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TheFightinFrog
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Posted: 7/11/2012 9:51:35 PM

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So I'm looking at starting a 2 year rotary wing aviation program (then maybe another 2 at Embery Riddle) through my local CC and I was curious if any one could answer a few questions. First, is it worth it going into this program or are former .mil guys too much competition in the job market? I'm prior .mil, not aviation, so I'm going on my GI Bill. Second, what kind of demand is there for helo pilots, if any at all? I live in Portland, OR so it's not too small of a city. I make about 70k a year as a Deputy Sheriff but I'm not too fond of my career and would kill to be a pilot. Because of my schedule as an LEO I can work another 40 hours a week and still work at my current job pretty easily. I want to get a degree but aviation is the only thing I really want to do. Any suggestions? Thanks!


esa17
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Posted: 7/11/2012 10:11:38 PM
Do not go into debt for flight training, the GI bill won't cover your private which in rotary is ungodly expensive.

Second, don't get any sort of aviation degree. That leaves you with no backup in the event of you not being able to live out your aviation "dream".

As far as the demand for helicopter pilots, it's fairly similar to fixed wing so repeat after me:

There is no pilot shortage!
There is no pilot shortage!
There is no pilot shortage!

If anyone tells you otherwise, stand up and leave.

The next thing to consider is your wage. To get back to $70k you're probably going to work for the better part of a decade. Expect your starting wage to be closer to 20k than 30. Benefits...nope. Being a CFI is how you will likely build your time and that won't pay well.

It's a difficult path to make it but being a pilot has it's rewards.

Since you're a LEO I'd consider trying to join a department that will train you to be a chopper pilot. I know Jacksonville had a program like that because I trained a few of their guys through their fixed wing private. Fort Worth had a similar program also.


All that said: if you're young, single and have no responsibilities earn your ratings, instruct for a bit and then call Temsco in Juneau.
RDP
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Posted: 7/11/2012 10:20:33 PM
Find an agency that has an air unit and uses officers for the positions. Much easier to walk in with a fixed wing PPL and have them pay, then it is to go through all that training and realize you can make peanuts flying.

With the way the economy affects aviation, I made it a second job a long time ago. I enjoyed it, loved the travel and learned a lot, but it is amazing how quickly people are layed off and companies dissolved.
GetDown_M4A3
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Posted: 7/11/2012 10:59:40 PM
[Last Edit: 7/11/2012 11:01:30 PM by GetDown_M4A3]
I must correct esa17.

He's correct regarding the old Montgomery GI Bill, however...

The post 9/11 GI bill will cover your flight training 100%, including private, as long as the course is part 141 approved and part of a degree seeking program, such as Upper Limit Aviation's program with Salt Lake Community College, and a few others out there.
TheFightinFrog
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Posted: 7/12/2012 12:44:25 AM
The program is at a community college so it is in fact all covered by the post 9/11 GI Bill. I would be willing to work part time as a CFI to gain hours while working at my department. I'm just weighing wether it's worth it or not.


mcg3686
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Posted: 7/12/2012 1:50:21 AM
PM if you are interested in doing the PCC program there in portland I went thru it on my GI bill.
esa17
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Posted: 7/12/2012 8:16:00 AM
Originally Posted By GetDown_M4A3:
I must correct esa17.

He's correct regarding the old Montgomery GI Bill, however...

The post 9/11 GI bill will cover your flight training 100%, including private, as long as the course is part 141 approved and part of a degree seeking program, such as Upper Limit Aviation's program with Salt Lake Community College, and a few others out there.


Good to know, thanks. Back when I was a 141 Asst. Chief I always resented that the military guys couldn't use their GI monies for the full training.
Star_Scream
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Posted: 7/12/2012 9:45:05 AM
Find out if any local agencies have fixed/rotary wing assets?



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Valar Morghulis
M82Assault
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Posted: 7/12/2012 11:12:43 AM
Originally Posted By TheFightinFrog:
So I'm looking at starting a 2 year rotary wing aviation program (then maybe another 2 at Embery Riddle) through my local CC and I was curious if any one could answer a few questions. First, is it worth it going into this program or are former .mil guys too much competition in the job market? I'm prior .mil, not aviation, so I'm going on my GI Bill. Second, what kind of demand is there for helo pilots, if any at all? I live in Portland, OR so it's not too small of a city. I make about 70k a year as a Deputy Sheriff but I'm not too fond of my career and would kill to be a pilot. Because of my schedule as an LEO I can work another 40 hours a week and still work at my current job pretty easily. I want to get a degree but aviation is the only thing I really want to do. Any suggestions? Thanks!




