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Thread: How to Start a 135 Operation in AK

  1. #1

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    How to Start a 135 Operation in AK

    So I've been wanting to start my own 9 pax or less Part 135. I currently fly 121 so have a little bit of knowledge about the requirements, but the things I don't know are what the markets like around the Anchorage area. I have a 185 that is almost ready to pass a conformity check if need be, but is it possible to make a living year round? I know doing game surveys are a huge money maker, but I have zero experience using radio tracking. Does anybody have a ballpark price on what insurance rates are?

  2. #2

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    Steve in Soldatna Falcon Insurance
    Jerry at AirSure

    Used both to insure, both are good.

    "OAS" is a real gov't operation in every respect.

    We we can talk if you like, just rattle my cage. It is 135 fun, lots of fun

  3. #3
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Sooooo much easier to work for someone else.

    Much less headache, and more money at home every month. Well, some less, but I don't have to pay the fuel and parts bills...
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  4. #4
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    half million in gross revenue a year, 530k in expenses a year & some bent planes..... and break even in late September the next year... rinse, repeat!

    yup!!

  5. #5

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    Start with 1 million in the bank. No make it 2.
    Tim

  6. #6
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    encouraging or are we or educating? (been there done that!)

    parents said they were doing it for me... I said, I THOUGHT you LIKED me??

  7. #7

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    I have started my own charter service in a king air. Expect about 2 years in paperwork for a simple single pilot operator. 1.75 times regular insurance, you may think your ready for conformity but it's all the log books not the physical plane. It's a pain in the butt!

  8. #8
    Speedo's Avatar
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    There are lots of single pilot 135 operators who will share their experience. They all say roughly the
    same thing: you don't make much money. Most of the guys who make a go of it for more than a
    few years have found a niche. Finding the niche is the hard part.
    Speedo

  9. #9

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    The successful single pilot 135 guys I know are drawing retirements from previous careers. Some others do maintenance in the winter. The common point is they have another source of income.
    Last edited by stewartb; 12-17-2016 at 07:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 7GCBC View Post
    So I've been wanting to start my own 9 pax or less Part 135. I currently fly 121 so have a little bit of knowledge about the requirements, but the things I don't know are what the markets like around the Anchorage area. I have a 185 that is almost ready to pass a conformity check if need be, but is it possible to make a living year round? I know doing game surveys are a huge money maker, but I have zero experience using radio tracking. Does anybody have a ballpark price on what insurance rates are?
    You'll be lucky to get honest answers to your questions. Where would you get good info? I wouldn't have a clue. However, if I were a part 135 in Alaska, I wouldn't tell you a single thing about my business- like nothing. Zero. Any successful operator keeps their cards very very close. They'd be secretive on everything, and if anything was said that "appeared" to be advice could be misleading. Does anyone want more competition? In our business we share nothing with our competitors or potential ones.
    We will help our competition with spare parts or equipment if they need that help, no problem there. But operating info? No.
    Roddy

  11. #11
    nanook's Avatar
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    Are you offering a service that someone is willing to pay for? I know this is a strange concept, having a 185 on a 135 certificate doesn't imply somehow that people are going to be knocking on your door to take them somewhere. Why should I hire your 185 when Joe Blows 206 has been doing the job just fine. Before you spend huge amounts of time and money getting a 135 certificate, come up with a viable market for yourself. Now would be the time to walk away from it if you can't come up with contracts to fly X amounts of hours for some lodge, mine, skiing or hunting guides, game surveys, mineral exploration companies and on and on.

  12. #12

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    Thanks for all the good information I was worried about finding the niche in the market, but I do have my IA so hopefully I could supplement with doing maintenance work in the winter. I know I'm not going to get rich, but I just want to make a decent living flying little airplanes.

  13. #13
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7GCBC View Post
    Thanks for all the good information I was worried about finding the niche in the market, but I do have my IA so hopefully I could supplement with doing maintenance work in the winter. I know I'm not going to get rich, but I just want to make a decent living flying little airplanes.

