GWAE
GWAE
Joined: Sep 20, 2013
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February 11th, 2018 at 6:49:23 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

When I lived in Baltimore I flew to Vegas annually and once or twice the pilot announced enthusiastically that we were given permission to fly the Grand Canyon route. I'm sure it was better in the cockpit but the passengers in the window seats still got a great show.

I'm not sure if it was normal but once I landed into Costa Rica at night. The captain pointed out active volcanoes he was passing. You could see the lava inside. Very cool. It is on my bucket list to see a volcano erupting as close as I safely can.



That is also my bucket list. I want to be involved with every natural disaster, volcano eruption, and a plane crash where no one dies.

My wife says I am crazy. I am such a type A person thst something about not having control and no one else does either makes it exciting.
Expect the worst and you will never be disappointed. I AM NOT PART OF GWAE RADIO SHOW
Vegasrider
Vegasrider
Joined: Dec 23, 2017
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February 11th, 2018 at 7:00:39 PM permalink
Quote: gamerfreak

Apparently these helicopter tour pilots only make around $13/hr



Where do you get this figure from? Having worked for one of the largest helicopter tour operators in Vegas for over 5 years, I can assure you they make at least $200 a day, plus gratuity. Most of the passengers are from Europe or other countries that are not accustomed to tipping, so the gratuity is often overlooked. The pilots take it in stride, hit and miss on the tokes. But it's not uncommon for these pilots to receive anywhere from $20-$100 from some of the passengers for each flight. During the winter, where the daylight is limited, they may get two-three tours a day. The summer is the peak season where they can do 4-5 tours a day.

Too early to speculate what happened, so it may not even have been the pilots fault. Last crash back in 2012 was maintenance. I have flown out to the canyon as well. It's a challenging area to fly but it's well coordinated, everything is one way, meaning they fly into and out of the canyon in one direction. I will admit that many of the pilots are there to accumulate hours and then move onto other areas such as flying medical or utilities that pays more. So yes, there are pilots with less experience, but you need at least 1000 hours to even be considered getting hired. On the other hand, there are a lot of pilots who have tons of hours and my money will be on them everytime, you would have a tough time finding pilots with their skill. I'm still in contact with several. The pilots hours will eventually become public, even the total time spent on the EC-130, the model that crashed.
gamerfreak
gamerfreak 
Joined: Dec 28, 2014
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February 11th, 2018 at 7:29:29 PM permalink
Quote: Vegasrider

Where do you get this figure from? Having worked for one of the largest helicopter tour operators in Vegas for over 5 years, I can assure you they make at least $200 a day, plus gratuity. Most of the passengers are from Europe or other countries that are not accustomed to tipping, so the gratuity is often overlooked. The pilots take it in stride, hit and miss on the tokes. But it's not uncommon for these pilots to receive anywhere from $20-$100 from some of the passengers for each flight. During the winter, where the daylight is limited, they may get two-three tours a day. The summer is the peak season where they can do 4-5 tours a day.


Iíve heard in more than once place that the pay for tour pilots is <$20/hr. My understanding is that thereís far more people who want to do it for a living than job openings.

Here is one pilot saying minimum wage is not unusual:
https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2gafu9/comment/ckh5rbb?st=JDJNP6M7&sh=37e21368
Vegasrider
Vegasrider
Joined: Dec 23, 2017
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February 11th, 2018 at 8:02:42 PM permalink
You are comparing county fair pilots doing ups and downs probably flying a non-turbine helicopter or a pilot who's trying to build up his or her hours as a flight instructor flying a R22, with very little and basic avionic instruments so they can eventually be employed by a real operator who operates the latest and greatest models that cost between 2-3 million dollars. Big difference. I do remember every February, when we get a handful of new recruits. Unlike a commercial jet where you have two pilots, in a helicopter, it's just one pilot in command and you usually have a passenger sitting about a foot or two away from you. I will agree that experience and professionalism plays an important part. Since the company I worked for also did fire contracts and other government jobs, plus sling work and even the local news helicopter (we supplied the helicopter and pilot) we had a lot of experienced pilots since those gigs paid better than the tours. But they also flew tours as well so you do get pilots with a lot of experience. Maybe too much, I remember we had one pilot in his early 60's who flew during the Vietnam war, he got shot down 14 times! He's retired now .
onenickelmiracle
onenickelmiracle
Joined: Jan 26, 2012
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February 11th, 2018 at 9:24:32 PM permalink
It was the crappiest thing flying out of Vegas over all those rocks and canyons, knowing there is nowhere visible to land, scared the bejeezus out of me.
I am a robot.
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
Joined: Oct 19, 2009
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February 12th, 2018 at 2:14:20 AM permalink
Perhaps safer flying than medical evacuation flights where crewmen get disrupted sleep. A tour operator at least has designated hours, routes and procedures. Even if the money is not the greatest its still not burger flipper wages wherein a pilot is too broke to speak up or refuse flights.

I recall one Olympic Peninsula pilot taking time to get two young girls into one seatbelt for a sightseeing quickie. Illegal but he seemed to be dedicated to taking the time to make them safe. He was worried I was with the FAA or something but I was just curious.
I didn't report him or anything because he did seem very safety minded.
Vegasrider
Vegasrider
Joined: Dec 23, 2017
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February 12th, 2018 at 7:15:49 AM permalink
Medical pilots get paid more and have much higher qualifications, but they are not exempt from crashing. Its actually very risky as these pilots are often flying into unknown areas, often at night even though they are equipped with night vision equipment but also fly in bad weather relying on their instruments vs visual, and their LZ is usually some roadway where there are powerlines to worry.

The legitimate tour helicopters, not the mom and pop or fair fly an impressive amount of passengers each year and log over 100k hours a year. Flown over a million hours since the last fatal tour helicopter crash so it's still very safe if you look at it as an industry . Still one crash and fatality is one too many.
MrV
MrV
Joined: Feb 13, 2010
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February 12th, 2018 at 8:08:00 AM permalink
Here is a commerical ad / video Papillon commissioned to inform folks about their helicopter flights into the canyon:

Papillon video
"What, me worry?"
Hunterhill
Hunterhill
Joined: Aug 1, 2011
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February 12th, 2018 at 11:55:48 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

When I lived in Baltimore I flew to Vegas annually and once or twice the pilot announced enthusiastically that we were given permission to fly the Grand Canyon route. I'm sure it was better in the cockpit but the passengers in the window seats still got a great show.

I'm not sure if it was normal but once I landed into Costa Rica at night. The captain pointed out active volcanoes he was passing. You could see the lava inside. Very cool. It is on my bucket list to see a volcano erupting as close as I safely can.


I was in Costa Rica and saw volcano Arenal, it wasn't erupting,but lava was running down the mountain,it was quite a sight at night.
We stayed in cabins about 200 yards from the base of the mountain.
The mountain is tall but grass grows on top of the mountain.

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