Have you ever had that conversation with someone who asks you what you’re doing with your life, replying with that you’re training at a fight school and want to be a pilot? Do they then automatically assume that you are training to be an Airline Pilot?
The truth is, everyone takes a different route in where their career will take them. Whether you’re in the midst of your flight training, or you already have years of experience, there is always that conversation about where you would like your career in aviation to go.
But let’s not get into becoming an airline pilot, that’s an obvious career choice for most. Have you ever thought about what other amazing and interesting career choices there are for qualified pilots? When you think about aeroplane pilots, you may think of jobs in law enforcement, government services, charter operations, or fire-fighter and emergency medical services. While these are all valid and amazing career experiences, have you ever considered the other, smaller, pilot careers? We’re talking airshow stunt pilot, tour guide pilot, air-taxi pilot, you name it, you can probably be a pilot for it.
Let’s take a look at some of the lesser known jobs that many pilots have made a career out of, whether through preference or need to work life balance. Each of these offer something a bit different to the mainstream options many pilots already know about.
AirShow Stunt Pilot
These smaller jobs can be as amazing and rewarding as any other pilot job, but still as difficult to train for. However, imagine being an airshow stunt pilot. This is not a job for the faint hearted as it is very fast paced. It’s a skilful art, but being able to show off your skills and training in a beautifully coordinated flight pattern will be a job you’ll never forget. This kind of job is a passion for most, and you need that in order to be successful.
Normally this is the type of job that you’ve wanted to do from a young age. You’d be the first to arrive at an air show and the last to leave, hoping to be able to talk to the pilot you admire after the show. Most professional stunt pilots are “addicted to the rush”, as well as being very confident in their ability to pull off stunts correctly and safely. Being a hard worker is very important, as well as being daring enough to commit to it. After lots of practise, seeing the audience with massive smiles on their faces will make this job worth it, as well as then having that young child, so excited to see the pilot he admires to be like!
Tour Guide Pilot
On the other hand, a job that doesn’t have as high an adrenaline rush, but good people skills, is a tour guide pilot. This job offers you the chance to meet some lovely people on a daily basis, and you’ll be able to show them some extraordinary places and teach them all about the history of your country. You’d be flying over some amazing landmarks and areas of interest to give your passengers a sky-view of your countries surroundings.
Take time in researching different areas you could be a tour guide, as there is such as wide range of places this can be offered. You could be a tour guide in England, offering a tour in a glider plane over the Jurassic Coast, or a private discovery flight around Bournemouth. On the other hand, you could be a tour guide in Europe, offering a 1-day flight trip from Istanbul; or a 2 day private adventure tour in the Vitosha mountain’s; or even a 10 day private tour guide of Iceland.
Wherever you may be from, wherever you may want to go, if being a tour guide is the career path you want to follow, and to provide your knowledge of the history to tourists, then this is a potential job for you!
Air Taxi Pilot
Picture this, you, the job you love and living in paradise. If this appeals to you, then why don’t you consider being an air-taxi pilot? It might not sound like the most glamorous job, but you’d be getting paid to taxi tourists around different paradise islands. Sounds great right. A bonus is that you get to work around some incredible islands, with some outstanding views, and even as an employee, you never know what you might get to see in the sea.
One of the main European countries you could be an air taxi pilot is in Spain. Spain has multiple islands around it, such as the Canary Islands; Tenerife, Fuerteventure, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma and El Hierro. As each island has their own unique attractions, this makes tourists want to make the most of their experience by spending time on a few of the Spanish Islands that appeal to them, and the easiest ways to do this is via aeroplane. So as well as offering tourists the opportunity to go to different islands, you get the bliss of living and working abroad on an island you love.
Parachute Drop Pilot
Another job that might not be so high up on the salary scale, but would still end up being an amazing experience would be a parachute drop pilot. If you live somewhere that has a nearby parachute club, this might be a good job to consider. For most this is just a weekend job, you’d be flying their aeroplanes at a height where it is safe to drop parachuters, and as tedious as that may sounds, it would be a good way to build up your flight hours, which would be necessary for any other more advanced aviation job.
This may be more of a steppingstone job, to help you move onto bigger and better things, but what a great way to get there! From having to deal with a load of adrenaline seekers, as well as making sure passengers exit in the correct spot, at the right altitude, the perfect speed and understanding how wind can change the dynamic of everything. This type of job needs the correct flying precision and will give you some unique skills too. Being a drop pilot may not be your end career goal, but it’s definitely something worth trying for the skills you’ll develop from it.
Glider Tow Pilot
Similar to being a parachute drop pilot is a glider tow pilot. This can be a dangerous job and requires good skills and trust from the glider pilot behind you, but you’d be there to tow the gliders up to a safe launch altitude. This could also be considered a tedious job too, but you’ll often be part of a fun club atmosphere and there is nothing wrong with having fun whilst at work!
There is a lot to take into consideration when being a tow pilot for a glider as they are trusting you completely. You need to be very flexible and have a good judgement on safety when conducting a flight in the wind, rain, bad winter conditions and in a busy airspace. You also need to know when it’s time to call it quits for the day and it’s just too unsafe to fly. This is the kind of job you can do full time if it’s something you love, or part-time if it’s a hobby you enjoy. Whatever the reason and however much time you have, look into glider tow pilot jobs. You might end up finding something you love that builds yours hours for more advanced aviation jobs in the future.
Whether you are in the midst of your training, or have 10 years under your belt. Whether you have always wanted to be an Airline pilot, or you have another passion you want to pursue with your aviation career, there is nothing stopping you trying something different.
Just remember that not all pilots have to follow in the foot steps of others. There is such a vast variety of pilot jobs out there, with amazing things to offer you. Push the boat out and try something new, whether it’s long term or just for the flying hours. The world is large with amazing opportunities around every corner, don’t take it for granted!