HEATHER: That First Flying Job

Finding that first flying job can be the hardest thing to do when pursuing a career as a commercial pilot. You finish school and flight training with around 200 hours and a resume no experience. You have to decide whether to take the instructor route or start on the ramp somewhere. If you know people in the industry that can open doors for you but timing is everything.

It takes some sacrifice to get your foot in the door, and in my case, like many others, that came in the form of moving away from friends and family. I started my search by attending Woman in Aviation chapter meetings and networking in my area. I got help with my resume and lots of good advice. I listened to career path stories of Air Canada pilots and it really inspired me to follow in the same path they took.

After researching numerous different companies, I decided to borrow my father’s camper van and head out across the miles with a folder full of resumes to hand out. I stopped in at every airport I passed, trying to meet any chief pilots or anyone who could give me advice. It was frustrating at times, but I pushed onward. After a couple weeks I found a job working in the parts department for Perimeter Aviation in Winnipeg. I remember having this great feeling inside that I had finally found the place I needed to be.

I’m convinced had I just sat at home faxing and emailing resumes; it would have taken me much longer to find something. Showing up in person, they were able to shake my hand and see my smile and I think that makes a much better impression than a cover letter does.

I started at number 24 on the list of pilots working on the ground waiting for their chance to go right seat on the Metroliner. The wait was well worth it for that kind of first flying job. I got to know the ins and outs of the company, and I learned so much about the maintenance done on the aircraft I would eventually fly. After a year I got my opportunity, got through simulator and training in the aircraft and showed up my first day with my snow goose parka and a smile.

- Heather Post