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Leaving the Air Force for Something Other than the Airlines

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On 11/2/2018 at 11:37 PM, Tanker 78 said:

Here’s a non airline flying job to consider:  http://www.calfirepilots.com.  I Left AD three years ago for DynCorp Intl. which provides pilots to fly CALFIRE aircraft.  Flew the OV-10A for 2 years then upgraded to the S-2T.  Love it!  Still fly single seat.  Still fly tactical.  Still helping out the guys on the ground.  Absolutely no BS or queep of any kind.  The Bobs should be hiring 10-12 folks soon.  If you’re interested, go to the website, do what it says, and if you have ever flown an attack or multi-role jet, you’re hired.

Some details:

Right now, during the fire season, the schedule is 6 days on, 1 day off.  That’s about to change to a 12 on 6 off (hence the 10-12 new guys).  Enjoy all winter off.

Expect to spend ~1 season in the OV-10 before starting Tanker training in the S-2T.

Your fire season length is determined by where you are based: NorCal - 4-5 months, Central Ca - 6-7 months, SoCal 8 months to year round.  

you are paid by the day so how much you take home is determined by where you are based.  My first year in the OV-10 in Central Ca grossed $136k.  S-2T drivers make more.  I’ll bring home and easy $200k this year on a SoCal contract.

Base assignments are based on seniority.  

Typical day in the life - show up around 0930.  Mass brief around ten.  Free time while waiting for lunch around 12.  Free time until cutoff (half hour before sunset) unless interrupted by a fire dispatch or two.

Call Porterville Air Attack base if you’d like to chat.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OWm5mt5Qits

 

Flying class medical?

And how is the Mclleland seniority?

Edited by matmacwc

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3 minutes ago, matmacwc said:

Flying class medical?

And how is the Mclleland seniority?

Class 2 w/EKG if over 40.

At the moment the only aircraft is an OV-10 with an Aerial Supervision Module (ASM) qualed pilot.  ASM is a serious upgrade and we don't have an in-house ASM training program so only someone crossing over from the BLM or forest service could fly that OV-10.  I imagine that a C-130 or two will be based there.  Jury's out on how senior you'd have to be to get a C-130 at KMCC.  Senior I'm guessing?

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Here is a break down of the previously advertised times for the CalFire job

Air Tactical Pilot – minimum PILOT-IN-COMMAND experience:

Airplane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1800

Airplane-Multi-Engine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .800

Of which AME: may include no more than non-centerline thrust . . . . . . . 400

Mountain (typical terrain) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

Instrument (total) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  75

Instrument (actual) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100  

One or more of the following:

Aerial firefighting (PIC or Co-Pilot). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 500

AME >6,000# . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 100

AME >12,500# . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

AME Turbine powered. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 50

 

That should give you an idea if you're qualified or not. Need a Commercial AMEL and 2nd Class (w/ EKG if over 40).  Note that this is PIC time and not total times. I don't think these are hard minimums, but that would be individual dependent.

Talking with the guys who make the decisions, it seems as if they're most interested in pilots who want to be Tanker pilots and have a broad flying background that will enable a smooth transition to flying twin engine turboprops in a challenging environment. For example, I spent about an equal 5 years of my 15 years AD in 3 airframes (T-37/F-16/U-2) and an additional 3 years flying a King Air 200 on fires and charter. I'd say each experience has provided me a solid foundation for learning to fly the S-2 as an air tanker. It's a combination of flying a heavy twin in a dynamic CAS event like it is a low and slow backcountry plane. A tactical background is a huge plus and really helps dealing with the Fire Traffic Area and environment, it's sort of like a CAS stack. Lots of visual talk on's for a drop. So, if you have the interest, think you have the flying skills, and want to do an awesome mission...this is the job for you!

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On 11/4/2018 at 10:48 AM, soupafly06 said:

What kind of hours are we talking about to qualify for air attack?  Considering the mission set and that Cal ANG performs the mission at times, would RPA time be of any benefit assuming one meets all other minimums?

See my post above regarding hours.

