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Old 01-31-2015, 07:35 AM   #1  
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Default Corporate VS Smokejumping

Hi all, I am weighing two job options and wondering if anyone had any input.

The first is a corporate gig flying the execs through the mountains. Small companies, pay is pretty good with the potential to get great. Gone overnight once or twice a week, working with good guys and execs, schedule is usually made a couple weeks out so you know a little bit of what to expect.

The second is a smokejumping pilot job, seasonal work. Pay is about half of what the other job starts with, but it is only half a year as well. This flying is obviously more exciting, but the job itself is also a lot more unpredictable.

I'm a family man who is looking to be able to spend a lot of time with my family. They would come with me for the smokejumping season and then I'm not sure what we would do after that--live somewhere else permanently? Travel around to visit family? Not sure.

I was going with the corporate job until I got this last-minute call from the smokejumpers. I thought I was kind of out of the running for that. Now, I keep flip-flopping back and forth between the two. I'm not sure what to do, but I know I need to make a decision quick.

Any advice? Thanks!
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Old 01-31-2015, 08:00 AM   #2  
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What are your goals in life? Are you building a resume for something else or just looking for the best job?

If you're building time for airlines, smokejumping would be a nice resume bullet/conversation piece, but corporate flying is more along the lines of what airlines are looking for. If you have previous 121/corporate time than smokejumping probably wouldn't hurt.

The big question comes down to what's best for family. The corporate job sounds pretty stable and consistent, but the smokejumping would obviously provide a lot of time off (assuming you don't need another job in the off season), plus a bit of adventure as you move around. If you can manage the kids' school to avoid disruption, it might be an unusual opportunity. I did something like that as a kid, Dad was an educator so we went on long camping trips in the summer while he did other jobs (usually in great outdoor locations). Lot of memories.
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:48 AM   #3  
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Originally Posted by rickair7777 View Post
What are your goals in life? Are you building a resume for something else or just looking for the best job?

If you're building time for airlines, smokejumping would be a nice resume bullet/conversation piece, but corporate flying is more along the lines of what airlines are looking for. If you have previous 121/corporate time than smokejumping probably wouldn't hurt.

The big question comes down to what's best for family. The corporate job sounds pretty stable and consistent, but the smokejumping would obviously provide a lot of time off (assuming you don't need another job in the off season), plus a bit of adventure as you move around. If you can manage the kids' school to avoid disruption, it might be an unusual opportunity. I did something like that as a kid, Dad was an educator so we went on long camping trips in the summer while he did other jobs (usually in great outdoor locations). Lot of memories.
Sounds like you had good parents. Good on them for introducing their kid to the outdoors, a lot of kids don't even know what they are missing.

Back to the question. I think you need to take some time to build a priority list and decide where you want to be in a couple of years. Once you know where you are going you can decide the best way to get there. The rest should fall into place once you have that knowledge (or at least give you a clearer picture).

Maybe you have already done this but your current question is hard to answer without knowing more of what you are specifically looking for. Either way good luck and I hope you find what you are looking for.
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:56 PM   #4  
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Consider your age and where you want to be in a couple of years, but also 5, 10, and 20 year from now. Also what type of equipment you will be flying and what are the longer term prospects. If you are looking towards the airlines, the corporate job is the way to go.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:05 AM   #5  
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Originally Posted by flyingfam View Post

I'm a family man who is looking to be able to spend a lot of time with my family. They would come with me for the smokejumping season and then I'm not sure what we would do after that--live somewhere else permanently? Travel around to visit family? Not sure.
Family is more important than work. Put them first. Somke jump flying is definitely a single mans game. Fun and exciting for you, but rough on the family. Corporate is the way to go if you want to keep the wife and kids. Good luck.
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Old 02-09-2015, 04:53 PM   #6  
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Flying smoke jumpers isn't what one could call "exciting." Seasonal work makes finding work off-season difficult; few operators want to hire you in the winter; fewer want to hire you part-year.

I haven't come across cases of pilots bringing their families into the field. Some will have their wives visit for a day or two, but your family won't be welcome at a base; they'll have to stay at a hotel. Some will rent a house or apartment, but given that you'll be away from base dropping jumpers anywhere in the system, you'll be renting hotels on the road, too.

Fire season isn't a "single man's game." It's very possible to have a family and still be an active family member, but understand that you'll be spending part of the year, the short duration of the fire season, on a relatively unpredictable schedule. Text, email, and phone calls become important.

Consider your goals. If you'll make better money doing corporate, and have a job after the season, and have upgrade potential, and a direction to go after that, then your question may have answered itself. If you enjoy the type of operating that the fire season brings, love the smell of smoke in the cockpit, and like a more relaxed pace of life, then flying fire may be for you.

Most of us in the fire season are married, most of us quite happily. I did what I do long before I met my wife, and she understood the fire season before we ever began dating. She has had occasion to visit during the season, though I'm often moving around enough that it's not worth trying to schedule a meeting, and I'm often away from airports where scheduled service is available.

Attempting to host family on the road adds to expense, and you'll probably find that you want to save your income and perdiem; adding to the expense is usually counterproductive. It's very possible to have an active family life while performing most aviation functions, and fire is no different, but you'll have to accept that most flying assignments will involve some time on the road as that's what aircraft do; they go places.
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Old 02-17-2015, 07:45 PM   #7  
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Is this a Gov't or Contactor smokejumper pilot job?

My experience (or lack of) with fire aviation is limited to having been an Air Attack pilot this past summer. While not as glamorous as pretty much every other flying gig in fire, I absolutely loved being involved with the operations. Have to start somewhere right? I had pretty lucky timing snagging a job with a Part 135 operator who does Air Attack, Air Ambulance, and Charter. So, I'm able to stay gainfully employed year round. I can tell you, having 2 young kids of my own, that being gone for a month + at a time can suck for the family. Especially if you're just sitting for a few days and not flying much. My wife understands this is something I want to do though, so we are giving it a go. Fortunately, my winter flying has more days off and only a few overnight trips. I do love the smell of smoke in the cockpit as Mr. Burke points out though, so I'm chopping at the bit for the summer to arrive!

It is something you have to ask yourself though...is it just cause you're curious or is it something you really want to do? Personally, I've wanted to do fire flying since I was a kid. Probably the reason I became a pilot in the first place, just had the Air Force get in the way for 19 yrs. Growing up near a CDF air attack base in the Sierra foothills does that to you I guess.

Good luck with your decision!
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