA, and am enrolled in the flight program. Is there anything in particular you would like to know?"

Yes, and thank you up front. What is your fleet size? How many students are there? Are the instructors mostly young (I'm 21 myself)? Lastly, I read something on the schoo's site about offering courses regarding bush operations. Are these courses any good?
We have a pretty small fleet, currently 10 aircraft. There arent alot of piloting students which I enjoy, because the ground schools are small, and get alot of one on one attention. The instructors for the most part are pretty young. There is a bush flying course. I havent taken it yet, but I have heard good things about it. The guy who teaches it has done bush flying all over the world.
 

ak-flyer

New Member
As a well established captain in a BE-1900 flying in this great state, along with, a rural western alaskan pilot assoicate of mine; we believe that the practices mentioned in a previous post are that of opinion and that of little experience. This individual has mentioned such things as VFR at 500', this being the mins for many companies as mandated by the FAA. As for the safety issue (this was also implied earlier), we whole-heartedly stand behind our individual companies safety policies. Experience has dictated that VFR (in reality) is a very fluid concept. The key word being visual, which directly relates to flight visibility or visibility as dictated by the tower, AND is directly related to the current relationship status with the tower controllers.

I'm not only a pilot, but I consider myself to be a provider of service to many rural communities through out this beatiful state. Delivering the very nesicaties of life which otherwise would not make it in. Grey areas exist within the VFR/IFR regs. which enable a few daring individuals to get the job done, which harks back to the pioneer spirit of which we are built upon. We challenge you "Mr. PP-ragman" to keep your sled upright and resist the urge to dogfight, further more.......FASTEST ONE TO BELUGA WINS!!!!!!

"You can go below mins, if you know the terrain!"

"Oh yeah, sure, if a guy could get into the ampitheater, he'd do real good for himself"
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
As a well established captain in a BE-1900 flying in this great state, along with, a rural western alaskan pilot assoicate of mine; we believe that the practices mentioned in a previous post are that of opinion and that of little experience. This individual has mentioned such things as VFR at 500', this being the mins for many companies as mandated by the FAA. As for the safety issue (this was also implied earlier), we whole-heartedly stand behind our individual companies safety policies. Experience has dictated that VFR (in reality) is a very fluid concept. The key word being visual, which directly relates to flight visibility or visibility as dictated by the tower, AND is directly related to the current relationship status with the tower controllers.

I'm not only a pilot, but I consider myself to be a provider of service to many rural communities through out this beatiful state. Delivering the very nesicaties of life which otherwise would not make it in. Grey areas exist within the VFR/IFR regs. which enable a few daring individuals to get the job done, which harks back to the pioneer spirit of which we are built upon. We challenge you "Mr. PP-ragman" to keep your sled upright and resist the urge to dogfight, further more.......FASTEST ONE TO BELUGA WINS!!!!!!

"You can go below mins, if you know the terrain!"

"Oh yeah, sure, if a guy could get into the ampitheater, he'd do real good for himself"
DAAYYYYYBOTTTTTT! What up dude! Are you guys drinking again?
 

Buzo

Well-Known Member
Flying in Alaska was one of the best flying experiences of my life. I moved up there when hiring in the lower 48 was bad, and landed a job in the right seat of a 1900. I had about 1200 hours at that time. There were times that I didn't agree with what happened, but I didn't see it the way ppragman. I went from flying in AK to the right seat of the RJ. The flying in AK made it a much better transition to the RJ.

Going to AK will not hurt you in the long run, and in my experience, it helped me.
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
Flying in Alaska was one of the best flying experiences of my life. I moved up there when hiring in the lower 48 was bad, and landed a job in the right seat of a 1900. I had about 1200 hours at that time. There were times that I didn't agree with what happened, but I didn't see it the way ppragman. I went from flying in AK to the right seat of the RJ. The flying in AK made it a much better transition to the RJ.

Going to AK will not hurt you in the long run, and in my experience, it helped me.
Did you fly for ace
 

DoWhat?

Well-Known Member
I flew out of Bethel with Grant for a time. There were plenty of days I questioned my sanity but overall I think of it as a good experience. It takes a certain breed to fly a sled in Alaska.
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
I flew out of Bethel with Grant for a time. There were plenty of days I questioned my sanity but overall I think of it as a good experience. It takes a certain breed to fly a sled in Alaska.

Ohh yeah, its a great experience I'd recommend it to anyone, and I love my job, that being said, people need to understand what their getting into. Good flying, I love it because even flying the sled outa anchorage I learn something new every day, rain or shine, freezing ass cold, or blistering heat, its always new. Some times monotonous, but never boring.
 

newty

New Member
I flew for Hageland.
When were you there? I work for Hageland in Bethel April-June 06. I absolutely loved flying the sled but I could not move my children to bethel. After fly the sled in bethel I went to flying a chieftain in utah and Idaho for a 135 operator hauling freight, single pilot, crappy weather, no auto pilot, now I am at a 121 operator and bored out of my skull but happy nevertheless to have a job!
 

Buzo

Well-Known Member
I was at Hageland in 03-04 in the 1900. It was awesome flying. Flying 121 is a bit on the boring side, but I really like flying international.
 
Top