What's your two cents worth ?


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First of all, I know no one has a crystal ball and the decision is 100% completely mine and mine alone :)

Just wanted to try and get some feedback from different viewpoints than my own. That said, my backstory - started flying with the intent to become a helicopter pilot. There were no helicopter schools in my area so I started in a 172 down at the local airport. Eventually met a guy at a private air park that had his own helicopters and airplanes. Trained with him for private airplane, then private helicopter add-on and commercial.

Through his acquaintances I got a job right away giving helicopter tours. Spent the next four years working seasonal positions getting to the magic 1000 hours PIC which became the magic 1500 PIC then the whole bottom fell out of the helicopter market and people were getting laid off in droves in the major heli markets (GOMEX).

So I added on my commercial multi and instrument and got a job with 121 regional DEC 2016, because after years of seasonal only work I needed a real job and with increases in pay its better than I had been doing. I originally figured I'd give it a year or so and if I didn't like it then hopefully the helicopter market would rebound.

Ok, to the point - the helicopter market rebounded a little quicker than expected. I've been at my 121 carrier for 7 months now. I have two tentative offers in the helicopter business. As far as the 121 flying goes, its not bad at all but I could take it or leave it - the biggest thing would be leaving before the first year and having to pay back the bonus.

One job I'm considering is in the Gulf of Mexico (GOMEX) and was my original dream job when I started out in the helicopter business. A point to add to that though, is I used to live on the Gulf pre divorce, so the job would have been literally right down the road - I'd have to move back to the area to make the commute reasonable. Starting pay is good at 60k and a signing bonus. Stability is normally good except for 2015 apparently. Schedule is 14/14 so I like that too, I actually have enough seniority at my airline to bid and hold a decent schedule but I find the act of bidding, SAP trading, etc, etc, to be cumbersome(yea, I'm that lazy) as opposed to just having your schedule for the whole year already set. I'd be giving up travel benefits but I don't really use them anyhow. Any other pros & cons ya'll may see with that?

The other job I'm considering is as an Air Interdiction Agent with the Border Patrol. Government job, holiday pay, buy back my military time and put toward retirement. Cool mission, cool aircraft. Have to be a Law Enforcement Officer - could take or leave that either way. Crappy base locations obviously. Dual rated so I can fly Helos and Planes. I'll be able to get experience there I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else (NVG) if it didn't work out. The hiring process takes at least 6 months even though I can bypass the USAJobs website with my combat deployment. So that would take the sting out of paying the sign on bonus back to the 121 airline (after 1 yr its pro rated, before 1 yr they want all of it back).

I probably had more direct questions before I started typing but I kind of rambled a bit and kind of lost my direction.... I appreciate any feedback from people that have been around the aviation block a time or two !



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Guess I should have added, I definitely see the potential up side of staying with 121 and being able to possibly make it to the majors.


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How old are you? Sounds like with the possible exception of working for the government, option 2 is amazing. If you're still in your 20's you could do twenty years, retire, and (assuming the airlines aren't running single pilot by then) go back to 121 for another 15-20.


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Something I've wasted 20 years of my life to learn is chase the dream, not the dollar. You can't get wasted years back.
It doesn't sound like 121 is your dream.
No it wasn't really my dream to be honest. I have chased my dreams and ended up broke and divorced however ! haha :)

So, I really do want to follow my heart back to helicopters but my brain is telling me "don't be a dummy you can buy a crap ton of hookers and blow with major airline money" ! heeheee

(last part was a joke if it wasn't obvious)


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How old are you? Sounds like with the possible exception of working for the government, option 2 is amazing. If you're still in your 20's you could do twenty years, retire, and (assuming the airlines aren't running single pilot by then) go back to 121 for another 15-20.
Oh I wish I was young enough to do that ! I'm 43 years young.

Yea, the Border Patrol job sounds awesome and is not something a non military pilot could normally get in to but with Envoy and others offering Rotor Transition programs and the possible lure of the big leagues on the horizon the helicopter market is really feeling the effects apparently.

So in that sense, it is not unlike where I feel like I'm at right now with the 121 in regards to being in the right place at the right time. I feel like I'm positioned well in the 121 world on the front of the wave - that's what makes me hesitant to just jump ship and follow my heart. The majors do pay pretty dang well after all :)


Ancora imparo
In the words of Rascal Flatts,
"I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
And each road leads you where you want to go
And if you’re faced with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you
And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walkin’ ‘til you find the window
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile..."


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I have 2 friends that work for PHI, petroleum helicopters inc. They love it, and seem very happy, paid well too.


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I say wait until you are no longer financially obligated to pay money back to the 121 you fly for. Then look for a helo job. If they are still hiring then well no worries. If no one is hiring you made a good decision to stay 121.

Really it isn't worth paying money for a 60k a year job. IMO.