This Airplane's For The Birds
As flying jobs go, Steve Earsom must have one of the best around -- as a pilot-biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he flies out of Puerto Rico in a twin VulcanAir with a big glass nose built for wildlife-watching. "We monitor endangered species like whales, pelicans, and manatees, work airborne ATC to help in aerial firefighting, assess the condition of coral reefs, help with aerial mapping and oil-spill detection, enforce the Clean Water Act ..." The list goes on and on, ensuring a slim chance of pilot boredom. Fish and Wildlife operates a fleet of about 60 aircraft, Earsom said, including five of the VulcanAirs. About two-thirds of the fleet is based in Alaska. Earsom said he flew about 400 hours last year, and also works on the ground as a biologist at a wildlife refuge.