Vegas and Career Wiki

I just watched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas the other night. I’ll be headed there this weekend for the HeliSuccess Career Seminar, but I’m not expecting anything like Thompson’s trip. Good movie, watch it for free on Fancast.

I’ve been to the Vegas seminar before, and I’m not going this time under the expectation of getting a job offer. In fact, for the low-time pilot, you’ll be surrounded by dozens of other guys in the same situation, and last year there was only one employer there that would consider anybody with <1000 hours PIC time. It’s still worthwhile going to–you’ll see the industry in ways your flight school never will let you see.

The other benefit is–and this is a generalization–that most helicopter pilots haven’t ever applied for jobs with cover letters and resumes. I’ve seen guys with years of time in the work force (helicopters or not) send out awful resumes. With hundreds (or thousands???) of others competing with you, a bad resume is quickly going to kill your chances of getting an interview. So for the career pilot, this seminar gives you a chance to refine or reflect on your job hunting and interviewing skills. Likewise, the seminar will take the trial-and-error out of your first job search if you’re just out of school or the military.

Right, so the reason I’m going this time: I’ll be doing a resume review for anybody who wants it. Back a year ago, I downloaded the resume eBook from JustHelicopters and…well, I was a bit disappointed. It focused on the mid-career and military pilot, and neglected the guy who’s in the most need of help: the CFI with <1000 hours and/or a brief job history. After talking it over with Lyn, I interviewed a few flight school owners and hiring managers from companies that hire 1000-hour pilots and updated the book with the advice they gave me. That project evolved into revising the whole eBook. It’s a freebie when you register for the conference, or you can get it for $15 here (and I don’t make anything off the eBook sales). So if you’re at the seminar, bring a couple of copies of your resume by and I’ll tell you what I think about it!

For those of you who aren’t going to be there, I’m adding a new page to the site. Under the Career tab, you can post (and respond to) questions about resumes, job searches, interviewing, and anything else about finding a job as a helicopter pilot. You’ll have to register, create a page with your question, and then save it. It’s not a big deal, and having it set up that way will allow others to answer questions I can’t (or set me straight when I’m wrong). Look for it being up and running later this week. For those of you who check back, I’ll also drop a few blog posts about the seminar when I have time.

Blowing Corn


I had a crazy summer job in college catching corn boll weevil moths, and when I saw this video, something didn’t look right. Can you spot it? Only about 1 in 4 rows have tassels. I’m going to make a guess here: this must be a seed crop. Corn can self-pollinate when pollen from the tassel reaches the silks from the same plant. But when you want to make hybrid seeds—which will in turn make the corn that ends up on the table—you don’t want self-pollination. In this field, the tassels have been trimmed from the seed-producing plants. Wind can carry the pollen from male plants to the female silks, but wind isn’t always reliable. In addition, hot, dry days can kill off the pollen before it reaches a silk. That’s where the helicopter comes in. The rotorwash blows the pollen from the tassels and spreads it from the pollinator row to the seed rows. Even though it’s expensive to run the helicopter over the field, I imagine using the helicopter reduces the number of pollinator rows that are needed, and thereby increases the seed yield.

From the standpoint of getting this job done, there were a couple of things I was thinking about. The first one was that irrigation pivot. Working this low to the ground means you can’t let your guard down. From what I’ve read about ag work, you do a ground recon of the field and then recon it again from the air to spot all the possible obstructions. The pivots in our area are powered, but I’m not sure whether they use an underground line or draw electricity from another source. He’s also got to be working pretty close to the low-speed/low-altitude region of the dead-man’s curve. The corn fields I worked were maybe 7 feet high, but the irrigated ones around here look to be a couple of feet taller. When you can see the airspeed indicator, it doesn’t look like he’s above ETL while working. There are probably a couple of other hazards here. Lots of corn is grown in hot, humid places, so he’s got at least 2 of the 4 H’s working against him. The low airspeeds also raise the risk of LTE, and since the direction the corn is planted dictates his flight path, I’d be worried about VRS (aka, SWP) as well.

A friend of mine owns the local FBO, and knows my predicament (ie, no experience, no job). He suggested getting on with one of the ag operators, which I wouldn’t be too thrilled about. Not that I don’t think it wouldn’t be fun work, but low level, low time doesn’t seem like a good combination. Yet, I think this is the way some pilots build time, and one of my roommate’s from school is doing it.