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Old 08-30-2008, 12:36 PM   #1  
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Default CFI vs. Banner Towing

I'm in a predicament...I'm happy being a flight instructor and I enjoy the challenges it presents, however, I'm not sure with the state of the industry/cost of fuel etc. that business is going to be consistant. I've been offered a job as a 'traveling' banner tower, where I'll be pulling in a constant salary, as well as rack up lots of hours. My predicament is wondering whether to take job. When I'm flight instructing I make more per hour, but my hours are limited to the student, as well as the winter. If I take the job towing banners, I'll make less per hour, but I'll get more hours.

Do the airlines give preference? I've heard the argument that some dont count banner towing a valid way of time building.

What do you guys think?
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Old 08-30-2008, 01:14 PM   #2  
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Not sure about that. If it where me i would take the banner towing since i just got my cfi and im pretty low time still, around 350 TT and 30 multi. I havent heard that airlines dont count banner towing as time. Worse case might be that they only count half of the time will banner towing. Good question though
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Old 08-30-2008, 01:32 PM   #3  
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SE total time is generally equal across the board and useless after you get your ATP mins if not at a regional by then. I'd lean towards getting hours up as quickly as you can. If it's towing banners to do so, then so be it. Don't forget about networking opportunities along the way though. Will your current job get you IFR time? Can you get ME time or meet the right people to get you into the left seat of a twin? Traveling sounds like fun though too. I think I'd take the banner job unless my questions above were a strong yes. You can always go back to CFI-ing. I've never heard of airlines discriminating against banner guys. I have friends who did it early in their careers and it didn't seem to be an issue. Post a question for Lori here, she would know...
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Old 08-30-2008, 02:03 PM   #4  
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Banner towing is almost all single engine fixed gear day VFR. If you are looking for an airline job this is not the kind of flight time that makes much difference.

If you are an MEI, and have a fair number of multi students, you night want to stay where you are. If most of your students are VFR, and you live in the North where flight schools come close to shutting down in the winter, and you are single, banner towing might be fun for the winter. Use the time to network to get a turbine co-pilot job.

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Old 09-02-2008, 12:01 PM   #5  
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I know this is only one airline, but ASA explicitly states its preference of CFI/II time.

"* The following types of experience/currency are not considered optimal and will be considered on a case by case basis.

* Banner Towing
* Balloon Time
* Traffic / Pipeline patrol
* Aerial photography
* Purchased block time "

ref: Atlantic Southeast Airlines

I have also heard a few negative things about banner towing time from some older friends in the industry with the same arguments joepilot had.
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:02 PM   #6  
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The only things I've ever heard is the danger factor of banner towing... I have not heard anything negative except on ASA's website, but after doing their interview they didn't scrutinize my logbook too much. They do go through it though (and I had none of the "non optimal" types of flying in there though)....

I would think it could be fun traveling, but could also get REAAAAALLY boring just doing laps day VFR. I do traffic watch a handful of times a month and that gets boring real quick. 2+ hours of day vfr with no specific destination makes me sleepy... Even if there are big things to look at (i.e. accidents and whatnot)....

If you are an MEI I would stick it out if you have multi students... Another option is maybe look at a school that has a charter department as well that lets the CFIs sit right seat. Multi time is going to be a big deal with the state of things today so I would definitely make that a priority.
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:56 PM   #7  
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As hiring gets tighter, expect to see airlines go back to traditional requirements/preferences...IFR and ME time. Their mins may not change, but competetive times will.

As others have said, towing is not the best time for airlines...it didn't matter when they were desperate to hire 300 hour pilots, but those days are gone for the forseeable future.

Also towing is DANGEROUS...

The FAR's do NOT allow towing...it always requires an exemption. This is so the FAA can keep their responsibility at an arm's length.

IIRC, there are certain parts of the tow regime where an an engine failure might not be recoverable.
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Old 09-02-2008, 04:21 PM   #8  
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Where are all these bannertowing jobs? Last guy I talked to had several applicants with more than 300 hours tailwheel and then he wanted money for the "training". By the time we hung up I wondered if he tows with P51D's...

I'd take the banner any time of the day, must be more fun, especially if traveling and probably pays just as well as the future CFI jobs. Yet, I'm sure rickair7777 and the others are correct about the "quality" of times. The CFI will be almost always better.

I'd take it anyways, just can't find jobs like these
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Old 09-02-2008, 07:52 PM   #9  
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Towing is not even considered X-country since most the time you will end up at the same airport. I have also considered it back then, but I doubt it is any fun sitting over the shore praying at 500' with some weight on the tail. With CFI you will get at least some instrument time, and some cross country. Both needed for a 135 job in case the regionals are still not calling. You will also meet many more people and get your networking going. On the other hand if you are out of students, you will still need to eat.
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Old 09-02-2008, 08:19 PM   #10  
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I did an aerial photography job and had no problem at my airline interview. X/C time after you get your commercial license is flying from your original airport to a point 50+ nm away and back you don't have to have a point of landing... Read the 61.1(vi) ATP qualifications no where does it state you need a point of landing for logging x/c time if you fly 50+ nm from your original departure airport.

I did many flights ifr relocating the plane, I worked w/in the busiest class B airspaces. I had TSA clearance to be within 2 miles of the whitehouse. Flight time is flight time, i never found it pointless. Things still go wrong, com failures happened to multiple co-workers, alternator failures, etc. If they don't count the time it's their fault. I would do whatever you think is going to get you where you want to.

Traveling is fun, do it while you're not tied down, and you'll meet other pilots on the road.
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