After flying in the Caribbean for a little over a year I decided to try something different for a while. So here I am in Phoenix, AZ, probably the hottest spot in the USA in the summer. It was 112 d. Fahrenheit today.
My job consists of flying a PA-31 Chieftain (once again) on a daily run between Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico. It also involves other routes between Long Beach, CA and Salt Lake City, UT. Moreover, once a month for the 100 hr. inspection I must take the aircraft to Denver where the company’s headquarters are located. On the way there, I usually do a Colorado Springs/Rifle, CO leg for Airborne Express. My cargo is the New York Times newspaper, which has its Southwest edition printed in Phoenix and Long Beach.
With the company being located in Denver, I am the only pilot based in Phoenix with my aircraft. For this kind of work, you must be able to perform with no supervision whatsoever. I only talk to my boss every other day and see him once a month. It is almost like doing freelance work. I work 4 hr/day and 6 days a week with the option to take Fridays off if desired. The pay is quite generous, however, the cost of living in Phoenix is somewhat high.
Phoenix itself is quite nice except for the summer. It is impossible to stay outside from May to September, when the temperatures soar over 110. Very often at night, when taking off at around 11:00 pm, the temperature on the ground is around 40 Celsius. Watch out the density altitude…
The hardest part about moving to the States from Canada is that you pretty much start you life from scratch. As far as your credit rating goes, even if you own Air Canada back home, here you are nothing. Your rating is not transferable from the Great Cold North. I was refused a gas company and Wal-Mart credit card. What a joke! However, the only company that will look up your Canadian is Visa if you already have one at home. When I called them to complain about being initially turned down, they checked my credit up north and immediately gave me a Platinum Visa. Well I must admit I have stellar credit in Canada.
One other hurdle is car insurance; they make you feel like a 17 year old teen-ager with lots of acne. You previous driving experience counts for nothing. You start at the bottom, and it is pricey. Also, learn the tax laws, there is more to know than you would think.
The prerequisite to work in the States is unfortunately very hard to come by; you need a Green Card. Do not go thinking that employers will sponsor you for a work permit, it doesn’t happen for pilots - unless you fly the Space Shuttle. The pilot profession is not yet on the NAFTA list, although some say it is coming soon, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Therefore, unless you marry a Yankee, you shouldn’t harbor too many hopes.
Other than that, the experience requirements are the FAR Part 135 IFR minimums, which can be found on the FAA website.
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