working with Philip Greenspun at Fair Weather Flying, updated April 2012
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Are you considering a career in aviation? Interested in adding a
helicopter rating to an existing pilot certificate? Love young
children? This is an opportunity to build time and ratings while
enjoying the company of a charming two-year-old (photos). The ideal candidate will have the
The position is available any time that a person with the right skills
and attitude wants to take it. Typically an internship lasts for 6-12
months and results in at least one certificate or rating (there have
been four previous holders of this internship; all earned helicopter
ratings, one is an instructor at our flight school, one
flies helicopter tours at our school). By the end of the internship, you should be able to
earn the title of Operations Manager for
- a bachelor's degree
- an FAA pilot certificate
- U.S. citizenship (the bureaucracy around training foreigners, post-9/11, is daunting)
- experience with child care and excellent references for that work
- a love of dogs
- driver's license and car
What's Good About Aviation?
Flying offers unlimited challenge. You could spend years building up
the skills that airline pilots use to get people from big airport to big
airport safely. After mastering those skills, you could learn to fly a
seaplane, a bush plane, a helicopter, an aerobatic plane.
Flying puts you into contact with some of the world's most interesting
people. Commercial pilots are folks who've followed their dreams.
Recreational pilots might be miserable when they're at their desk jobs,
but you'll be seeing them at the airport where they are doing what they
love. Pilots aren't afraid to take responsibility for their
decisions. They tend not to sweat the small stuff.
If you want to learn about success in medicine or business, hanging
around the airport is a great way to begin. The most common career
backgrounds for airplane owners are doctor and self-made business
founder and CEO. The doctors are often heads of departments at major
hospitals or operators of their own practices and clinics. These guys
went from nothing to earning enough money to buy and operate a $1
million airplane. They didn't get there with dumb luck or family
connections. Most of these folks wouldn't have time to spare if you
asked them to spend a day educating you. But if you said "I'm also a
pilot; can we spend a day together practicing instrument approaches?"
the response is likely to be much more enthusiastic.
The Internship in Brief
I manage Fair Weather
Flying, a business that owns an airplane and two helicopters and
has an FAA Air Carrier certificate for helicopter charters. I have
airplane flight instructor (single- and multi-engine), airplane
instrument instructor, and helicopter instructor ratings (details). Many of my friends own aircraft
as well and some are flight instructors. I can make sure that you
will build at least 160 hours per year of loggable time in helicopters
The most critical part of your job will be providing occasional child
care for Greta, a smart lively good-natured 2.5-year-old (photos). I like to spend as much time with Greta as
possible, so if I'm flying a 30-minute Boston tour, I need you to keep
her entertained on the ground until I return. You won't be Greta's
primary caregiver; she is an only child with two parents and a three
day/week daycare schedule. However, you may be needed as an extra hand
if we travel somewhere with Greta and also may be required to provide
child care for up to a few hours at a time. Previous child care
experience and references are a must.
Your second job is ground support for flight training and charter
activities. You will do flight planning, fuel planning, get relevant
weather reports from the FAA, brief passengers for helicopter rides,
keep track of the schedule for student and personal flights, keep the
GPS databases in the Cirrus and Robinsons up to date, keep the
aircraft clean, stock the fridge for the mechanics, make sure that the
dog is not bored (a Border
Collie), shuttle students around in your car or mine. You will
learn about compliance with FAA regulations. I will provide all
necessary training so that you can accomplish these tasks.
What do you get in return? Flight and ground training toward your
pilot ratings, both airplane and helicopter. When we don't have
paying customers, we will go up together and work on your flying
skills. On the ground, you will have access to a complete library of
flight training materials and books, plus wireless Internet access.
At the airport, you will also be surrounded by expert flight
instructors and pilots who can answer most of your questions. On
rainy days, I can provide some structured ground school training to
supplement what you're getting from the books. If you're interested
in computer science or photography, I can provide instruction and
projects in those areas as well.
If you are passionate about videography and video editing, I have a
back-burner project of producing a series of tutorial videos. An
example of a video would be a 20-minute lecture or interaction
following a ground lesson plan within our Private pilot syllabus.
