Rough Road of a Rotor Rookie
July 18, 2007 By Leanne Schmidt
I ended my last article as I was driving west into the Rocky Mountains
on my cross-country expedition in search of employment. As yet, I had
not learned the secret handshake to get into the helicopter industry.
Jasper my casual chats with the locals ended up producing a job offer!
The good part was that I could live in one of the most beautiful places
in Canada. The bad part was that the job offered was in a candy store.
I thanked the kind man, declined the offer and continued on my way.
British Columbia I found the odd small operator tucked away in the
mountains, but most of these companies really had no need for more than
one pilot. At Whistler I visited Blackcomb Helicopters and found a
great group of people. The receptionist was by far the most welcoming
person I had encountered on my trip from Ontario. She had me speak with
the chief pilot and he gave me more time than I was granted in most of
the other places I had stopped. He told me that if I lived in the area
the likelihood of getting hired was much better.
I went down the
road to Squamish and paid a visit to Black Tusk Helicopters. The chief
pilot was helpful and gave me a few tips on who to see and told me to
keep him informed of my progress as I get into the industry.
Vancouver I wanted to check out Helijet since it was the place where I
had first climbed up under a rotor and got this silly idea to be a
pilot. I went to its helipad and tried to speak to someone who might
point me to the right person. I had no idea that Helijet is subdivided
into different companies and from what I was told, the guy who hires
the ground crew isn’t the same guy who hires the pilots. I was informed
that even if I get onto the ground crew there would be no guarantee
that I would ever get a flying job.
There seemed to be an
ongoing theme across the country. It could almost be the industry motto
– “No Guarantee.” Perhaps this should have been stamped on my crisp,
new licence. I firmly believe that someone in Canada must take low-hour
pilots and let them fly because there are pilots out there who have
hours and they must have gotten them somewhere. Sooner or later I had
to run into one of these places.
I headed to Vancouver
International Airport to check out several companies based there. One
of them had a receptionist who was pretty firm on not letting me speak
with anyone. I wasn’t convinced that not a single person was available
for five minutes; but I know how to handle an unhelpful receptionist.
Come back when she goes for lunch. Apparently they don’t mind talking
to low-hour pilots at all. I shook a hand, left a résumé and sauntered
out with a sense of victory.