Air taxi and charter pilots transport paying passengers from one destination to another on an as-needed basis versus on a schedule. These are usually trips of short duration and the work may be seasonal, such as transporting hunters or anglers to sports lodges. Sightseeing pilots and air tour guides also operate in this way, and in fact, the same pilot may perform all of the above services in order to maximize their income and flight time. An aviation company that offers charters may also offer sightseeing trips to individuals or groups and use the same pilot for both. On occasion, the air tax or charter pilot may also transport cargo, supplies, or foodstuffs to remote locations, bush camps, mining operations, or other locations. Planes used are often single engine or small twin-engine planes. Night operations with passengers cannot be conducted in single-engine aircraft, but cargo can legally be carried under those conditions. Some pilots choose to work for an air taxi, fixed base operator, charter, tour or sightseeing company in order to build up flight time while being paid to do so.
Pilots flying for an air taxi, charter, or similar kind of company may have to work long hours, and on weekends and holidays and for very little pay. When business is slow, the pilot will earn little if any income.
Most employers want candidates to have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. This is in addition to having a commercial pilot’s license and all the necessary ratings for the type of aircraft to be flown. Good people skills are preferred when working as an air tour or sightseeing guide.
Air taxi, charter, sightseeing, and air tour pilots must have a commercial pilot’s license and any other applicable ratings appropriate to the aircraft he or she will fly. Many low-time pilots are hired to do this work and the minimum flight time required by an employer may be as low as 200 hours.
Most air taxi, charter, sightseeing, and air tour pilots are busiest in the summer months when tourism is busiest. Usually, the pilot doesn’t work nights but he or she may have to work weekends and holidays. The pilot may also be on call and have to fly on a moment’s notice. On some days, the hours may be very long.
Air Taxi Pilot: $8-$18 per hour
$8-$24 per hour (mitchellairport.com/employment)