Thread: Air Ambulance
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Old 01-25-2009, 09:35 AM   #3  
Day puke
FlyJSH's Avatar
Joined APC: Feb 2006
Position: Out.
Posts: 3,852

Flew air ambulance for seven years. Who you work for makes all the difference. Typical schedules are 7/7 (seven days on seven days off). I worked 20/10 and have seen 5/5. Most are 12 hours on duty, 12 off. Unless the airframe requires two, most work is single pilot. Minimums are usually relatively high for single pilot (ours were 2000TT 500ME and prior 135 preferred).

Pay starts in the $40-60k range depending on equipment, location, benefits, etc. Don't expect huge increases with longevity.

I worked for a company that contracted with a children's hospital: most patients were neonatal kids. I was on call 24 hours (it was legal and accepted by the FAA -- pm for details), but 90% of the trips started between 6pm and midnight. Typical trips were out and back and took about 5 hours of duty. Back to back trips happened about a quarter of the time. As a result, I became a vampire: asleep before dawn and rose mid afternoon. (I still prefer working nights and bid standups whenever possible) Of the 20 days I was on, I flew about 10, but that varied with the season.

For career growth, I give it mixed reviews.
On the plus side, you are flying respected equipment (King Airs, 421s), single pilot, often to difficult airports, with crappy approaches, and in all weather.
The down side: often not much flight time (200 hours per year is fairly common), single pilot, and you won't meet a zillion other pilots who will be future references.

No one I knew ever "chose" the air ambulance path. It kinda chose them. They found a niche, they liked it, and stayed. Or, they did a couple years and moved on.

If you work for a good company, like where you are based, and generally aren't looking to be an airline pilot, absolutely go for it!

If you are biding your time until the economy turns, do it. And save a few grand for when you take the $20k regional FO job.

PM if you want more info
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