Those of you who have been following Oddball Pilot have probably figured out that I’ve been bouncing around between various flying jobs and some mountain guiding. That plan worked great for the last four or five years. Lots of freedom and control over my own time while making just enough money to fill the truck up with gas and live on peanut butter and ramen. I spent lots of time doing fun, personal climbs, and there is nothing better than spending the day on a mountain ridge moving fast!
Still, there was something missing. While flying in Nepal back in 2011 I realized I was missing “work.” Don’t get me wrong. Guiding mountains and flying Piper 140s for 18 hours straight can be tough. But it lacks the satisfaction I get out of wrestling a big piece of equipment out of a plane, or bringing villagers to town to pick up necessary supplies. Work that provides useful, necessary services to communities.
I imagine the idea of “work” differs from person to person. For me work is coal mining, driving a backhoe, hammering a nail. Things that produce very clear concrete results. Unloading a new generator in a village … now that is work! Flying to the villages of Western Nepal felt like work. Flying in Western Alaska feels like work.
When I got back from Nepal, I started looking for a “working” flying job. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for and it’s taken me awhile to figure out what I was missing. I may have found it. This past Spring I jumped onto one of the Ryan Air CASA 212 flights out to Mekoryuk on Nunivak Island. It was a nice mix of an interesting plane and good old-fashioned solid work.
Since then I’ve been working on getting into the CASA. The waiting has finally paid off, and for the last month I’ve either been in ground school or doing Second-In-Command flight training out in Bethel. Yes, there’s plenty of ugly freight! Earlier this month we almost ran over one of the captains when a 3,500-pound pile of steel girders got away from us. Good stuff!
More training to come, but by the end of December I should be in the left seat based out of Nome. The job should leave enough time for climbing trips and checking out interesting flying jobs around the world. Hopefully the extra cash will make more cool trips possible. In between trips you’ll be able to find me in the back of the CASA, cursing at some screwy piece of freight.
On that first CASA flight back in March I managed to shoot some footage of Lance and Jon hard at work. Mike is editing it down, and we’ll post the video soon to give you a brief glimpse into what this particular job entails.
In the meantime, last night I dug into my photo archive and found some of my favorite “work-themed” flying shots. Enjoy!