Being a pilot requires balancing the adventure of flying with important responsibilities. The regular nine-to-five job isn’t something you’ll find in the life of a pilot! It’s a unique career that draws many types of people who love variety and decision-making under pressure. These are the unique paths open to a career pilot.
Flight Test Pilots: For Adrenaline Junkies
One of the lesser-known paths for a pilot is helping to diagnose or troubleshoot problems in a highly interactive space: flight testing. Flight test pilots help evaluate certain aircraft’s performance and safety features. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the aircraft’s mechanics and the ability to pilot the plane and gather feedback in real-time.
Flight test pilots help airlines safely put planes with previous problems back into service or test new airframes before accepting them from manufacturers. The FAA hires many of these pilots to satisfy airline safety requirements for commercial planes. They help to test air safety aspects like radar, navigational instruments, and runway designs or lighting.
All pilots eligible to be flight test pilots must have a commercial pilot’s license and other ratings like airline transport ratings, instrument ratings, or multi-engine ratings. There is also a designated school in California, the world’s largest civilian training center for test pilots.
Touring Pilots: For Career Pilots Who Love Sharing the View
It’s hard to complain when vistas like the Grand Canyon or Alaska’s Denali peaks are the backdrop of your daily commute. Touring pilots offer visitors life-changing views of popular natural landscapes like National Parks. Ariel touring pilots typically fly helicopters to carry passengers around these scenic areas or ferry passengers to remote lodging sites inaccessible by road.
Air Ambulance Pilots: For Those Motivated to Help
Medical transport pilots are responsible for manning rotor-wing aircraft with a small crew of nurses who are medically trained to treat patients in flight. This service is crucial to patients injured in remote areas or needing swift transport to larger medical facilities.
In this role, a career pilot working on an air ambulance may be responsible for many roles. Transporting donor organs, moving patients in critical condition, or providing medical evacuation are all possible roles for air ambulance pilots.
Aerial Firefighting Pilots: For Disaster Response
Air support is an important service for fighting forest fires. Aerial firefighters combat fires by operating water tanker aircraft and specialized helicopters to drop water buckets in active fire zones.
Other times, they may be responsible for transporting firefighting personnel. This job requires a unique combination of working in low-visibility smoke conditions or high winds in an active fire event. If you are motivated by helping preserve lives, property, and the future of healthy forests, this is for you.
Looking to Train for Your Future as a Career Pilot? Consider Leading Edge Flight School
Whether you are a high-flying adrenaline junkie with dreams of becoming a flight test pilot, see life as a touring pilot in your future, or are motivated by the mission of saving lives through skilled flying in emergencies, there is a flight program that suits your needs at Leading Edge Flight Academy. Start your fixed-wing or helicopter school journey with our top-rated flight programs in the Pacific Northwest.