Jobs with low fly time

I know this is all about a career in airlines but has any airline pilot done any charter jobs or jobs in Alaska? I’ve been reading up on the many job opportunities besides instructor to gain the 1500 hour mark to go into an airline and was wondering if Alaska is a good place to fly or… ( there’s a lot of low fly time jobs in Alaska, I believe this is because they mainly fly with visual only and not instruments, or they’re just low on pilots. Or both ). Also, besides flight instructor jobs, what are jobs you’d recommend doing that require very little flight hours? I saw a lot in places like Africa, Alaska and some even in China. If there’s a mayor reason for those places to have somewhat lower standards when it comes to flight hours i’d also love to know!


Those jobs that you have read about typically have lower time requirements because they are either located in undesirable places or because they are more dangerous than your typical flying job. I have never flown in Alaska, but I have known several pilots who have. What I can tell you though is that Alaska flying is mountainous flying and therefore has an inherent danger that other flying does not. Couple this with very unpredictable weather and you end up with jobs that many of the more seasoned pilots will not take. That being said, the pilots that chose to fly up there seem to love it.

Flight instructing really is the best way to get to the airlines as it provides the most steady source of hours while also providing a decent pay check (if you work for the right school). However, other routes to building flight time include towing banners, flying jumpers and flying traffic watch. These jobs tend to be harder to get and often times do not supply a steady source of flight hours.


Thank you! Yeah flight instructing is the most probable route i’ll take but i was just thinking of something sorta wacky and unique along the way since airlines are more like the ending of the marathon. But i suppose they’re more like off and on again type jobs, another job that seemed cool was Air Ambulance, although the hour requirement is about the same as airlines what are your thoughts on that job?


As Chris said the reason many of the jobs in Alaska (and elsewhere) are available to low time pilots is because they are generally risky, don’t pay well and the living conditions can be harsh. That said I do know pilots who have. Some love it, some don’t, some don’t survive.

Air Ambulance can be a very rewarding job but as you said they often require the same minimum hours with considerably less pay.

Keep looking and if you’re inclined I’d give some of these jobs a try. Nothing wrong with taking the road less traveled.


Thank you both, great insight!

My 33 year Alaska flying career was in single-engine recips on wheels, floats and skis. There are barely a handful of Alaska flight operations who hire pilots with only the minimum FARs part 135 pilot experience requirements. Many Alaska operators require 1000 to 2000 hours minimum. Many require Alaska time as well. It’s mostly insurance companies dictating these minimums.

Part 135.243 pilot experience minimums for airplanes require 500 hours total time of which 100 hours must be cross country time and of that 100 hours of xc time 25 hours must be at night. A commercial license with an instrument rating is also required along with certification for category i.e. single-engine land or sea, multi-engine land or sea etc. There is no category specifically for skis.

In any event those many years of Alaska flying were adventurous, interesting, challenging, rewarding, and sometimes really scary. It made for developing good stick and rudder skills, weather judgement, the ability to safely judge and handle many different kinds of marginal and off-airport destinations on wheels, to read the the water for landings and takeoffs in salt water locations, on rivers, and in lakes big and small. Ski flying had its challenges too. Gotta say it was fun, but not the kind of money you can make flying big jets for the majors.

Probably the best pay for a single-engine float plane pilot at this point in time, 2018, would be a seasonal job (mid-May to mid-September) flying a deHavilland beaver or possibly a turbine otter for a fly-out fishing lodge. Not a lot of flight time is gained each day transporting wealthy clients to remote fishing spots, but a high-end lodge will pay 12k a month, room and board, plus a few thousand in tips by the end of the season. Lodge flying requires a few thousand hours of flight time with much of those hours in the types of planes owned by the lodge. Flying for a living in Alaska is a different life style than flying big jets.


Thank you for adding that information about flying in Alaska, it is something that I have always been curious about, but never been very knowledgeable of.



You’re welcome. There is much more that can be said about Alaska flying.
Take a look at my website, for three
true descriptions about flying to bush locations.

Jay (Jeremy)

Check out this video. Ryan graduated from ATP and he lists some good Part 135 operators that do schedule charter service if you don’t want to go the CFI route.

While there def are alternatives to instructing, keep in mind depending on your location they can be hard to find. That’s one of the primary reasons most new pilots instruct.


Ravn must comply with Part 135 minimum pilot experience for single-pilot operations. I have never heard of anyone being hired as a first officer (co-pilot) for a Cessna 207. So the minimum hours logged to qualify to fly as PIC under FARs Part 135 is 500 hours. 100 hours has to be XC and 25 of that has to be night XC. Same holds true for the Caravan. No one is going to hire a 250 hour pilot to fly as PIC in a Caravan. So in a nutshell, a 250 hour pilot is not legally qualified to fly as PIC under FARs Part 135.


You’re actually mistaken. There are quite a few Caravan operators who hire low time FOs as safety pilots and training for the left seat. I’m in Hawaii and Mokulele is a very common route for many local new pilots.