Air Support Pilot

County of Santa Barbara
Full Time 24 per week $106,221 - $128,587 Per year CA 4410 Cathedral Oaks Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93110, United States Apply before 5/31/2024 5:00


The County of Santa Barbara’s Air Support Unit (ASU) is accepting applications to fill an vacancy in Santa Ynez Valley.

The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit is a joint unit between the Fire Department and the Sheriff's Office. This cohesive partnership allows responses to all hazard incidents. Examples of mission responses include, but are not limited to, wildland firefighting missions (water dropping, crew insertion, and long line), law enforcement flight operations, ocean and swift water rescue, search, medivac, hoisting, mountain and cliff rescue. The ASU currently has helicopters ready to respond to any emergency, day or night, rain or shine. Aircraft assigned to the ASU consists of: Sikorsky HH-60L, Bell UH-1H, UH 1N, OH-58 and Cessna 206. 

The Air Support Unit is a joint unit and the established employment list will be used to fill current and future Full-Time, Part-Time, Extra Help (Temporary), and CSR (Civil Service Rule) 1414* vacancies for both the Santa Barbara County Fire Department or the Sheriff’s Office.

*CSR 1414 vacancies may occur as a result of a leave of absence (Civil Service Rule 1414) and the duration of the appointment shall be subject to the return of the individual who is on leave. A person who is appointed to a position under Civil Service Rule 1414 may be able to transition into a regular position in the classification without re-application or re-testing, depending on the performance of the appointee and the needs of the department.

This Unit is based in the center of the County at the Santa Ynez Airport andis staffed seven days a week with professional pilots chosen for their experience in the fire and rescue disciplines. These pilots are responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft and are teamed up with an experienced Crew Chief or Tactical Flight Officer. The Crew Chief/ Tactical Flight Officer is responsible for the strategic and tactical planning of the fire, law enforcement, rescue, and medivac mission.

Under direction, operates a helicopter in the performance of law enforcement, fire suppression, and search and rescue activities, conducts routine pre-flight inspections, and performs related duties as required.

Training in all aircraft is not required to apply, but the willingness to train and learn to be proficient on multiple platforms, is highly desirable. Current staffing consists of (4) 10-hour shifts. THE UNIT IS OPEN TO ALTERNATIVE WORK SCHEDULES that could benefit all in providing consistent coverage while also employing highly qualified pilots.

  • A reputation for honesty and trustworthiness
  • Integrity/good moral character
  • Initiative/self-starter
  • Credibility/honesty
  • A strong team approach
  • Dependability
  • Good judgment under pressure
  • Effective communication skills

The operation of the helicopter is subject to hazards and requires the incumbent to monitor aircraft systems during flights constantly. Situational awareness must be observed during flight operations. Special attention should be constantly given to environmental factors, such as terrain, wires, towers, changing weather conditions and other similar issues of concern.

This position may be considered as an Emergency position. The position is part of a 24/7 operation and is subject to non-traditional work hours including rotating shifts, and working weekends and holidays.

COUNTY OF SANTA BARBARA Employee Benefits and Compensation
Benefits and Wellness Plans- Medical/Dental/Vision:   
Compensation Summary:  
Retirement Plan:   
*Please refer to the Memorandum of Understanding for complete details of terms and conditions. 

In addition, applicants from other public sector employers may qualify for: 
  • Retirement reciprocity 
  • Time and service credit towards an advanced vacation accrual rate

FIRE DEPARTMENT: Click to visit the website to learn more about the department.

SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Click to visit the website to learn more about the department

  • An admission of having committed any act amounting to a felony within five years in California, or in another state which would be classified as a felony in California
  • An adult felony conviction in California, or with a conviction for an offense in another state which would be classified as a felony in California
  • Currently on Probation or Parole
  • Adult felony and/or misdemeanor conviction(s) may be disqualifying depending on type, number, severity, and how recent
  • Conviction of/or sustained petitions for any sex crime
  • Recent use and/or possession of illegal drugs; Failure to reveal prior use will be disqualifying
  • Unfavorable work history
  • Poor credit history
  • History of committing domestic violence
  • Dishonesty or failure to reveal pertinent information

