Pity the poverty-stricken New Zealand helicopter pilot. Jobs are very hard to find these days, unless you flee the country for Canada’s Arctic North – or other hostile territory.
The only upside to New Zealand’s short winter days and even shorter wages is the onset of the frost-protection season, with the prospect of lucrative pre-dawn work to keep a few logs on the wood-burning stove.
But as one badly cash-strapped pilot was reminded, the Class 1 Medical must be renewed, and you can buy a couple of cords of firewood and a month’s supply of Bluff oysters, Beluga caviar and Watties baked beans for what the doctor and the CAA now charge – in this particular case, around $675.
The hero of our story relates: “That’s a lot of money to come up with if you only have part time work, or any income for that matter.
“So I had one government agency imposing a ridiculous fee, making it impossible for me to even be eligible for work.
“My solution was to use another government agency to pay for it so I could get a job, and – to my surprise – they agreed.”
You may well ask: Who is this mysterious government department? It is none other than Work and Income New Zealand, which is giving our pilot a grant (“so I don’t have to pay it back”) to not only pay the CAA ransom but the medical examination as well.
“And just when you think it can’t get any better, they agreed to pay for a currency flight too. I can’t believe it!”
Pilot X has not deceived WINZ in any way and he is not doing anything illegal. “I simply told them that, in order for me to work, I had to pay these costs – which I could not afford.”
When we had stopped falling about with laughter, we had a serious think about this splendid piece of lateral thinking. WINZ would no doubt pay for a truck driver to renew his licence and medical in order to be eligible for work, so why should a pilot be treated any differently?
All the distressed aviator needs is to be registered as unemployed. This hitherto hidden crock of gold could help a lot of pilots involved in seasonal or part time temporary work, as well as those who come back from a tough season in Canada.
It’s a fine example of one Kiwi pilot “sharing the knowledge” to help his fellow pilots, and one about which we can spread the word through GAA’s extensive and rapidly expanding email database of supporters.