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There's currently a plethora of social media postings regarding the current state of the helicopter industry. Depending on the article you read, they seem to fall into one of two camps. The first shouts out 'Pilot Shortage' aka lots of work for everyone so pull in, and the second booms 'Industry in Crisis', aka run for the hills. So which is it? Now I've not been in the industry forever, but have been around long enough to be half way between understanding the dreams of the freshly inked CPL and the sentiments of the old boys club. So let's have a deeper look....
WHY DID YOU BECOME A HELICOPTER PILOT ?
This is quite possibly the most important question of all. Most of us did so because it's one hell of a rush whether you came via the military or the civilian route.
We all need to remember why we are here in the first place. We do this because it's fun, not because it makes us rich. "But I spent thousands of Dollars on my training, the companies should pay me more". Perhaps that's true, but was there a man with a gun forcing you to spend that money for your training? I suspect not. In all likelihood you thoroughly enjoyed your training and was looking forward to a future of flying these awesome machines. It's only after you have been in the industry a few years that the rot sets in. What causes the rot is the real question.
We all know that 'fun jobs' pay less, it's just how it is. Should it be that way? Probably not, but it is. Your expensive training is due to YOUR decision to pick a career that uses expensive equipment. You could of trained to be a plumber, a carpenter, an accountant, all much cheaper, always in demand, be your own boss, however YOU chose to be a helicopter pilot.
I DON'T GET PAID ENOUGH !!
Heard this before? Perhaps even said it yourself.
Firstly, your position as a pilot is as part of a team and just a column in a spreadsheet for the bean counters. They have no real connection with what you do, the effort involved to get there and the risks you take just to do your job.
Secondly, I've written about this before about adding value. Use your job description as the 'minimum' of what's expected. You quite simply can't GET MORE without DOING MORE. Think about your current position, what can you do extra to increase your package?
Thirdly, and possibly the most difficult to quantify, what do you think you're worth. How much value do you assign to your own time, because you are selling your time, your life, for money. What is your life-energy worth to you? If you feel your time is worth more than you are getting paid then you need to do something about it. It's your life to sort out, not your employers. Take responsibility. If that means goings to the airlines then so be it, but take control.
Next time you're sat in the pilots seat, consider what the aircraft owner would say if you posed the same question, 'Is the helicopter industry in crisis? Aircraft owners are business people, it's all about the numbers. It's business. It takes large dollops of Dollars tied up in aircraft ownership to play in this game, they could have chosen other investments instead, perhaps a property portfolio or other large scale service industries. For whatever reason they have decided to stay in aviation, why, because it pays. Your pilot position is just a part of their bigger picture.
THE 'SIDE HUSTLE'
Long gone are the days of relying on one form of income and with the inter-web there 's really no limit to what you can do. Rather than see it as 'needing an extra job', see it as 'increasing your income streams'. Your piloting career is already extremely vulnerable, just think what goes through your mind each time you walk in for that medical. Wouldn't you prefer to have multiple sources of income rather than put all your eggs in one basket?
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Let's get to the real issue. The problem doesn't lay at the hands of your employer, it falls squarely at your doorstep. It all starts with your spending habits. If you are spending too much, it matters not what you are earning, it's always not going to be enough. Do you suffer from lifestyle inflation or keeping up with the Joneses? If you do, then no matter how much more you earn you're destined to the same outcome.
I've blogged about this before Behaving Like a Sports Star and Keeping The Smile on Your Dial so it's nothing new here but can have a fundamental effect on how you tackle your career and its income.
Let's try not fall into the victim mentality and blame the industry or our employers for not paying us enough, and perhaps start looking at what we are doing with the time and income we have at our disposal.
Think back to the very beginning and ask yourself why you trained for this career in the first place? Recall those dreams. Has the industry thwarted those dreams or have you?
Millions of people never get a chance to ride in a helicopter, never mind actually fly the thing. Perhaps learn to cherish the opportunity you have and maximise your time and finances along the way. It may not seem so dire after all.
Thanks for stopping by.
Keep it safe out there.
Just my experiences as a pilot in Africa, things learnt along the way and useful stuff for others following their dream...
All content is a personal opinion and not to be considered technical instruction or guidelines of any kind. All content is for entertainment purposes only.