I wanted to address the mention of the ANG performing the fire mission. The ANG does operate up to 6 (I think) C-130 MAFFS units when called upon during the fire season on a nation wide basis. The MAFFS is a roll on system that holds 3000 gal of retardant. It uses pressurized air to force the retardant out through a nozzle placed in the aft/left door. All the other tankers on the line (except the 747) use a gravity fed, continuous flow drop system, so there are some differences in drop pattern.

The main difference is the level of certification between the MAFFS crews and your typical Tanker crew. All CalFire and most Federal contract tankers have Captains that are carded for Initial Attack (IA). This allows a captain to size up a fire, talk to ground resources, and potentially drop without any other aerial supervision over the incident. The MAFFS and VLATS (DC-10s/747) are not IA carded and require not only aerial supervision, but also a Lead Plane to drop.

This is not intended to be critical, just pointing out the differences in case anyone was curious. Our program at CalFire is very focused on the Initial Attack part of fighting fire. The airplanes are dispatched like fire engines at the first smoke report. It's an aggressive and rewarding way to fight fire.

NOTE: If any MAFFS pilot sees any errors in my post, please contact me and I'll change it. Just going by what I've learned talking to MAFFS guys.

 

Edited by Shaft34
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Shaft showed me around the airplane earlier this year at an airshow he was at.  I was impressed at how clean they were. 

Sure looks like a great gig for someone that loves flying a tough mission and doing something very rewarding.  

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Seems like a hell of a cool job in a great locations, wish I could get the medical.  Of course that's from an old fighter pilot from Lodi.  

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Here's an article and video The Union paper in Grass Valley did on the Air Attack Base located at the Nevada County Airport. Jake, the Battalion Chief there, talks about the program and fighting fire a bit. It also shows the loading pits and retardant reloading during a fire in the area.

https://www.theunion.com/news/local-news/guardians-of-grass-valley-air-attack-firefighters-keep-nevada-county-and-beyond-safe-from-wildfire-video-photo-gallery/?fbclid=IwAR1bgRm3gVZRpUHQVvVUE2tTe4ohFvqLYCz7FNFl-Y0asCXQhrBUhuyMKCM

 

Edited by Shaft34
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Shaft,

Post some pics of you fighting the fires up here in NorCal.  

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I looked into these jobs a few years back when we moved to California. Very dynamic, interesting flying for sure. I’m in SoCal so the length of the season was a non starter for me (two young kids at home) and I took a cushy airline job. Tons of respect and hats off to the guys that do this job though. These guys literally saved my home last year when it was threatened by the liberty fire. Had there not been air on scene very quickly, there’s no doubt in my mind that hundreds of homes would’ve been destroyed. Instead, one home and an out structure were all that was lost. If there’s anyone here who worked that fire, PM me. Seriously. I owe you a bottle. 

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On 11/19/2018 at 9:07 PM, HuggyU2 said:

Shaft,

Post some pics of you fighting the fires up here in NorCal.  

Sure...here you go. I was actually in SoCal.

Woolsey Fire on 11/11/18 in the West Hills area and Fox Tanker Base in Lancaster. Screen shots are from local CBS news chopper in LA. The shadow makes for an interesting image.

2D25BA9B-0A87-4A47-BFF9-6C0EC9DC8170.jpeg

449EE70E-2729-40FB-A157-66FF4BE46F75.jpeg

1D5A42C4-6BF4-4559-B935-8489B8D29B6B.jpeg

Edited by Shaft34
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Hoser still flying w/ y’all? Or has age finally forced retirement? Great American, that man is.

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3 hours ago, Marco said:

Hoser still flying w/ y’all? Or has age finally forced retirement? Great American, that man is.

I think he stopped flying about 3-4 yrs ago and retired 2 yrs ago. Definitely a legend!

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2 hours ago, Shaft34 said:

I think he stopped flying about 3-4 yrs ago and retired 2 yrs ago. Definitely a legend!

Been here three years and meet him once at the beginning of my first year.  I was introduced as the new guy who used to fly Hawgs.  He immediately checked my back for bird strikes.  Sharp even on the way to retirement.  

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