Examples of Duties

  1. Pilots a helicopter in support of general law enforcement and fire prevention work for protection of life and property, prevention, suppression of crime, fires, and apprehension of law violators.
  2. Pilots a helicopter over all types of terrain; executes missions involving aerial firefighting, transporting firefighters and equipment to and from fires, hauling cargo (both internal and external), and dropping water and retardant on fires from buckets or tanks; flies routine and emergency missions such as patrol, search and rescue, reconnaissance, medical evacuations, disaster mitigation, and administrative flights.
  3. Performs routine daily inspections to ensure helicopters remain mission capable, including pre-flight inspection; tracks helicopter flight hours and use to determine schedule for preventive maintenance.
  4. Provides airborne support for missions including patrol and aerial search and rescue missions, photography and "downlinking" missions, surveillance and intelligence gathering, support of marijuana detection/eradication operations.
  5. Transports personnel and equipment as required for specialized missions involving units such as SAR/SET/SWAT, K-9, Dive Team, or other personnel as deemed necessary.
  6. Maintains written and computerized flight logs and aircraft and pilot records to comply with FAA regulations and other federal guidelines.
  7. Reads periodic publications and Airworthiness Directives from the FAA; makes necessary adjustments to helicopter operation based on information and directives.
  8. May supervise and direct the work of personnel on the ground who are assisting in operations involving the helicopter.

Employment Standards

  1. Must possess and maintain a valid Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Commercial Airman's Certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter rating; OR, a valid FAA Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter rating; AND
  2. Must have a minimum of 2,500 hours of helicopter flight time as pilot-in-command, including: at least 1,000 hours of mountain pilot-in-command helicopter flight time, AND at least 1,500 hours of pilot-in-command turbine engine flight time.

Additional Requirements:
  • Possession of a valid and current FAA Class II or higher medical certificate at the time of application.
  • 30 hours of night flying, at the time of application.
  • Available to respond within one hour during standby.
  • Must be US Forest Service or CalFire Carded or must be qualified to pass a US Forest Service or CalFire Carding Check Ride. As a condition of continued employment, must obtain card within 1 year of appointment.
  • Possession of a valid California Class C Driver's License at the time of appointment.
Appointees to this classification will be subject to mandatory testing for drugs prior to beginning work; once on the job, incumbents will be subject to mandatory testing for drugs and/or alcohol on a random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up basis.

Knowledge of:  helicopter flight control systems and equipment; Interagency Helicopter Operations Guidelines; Federal Aviation Regulations and the Aeronautical Information Manual; basic math to compute weight and balance and load calculations; basic recordkeeping practices.

Ability to:  attend classes in order to learn firefighting methods, emergency medical procedures as related to flight considerations, and rescue operations; learn to understand and apply technical information regarding hazardous chemicals and gases, and fire prevention rules and regulations; learn to analyze fire and emergency situations quickly and accurately and take appropriate action; learn local geography, roads, and water supply systems; learn and follow departmental rules, regulations, and policies; understand and follow oral and written directions, especially during emergencies; speak clearly and audibly to communicate during operation of helicopter; apply basic mechanical principles such as leverage, force, acceleration, and friction; establish and maintain effective working relationships with superiors and co-workers; skillfully and safely operate helicopter; read and understand equipment maintenance manuals and schematics to make minor repairs; write legibly to record work needed on equipment and assignments; work independently and without close supervision; use a computer; learn software programs.

Desirable Qualifications:  
  • A valid Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate with Rotorcraft Helicopter or Airplane class rating; Certified Flight Instrument Instructor (CFII); and NVG Instructor.
  • A valid Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Commercial License with Airplane Single Engine Land and Instrument rating.

Knowledge of:  Operation of fixed-wing aircraft; basic firefighting principles including fire behavior, weather conditions, safety hazards and precautions; principles of fire behavior, burning and firing methods, and basic air operations; basic fire suppression methods in open and mountainous terrain; local geography and water supply systems; Incident Command System; local topography and area weather conditions; basic first aid; wildland fire behavior and fire weather.

Law enforcement experience, the tactical considerations associated with operational situations, pursuits, containment perimeters, radio communication and coordination with ground units.

Ability to:  make tactical decisions in emergency situations regarding the most effective use of available Air Support Unit equipment and/or resources; ability to operate aircraft under Night Vision Goggles.