If you don't have any qualms about going back in to the .mil (Army), you could always apply for WOFT. Free rotary wing training is free! Plus you get to fly cooler stuff than a civvie.
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SuperSixOne
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Posted: 7/12/2012 4:54:53 PM
I don't think you are going to be happy as aviation for a job (going out on a limb here). If you like to fly get your ratings and do it on the weekends. A lot of people struggle to put food on the table as pilots. It's not as sexy or cool of a profession as it is made out to be in the movies. Atleast not anymore.
M82Assault
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Posted: 7/12/2012 6:08:47 PM
[Last Edit: 7/12/2012 6:09:22 PM by M82Assault]
Originally Posted By SuperSixOne:
I don't think you are going to be happy as aviation for a job (going out on a limb here). If you like to fly get your ratings and do it on the weekends. A lot of people struggle to put food on the table as pilots. It's not as sexy or cool of a profession as it is made out to be in the movies. Atleast not anymore.


Thank you tort lawyers, cheap people, and oil markets!

Oh, and the goobermunt. Almost forgot them.
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CFII
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Posted: 7/12/2012 6:19:42 PM
Have you flown before? Fixed wing or rotary? Have you ever sat in an R22 or S300?

What do you want to be doing in 20 years?
Originally Posted By Sylvan:
there is no room for free loaders or cowards in a functioning society.
Bob58
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Posted: 7/13/2012 5:31:20 AM
[Last Edit: 7/13/2012 5:43:38 AM by Bob58]
As a commercial helicopter pilot, the only difference between "my" job and a taxi driver/ambulance driver/FEDEX driver's job is that I have to defy gravity to do it.

Defying gravity is cool for a while. The rest.... not so much.




*And do note that I was posting at 0431 my time. That's not a coincidence.
itgoesboom
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Posted: 7/13/2012 5:54:13 AM
[Last Edit: 7/13/2012 5:55:32 AM by itgoesboom]
I'll throw in my 2 cents here. Pretty sure the school you are looking at is the school I instructed at for multiple years.

Some key points.

- As pointed out, if you do it right, you can have all of your training paid for with the GI Bill. But you have to do it as part of a degree program, and the degree (probably) won't really help you career wise right now.

- Your starting wage as a CFI will be about $15k a year. And that's working pretty much full time. Plan on working as a CFI a few years the way that the market is currently. Figure that your students will be trying to kill you everyday.

- The job market is still very tough. Starting turbine jobs usually pay $40k-$60k on the high end. The school may tell you about me, and how I landed a job paying 6-figures as my first turbine job (actually 2 of us moved on here), but that was a serious exception to the rule. Plus I have to fly in Afghanistan to make that.

- 1,000 hours is not some magical mark where jobs are automatically guaranteed to be offered to you.

- There is no shortage of pilots. There may be a shortage of experienced, qualified pilots.

- Going Army can be a great way to go. Then again, I know of three Military pilots who are stuck with only a couple hundred hours, no way to move on to a good civilian job flying, and they aren't getting any meaningful time flying for the Military. That may be the exception though, I know many Military pilots who have gotten good hours, and moved on to civilian jobs.

- Side note, you will likely hear about military vs. civilian trained. It's a lot of bullshit. I've known civilian pilots who fly like shit, and the same for some military pilots. I have been told in interviews by multiple companies that they primarily hire civilian trained pilots, and I have also seen jobs where being former military would have been a huge advantage. More important seems to be your skill and your attitude.

- The Portland area Law Enforcement Agencies don't have a real aviation unit. I know that there is some talk about one being started, right now it's talk. If you can get in that way though, that's a great path to take.

If aviation is a career path that you can be talked out of, than it isn't the right career for you. If it's all you want, and you can handle the ups and downs, then there are opportunities. They are not as easy as the schools make them out to be.

Originally Posted By Bob58:
As a commercial helicopter pilot, the only difference between "my" job and a taxi driver/ambulance driver/FEDEX driver's job is that I have to defy gravity to do it.

Defying gravity is cool for a while. The rest.... not so much.




*And do note that I was posting at 0431 my time. That's not a coincidence.




Right on!

Bob58
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Posted: 7/13/2012 5:14:31 PM
[Last Edit: 7/13/2012 5:18:58 PM by Bob58]
Here's an oldie but goodie...


