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So you want to be a bush pilot? page 4

Story and photos by KAVIV MOMOH

It took several flights with the Otter to transport all this stuff up to the site, about an hour and a half north of the base. After having helped load it, I was quietly glad that I wasn’t there to help with the unloading, made even harder by the lack of a dock. Much of the stuff ended up in the water.

Here’s how it was done. The airbags were attached to the bulldozer and inflated. This raised the machine off the lake bottom. Then, with the bulldozer’s transmission placed in neutral, they were able to winch it to shore. Although it had been under water for six months, it started up with little maintenance.

I went back only once, to remove the last of the equipment with a Beaver. When I arrived, the owner was busy clearing a parking place in the trees, where the machine would sit until winter. I hope they made it a bit further this time.

~

Do you think you would enjoy bush flying? Would you want to see and visit places where few people ever go? As with any other job there are caveats, but the sheer freedom and excitement that float flying has to offer is hard to resist. Canada’s wilderness is one of the best places in the world to gain experience in aviation. Listen to the rumble of a Beaver, Otter or Norseman and you’ll quickly understand the attraction of this quintessentially Canadian work experience.

“Keep the oily side down!”

How to get started: The Seaplane endorsement
Before being hired to work for an outfitter or charter operator, you will require a seaplane endorsement on your commercial pilot licence. The endorsement is by no means difficult to obtain; it is simply conversion training to learn the differences between the handling of a landplane and that of a floatplane. Floats handle very differently on the surface from wheels. Accordingly, most of the training involves taxiing at low and high speeds, takeoffs and landings, sailing (like a boat) and docking (parking).

The requirement for the endorsement is seven hours of float flying, of which five must be dual instruction. You also have to complete five solo takeoffs and landings. If you are in the process of getting your private or commercial licence, why not do some of the flying on floats?

Training is provided by a pilot with a commercial licence or instructor rating, who has at least 50 hours of experience in floatplanes. There is no written or flight test–just fill out and submit an application form for endorsement of your licence.

There are quite a few flight schools across the country that offer training for the endorsement. Expect a floatplane to cost a lot more to train on than the equivalent landplane. Some common prices for dual instruction per hour are, Cessna 172: $205 to $275; Cessna 180: $280 to $350 (2012 pricing). Although these figures may seem high, by shopping around you can find complete training for $2000 to $2500.

Keep in mind that five hours is not nearly enough time to become proficient in a floatplane. It is the minimum requirement. Some flight schools offer enhanced courses to introduce more aspects, such as landing and docking in rivers or small mountain lakes. The extra time is well worth the investment.

Soon, you could find yourself above a vast expanse of pristine land and water, brilliant morning sunlight shining through the windshield. |

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