Why Fly Floats?

Starting your aviation career is like building a house, it is critical that you start with a solid foundation. Once you begin your commercial training, it is essential that you design an action plan to work toward obtaining that first job. A newly licensed pilot faces two basic paths to start their career; become a Flight Instructor, or a Bush Pilot. Flight training doesn’t come cheap, and spending wisely could save you in the long run.

Becoming a bush pilot…

Georgian Bay SunsetStarting your aviation career is like building a house, it is critical that you start with a solid foundation. Once you begin your commercial training, it is essential that you design an action plan to work toward obtaining that first job. A newly licensed pilot faces two basic paths to start their career; become a Flight Instructor, or a Bush Pilot. Flight training doesn’t come cheap, and spending wisely could save you in the long run.

Becoming a bush pilot has several advantages over flight instructing. Take a moment to consider from the perspective of an airline operator. Who would you prefer to hire: someone who has spent hours of time flying in frequently not-so-ideal conditions, making decisions where there is no one to consult, and honing their skills from hands on flying experience; or someone who’s time was spent in the right seat monitoring a student, with a large amount of time spent in the circuit, during favourable weather conditions.

Both routes of flying experience have their advantages and disadvantages. What you need to decide is: which route is best for you. If time building is not important to you, and you love the reward of teaching someone skills that you have learned, then instructing may be for you. Instructing takes a particular breed of pilot, who is patient, intelligent and understanding. Flying in the bush is an exhilarating, often challenging, but always rewarding experience. The pay is usually better than that received by instructing, and frequently includes room and board. Bush pilots make judgement calls every day, fly complex aircraft (as compared to training aircraft), and gain valuable experience dealing with the public. Fringe benefits include great fishing and exploring the Canadian wilderness.

You should also be aware that bush flying is not for everyone. Some people are not suited to working in the outdoors, and may find city life much more appealing. Once the decision has been made to become a float pilot, you have several choices ahead of you. Transport Canada’s float rating is currently a minimum of 7 hours. Most operators require their junior pilots to have (for insurance purposes) a minimum of 50 hours of float experience.

There are several float training schools in Canada, all of which offer a plethora of training techniques and practical experience. The ideal school will offer training on a complex aircraft, skilled instructors, and practical exercises that will prepare you for your first job flying in the bush. You should take your time choosing a school that suits your needs – spend your training dollars wisely!

Nicole Saulnier