Who Am I?

My photo
A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

20 February 2011

Changes In Attitudes

I have decided to leave the job I’ve been in for the last 3.5 years. It’s a long story. The reason I gave my boss is that I am simply uncomfortable with the night flying we do; it is a level of risk higher than I’m willing to take at this stage of my life. And this is true. There's more to it than that, as you might suspect, but the basic premise is true enough. And good enough. This has caused the boss no small amount of concern. If it’s too much risk for me, then he has to legitimately ask if it’s more risk than he should be taking? However, that’s something I cannot answer.

I told him that I’d try to find a suitable replacement. I put an ad online for a pilot, with some very narrow requirements. Boom! Right away I got over 30 resumes. Most were well-qualified, but some didn’t even come close. I’ve got a handful of really good candidates, guys who could step in and take over for me without missing a beat, kind of like Dick Sargent did for Dick York on TV’s “Bewitched” back in the 1960’s. Or, if you’re not quite as old as I am, like Will Ferrell will do for Steve Carell on “The Office” soon.

It is distressing to me to see that many helicopter pilots have no earthly idea of how to compose a cover letter and resume. One young pilot sent me a letter that began, “Dear Sir, I am your next loader and/or pilot.” Loader, as in "chemical loader of a cropdusting aircraft." And I thought to myself, “This is a COMPUTER-GENERATED LETTER! Are you SO lazy that you couldn’t cursor up and delete 'loader and/or' from that sentence? We are not a crop-dusting outfit!” Other pilot’s resumes and letters were filled with spelling errors –an instant turn-off.

I put in the ad that I wanted the applicant to have a minimum of 300 hours of flight time experience specifically in the Bell 206, the type of helicopter we fly. The boss wants someone who is intimately familiar with the model. Yet I got some resumes in which the pilot appeared to have no 206 time at all. I emailed one guy back and asked him about this. He quickly responded that he had x-number of hours in the 206, but he did not explain why this experience was not reflected in his resume. Again I wondered, “Are these computer-generated resumes THAT hard to change?” If I have to search through your resume to find out if you’re even qualified for the job your resume gets tossed. If I were submitting my own resume for a job that had specific requirements, I’d make damn sure that the recipient could see at a glance that I had what he/she wanted.

Is it that hard? Apparently. Or maybe helicopter pilots are just stupid.

I’m almost sorry that I agreed to find my replacement. I had planned on spending these last two weeks getting drunk and watching porn, but...as usual...it's not working out that way. It’s turning into more of a chore than I thought it would be. But I want to leave my boss with a good pilot, someone who’ll be happier in the job than I was. And maybe better. Certainly someone more comfortable in the job.

Ironically, even before my time is up here at this company, other fairly attractive flying job offers have been popping up. They aren't full-time gigs (that’s not going to happen again), just jobs I can do part-time…or not, as I choose. It’s funny, I’m trying to get OUT of flying helicopters for a living, but this industry just won’t let go. My first attempt at divorcing myself from helicopters occurred back in 2001 when I left PHI. Three jobs later, I’m telling myself that this one really, really, really is my last flying job. But deep down I know it probably will not be.

I’m afraid I might have to change the title of this blog back to “Helicopter Pilot,” for it seems that is what I am forever stuck being and doing. Ain't that something? I'd call the blog "Life's Funny Like That" but I do believe that one's already taken.


Greybeard said...

"The reason I gave my boss is that I am simply uncomfortable with the night flying we do; it is a level of risk higher than I’m willing to take at this stage of my life. And this is true."
But there's more to this story, obviously.
I wish I had some extraordinary wisdom to share with you brother, but I don't. If ya ain't comfortable, nothing anyone says is of any value...
There's nothing to do but find work that doesn't have you on the edge of your seat, heart pounding for hours.

But I'm in the same boat...
I'm qualified to be a couple things in this world...
Helicopter pilot and greeter at the Wally World SuperCenter.
Flying the helicopter pays better.
(But the scenery at the Destin WalMart is frequently stunning.)

Bob Barbanes said...

Now, now, GB, it's not like I'm scared to fly at night. I don't sit there on the edge of my seat getting heart palpitations. I'm just not comfortable with it. I do it. I do it because I'm paid to do it. But afterward I find myself asking, "Why do I keep doing this? I don't like it."

And now I'll stop doing it.

However, you would not believe the number of pilots who seem more than willing to do this job. They send me enthusiastic letters, telling me how they would love it. See, "corporate flying" is a myth. It's a huge crock of shit, but most pilots don't realize it...especially when it's a "corporate/personal"-pilot-for-a-small-company-position.

Most pilots must feel that a "good" corporate job is the be-all and end-all. But most guys I know who are already corporate pilots simply put up with it for whatever reason (usually the money, although not in my case).

I've already had two guys tell me that they didn't want my job. One is a (younger than me) instructor at Ft. Rucker who has a MUCH better deal than me. The other guy is a little older than me, and when he heard about all the night flying we do and the type of night flying we do, he said, "No offense, but no thanks! I'm too old for that shit." And I laughed!

There must be the "perfect" flying job out there. I just certainly have not found it. PHI was close. I guess that's why so many guys stay there for so long.

Hal Johnson said...

Bob, I really think nowadays, with the availability of night vision goggles, unaided night flying in a VFR-only machine just doesn't make sense. I know that the latest and greatest generation of devices are expensive for a small operation, but perhaps earlier versions would be more affordable. In any case, NVG's and the training to go with them would surely be much cheaper than one accident.

Best of luck to you in what lies ahead, my friend.

Bob Barbanes said...

You're absolutely right, Hal- no reason *not* to have goggles. And I have been asked the question: "If you had goggles would you stay?" And the answer to that is still no. (I do hope that the next pilot demands goggles though. They really are a necessity for flying into the boss's hunting camp at night.) But for me, there are too many other issues that keep me from staying.

I'll address this in future blogpost(s), but these hybrid "corporate/personal" pilot jobs are not always what they're cracked up to be.

Debby said...

Oh, that last line made me laugh!

You know, I'm certain that you'll wind up right where you are meant to be! (and I'll be reading along, with my chin in my hand, waiting to see where life takes you next.)

Redlefty said...

Here's to ya, man!

So where you leaning between part-time/retirement/another full-time job?

Bob Barbanes said...

I don't know, Michael. I do know that at every one of these transitions in my life, something good happens. I trust it will now too. In any event, I'm not going to worry about it.

Bob said...

I'm a little behind so just now reading about your job change. Let me join the others in wishing the very best. I'm looking forward to hearing more of "the rest of the story," i.e. what you're going to do next and the other reasons that contributed to your decision.

As for the sloppy resumes and cover letters, it's unbelievable, isn't it? It's the e-mail and texting world that has caused it. It drives me INSANE. Do these people really want a job????

Best of luck, friend. I know good things are ahead for you.