Night Freight

RichardRambone

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Im sure theres a lot of you guys that have flown nights and I was wondering how you handled it and if you get used to it. I'm interested in applying for such a night freight hauler job and want to know if its managable.
 

onthebeach

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Well RR, since several million pilots in the history of aviation have either flown, or are flying, night freight in aircraft ranging from piston singles to transport-category jets, I suppose it is "manageable."

Whether it is "manageable" for you is the question.

I'll give you some valuable information, don't take the job if you can't adapt rapidly to changing circumstances, or think for yourself. And above all, if you're afraid of work, or think the pilot's job is just flying the plane, don't fly night freight.

Best to you.
 

RichardRambone

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Im just trying to get an insight into night flying so that I CAN see if its managable for me.
 

CaravanMan

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It's not so bad if you are fortunate to have the same route every day, every week. There were some times where I'd just start to feel comfortable (adapted) with the overnight hours, only to be switched to days the following week. Then, right after my week of day trips, I was back to the overnight legs. That made it pretty tough and I felt tired all the time. I still love doing this kind of work though. Good luck, I hope you get a great job! :)
 

ms6073

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RichardRambone said:
Im just trying to get an insight into night flying so that I CAN see if its managable for me.
Some things to consider-
  • If you are the type of person that hits the snooze button on the alarm clock 3-6-9 times before getting up each day, or are never able to be on time for anything, then you might want to consider something other than night freight flying.
  • If you can't imagine not having a long weekend off for New Years, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, then you might want to consider something other than night freight flying.
  • If you can't imagine not being at the bar/club until last call on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights, then you might want to consider something other than night freight flying.
 

RichardRambone

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Some beach that sounds like me with the exception of the snooze button thingy and never being able to make it on time.
 

Koslen

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T-Gates said:
It really depends on what kind of night freight flying you're doing.

As the above poster said, if you have a normal scheduled run, you get to know everything and anything about your route of flight and become very good at it quick. The only problem is you might become complacent and bend your own rules every now and then.

If you're flying on-demand cargo, you'll constantly be tested with new airports, new weather conditions, wierd loads, etc. Just when you think you have it figured out, you'll get called out for a trip that will test all your skills.

Also, especially with 135, learn your regs cold. Also know your company's ops specs. If you work for a low-rent 135, you'll be thrown into a situation every now and then where your company might try to feed you thier "interpretation" of a reg to try and get you to fly. Never exceed your personal limits for a company. If you do, they'll take advantage of you forever. Risking life, limb, or certificate is not worth the bag of letters or crate of auto parts you may be carrying.

All in all, best experience I ever had, I highly reccomend it. But never let your guard down. There are plenty of sharp, experienced, safe freight dogs no longer with us.
This is excellent advise. I could not agree more. I have been to a coulple of funerals myself of some fantastic airmen. Just remeber this type of flying will require your best all of the time. And don't think it is different in the large transport world either. Flying non-scheduled part 121 can be even more challenging at some of the cargo outfits. I have some stories believe me!
 

EatSleepFly

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It's not for everyone, but a lot of people do it and manage just fine.

I think a regular run wouldn't be so bad. At my current job, being on demand, it's pretty rough at times. A typical week goes something like this:

Sun: Up all day (off), bed around 2330 or so.
Mon: Wake up at 1000, up all day (on call). Get paged at 1900 for a trip.
Tue: Return from trip at 0800. Sleep from 1000 until 2000, then sit around awaiting the pager to go off.
Wed: Finally go back to sleep at 0200. Get paged out for a trip at 0500. Gone until 1900. Bed at 2300.
Thu: Back on call at 0600. Wake up at 0930. Sit around all day waiting to go out. Nothing happening apparently, so try to go to sleep at 2200. Pager goes off at 2230. Out all night.
Fri: Return at 1300 looking like a zombie. Bed at 1400. Wake at 2200.
Sat: Back on call at 0000. Try to go back to sleep at 0200. On call until around 1700 on Saturday, so can't get more than 20 minutes from airport.
Sun: Back on call at either 2100 or midnight, depending on the week.

