Many GA pilots have partnered with Animal rescue and adoption services. To get dogs and other animals to their new homes and build some flight hours
Thomas Middleditch, hilarious comedian and a great actor has his pilots license and a gorgeous Diamond Aircraft. He made a short montage of one of these flights. They even make ear protection for doggos! His channel is also hilarious if you like other gaming.
Yea I’m sure this is still stressful to the animals, but maybe less so than a 4 hour car ride, when you can fly the route in much less time.
Many pilots partner with these organizations as a mutual benefit. Pilots get to log flight hours on short cross country flights. The organization can reach its goals and make their clientele happy!
The archaeologist O.G.S Crawford flew reconnaissance missions with the RAF during WW1, mapping trenches and so on. After the war he joined the Ordnance Survey, using the skills he gained to map archaeological sites. He eventually founding the academic journal Antiquity, partly so that he had somewhere he could publish his aerial photographs.
Today, archaeologists still approach pilots at airfields and pay their fuel in return for taking them up at favourable times to see if new sites have appeared in the crops. The Welsh government even have their own aerial archaeologist (I applied for the job, you didn’t need a pilot’s licence!).
I wouldn’t say it was forgotten in preference to anything…
Search and rescue already seems pretty obvious. But the OP asked for commercial applications. I wouldn’t consider search and rescue a “commercial” endeavor. You don’t see people hiring pilots when they lost a loved one. There is Coast Guard, Military, Police and Fire Rescue services that deal with search and rescue. It’s not necessarily a “for hire job.”
Actually sometimes family DO personally pay for search and rescue if the official services have abandoned the search
Anyway - locally the following operations are occasionally conducted in smaller aircraft:
aerial spraying and crop dusting
tourist flights, especially over the local gorge country that is pretty spectacular
transporting fragile time sensitive cargo, for example in the location I live delivering medical marijuana seedlings for the local medical marijuana operation is a common operation
hired by local training schools for pilot training
our local coroner uses a light twin to get to jobs
local fire service sometimes hire aircraft
rounding up cattle (typically helicopters but sometimes light aircraft)
culling kangaroos, feral pigs and other pests in national parks etc
photography, for example farmers wanting a scenic photo of their farm (as opposed to top down aerial photography like MSFS is based on)
chartered flights, usually a couple of people wanting to go to a location without a commercial service. if you have say 3 people flying and the alternative is commercial flights, overnight stays and then links to bus and train services, sharing the cost of a charter can work out surprisingly economical
traffic observation for the local radio station
flying dignitaries in for a meeting, rock concert etc etc
Note that ALL of the above require a Commercial Pilot Licence and are illegal on a PPL
I think that depends on location. E.g. here in Germany many accident victims are transported by ADAC (automobile association) helicoptors. It’s not a free service but is usually paid for by the customer’s membership subscription or health, accident and motor insurance, if they are not covered they will get a massive bill. The ADAC also do search and rescue under similar terms so if you ever get lost in the mountains you’d better make sure you are injured (not really, they will transport you to a hospital anyway)
So I’m working on my PPL, but worked at a few FBO’s as a fueler. I’ll give you my experience.
So lets start really small Diamond DA 20/Cessna 152
Flight schools/you can do lease backs if you buy one to help cover costs to a flight school.
172’s 182 size
Civil Air Patrol (looking for stranded people downed planes)
Pipeline pilots, low and slow to see if there are issues around pipelines/other things
tow pilots, banner towing, also flight schools.
Bigger 206,210, Seneca’s, Barons and such.
Oil field owners, Contruction owners, flying them out to sites that might be remote or out of the state. Lots of them don’t want to fly airlines or dealing with security. Some fly themselves others will hire a pilot to take them around depending on where they are going.
Slightly bigger Cessna 414. Rich doctors that specialize in things, some fly themselves for work to say a remote town that needs a specialized thing so they can come and go as they please.
For most business travel, either they fly themselves or tend to hire Wheelsup aviation. Usually that is King Air’s and private jets.
I live in an area with dense population – about 180 people per square mile. I know that’s double the US average. Airliners are almost all we see.
For example, in MSFS I’ve been flying South and East of Houston. There’s Ellington only 10 miles away, as well as numerous small airfields, some with less than 5 miles between them. – It’s no remote area. Many grass strips in the Class B. Who’s mostly flying there?
Which areas do you know the mentioned use cases to be common in? Where would you look if you wanted to roleplay such operations?
Speaking for the role I mentioned (aerial archaeology) and from a UK perspective, anywhere (almost) in Britain. You can actually do this meaningfully in MSFS, but I regularly use Google Earth IRL as the imagery gets updated frequently.
You’re looking for cropmarks, soilmarks and parchmarks in arable land. These are the buried remains of former buildings, settlement features, ceremonial monuments, field boundaries and so on. They can show up nicely after periods of drought. Certain geologies lend themselves to cropmark formation more readily, e.g. gravel river terraces and certain crops give better results than others, so in the absence of local knowledge, you’d be looking at geology and land use maps beforehand.
Extant features (banks and ditches etc.) in areas of rough pasture are mainly found in the uplands in the UK and the best time to see them is in low winter sun in the shadows they cast, so not easy to recreate in the sim as the DTMs aren’t usually of sufficient resolution.
The nice thing is that if you do spot something, you can check it against online databases to see if it’s already been recorded or if you have a new find. If it hasn’t been noted yet, you can submit it to the local Historic Environment Record, although it would be best to do some initial verification yourself beforehand to make sure you’re not sending them something modern. Years ago, one of my students submitted an assessment of a meticulously transcribed aerial photograph with an interpretation that it must have been Roman based on its morphology. It was actually the faded outline of a former football field.