We've produced a few experiments already:
I have high-definition camcorders and Adobe Premiere all set up and
ready to use if you are interested.
I am 48 years old and live in suburban Boston, a 15-minute drive from
Hanscom Field. In 2001, I retired from a 23-year career as a software
engineer and began flight training. As of 2012, I have nearly 4000
hours of total time. Currently, I hold an Airline Transport Pilot
certificate with single-engine land, multi-engine land, and
rotorcraft-helicopter ratings, plus two type ratings for jets. I have
a single-engine sea rating at the Commercial level. I hold a Flight
Instructor certificate with airplane single-engine, airplane
multi-engine, instrument airplane, instrument helicopter, and
rotorcraft-helicopter ratings. I have more light aircraft
cross-country experience than most people at my level, having traveled
Boston-to-Alaska-and-back a couple of times in single-engine planes
and Los Angeles-to-Boston several times in Robinson helicopters. I
have flown 50-seat regional jets for a Delta Airlines subsidiary.
I have a lot of experience with photography, both film and digital, and
have a better collection of photographic equipment than most
professional photographers. I have taught photography to college
I have a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from
M.I.T. and experience teaching EECS subjects at M.I.T.
I enjoy teaching and spending time with young people for whom my advice
and/or the skills that I teach might make a difference for their future.
In addition to the items at the top, here are the characteristics that
I think will make for a successful internship:
- enjoys and experienced with having fun with bright young kids (Greta will be three years old in August)
- intelligent and good at quantitative reasoning (i.e., not afraid of
math and science)
- enthusiastic and fun-loving
- enjoy visiting new places
- enjoy spending time with dogs
- some computer experience, e.g., maintaining a personal Web site
- reasonably light weight, e.g., less than 175 lbs., if we are going
to get into an R44 helicopter and take any passengers
A Typical Day
If on one of Greta's daycare days or when she is with her mother, we
meet at Hanscom Field at 7:00 am (you get there earlier and work with
the student to preflight and push the helicopter out). I give a 7:00
am helicopter flying lesson. You work on ground study or,
sometimes, ride back seat. If nobody has booked a lesson, at 10:00 we
leave the dog on the ground and go up in an airplane or helicopter.
We return to my house at 1 pm for lunch and some work in the yard (5
acres) or around the house. At 4:00 pm, we may go back to the airport.
We should finish the day by 7:00 pm.
If I am busy with a software consulting project, you may go to the
airport and fly with one of the other instructors or fly solo if
you've been signed off.
For the days when I have Greta, we might fly somewhere in an airplane
or helicopter to visit a friend, a museum, or the beach. Greta will
ride in the back in a car seat (she is an enthusiastic flyer who had
her first helicopter ride at about two months of age). If she needs
assistance with her headset, sippy cup, or whatever, one of us will be
on the controls while the other helps her. If we don't go flying, I
might ask you to serve as an extra hand in taking Greta on a
land-based excursion. I like to have dinner with Greta and put her to
bed, but I might ask you to babysit for a few hours afterwards.
You will be working hard and won't be able to have any other summer
Who Pays for What
I pay for the following items:
Previous interns have earned bonus checks of $750 or $1000 upon
completion of various projects.
- flying in airplanes and helicopters (roughly 160 hours logged per
year; this would cost you about $325 per hour (averaged over airplanes
and helicopters) or $52,000)
- breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we work together all day
- travel expenses if we go anywhere
How to Apply
Please send me a cover letter and resume via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you'd like to demonstrate your ability to communicate with video,
feel free to email email@example.com
the URL of a video application. The video should include some of the
following: a bit about yourself; you with a kid; you with a dog; why
you're interested in aviation; two references (interviews with
teachers or mentors saying good things about you). I would think that
five minutes would be the maximum reasonable length.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, it has become
difficult, since the attacks of September 11, 2001, to do flight
training in the U.S. You would need to have some legal basis for
being in the U.S. before applying for this internship.