As you can see, this job sucks ass because my company fails to recognize us as human beings. I like freight, but hoping to jump to a better company.

Personally, nights don't bother me at all, I like flying at night. I don't mind the hard work that's involved with freight either and I like flying single-pilot. It's the inconsistency like CaravanMan said- the switching back and forth between nights and days that is rough.

If the above schedule doesn't look too appealing to you, don't fly on-demand freight, go somewhere with scheduled runs. Not trying to be discouraging, but I think the above schedule is pretty typical of on-demand flying.

Good luck though, and happy hunting! :)
 
Last edited:

EatSleepFly

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T-Gates said:
Also, especially with 135, learn your regs cold. Also know your company's ops specs. If you work for a low-rent 135, you'll be thrown into a situation every now and then where your company might try to feed you thier "interpretation" of a reg to try and get you to fly. Never exceed your personal limits for a company. If you do, they'll take advantage of you forever. Risking life, limb, or certificate is not worth the bag of letters or crate of auto parts you may be carrying.
That is SO true. Anyone about to start flying freight should read that repeatedly. Well said!
 

Koslen

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EatSleepFly said:
It's not for everyone, but a lot of people do it and manage just fine.

I think a regular run wouldn't be so bad. At my current job, being on demand, it's pretty rough at times. A typical week goes something like this:

Sun: Up all day (off), bed around 2330 or so.
Mon: Wake up at 1000, up all day (on call). Get paged at 1900 for a trip.
Tue: Return from trip at 0800. Sleep from 1000 until 2000, then sit around awaiting the pager to go off.
Wed: Finally go back to sleep at 0200. Get paged out for a trip at 0500. Gone until 1900. Bed at 2300.
Thu: Back on call at 0600. Wake up at 0930. Sit around all day waiting to go out. Nothing happening apparently, so try to go to sleep at 2200. Pager goes off at 2230. Out all night.
Fri: Return at 1300 looking like a zombie. Bed at 1400. Wake at 2200.
Sat: Back on call at 0000. Try to go back to sleep at 0200. On call until around 1700 on Saturday, so can't get more than 20 minutes from airport.
Sun: Back on call at either 2100 or midnight, depending on the week.

As you can see, this job sucks ass because my company fails to recognize us as human beings. I like freight, but hoping to jump to a better company.

Personally, nights don't bother me at all, I like flying at night. I don't mind the hard work that's involved with freight either and I like flying single-pilot. It's the inconsistency like CaravanMan said- the switching back and forth between nights and days that is rough.

If the above schedule doesn't look too appealing to you, don't fly on-demand freight, go somewhere with scheduled runs. Not trying to be discouraging, but I think the above schedule is pretty typical of on-demand flying.

Good luck though, and happy hunting! :)
Well said. This is exactly how it is. And just to add one more element. At most on-demand gigs you only get a small weekly gaurentee. At my 135 gig we got 600 a week gross just to be on call. I'm not complaining about it it is just the way it is. So if things are slow you don't make much money. Yet you are still oncall. When its hot its great! some weeks I would gross up to 2700 dollars. I can remember making 10000 bucks in a month. It is feast or famine in this buisness. I for one did not mind the schedule or lack of it. I did call in to tired to fly a couple of times over the years and didn't get much flack. But I am a insomniac so I can go along tome without sleep and still maintain a high level of alertness and concetration. This type of flying is not for everyone. Oh and don't forget how your family or girlfreind will handle it. If you have one. My wife was thrilled to see me get a job with scheduled days off.

Good luck!
 

KeroseneSnorter

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RichardRambone said:
Im just trying to get an insight into night flying so that I CAN see if its managable for me.

Um, it is just like day flying, except you do not need sunglasses.

12 to 14 hours a day for an airline.....or 12 to 14 hours a night for a freighter.

