Time building now could pay off later

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JSfirm.com Managing Partner Sam Scanlon said that a pilot shortage is still predicted through 2039. The airline job losses, furloughs, and early retirements likely to come with this downturn will make the pilot deficit even bigger once airline travel picks back up, he said, because some of those who lose their job and who take early retirement or hit age 65 for mandatory airline retirement during the downturn won’t return.

“People are going to fly again,” Scanlon said, and “they are going to be short even more than they were,” he said of the airlines.

That said, the job market is “tough right now,” he added, recommending that pilots “get into the aviation industry, period” by seeking traditional time-building jobs and looking for nonflying careers in the aviation industry to keep their foot in the door and find creative ways to acquire flight time.

Pilots who have an interest in maintenance or already have an A&P certificate might apply for mechanic jobs, he suggested, which could open the possibility for performing test and post-maintenance flights. Even working for an FBO or other aviation company could open doors to help ferry airplanes or ride right seat on other missions.

Here is a sampling of jobs that can serve as steppingstones to help you build hours and gain experience toward your professional pilot goal.

Flight instructing: Teaching others to fly and helping them reach their dreams is fulfilling in and of itself, but flight instructing is a popular way to gain the flight time required for other professional pilot careers. It can also be a part-time job added to another career, or to retirement for some extra income.

“Instructing is going to make its way back,” said Scanlon, who has been talking to flight school operators and said that “capacities are filling up again at flight schools.” This means instructor positions will once again be opening after the downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic when some schools closed and others lost business because of stay-at-home orders across the country.

Sightseeing: As a tour or sightseeing pilot, you get to see the amazing views tourists are clamoring for every day. Think flying tourists around Denali, overflying the Grand Canyon, or soaring along a breathtaking beach. However, keep in mind that the aerial sightseeing/tour industry is “not back in full swing yet,” Scanlon said.

Ferry pilot: Build specialized skills and gain experience flying across the

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