I guess it's just the nature of helicopter pilots to always be negative. And you, sir must have a typically miserable, negative life. Yeah there was one year (2014?) when a lot of ships didn't turn a blade, especially down towards Wenatchee. Up in the Okanogan Valley we flew. Maybe not a record-setting year, but all of our ships flew.
There is no "average" anymore. Having said that, you're right, cherry-drying is not a time builder. It's not a full-time gig. It's a check-out in a weird old helicopter that your grandpa might have flown. It's two months of employment for guys who might not have a full-time CFI or EMS job and want something fun to do for the summer. And who knows, we do have three turbine-conversions so you *might* get assigned to one of them. We hire pilots for 60 days. Tell that to the small ship guys who are only on 20 or 30 day contracts. (Gee, a checkout in an extremely rare helicopter *and* $6,000 whether you fly or not. Yeah, rough duty.)
$100/day? Yeah, it could pay more. Returning pilots do get paid more. Pilots with cherry-drying experience can (and should) ask for more. But even for first-timers, we put you up in a house with kitchen facilities and a washer/dryer. Tell that to the guys who have to stay in motels and eat out all the time. Our boss is always having cookouts or community meals, or he's bringing everyone to lunch or dinner, so nobody goes hungry.
So all of you guys (and I suspect that it's just one a-hole) whining about how burger flippers make more money, or full-time CFI's make more money or you wouldn't touch that job with a ten-foot pole or blah blah blah...go f**k yourselves and don'tapply. We won't miss your sparkling personality. But you guys who've got around 1,000 hours, no Instrument yet and want to have some fun with a great group of guys? Come on up! There are plenty of openings. There's another company that has 10 S-58's and we have 12 S-55's.