Buy some thick dark drapes for the bedroom window and other than looking all pasty white like Count Dracula after a couple of years it is about the same. Done both, only really becomes a factor if you have kids. At least with a freighter in the check hauling market you are home every ni....er....I mean day. More than you can say for every other flying job out there.
 

labbats

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EatSleepFly said:
Sun: Up all day (off), bed around 2330 or so.
Mon: Wake up at 1000, up all day (on call). Get paged at 1900 for a trip.
Tue: Return from trip at 0800. Sleep from 1000 until 2000, then sit around awaiting the pager to go off.
Wed: Finally go back to sleep at 0200. Get paged out for a trip at 0500. Gone until 1900. Bed at 2300.
Thu: Back on call at 0600. Wake up at 0930. Sit around all day waiting to go out. Nothing happening apparently, so try to go to sleep at 2200. Pager goes off at 2230. Out all night.
Fri: Return at 1300 looking like a zombie. Bed at 1400. Wake at 2200.
Sat: Back on call at 0000. Try to go back to sleep at 0200. On call until around 1700 on Saturday, so can't get more than 20 minutes from airport.
Sun: Back on call at either 2100 or midnight, depending on the week.

If the above schedule doesn't look too appealing to you, don't fly on-demand freight, go somewhere with scheduled runs. Not trying to be discouraging, but I think the above schedule is pretty typical of on-demand flying.
If the above schedule does appeal to you, might I suggest you run, not walk, to the nearest head shrinker.

There's too many variables to pin down whether or not you'd like night freight. Try it and see, it's the best experience you can get. But it's not easy.
 

zuka

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One thing I like about night freight is you never need to use an alarm clock. You can sleep as long as you want because by the time you wake up naturally it's late afternoon and you don't fly until evening. Although sometimes I would use alarm clock on layover... I would sleep from 3:00am - 4:00am and would need an alarm clock in case i doze off. But being able to wake up whenever you want is great... it's like you go flying instead of going to bed.
 

FN FAL

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Why does it have to be night freight? I'm off the clock by 8:30 pm usually and I only fly mon/wed/fri...no pager, no cell phone, no calls at home, no standby, no ad-hocs.

As for holidays, any holiday that falls on a friday or monday, turns my weekend into a 4 day weekend...and these are paid holidays on top of salary.

There are some good freight jobs out there, you just have to understand that the ones that time builders jump on are not going to have the best work conditions, schedules, pay, mx or aircraft.

I coun't my blessings that I chose this job over the other two that offered to me at the time; one was a Citation 560XL 135/91 FO position and the other was a 135 Shorts CA position.
 

Big Duke Six

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I was fortunate and got hooked up with a scheduled 135 freight operator. WE also did a small amount of on-demand, but it didn't throw us off our regualr schedules very often. If you aren't afraid to work it is a great job!


We kept to our own routes for the most part, but towards the end of my 2.5 years there I was doing a fair amount of filling in for vacations, sicks etc. That was a little more challenging flying-wise, but also QOL went down. As others have said, bouncing around the countryside living out of your flightbag and a suitcase kind of sucks. You have to eat out more (we had apartments (with cable) and a vehicle at each outstation, and it really became "home" since you spent more time there than you did next to your wife) as opposed to being able to cook your meals. Having your own route also means you get your timing down to the gnats arse, ie you always knew to the minute when you had to actually leave the apartment to meet the truck at the plane etc. Not that I ever cut it that close...

We also had our "own" airplanes on our routes for the most part, which meant safety went up due to greater familiarity with the aircraft. Out of all the Metros we had, every cockpit was different. Not just things in different places, which was bad, but you never knew what different types of equipment you'd get if your regular bird was in for MX or whatever. Some had panel-mounted GPS, some didn't. If it had one, you may or may not have ever used one like it in the past. I flew one once for the first time on a DARK night. To my chagrin, it had TWO transponders with a small unmarked switch to select one or the other. Of course, the switch was set to use the xpndr that was buried way UNDER the panel so I didn't even know it was there, etc etc etc.

I loved the job though, and gained MUCH valuable experience. I'd recommend it highly!!
 
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