    Ahhh, Go fly for someone else! Lots of places 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off flying. Some will pay you extra to work in the shop when not flying. You will get paid, you will be able to sleep at night, you will be able to pay the bills, you will get to fly!

    Lots of competition in the Greater Anchorage area. Lots of retired airline guys wanting to have the IRS help pay for planes and hangers.

    Some companies will lease your 185 even.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  14. #14
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Go fishing...clean work and no carcass to haul or FAA to deal with. People will spend money to recreate summer and winter and on their dogs before chartering in some cases. Not sure now but at one time it was considered Part 91. Just an option at least it once was.

    GAP

  15. #15
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    Sounds to me like someone who is trying to figure a way to claim the airplane as a "business expense" to the IRS. If you're still actually flying for a 121 operation, how can you be available for an on demand 135 operation?

    As others have said, is there a demand for what you can offer? If you're going to focus on game survey's , what's your experience in that kind of flying? And, is there actually someone out there who will hire you for that kind of work? Frankly, there's not much of a market for a 185 in most of Alaska. Lots of 135 types out there with airplanes that can do that job.

    Good luck.....just be honest with yourself and the FAA. It's not an easy business to actually make $$ in.

    MTV

  16. #16
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    If you have an IA DON't tell the new place you are trying to get hired at. You will get put in the shop, not out flying. Had more than one pilot that didn't tell us till much later for that fear of getting stuck wrenching

  17. #17

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    When I went to Chicago FSDO to have my initial interview to start the process to obtain a 135 certificate to give seaplane rides out of Navy Pier, they told me that there were a number of professionals who specialize in handling the process from start to finish at reasonable prices.

    The FAA was very helpful and supportive, but encouraged me to use one of the experts to do as much or as little as I didn't want to do myself.

    Given the enormous amount of paperwork that required specific, detailed information that must meet obscure rules as to language, form, and required content, I went with one who the FAA highly recommended. I would not have been able to do it myself and maintain a busy law practice.

    What he could do in an afternoon would have taken me two months of solid research, writing or locating compliance documents, finding and setting up drug testing programs, writing manuals on all the crew/mechanic training programs and compliance reporting.

    It was a no brainer decision for me. Hire an expert to do the hard work is my advice.

  18. #18
    aktango58's Avatar
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    No training manuals for single pilot.

    The paperwork is not really that bad, you just need to sequester yourself in a room with the FAR's and computer for a number of days and type each reg in, then tell how you will comply.

    It will come back for edits, a few times. If you have something better to do, get help. If you are sitting looking at bad weather do it yourself. Drug test program? two phone calls and a credit card number, fax application.

    The issue recently is that no one in the FAA has had time to review new applications, so they say it will take years to work through the process no matter what.

    Conformity is another kettle of fish. An exercise in stupidity and playing circus monkey. Not about safety, but educating the applicant on 'who has the power'.

    Then again, once you have it done, you have something accomplished. Will you ever earn enough for your time? who knows.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion View Post
    Sounds to me like someone who is trying to figure a way to claim the airplane as a "business expense" to the IRS. If you're still actually flying for a 121 operation, how can you be available for an on demand 135 operation?

    As others have said, is there a demand for what you can offer? If you're going to focus on game survey's , what's your experience in that kind of flying? And, is there actually someone out there who will hire you for that kind of work? Frankly, there's not much of a market for a 185 in most of Alaska. Lots of 135 types out there with airplanes that can do that job.

    Good luck.....just be honest with yourself and the FAA. It's not an easy business to actually make $$ in.

    MTV
    im not trying to claim a "Business Expense" for the IRS, I want to quit the 121 flying and be home more often, not trying to do both. Seems like the biggest overhead would be Operating Costs, Maintenance, and Insurance. With that aside it seems possible to make a slight profit if one was doing everything themselves.

