Monday, November 30, 2009

What is it like to be a cargo pilot?

This is one of the many careers I'm looking into and am curious as to what it entails, what kind of salary I'd be looking at, and what kinds of degrees and certifications are necessary.What is it like to be a cargo pilot?
I'm going to tell you right now, hauling freight can be a tedious, stressful job. However, I would not trade it for anything (well, maybe a cushy corporate job) I get tons of flight time, (at least 40 hours a week) and I get to fly one of the coolest jets out there.

First and foremost, you do not need to have an atp. (although it helps) We have a guy that came to us with 3500 hours, but he was 22, so at that time not eligible for the atp. We ended up having to get him a commercial type rating in our lear 24. However, this is not the norm. We also hire people to fly sic in 310's and 410's, with the intent of moving them into the left seat, once those guys move to my right seat. (And of course, when they have the time required to pass a 135 ride)

As far as the job itself is concerned, it beats flying a bus. (did that for 3 years for Air Wisconsin in the crj) I work usually 6pm to 6am, 4 nights a week, and in that time I go as far west as IL, and as far south as GA. (I'm based in Teterboro)

Nights usually go like this- Arrive at the airport, preflight, make sure the weight is in limits (dispatch usually does our weight, balance, and performance), and look over and sign off on the flight plan. After we check the weather, we head out and do the usual pilot stuff (b.s. checklist items like getting clearances, and starting engines...sometimes life would be so much faster if they just let me skip that step...) So we head out and usually hit pittsburg, columbus, midway, raleigh, atlanta, back to raleigh, philadelphia, buffalo, and then home. Everything works together usually. As we land at each stop, the controller usually knows where we're going, and clears us directly to our ramp. Two fuel trucks pull up (if we need fuel) and start pumping into the tip tanks, while the couriers come up and take what they need to take off the jet, and throw what they need to throw on the jet. During this time, if we're not switching aircraft (some jets are preloaded for a different portion of our trip when we get there) we keep the engines running. As soon as the fuel trucks are done, and the door closes, we're off to the next stop. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming, especially when you're a few minutes late, due to delays, and your carrying time sensitive items (cancelled checks that need to be there by midnight, or the company doesn't get paid for the run) But for the most part, it's a fun job, and a great way to kill a few hours in the logbookWhat is it like to be a cargo pilot?
You could probably find out more by contacting UPS or any cargo carrier or search the web.

In general, you will need a bachelors degree. You will need a commercial, Instrument, ATP (airline transport pilot) rating and probably several thousand hours of flying experience. You will be required to maintain a first class medical. this involves a pretty thorough physical every six months. Recurrent training is usually every six months. Any DUI history in your driving record wont be a good thing.

most cargo flying happens at night, so you probably wont need any cool pilot sunglasses.

I think the average pay in cargo for pilots is currently about 140k$ per year.

Your first flying job will be when you obtain your commercial and instructor rating. You will earn about 20 dollars per hour and instruct all the time to get enough hours to get a job flying anything at all. It is a long tough road to get multi engine and turbine time. The folks hiring know pilots need that experience and at that level, there just plain are more pilots with those qualifications, so the pay is miserable when weighed against the cost of your education and training.

The big picture for those who persevere is a good paying job. used to be, flying freight payed less than the airlines, I suspect that picture is changing.

Look at schools like Embry Riddle, UND University of North Dakota, University of Illinois Aviation, most big colleges have professional pilot programs. You dont need to go this route, your flying experience you can obtain on your own while getting your degree, but these programs wrap it all up in one nice and usually very expensive package.

Flying for a living could be great, I just heard a UPS 767 go over my house landing at a hub near me. It's 3:40 in the morning. :) If you love flying, go for it, it can be a great career.

Things like heart trouble, diabetes, epilepsy, even kidney stones can get you grounded, so think about what degree you want and a backup plan for your career.

Best of luck,

it depends on who you are working for. UPS and FedEx fly mainly at night and i would assume you get paid a decent salary. I work for a small cargo operator. We fly at all hours of the day and night. having a schedule would be nice but our company works on demand. we have to be wheels up within an hour of getting called in.. on the other hand, having a scheduled run in the freight business isnt all that appealing either, since you fly to the same places day after day..

you still need all the same degree and certification requirements that you would for any other flying job.. but the outlook for cargo operators is healthy and worth the time and money.. people are always gonna need to ship stuff.. i expect the salaries to remain decent if not improve over the next decade.. but really, it just depends on who you work for..
No doubt this profession will fetch you loads of money, but what i believe is being a cargo pilot is actually being a truck driver. The only differnce is salary.

I think you should go for pessenger pilot.
Just a correction for John above - in the States, most part 141 schools no longer require a Bachelor's degree. High school or GED is all that's required, as well as English proficiency and good health.
John's answer just about covers it. You will need those cool looking sunglasses though. Often you will be headed towards a rising or setting sun, depending on whether you're starting or finishing your day.
no one applauds as you land smoothely.

Atir B%26gt; ..passenger pilot, which in return turns out to be just an overpayed bus driver.
The youngest stewardess doesn't come to the flight deck to bare her breasts when you land smoothly.

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