Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


Tryout for Life As a Freight Dog

February 24-25, 1977

"Freight Dog" is a semi-affectionate term used in the aviation community for pilots that just fly freight. Think UPS, FedEx, DHL, Kalitta Air. As well as many smaller freight operations that "feed" the big guys with scheduled runs to smaller airports. But FBO charter pilots are also often called upon to fly freight. Many of my trips as a charter pilot for my FBO were freight trips. That gave me a taste for the freight dog slice of the aviation career opportunity spectrum. There was a time I wanted to fly for Zantop (no longer in business) - mainly to get to fly the Lockheed Electra. And when FedEx was just starting up and they were flying those ratty old Falcon 20s, with the pilots themselves doing the loading and unloading, they suggested I should apply. The guy who got me my multi rating was a former freight dog. One of the pilots I flew with at my corporate job was a former freight dog. I have to say that slice of the aviation pilot spectrum has some awfully damn good pilots. At the FBO I had some exposure to being a freight dog career pilot, and I decided it wasn't for me. Not enough of a "night person" I guess.

This particular trip as logged above was to pick up some freight in the Cherokee Six (one hell of an airplane for this job, BTW) and deliver it to some place in Arkansas. "Just in time" delivery for some manufacturing company. This trip would last well into the early morning hours and be mostly night IFR in IMC with a non-functional autopilot. Fuel stops would be needed to meet IFR alternate and reserve requirements. Airports with FBOs open at those times of night would be crucial.

To make a ten and a half hour flight time logged story short, I stayed awake, I completed the trip, and I still gave flight instruction to four students the next day. One trip's tryout as a freight dog, and others I might document here, convinced me to go the corporate pilot route for my aviation career. Though ... if I had gone FedEx in those early days, I would have made one hell of a lot more money, and retired as one of their most senior line captains.



References for Non-Pilots: