Are you fascinated by the world of aviation but not sure where to take your career?
Look beyond the traditional roles of a flight attendant, pilot, or air traffic controller and discover the exciting and unique career opportunities available in the industry.
From sky typing to wing-walking, the aviation field offers a wide range of options for those with a passion for flight.
In this post, we will take a closer look at 5 unusual aviation careers you may not have known existed. You will get to appreciate that these offbeat careers offer a little bit of something for anyone who has an interest in aviation – whether they’re a thrill seeker or a design enthusiast.
We will also look into the salary scale for each type of unusual career.
Ready? Buckle up and let’s explore the skies together, as we delve into the 5 unusual aviation careers that you didn`t know existed before:
1. Hot Air Balloonist
A hot air balloonist is a person who pilots a hot air balloon.
Hot air balloons are aircraft that are filled with hot air to make them rise into the sky. The hot air is provided by a burner, which is fueled by propane. The pilot controls the altitude of the balloon by adjusting the heat in the envelope (the fabric part of the balloon that holds the hot air). They can also control the direction of the balloon by using wind currents at different altitudes.
Hot air ballooning is a recreational activity and a competitive sport. Pilots compete in distance, speed, and accuracy events, and also participate in hot-air balloon festivals, where they fly in formation and perform aerial maneuvers.
To be a hot air balloonist, you need to be licensed by the civil aviation authority in your country. In the USA, for example, this civil aviation authority is called the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Before you apply for licensing, you must take 6 ground exams and have a minimum of 16 hours of flying experience.
A skytyper is a pilot who flies in a specific pattern, releasing smoke from the back of the airplane to create a desired image/message in the sky.
Like hot air balloonists, skytypers are also hired for special events such as weddings or sports competitions, airshows, demonstrations, etc
They usually fly older models originally used in WWII as trainers, e.g the SNJ-2.
3. Birdman – More Unusual
Bird strikes are a serious safety concern in the aviation industry, as they can cause damage to an aircraft’s engines, windshields, and other critical components. Larger birds, such as geese and gulls, can cause significant damage and even result in an emergency landing or crash.
To mitigate this risk, airports employ various strategies to keep birds away from the runways and taxiways, such as using trained birds of prey to chase away other birds, and landscaping with vegetation that is less attractive to birds.
One of the methods used to keep birds away from the airport is by employing a “birdman” also known as a Bird Control Officer.
A birdman can use a larger bird such as a falcon to chase other birds in the area. Once the birdman releases his trained bird, every single goose or great blue heron in the vicinity will promptly vacate the premises — wings flapping like mad, hearts pounding like all get-out — in desperate search of a safer haven.
The birdman can also use various other techniques such as shouting, clapping, setting off fireworks, and flares, or using laser pointers to scare the birds away. Basically, the whole point is to patrol the airport grounds and surrounding areas looking for birds and chasing them away before they can pose a danger to the planes.
Bird control officers are also responsible for monitoring bird populations, identifying potential hazards, and implementing control measures. They also keep records of bird strikes, bird populations, and the effectiveness of control measures, and share this information with airport management and other relevant authorities.
It’s important to note that birds are a part of the ecosystem and bird control officers aim to minimize the risk to aircraft without causing harm to the birds.
A wing walker is an individual who performs acrobatic stunts (hanging from the wing struts or standing on the wingtips) on the wings of an airplane while it is in flight.
They typically perform these stunts during airshows and other aviation events. Wingwalking originated in the 1920s and 1930s, and it became a popular form of entertainment during that time.
The wingwalker is securely harnessed to the aircraft and is trained in safety procedures before performing. The aircraft used for wing walking is generally a biplane such as a Stearman or a Boeing PT-17, which are modified to support the weight of the person doing the wing walking.
You are right to think that this is a dangerous type of activity! After all, people have lost lives before doing this kind of activity.
However, wing-walking is considered a relatively safe form of aviation as the aircraft fly at low altitudes and low speeds. The pilots are trained and experienced in flying the aircraft and are able to handle any unexpected situations that may arise.
It is also considered a super-fun kind of activity, not just for the wing walker but for the pilot flying the aircraft. The pilot gets to fly in unique patterns, creating designs and messages in the sky that can be seen by thousands of people. It is also a great way to showcase the pilot’s skills and precision. How cool is that!
5: Interior Designer
An aircraft interior designer is responsible for designing and creating the interior of an aircraft.
This includes the layout, design, and materials used for the seats, overhead bins, galleys, lavatories, and other cabin components. They also consider functionality, safety, and comfort of the passengers and crew.
The designer normally works with the aircraft manufacturer or an aircraft completion center to ensure that the interior meets all safety and regulatory requirements, as well as the specific needs and preferences of the aircraft’s operator.
Aircraft interior designers use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create detailed drawings of the interior layout and to specify materials and finishes. They also work with suppliers and vendors to select and purchase materials, such as textiles, carpets, lighting, and cabinetry. They also collaborate with engineers and other technical experts to ensure that the design is feasible and can be properly installed in the aircraft.
In case you are thinking that aircraft interior designing is all about colors and making things looks pretty, then you are wrong. It goes beyond that.
It is a highly specialized field and requires knowledge of aerospace engineering, materials science, ergonomics, and safety regulations, as well as an understanding of design principles and trends.
As you noticed, these five unusual careers are just a glimpse into the many other options available for those who are passionate about flight. The industry is heavily pregnant with possibilities and is always looking for talented and motivated people who are willing to think outside the box and explore the many possibilities.
So next time you’re thinking about a career in aviation, remember to look beyond the usual suspects and explore the many exciting and unique opportunities available in this dynamic field.
The skies are the limit!