  20. #20
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Neighbor at the FAI float pond has been one op VFR 135 for years in a C-185. Does most of his own maintenance as A&P. Works for guides and gov't mainly with some personal charters, sometimes on extended trips to far away places. Still in business and has learned to patiently listen to the various examiners. Seems happy.

    GAP
    Likes bdrfuzz liked this post

  21. #21

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    Paul did you ever get to give rides at navy pier?

  22. #22

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    No.

    Mayor Daley, supposedly because of fears of a possible 9/11 style attack, tore up Miegs field soon after I presented my proposal to the city, park district, USACOE, EPA, etc.

    It was apparent the Mayor would never allow it, so I gave up. It was another expensive lesson.

  23. #23
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    How to Start a 135 Operation in AK

    Quote Originally Posted by aktango58 View Post
    No training manuals for single pilot.

    The paperwork is not really that bad, you just need to sequester yourself in a room with the FAR's and computer for a number of days and type each reg in, then tell how you will comply.

    It will come back for edits, a few times. If you have something better to do, get help. If you are sitting looking at bad weather do it yourself. Drug test program? two phone calls and a credit card number, fax application.

    The issue recently is that no one in the FAA has had time to review new applications, so they say it will take years to work through the process no matter what.

    Conformity is another kettle of fish. An exercise in stupidity and playing circus monkey. Not about safety, but educating the applicant on 'who has the power'.

    Then again, once you have it done, you have something accomplished. Will you ever earn enough for your time? who knows.
    Chuck got a new one up and running this summer after selling Fjord. He said he was the first test case for the new model in which it is the Medallion Foundation (I think that's the name) not the FAA, that processes the application. He said it was an absolute nightmare and would have much rather dealt with FAA directly.

    I know next to nothing about it, but I think the better way is to buy an existing operator out. I'm sure with the bleak economic outlook in this state, finding a seller would be pretty straight forward. Making a go of it might be another thing. Any air taxi that's making a living really deserves it in my opinion.

    Good luck, hope the right thing happens for the OP.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    Neighbor at the FAI float pond has been one op VFR 135 for years in a C-185. Does most of his own maintenance as A&P. Works for guides and gov't mainly with some personal charters, sometimes on extended trips to far away places. Still in business and has learned to patiently listen to the various examiners. Seems happy.

    GAP
    Would his initials be AG

  25. #25
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffP View Post
    Would his initials be AG
    Not Andy who would also fit the description well. Webster's Flying Service. Long time Alaskan pilot...one of the last of the good ones. Safe and seen it all.

    GAP

  26. #26

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    Ok I know there are a couple 135's I think Miles is also there with a 185 . Seems like you either do a one man show or just work for someone from the little I know of it.

  27. #27
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Yes Myles is another experienced 135 op. We are fortunate in Interior Alaska to have the combined experienced of all these excellent operators. What's disturbing is that who's going to do the backfill for future years? Not much incentive to enter the profession versus flying for someone else. As noted it often takes a second income (from a significant other or prior employment) to carry through the lean periods it seems.

    Read about Al Wright's flying life to appreciate the struggles:

    http://www.alaskatrappers.org/bio_sketch_al_wright.html
    https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegri...data/809867831
    https://www.adn.com/bush-pilot/artic...ht/2012/09/17/

    GAP

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    Good reading I will enjoy it.

    Yea I think this is Myles 3rd life or something, war flying then bunch of IFR stuff and with a retirement income now he can fly his own plane.

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  30. #30
    aktango58's Avatar
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    If the contract will stay with the certificate, that is a steal.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  31. #31
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    GAP where do you park? I'm at 149

    jk

  32. #32
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jk View Post
    GAP where do you park? I'm at 149

    jk

    FP188. Stop by for a visit anytime I'm there with my dog most days. Still on tires and probably won't put on skis until February.

    Not much 135 activity this year from my neighbor(s). Might be a traditional slow cold winter for them until the rural residents need supplies.

    GAP

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