Author Topic: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.  (Read 2191 times)

k-vette

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Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« on: April 30, 2018, 11:23:45 AM »
I'm a relatively new pilot.  It's been a long time dream to get my license and I finally got it done!  The goal was to get my license just for fun - no aspirations to be a commercial airline pilot.  The demand is high, but pay, hours, and location can be terrible.  I just realized however that flight instruction is not far out of reach.  It would take a lot more time and money to get to that point, but it would allow a flexible schedule, doing something fun, etc.  At the going prices around $50/hr it seems worthwhile as a side job/hobby!

So the cons: 
  • Takes time and money to become a CFI.  (Certified flight instructor)
    Umm.... that's all I can think of right now.


Pros:
  • Fun/Enjoyable Work
    Decent hourly pay
    I bought a plane for getting my license and decided to keep it.  Instruction would help reduce the cost of my airplane ownership.
    Local airport has very little in the way of flight instruction.  (Not even a flying club at our airport, which I'm considering starting as well.)  One flight school, but many people are not fans of it and find private instructors.  In the past month I've had 3 people approach me asking who I used.  3 other people I know who recently got a license, or are working on it all went with a private instructors opposed to the flight school.  I did the same. 
    Demand for new pilots to move onto commercial airlines is high and is expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
    I could still run my ebike business part time while doing this, but possibly move away from the 9-5 job.

Any pilots/instructors here with feedback?  I don't expect to get rich or anything with this, but it falls in line with the type of life I'd like to live - do things I enjoy.

lexde

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2018, 11:54:51 AM »
Is the $50/hr gross, or after maintenance expenses for the plane you’d be using?

k-vette

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2018, 12:33:32 PM »
Is the $50/hr gross, or after maintenance expenses for the plane you’d be using?

$50/hr is a reasonable rate for instructor only.  (I've seen as low as $40.  Local flight school is $65/hr)  That would be the rate if I was to instruct someone in their own plane.  If I rented my plane to them, that would be an additional $100+ / hr.

LPG

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2018, 12:32:23 PM »
Do you have a plan for getting your name out there/marketing? It seems like there's demand (Cool!), so it seems that the trick will be in getting your name in front of potential customers.

sokoloff

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 04:44:37 AM »
There seems to be a split market in instruction, the “bulk” instruction (private, BFRs, intro rides) and the “boutique” (type specific, advanced, advanced avionics, spins, aerobatics, etc). The latter is more lucrative per hour, but requires more marketing and contact-building in your behalf.

In terms of providing the instructor and the plane, you’re going to need to do 100-hour inspections (instead of just annuals) and need to understand how to stay on the right side of he part 135 barrier.

Marketing could be as simple as using the online pilot forums and posting flyers on the nearby FBO and airport diner bulletin boards.

The instructor rating is one of the more difficult check rides, as you’re being tested on fundamentals of instruction in addition to maneuvers. I think you also need commercial and instrument ratings prior to the CFI, but I’m not 100% sure of that.

It’s not the easiest way to make side money, but it’s a great way to get more flight time (albeit a lot of it being fairly short and repetitive flights).

k-vette

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 09:50:28 AM »
There seems to be a split market in instruction, the “bulk” instruction (private, BFRs, intro rides) and the “boutique” (type specific, advanced, advanced avionics, spins, aerobatics, etc). The latter is more lucrative per hour, but requires more marketing and contact-building in your behalf.

In terms of providing the instructor and the plane, you’re going to need to do 100-hour inspections (instead of just annuals) and need to understand how to stay on the right side of he part 135 barrier.

Marketing could be as simple as using the online pilot forums and posting flyers on the nearby FBO and airport diner bulletin boards.

The instructor rating is one of the more difficult check rides, as you’re being tested on fundamentals of instruction in addition to maneuvers. I think you also need commercial and instrument ratings prior to the CFI, but I’m not 100% sure of that.

It’s not the easiest way to make side money, but it’s a great way to get more flight time (albeit a lot of it being fairly short and repetitive flights).

Yes, I will have to up to 100 hour inspections and add instruction to insurance coverage (there's a small loophole to insurance if I'm only doing a little).  Not worried about the inspections as I've gotten accustomed to owner-assisted annuals. 

Marketing - excellent question!  I don't want to say it's "not a big deal" because no customers means this is a waste.  However, I'm not worried about it.  I have a lot of experience with websites, social media marketing, etc.  Based on the fact that most of the locals don't do any of that, I think it gives me an edge if needed.  Word of mouth at airports however is very powerful - everyone knows everyone at a small airport.

Hopefully I could work into the more advanced training!  I have been going over the requirements for instrument and commercial as both are required.  A lot of the requirements overlap, so I'm trying to plan the training so I can do both concurrently.  For example there's a 250nm IFR cross country required instrument, and a 300NM cross country required for commercial.  I can do one 300NM in IFR conditions (or simulated conditions) and cover both.  I haven't totaled it up, but I think the cheapest way to get my instrument rating is around $4,000.  Commercial adds up quick because I need 10 hours of complex experience.  I'll have to rent a plane for that.  :(  I'm considering asking the local guys what they charge for their seaplane.  It's probably a bit more, BUT with 10 hours in it I would meet the complex requirements, get a high performance rating, and a seaplane rating all at the same time.

