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Old 11-06-2018, 09:20 PM   #11  
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How about trying airline flying ( top six ) if you can get on , first . You can always get an air ambulance position later if airline flying isnít for you .
I am considering that option but after 20 years of living where the government tells me, I am reluctant to give up the geographic freedom that a pension can provide. I donít want to commute and I canít think of a major city that I want to live in.

In addition to the bullet points in my OP, one of my top choices of retirement locations has an air Ambulance service but it is a regional airport about a 3 hour drive to a major city.

My priorities are free time and living where I want first, pay second.
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:13 PM   #12  
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With the major airlines hiring so many qualified pilots, are conditions improving in second tier jobs like Air Ambulance Pilots? I will retiring with a military pension soon and so I can afford to put quality of life ahead of pay. I have the resume for a major, but I donít see wanting to work the airlines long enough to see the big paycheck so spending 5-10 years at the bottom of a seniority list isnít appealing.

The aspects of air Ambulance that appeal to me are:
1. Can live in a small town in a nice area without commuting.
2. Wonít spend much time away from home in hotels.
3. In some cases, can be on standby from home.
4. Fly a lot less than airlines, (I donít need to build hours).

Can anyone with first hand knowledge confirm that my expectations are realistic?

Thank you!
Your expectations are quite realistic and accurate for an air ambulance job. Depending on the operator, it is possible to get stuck out on overnights though. For a community operator, they usually fly 3 legs per patient. If you can pick up and drop off the patient within your duty time, returning to base might not happen. This was my turn off from my last job. Got tired of calling the wife saying I wouldn't be home that night.

Sent from my BTV-W09 using Tapatalk
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:00 PM   #13  
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Thanks again for all the replies. I reached out to the company that services my first choice of retirement locations to get more information.
Maybe after I retire from the military and have a long vacation, I might be more motivated to chase an airline pilot paycheck. Right now the life of an Ambulance pilot sounds good to me.
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Old 11-10-2018, 08:55 PM   #14  
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My expectations are 70K to low six figures. If I only had to fly 20 hours per month it works out to about $300/hour and I would avoid hotel life. Is my logic flawed?
Good luck with that.

Have a plan B.

Have a plan C, too.
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Old 11-11-2018, 08:15 AM   #15  
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Thanks again for all the replies. I reached out to the company that services my first choice of retirement locations to get more information.
Maybe after I retire from the military and have a long vacation, I might be more motivated to chase an airline pilot paycheck. Right now the life of an Ambulance pilot sounds good to me.
I was an active Reservist and at a Legacy...furloughed after 9-11. Reserves were keeping us financially covered...then an air ambulance job opened up in my town.

My experience:

1. Most air ambulance companies are small. To keep costs down they are minimally staffed.

2. This means you are on a very short leash almost all of the time. FAR abuse or bending, I believe, is common. Two days off a week. Rest of the time...Ēresting,Ē but meant canít have a beer, or do any real social planning. While it looked on paper that the pilots were getting scheduled rest...the reality was being on-call nearly 24/7/365.

3. Pay is mediocre, benefits not very good (you wouldnít need them as a mil retiree).

4. Many of the operators make you pay for your training, or sign a contract.

5. I was astounded to find out how poor the training...and checkride histories....were of the other guys, compared to mil or airline. At least at the company I was with (four airplanes, about 16 pilots total), the pass rate on checkrides was 50%....and I mean recurrent, not just initial! (I passed!)

When I went for my first recurrent at a major (respected) sim company, I asked a systems question. I was shocked when the instructor and the highly experienced students in the class all had different opinions on how a system worked. I only had a hundred hours in the plane...but realized it was the blind leading the blind, and I probably knew the answer better than they did.

6. Iíd say 80% of my flights started between 10:00pm and midnight. Theyíd finish at dawn. Exhaustion was a norm.

7. Maintenace at my company was pretty good...but at many places...tight budgets.

8. There can be ďget there-itisĒ with a critical patient or organ transplant when wx or mx is iffy. I think this leads to a high accident rate in the air ambulance field.

9. Iíve helped load patients that weighed over 300 lbs. A miracle I didnít ruin my back.

10. Iíve transported people with drug-resistant diseases, and wondered how safe I was being in the same tube for a couple of hours.

11. Landed in places with malaria...and we had no mosquito repellant.

12. FAA oversight varies from draconian to laissez-faire....even from the same Inspector.

12. The Lear 35 was a fun airplane but has a few quirks.

13. Overall: I have a few stories where I felt like what we did was altruistic and really helped someone out. But in light of the above, and the rampant abuse of medical insurance/Medicare by hospitals, doctors, and even the air ambulance companies...

I wish I had never done it, and just put in more time at my Reserve unit.

For you: Iíd say corporate, at a decent-sized flight department, at a Fortune 500 company.

Just my 2-cents (a nickel with inflation).
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:44 AM   #16  
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Just my 2-cents (a nickel with inflation).
I bet a cake doughnut that you never saw six figures doing it, either.

Your experience sounds typical for ambulance operators, though perhaps trending toward the upper end. There's considerably worse out there.

Helicopter operators can be far worse, and have a worse safety record.
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Old 11-11-2018, 04:53 PM   #17  
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can anyone speak to trends in the industry? Most of the negative experiences posted on forums I have read donít seem very recent. I remember about 8 years ago when I first had the option of getting out of the military, my friends in the airlines were talking about how terrible the conditions were. With improvements being negotiated by pilot unions, it seem like the Air Ambulance industry would need to follow in order to compete.
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Old 11-11-2018, 06:50 PM   #18  
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MedEvac was great, I recommend it. I flew for AMC and itís possible to hit 6 figures if you want to pick up extra flying but if not, enjoy the 12 hr shifts kicked up in your crew room. As a lead pilot I had a few extra duties. Easiest flying around
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:04 PM   #19  
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can anyone speak to trends in the industry? Most of the negative experiences posted on forums I have read donít seem very recent. I remember about 8 years ago when I first had the option of getting out of the military, my friends in the airlines were talking about how terrible the conditions were. With improvements being negotiated by pilot unions, it seem like the Air Ambulance industry would need to follow in order to compete.
Yeah, it's all old experience. Nobody here would know what the real world is like today. You're absolutely right. It's all peaches and cream. Fly 3 hours a month, work six days, make six figures twice over, and there are girls in bikini's with palm fronds fanning pilots as they lounge eating grapes. It's really quite good.

Ambulance pilot unions?
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:06 PM   #20  
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Yeah, it's all old experience. Nobody here would know what the real world is like today. You're absolutely right. It's all peaches and cream. Fly 3 hours a month, work six days, make six figures twice over, and there are girls in bikini's with palm fronds fanning pilots as they lounge eating grapes. It's really quite good.

Ambulance pilot unions?
I appreciate specific feedback from pilots with experience in this area, but if you donít have anything to contribute besides snarky comments then why bother? Just trying to make everyone else as sour as you?
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