What I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving

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Nov 222012

This year, I am so thankful for all of you who have allowed me to be a part of your journey in aviation!

I am super honored to have you and what I really would like to do more of is serve you better.

In order to do that, I’m conducing a super short survey to find out what’s most important to you.

Please take a short moment to complete this survey and tell me what you think about PilotTricks.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

 Posted by at 1:27 AM
Nov 122012

With the so called “pilot shortage” you would think that employers should be flocking to your door if you have a pilot certificate.  But where are all these pilot jobs if there’s such a pilot shortage?

Today’s Wall Street Journal article talks about impending doom of regional airlines due to a lack of pilots.  It also talks about the new rule taking effect in August 2013 that will require ALL pilots (even co-pilots) of air carrier operations to have a minimum of an Airline Transport Pilot certificate (which requires a minimum of 1,500 hrs of flight time).

How will this affect those of you who are interested in pursuing a pilot career?  And more importantly, how should you prepare yourself for this?

Find out, on this week’s episode of PilotTricksTV…


Watch this Video!


Want to find out the real scoop of this new rule? Check out their exact proposal of the rule: NPRM and Public Law

What does Capt. Sully Sullenberger (Hudson River hero) have to say about this?  Check out his interview.


Nov 082012


I’m really new at this video blogging thing, but I’m going to give it a shot.  Instead of writing a long post about this topic, I wanted to talk to you and hopefully you will talk back by leaving a few comments at the end.  Tell me if you enjoyed the video, did it answer any questions?

PilotTricksTV Episode 1:

How long does it take to become a professional pilot

If you have a question you’d like me to answer on the next episode of PilotTricksTV, go ahead and send me a note: Contact Me

I hope you enjoyed this and if so, share it with your friends!

 Posted by at 5:36 PM
Nov 032012

How I logged over 350hrs in one year while working full time

So you’ve made it through flight school and you think employers should be flocking to your door with job offers.  After all, you have over 300 hours in your logbook and a certificate in your wallet that says you can get paid to fly!  Not only that, you also have a flight instructor certificate and are already logging dual given.

As most CFI’s will tell you, instructing is grueling work.  It seems that for every hour that you can put in your logbook, you spend another hour on the ground not getting paid while you go from one student to the next, or just simply waiting for your next student.  So, essentially, you’re working twice as much as what you’re getting paid for.

CFI work

That’s exactly how I was feeling when after years of averaging 100hrs per year as a part-time CFI, I knew I needed to do something drastically different.  I had about 1000 hours, mostly as dual given, I was 33 years old, and I knew if I didn’t do something now, I was going to miss my chance to fly professionally.  Luckily, I worked for a company that I thought might give me an opportunity, but only after I obtained my ATP.  At the rate I was going, it would take another 5 years to get it.  I would be nearing 40 by then and I was already tired of working two jobs – another 5 years would simply be out of the question.

The first thing I did was to have a brainstorming session.  I took a sheet of paper, sat in my comfy couch, and started writing down any old idea of how I could build flight time.  Even wacky ideas made it to the list – forming a “flight-building” club with some buddies and trying to split the cost, buying a camera and doing aerial photography work, banner towing, traffic watch, etc.

Aeronca Champ I got my Tailwheel in

I got in touch with a club that needed tow pilots for glider towing, but I needed to have a tailwheel endorsement.  I spent a bunch of money getting a tailwheel endorsement, but in the meantime, I was still looking for ideas.  Years before, I had the opportunity to ferry a Cessna 150 from Philadelphia, PA to a town north of Duluth, MN.  I remember logging 13 hours in 3 days.  As a part-time flight instructor, it would have taken me over 3 weeks to log 13 hours!!

I knew this was something to explore further and what I found was an amazing opportunity.  I searched online for ferry services, and I only found two that were regularly used for ferrying small piston airplanes.  There was practically no competition, at least non that advertised online.  Typically, it’s easy to find a local CFI who’s more than willing to ferry an airplane somewhere.  But, for those who wanted to look for one online, they really only had two choices.

I decided to build myself a website and be a third choice.  A few days after putting up the site, I had my first customer.  Unfortunately, this was the toughest ferry anyone could ask for – an old Cessna 172 from Denver, CO to Santa Cruz, Bolivia!  Wow, I just about laughed out loud and dismissed the request, but then I thought – maybe it’s do-able.  I happen to be from Ecuador and am fluent in Spanish, so I thought that was half the battle.

Panama canal on the way to Bolivia

After a couple weeks of preparation and after finding a co-pilot who was also fluent in Spanish, I took off from Denver on a beautiful June morning.  Twelve days later, we landed in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with over 65hrs and an absolutely incredible learning experience!

My next ferry flight, which would have otherwise seemed daunting, felt like a piece of cake to me – Tehachapi, CA to Soldotna, AK.  Another beautiful, yet challenging flight and another 43hrs in my logbook.  In less than 2 months, I had already beat my average yearly flight time!

CAP cadet preflighting

I’m also a volunteer pilot in the Civil Air Patrol and learned about a flight encampment for CAP cadets that was going to be held in July.  I took an extra week vacation and volunteered for that opportunity.  I soloed three students and logged another 43 hours that week.

The FAA allows you to count up to 100hrs of simulator time for your ATP rating, and since I had this time from some training I did in college, it was the equivalent of getting 100hrs in my logbook.

The rest of my flight time came from my regular instructing job and paying for some of the last hours I needed on my own, like the hours I used to get a tailwheel endorsement.  By November, I had all the requirements I needed to get my ATP and in December I took the checkride.

While everyone’s path is different, I wanted to share my story to illustrate that sometimes, you can find creative ways to log flight time.  I never would have thought I could go from a little over 1000 hours to ATP in one year while working a full time job.  But, with some creativity and dedication, I was able to accomplish this goal.

If you have a unique or creative way that you’ve been able to build up flight time, share it by leaving a comment here.

I would love to learn 2 things:

1. What stage of your flying career are you in?

2. What is the best way you think there is of building flight time?