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c5load
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Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:47 am

What is the life that a cargo pilot leads? Is it much different than being an airline pilot? I remember when my dad flew for World, my mother said he used to be gone for 3 months at a time (not real sure, I was a youngen), is that true about some carriers? I know cargo carriers typically fly at night, so is your life pretty much nocturnal? I am still wanting to become a pilot, but with the airlines definitely not hiring, I feel like my only choice is to get my foot in the door at a cargo carrier.
"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
 
Flyer732
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:09 am

Cargo flights operate whenever they're scheduled. In the U.S. its typically at night. In Europe, its a mix, same with Asia, and the middle east.

As for World pilots gone 3 months at a time, maybe in the old days but not anymore. They usually will work 2-2.5 weeks and then go on days off, unless they volunteer days off, or bid back to back schedules to put their days off into one lump of about 20 or so days.
 
BMI727
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:54 am



Quoting C5LOAD (Thread starter):
I remember when my dad flew for World, my mother said he used to be gone for 3 months at a time

That probably isn't true as much for carriers like FedEx or UPS but some cargo airlines like World or Kalitta do have some interesting jobs in far flung places. Of course that can be as much a blessing as a curse.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
EMBQA
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:18 am

I have a friend that is a cargo pilot. Talking with him his schedule is not all that crazy. He does a loop around the globe once every few weeks, with time off at home in between. He'll stay at each of his stops for a few days then move on. Back when he was flying for the airlines..and hating it... I'd always tell him "boxes don't give you headaches" referring to issues with flight attendants, gate agents, rampers, passengers..etc. He told me he loves it now. He shows up, the load master gives him the sheets... he checks the number, hops in the cockpit and no one bitches the cabin being too hot or too cold.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
BMI727
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:24 am



Quoting EMBQA (Reply 3):
no one bitches the cabin being too hot or too cold.

...but you do have to cook your own food.

Actually I read a story a while back about a regular cargo flight that required a fuel stop. The captain would arrange for the tech stop to be in his hometown and have his wife bring fast food for them out to the airport and meet the plane.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
EMBQA
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:27 am



Quoting BMI727 (Reply 4):

...but you do have to cook your own food.

He does... They have a galley set up with warming units.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
jhooper
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:45 am

It's not a whole lot different than flying Fred, except that the crews are much smaller, the jets are much more reliable and keep moving (i.e. when you land somewhere, another crew meets the airplane and keeps going, your plane doesn't enter crew rest with you), because it's all about the $$$$$! That said, there's alot more strife in the unions versus the company management, etc, whereas in the military, the squadron operates more like a family and everyone plays on the same team (at least in the reserves). But arguing with TACC isn't much different than arguing with crew scheduling.

There's more predictability on the civilian side (i.e. you know you'll be on the road 14-17 days every month, and you usually have a say in what those 14-17 days will be. In the military, you have 5-10 day SRTs, but it's not unheard of to break somewhere delaying your mission 14 days or more and you never really know when you're getting home (that doesn't generally happen in the civilian world).
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
jhooper
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:48 am

oh, and you get good catering served onboard as opposed to the shopette runs you're used to. Wake up a couple hours before takeoff, no more 4+15 alerts!
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:24 am

Since The Airline I work at operates at nights.So its mainly night flying except getting towards sunrise time.But the advantage of domestic sectors is that the crew can get home in 72hrs.
The Flight deck can get lonely with minimum two persons.Food is self service.But the atmosphere is peacefull thanks to No pax issues. 

regds
MEL.
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
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tb727
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:23 pm

I like flying freight, I fly ad hoc flights in the 727 with a 2 hour callout. I am sitting in the cockpit in RFD right now on my laptop waiting for them to offload a truck then load us up to go to TX. It has it's ups and downs but I know once we are loaded and on our way I am going to see a beautiful sunrise from the best office window in the world. The sunsets aren't bad either, a lot of times we see them both. Heck, I've seen it go down, come up and go back down in the same duty day.

I have been gone 15 days which is rare for me since I live at our base but I am going home for 2 weeks off tonight. I used to fly 135 freight and passenger in Learjet and Falcons, that was even crazier as far as ad hoc destinations went with a 45 minute callout, similar schedule being gone no more than 2 weeks, the longest I was gone was 5-6 weeks on a couple of occasions. It wasn't uncommon to get a 3 hour notice to go to Europe or South America in the middle of the night. The nice thing about the 727 is that we aren't sent off to far flung destinations for 2 weeks at a time on the other side of the globe. You might think that there are some crazy things nowadays, but go find a DC-8 freightdog from the early 90's, preferably from AIA/Kalitta and you will hear the best flying stories you will ever hear guaranteed.

