More Ways for Pilots to Build Flight Time

For new pilots looking to gain hours and experience in preparation for a professional pilot job, it can be difficult to find a way. If you're a low-time pilot and have exhausted my first list of 10 time-building options, I've come up with a few more options for you to consider. 

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Agricultural Flying

Better known as crop dusters, agricultural pilots are specially trained to fly low and slow, spraying chemicals onto fields. These jobs sometimes have high minimum hour requirements, but often new guys can get in with low hours. Crop dusting is hazardous and seasonal and requires a significant amount of training.

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Fly the Pipeline

Many green pilots build their time through pipeline inspections of local oil fields. Often, these jobs are contracted through the local FBO, flight school or another airport business, but other times the pilot will be hired directly by the oil company. Pipeline flying is boring and repetitive, but it's a good option for building time, especially for pilots who live in a state where oil is a hot commodity.

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Farm Flying

Many of today's farmers and ranchers are employing modern techniques, some involving aircraft, and pilots. Farm pilots might be hired to inspect irrigation pipes, check on that status of cattle or other animals, or to inspect property fence lines.

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Bush Flying

Bush pilots fly small aircraft loaded with supplies, food, and people into remote areas that are difficult to reach by vehicle. Bush flying is common in places like Alaska, and it can be a hazardous job. Some bush pilot jobs have higher requirements than others, and the job might require odd hours and a random schedule. But many bush pilots find the job very enjoyable and rewarding.

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Unscheduled Charters

Commercial pilots looking to build hours can offer unscheduled charter flights (but are not allowed to "hold out" or offer scheduled service.) Many pilots get a few additional hours by flying friends around or by flying the random airport patron where he needs to go.

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Ferrying Aircraft

Ferry pilots are hired to bring aircraft from one place to another. These aircraft are often new airplanes that someone has just purchased or aircraft that needs re-positioning. Ferry pilot jobs are a great way to build hours. The flights might be random and difficult to discover, but a ferry pilot has the opportunity to log many hours in a single flight.

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Buy Your Hours

Sometimes you'll find that the best and most timely option is to buy the flight time. If there's a company that you really want to work for and you don't quite meet the minimum qualifications for hiring, you might consider just buying the hours that you need. This is a popular option for pilots who have, say, 40 hours of multi-engine time but need 50 to apply to a job. Obviously, this is an expensive option, but often it's the quickest way, and often the only way to get the hours necessary when you need to get your application in quickly.

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Earn a New Pilot Certificate/Rating

If you have to buy flight time, it's always best to apply those flight hours toward a new certificate or rating. That way, you'll have another credential to add to your resume. If you need more multi-engine time, for example, get a multi-engine instructor certificate while you build the hours. 

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Buy an Airplane

For many of us, buying an airplane isn't an option due to the cost, but if you do the math and it makes sense, then take the plunge and buy an airplane. You'll probably find it a convenient way to build hours, but there are other benefits, too, like being able to fly yourself wherever you want to go without having to worry about scheduling conflicts with other pilots. 

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Join a Club

Flight clubs are a good option for cheaper rental rates, and membership usually includes other benefits like fuel discounts and access to instructors. You might even find a few flying buddies to split the rental costs with this way. 

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Become an Instructor

Pilots talk a lot about doing anything they can to avoid flight instruction, but the job has its perks. Yes, you'll fly a lot of patterns and do a lot of touch-and-goes in hot, bumpy air, but you'll gain hours quickly and learn a lot. And instructor time is valuable time to have in your logbook when it comes to getting a job at an airline.