Dispatch: Work!

Published on November 21, 2012 by in Dispatches

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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!


Twice as much work!

A pile of freight at Rara, Nepal.

Sometimes it's time to rest.

Loading Rice bags in Surkhet, Nepal.

Unloading rice bags in Simikot, Nepal.

Passengers boarding in Bajura, Nepal.

Preheating the Ryan Air Skyvan at -20F (-28C) in Western Alaska ... the pre-work work!

Loading the Skyvan. Flying in Alaska is generally pretty hands-on.

Bruce, the agent in Marshall, Alaska, helps unload a C-207. He's been the agent there since before I showed my face in 1995!

Unloading a Sno-Go from an Everts DC-6, Alaska.

Loading and unloading on some short hauls between villages on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska.

Another ugly load for the CASA in Western Alaska. The right equipment makes it much easier, but it's not always available.

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8 Responses to “Dispatch: Work!”

  1. les hartley says:

    Hey oddball
    I was just like you when I came to Yakutat AK back i 1995 and if you like to work your ass off to suppot a community this is the place. We have a Cessna 185 with wheel skis and a Cessna 206 and I have hauled everything you can think of in them. This is also right in the middle of world class climbing. Gave up flying climbers 3 years ago but they still call me. My wife and I are burned out and we are done at the end of December. If you want to purchase or lease the hangar and airplanes just e-mail and we will go from there.

    • Island Air is an airline based in The Bay Islands of Honduras. We’re growing and in need of a Caravan for passenger hauling mainly from November through June. We are looking for an aircraft owner that would like to put the aircraft to work during this time of the year. Do you know of anybody that may have an interest in an arrangement like this? Currently we fly and own an Islander and rent a C-206 and C-182 as necessary to augment our fleet. we’ve had to rent the C-206 for the past three weeks due to our growing passenger manifests. Can you help?

  2. M. Vivion says:

    Ummmm, before you start flying left seat, you may want to check your charts. Mekoryuk is a VILLAGE on the ISLAND of Nunivak. There is no Mekoryuk Island.


    • Mike Singer says:

      Whoops, I missed that one in my edit pass. Good catch, thanks!

      (See, this is what happens when Aidan writes some of these posts late at night after flying all day … I’m sure he knows which is the island and which is the village. Although from the looks of it, it’s all sort of a white blur in winter. My big question is how they know where to plow to find the runway if the first snow is a huge one …)


  3. merle lane says:

    enjoyed the stories–how about some more.

  4. Eugene Maximov says:

    It is true look into the real life. The idea of solid work for people in the wild back country makes sense for thinking people. It was the driving force to me for changing military test pilot work for civil one. Thank you guys for your project that broadens world of flying to many.

  5. Gerald says:

    Nice shot of Bruce! Always 10 minutes late.. But a good agent!

  6. Scott says:


    I’m a retired military pilot. I’ve stayed active flying light stuff…I currently own 1947 Bonanza…Anyway, I stay current. I would be interested in what you call a working flying job. Any hints? Alaska or international sounds good to me…

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