Well, I guess I should go check on these loaders! I think it is going to be a while until we are on our way.
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
kimon
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:10 pm

Is their a relief crew on a 744ERF?
Of all the cargo vids I have seen,I have never noticed any heavy/relief crew.
Is this right?
Many thanks,
Kimon
Dum Romae consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur
 
9VSIO
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:23 pm

Philsquares once wrote a brilliant trip report on his time as a cargo pilot...it's buried somewhere in Trip Reports.
Me: (Lining up on final) I shall now select an aiming point. || Instructor: Well, I hope it's the runway...
 
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tb727
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:40 pm



Quoting 9VSIO (Reply 11):
Philsquares once wrote a brilliant trip report on his time as a cargo pilot...it's buried somewhere in Trip Reports.

Just a selfish plug, but I just did one back in October on my first trip on the 727  There are even a couple pictures!
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
kimon
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:53 pm

Tb727:would you mind sending me the link,please?
Dum Romae consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:32 pm

It really depends who you fly for. Scheduling wise we do like any major carrier. You bid every month and depending on senority you can be gone 1/2 day every flight or be gone 2 weeks and anything in the middle. Yes fewer headaches than carrying people but then we have haz mat which can be a big headache as well. The catering is self service and possibly not quite as good but that's debatable. No we don't sit and wait to be called it's all scheduled unless of course you're on reserve.
 
pilotpip
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:05 am



Quoting C5LOAD (Thread starter):
Is it much different than being an airline
pilot?

I know what you mean, as do most of the others here. I just want to point out that cosmic and Tb727 are "airline" pilots. Cargo operations flying the big stuff are part 121 carriers just like the passenger airlines.

Their job is the same, and they're held to the same standards. I ride Cosmic's airline from time to time to get to work and when the cockpit door is closed the view is the same regardless of what's in the back.
DMI
 
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tb727
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:05 am

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 15):

Their job is the same, and they're held to the same standards. I ride Cosmic's airline from time to time to get to work and when the cockpit door is closed the view is the same regardless of what's in the back.

Yeah, I'm still on the airplane. I don't fly it any different if I have nothing, 150 people, 50,000 pounds of freight or 21 horses behind me! It's all the same. Well maybe if we had a whole bunch of dynamite on board(I have) I would really try and land smoother.
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
lowrider
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:26 am

For the most part, I enjoy the non-sched life. The flying can take place any time of the day or night. You may find yourself flying to places you have never heard of, or some very mundane layovers. Freight is freight. Make sure it is secured, check the paperwork and go. It seems like the business is either feast for famine in terms of amount of flying. Some months I sit reserve and never see a plane. Some months it seems like I never leave the plane.
Proud OOTSK member
 
e38
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:43 am

C5LOAD, everyone has a different perspective. With reference to all the comments about "cargo doesn't complain," if your interest in aviation extends beyond just "flying," and includes the "people" aspect of aviation, such as passengers, gate agents, other crewmembers (flight attendants), baggage handlers, etc., then passenger operations may be prefereable.

I have flown both cargo and passenger operations and have found passenger operations to be more fulfilling in terms of teamwork and mission accomplishment.

Not ever has a box come up to me after a flight and said, "Thank you for getting me home," or "Nice landing."

I completed a passenger flight several years ago on December 24. We arrived at a small airport in Canada and were going to layover in that city. The crewmembers were allowed to go through customs and immigration ahead of the passengers. As we emerged from the customs area where people were waiting to greet the passengers, a lady came up to me and said, "My daughter and grandddaughter were on your flight and I'm waiting for them to come out from customs. Thank you for bringing them home to me for Christmas."

Kind of put a lump in my throat.

Just a different perspective. Yes, people complain, but overall I enjoy the passenger operation.
 
c5load
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:45 am

Quoting e38 (Reply 18):
C5LOAD, everyone has a different perspective. With reference to all the comments about "cargo doesn't complain," if your interest in aviation extends beyond just "flying," and includes the "people" aspect of aviation, such as passengers, gate agents, other crewmembers (flight attendants), baggage handlers, etc., then passenger operations may be prefereable.

I have flown both cargo and passenger operations and have found passenger operations to be more fulfilling in terms of teamwork and mission accomplishment.

Not ever has a box come up to me after a flight and said, "Thank you for getting me home," or "Nice landing."

I completed a passenger flight several years ago on December 24. We arrived at a small airport in Canada and were going to layover in that city. The crewmembers were allowed to go through customs and immigration ahead of the passengers. As we emerged from the customs area where people were waiting to greet the passengers, a lady came up to me and said, "My daughter and grandddaughter were on your flight and I'm waiting for them to come out from customs. Thank you for bringing them home to me for Christmas."