Going the cheap mustachian way I'm still probably going to spend $10,000 and a lot of time to make this happen.  Time however is on my side - I haven't hit 30 yet! 

sokoloff

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 03:07:18 PM »
High performance is just an endorsement, not a rating, but that's a minor wrinkle. FAA has recently (within the last week or so) passed policy not requiring complex aircraft for the commercial checkride (though you still need the 10 hours training in a complex or turbine airplane as you mention). You might consider getting that time as part of multi-engine training.

If you don't use a multi-engine airplane, you can't combine the instrument cross-country and the commercial cross-country. Commercial needs to be solo (just you in the airplane) if you do it in a single-engine airplane as I read the regs. (Multi-engine is the easiest of all the ratings to get, BTW. It can be spendy, but it's [by far] the easiest rating.)

k-vette

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2018, 09:07:32 AM »
High performance is just an endorsement, not a rating, but that's a minor wrinkle. FAA has recently (within the last week or so) passed policy not requiring complex aircraft for the commercial checkride (though you still need the 10 hours training in a complex or turbine airplane as you mention). You might consider getting that time as part of multi-engine training.

If you don't use a multi-engine airplane, you can't combine the instrument cross-country and the commercial cross-country. Commercial needs to be solo (just you in the airplane) if you do it in a single-engine airplane as I read the regs. (Multi-engine is the easiest of all the ratings to get, BTW. It can be spendy, but it's [by far] the easiest rating.)

Thanks for pointing that out!  Doesn't change my estimate on the instrument, but certainly adds cost to the commercial side of things.  Hmmm.... I hadn't considered the multi-engine due to cost, and not sure if I would use it.  But I guess I should look into it.  I saw the recent change.  At least I can use my own plane for the checkride.  The local flight school still hasn't gotten back to me on their high performance sea plane cost.  The other school nearby has a multi-engine for ~$300/hr.  I guess what it comes down to is getting the most bang for the buck, and not skimming by with minimum experience.

FlyJ

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2018, 08:39:07 PM »
If you already have a rating, say, your PPL, then the expense of adding Instrument, Commercial, CFI and CFII might be around $16 - $20k without a plane. I guess owning your own, you'd have to factor the cost of operation, but seems like it could be done more inexpensively. With that said, if you're planning to instruct on the side for a very long time, it would pay off, though maybe not as much as other side jobs with a lower barrier to entry. There's also a high time cost to maintaining your aircraft, going to the airport, meeting with new students, marketing yourself, etc. in which you're unpaid. The part-time CFIs and owner/operator instructors I've met who seem to do well are the ones who can differentiate themselves and stay away from the high-volume stuff. You want to train the people with money who are doing this for fun, not career pilots. In Austin, I met a CFI not long ago who gets $7k to do accelerated instrument ratings with Cirrus owners - this is the kind of thing you want to do. A lot of pilots who make money on the side have additional, previous experience that allows them to work as ferry or contract pilots as well as instruct. It might be good to start out thinking of this as a hobby that offers some reimbursement, and if you can eventually make money at it, awesome. I'd say you might even be better off working as a part-timer for a flight school without owning your own plane, but sounds like there might be a unique opportunity where you're living. There is a lot of demand right now and it wouldn't be too difficult to get going once you're set up.

Another consideration is the ever-tightening vice the FAA is putting on GA, requiring new, expensive equipment, inspections, and whatnot. People with money also want to learn on aircraft with more advanced avionics and autopilot rather than the old-school six-pack. If your plane doesn't already have this equipment, these things are extremely expensive.

k-vette

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2018, 07:31:38 PM »
Thanks for the additional comments and thoughts.   I would be ok with this being a "hobby" that eventually makes income.  I'll be turning 30 this week, so if all it does is provide some extra income during retirement some years down the road, that's better than a hobby currently costing me money. 

I think you're correct about the way to market it.  A fixed price to do "a" or "b" may have a better payout than an hourly wage.

k-vette

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Re: Debating a new side job... lots of fun, high price of entry.
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2018, 01:27:53 PM »
As a follow up to this post, I am pursuing it, but with a much different direction than originally thought.  I'm starting a new, primarily passive income website with focuses on a few of my hobbies.  Aviation is one of them.  I want to bring people into aviation altogether, not just flight instruction.  Through my website I can teach people the basics of general aviation, aircraft ownership, etc.  This is a subject that is severely lacking in information, especially if you want to try and do it on a budget.  As the site and my credibility grow, I can share my path to flight instruction and gain followers/future customers, while making money from the site from the start.  :) 

I've also set a goal to get the site up and running with a giveaway to increase awareness within the next 2 weeks.  If I make it my signature will be updated with the new site!