Hi there. I fly a Bombardier CRJ200 Regional Jet as a First Officer for Jazz. I am based in Toronto and have enjoyed this position for the last one year and a half. Prior to that I flew the Fokker F28 Jet for AC Jazz and Canadian Regional Airlines.
I started flying when I was 19 at Mitchinson's Flying Service in Saskatoon. It took me a few years to obtain my private and commercial pilot licences. During this time, I worked on the ramp for Westwind to help me pay for my training, and to get to know the industry.
When I completed my Commercial, direct flying jobs were scarce. Instead I landed a job working the dock for two summer seasons in LaRonge Sask. My job there was known as a "Swamper" and entailed me loading and docking our Twin Otters and C172's. The winter season was layoff season. My third summer, after completing my Multi-IFR, I managed to move into a pilot position flying a Cessna 185F Floatplane for a fishing camp.
That fall I was laid off again and decided to try something else for a while. I went to University for 2 years while helping my father out with his carpentry business.
When I decided to re-enter the aviation industry in 1995, things had changed dramatically. I couldn't believe the changes in the job scene. Advancement was rapid, and I no longer had to worry about seasonal layoffs. I landed a job flying a multi-engine Beech Baron almost immediately. Flying a lot, I had my ATPL with a year and a half. At this point I was able to leave the north and land a job flying a Metroliner in Calgary. Two years into this job I had enough experience to be interviewed and then hired by Canadian Regional Airlines. I was hired into the F-28 Fleet as a First Officer. Then with the amalgamtion of all of the regional airlines in Canada, I became a part of Air Canada Jazz, and eventually as the old F28's were left to rust, i was retrained on the CRJ200.
The highlight of my career to date has been my present position. The change from charter to airline type flying was exciting for me. Flying the CRJ200 and F-28 Jet out of Toronto Pearson to places I had never been made me very eager to go to work. It was great flying into places like Boston Logan, New York La Guardia, Montreal Dorval, and Halifax to name a few. A favorite treat of mine was overnighting in Raleigh-Durham NC. When Toronto would be caught in winters white grasp, Raleigh Durham was always nice and green.
The F-28 may be old with only basic instrumentation, but it is an absolute joy to fly. The excellent performance and handling puts a smile on my face every time we spool the engine up to take-off thrust. The F-28 is an extremely well designed, well able and durable aircraft. The CRJ200 is like a modern version of the F28 equipped with fancy new screens for enroute displays and also engine and system parameter displays. It has an excellent cockpit and modern feel about the airplane.
As far as working conditions, I generally work between 14 and 17 days a month. The people I work with are great. There is a lot of comradery amongst the flight crews (incl. The flight attendants). Also, often 2 or more crews will be overnightning in the same city, and this usually means going out for a nice dinner together.
There are recent changes however. With the present economy and social fears, we are seeing cut backs in our route structure and flying hours. There may even be layoffs in the near future, not unlike the early nineties when I first started in this industry. I am hoping that the public can maintain its confidence in the aviation industry and the economy itself. That will go a long way to ensure this down cycle is short and shallow.
Good luck to you!
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