Kind of put a lump in my throat.

Just a different perspective. Yes, people complain, but overall I enjoy the passenger operation.

e38, I used to be a ramp agent for OH in DAY about 6 yrs ago. I loved doing the job. I thank you for bringing back those memories. Interacting with crewmembers, passengers, maintenance, etc. and I would love to go back to that world. But I think this time I would rather be the pilot waiting on paperwork rather than the guy stacking bags with no thanks whatsover. I'm almost done with my degree and hoping to become and officer and a pilot in the AF Reserve, but the Reserves are not guaranteed, so do you think in the next 2-3 yrs there will be anybody hiring for pilots?
"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
 
e38
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:35 am

C5LOAD
With reference to your question, "do you think in the next 2-3 yrs there will be anybody hiring for pilots?"

Well, perhaps not in the next 2-3 years, but I think definitely within the next 5 years. Despite reduced retirements with the change in the retirement age--from 60 to 65--pilots will still be retiring and even though growth at the airlines is somewhat stagnated because of the economy, the airlines will still have to replace those who retire. Keep in mind that eventually the economy will turn around and the air carriers will grow and need additional crewmembers. Also, I think you will see the regional airlines continue to hire, and there will most probably be job opportunities at the regionals in the next 2-3 years. I've heard that American Eagle is planning on hiring pilots soon, if not already.

I wish you well with your quest for a commission and UPT slot. Military flying would provide you with outstanding training and exceptional credentials, although should that not work out, the civilian route--flight instructing or corporate/charter/cargo operations--are highly regarded as well. Stay focused on your goal, work hard at your current job, be patient, and keep a good attitude. I wish you the very best.

Just to clarify something I said in my previous post, although I have enjoyed the "passenger" side of flying, the pilots I know who work at FedEx and UPS love their work as well.
 
cobra27
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:28 pm

Are there any other members onboard beside flight crew?
Or is there some legal law banning other people?
 
lowrider
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:20 pm

Quoting cobra27 (Reply 21):
Are there any other members onboard beside flight crew?

Sometimes. You may have mechanics, loadmasters, handlers, couriers, deadheading crew members, augmented crew members, or jumpseaters.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:28 am

Quoting cobra27 (Reply 21):
Are there any other members onboard beside flight crew?
Or is there some legal law banning other people?

Depends on the company SOP & Country regulatory laws.....Normally Licenced personnell of the company are permitted access to travel in the Flight deck on official purposes.ie Pilots,Flight Despatchers,L&T Sheeters & Engineers amongst a few.
regds
MEL.
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
TimePilot
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:01 pm

I've wondered about cargo flights myself from time to time. I think I already know the answer, but seeing as how you're not flying people, can you fly through weather that would ordinarily be avoided by regular passenger flights?
 
cobra27
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:30 pm

What about regulalar mortars like noncrew members, are they allowed onboard?
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:21 pm

Quoting timepilot (Reply 24):
I've wondered about cargo flights myself from time to time. I think I already know the answer, but seeing as how you're not flying people, can you fly through weather that would ordinarily be avoided by regular passenger flights?

no.....SOP stands irrespectively.

Quoting cobra27 (Reply 25):
What about regulalar mortars like noncrew members, are they allowed onboard?

Licenced personell on official duty ie Pilots/Engineers/Flt Despatchers/L&T sheeters etc.

regds
MEL.
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
lowrider
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:55 pm

Quoting cobra27 (Reply 25):
What about regulalar mortars like noncrew members, are they allowed onboard?

We occasionally carry other company personnel, but only if they are traveling on official business.
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peterpuck
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:12 pm

At my company we can carry family members with us as well, outside of the cockpit of course.
 
AirframeAS
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:44 pm

Quoting PeterPuck (Reply 28):
At my company we can carry family members with us as well, outside of the cockpit of course.

Any pics of what the seats look like on these cargo planes, especially on FedEX and UPS??
A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
 
rwessel
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:43 pm

Quoting AirframeAS (Reply 29):
Any pics of what the seats look like on these cargo planes, especially on FedEX and UPS??

There are tons of these in the photo database. A few:

UPS MD-11F and 747-200SF:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Ben Wang
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Christian Ettelt



FedEx MD-11F and A300-600:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Ben Wang
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Ralph Duenas - Jetwash Images

 
AirframeAS
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RE: Life Of A Cargo Pilot

Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:19 am

Quoting rwessel (Reply 30):

Thanks!   
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