What's it like to be a "Real" Helicopter Pilot

-GRAND CANYON TOUR: GET UP AT 430AM, DRIVE 90 MILES TO THE DITCH, HAVE 5TH CUP OF COFFEE, PREFLIGHT, PEE, GET IN START UP, LOAD UP THE MIDWESTERN BEEFEATERS, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR AN HOUR, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR AN HOUR, CAN I HAVE A BREAK? NO - OK, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR AN HOUR, GET OUT, TIE DOWN, PEE, DRIVE 90 MILES HOME, EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT.

-HAWAII TOUR: SEE ABOVE BUT GET TO WEAR FUNKY HAWAII SHIRT AND SHORTS.

-OFFSHORE OIL: SEE ABOVE BUT THE TOURISTS SMELL BAD AND THE RIVER IS A LOT BIGGER.

-TUNA BOAT: SEE ABOVE BUT YOU GET TO CHANT WHERE DA FISH, WHERE DA FISH.

-POWERLINE PATROL: SEE ABOVE BUT YOU GET TO SAY TOWER ONE, TOWER TWO, TOWER THREE, TOWER FOUR, TOWER FIVE.......TOWER 496, TOWER 497 ETC.

-PIPELINE PATROL: SEE ABOVE BUT YOU GET TO SAY, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE,.......SH!T THERES A WIRE! OK, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE.

-EMS: GET TO WORK, HAVE 7TH CUP OF COFFEE, PREFLIGHT, PEE, NEWS AT 6, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, BEEP BEEP BEEP, MOTORCYCLE VRS A BIG RIG, FLY 20 MINUTES, LOAD PATIENT, YUUUUUUUKO THAT LOOKS LIKE IT HURTS! FLY 20 MINUTES, OFFLOAD, DEBRIEF, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP. GO HOME.

-LOGGING: GET UP AT 5, HAVE 3RD CUP OF COFFEE, PREFLIGHT, COMIN UP, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, WIPE UP CP'S PUKE, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, ECT SHUT DOWN, GO HOME. DRINK MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF BEER WITH HOOKERS.

-FIRE: GET UP AT 4AM, DRIVE AN HOUR, HAVE 9TH CUP OF COFFEE, MISSION PLAN, YOU WANT TO DO WHAT? PUT ON BUCKET, GO TO FIRE, OH BIG FIRE! UP DOWN TURN AROUND FETCH A PAIL OF WATER. REPEAT 160 TIMES. SHUT DOWN WAIT UNTIL 14 HOURS IS OVER. OUT OF DUTY TIME FIND TENT EAT AT BASE CAMP, VISIT LITTLE BLUE ROOM, SLEEP, UP AGAIN AT 5AM. REPEAT

-CFI: GET IN AT 9AM, HAVE 10 CUPS OF COFFEE THREE CIGS AND WAIT FOR NO SHOWS, NON ENGLISH SPEAKING STUDENT SHOWS UP, PREFLIGHT, FLIGHT, SCREAM I HAVE THE CONTROLS, REPEAT 20 TIMES, AFTER HOUR FLIGHT CLEAN SHORTS, REPEAT 5 TIMES, GO HOME KNOWING YOUR THE PILOT GOD THAT SAVED THE R22 FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE STUDENT PILOT, GET ON PC AND TYPE RESUME, YUP GETTING THERE, 252.4 HOURS, LOOK FOR WAY TO GET TURBINE JOB WITH OUT FLIGHT TIME, GO TO SLEEP THINKING HOW GREAT IT WOULD BE TO BE WORKING AS A "REAL" PILOT!

From an unknown author


M82Assault
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Posted: 7/14/2012 1:58:07 AM
Originally Posted By Bob58:
Here's an oldie but goodie...


What's it like to be a "Real" Helicopter Pilot

-GRAND CANYON TOUR: GET UP AT 430AM, DRIVE 90 MILES TO THE DITCH, HAVE 5TH CUP OF COFFEE, PREFLIGHT, PEE, GET IN START UP, LOAD UP THE MIDWESTERN BEEFEATERS, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR AN HOUR, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR AN HOUR, CAN I HAVE A BREAK? NO - OK, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR 30 MINUTES, FLY FOR AN HOUR, GET OUT, TIE DOWN, PEE, DRIVE 90 MILES HOME, EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT.

-HAWAII TOUR: SEE ABOVE BUT GET TO WEAR FUNKY HAWAII SHIRT AND SHORTS.

-OFFSHORE OIL: SEE ABOVE BUT THE TOURISTS SMELL BAD AND THE RIVER IS A LOT BIGGER.

-TUNA BOAT: SEE ABOVE BUT YOU GET TO CHANT WHERE DA FISH, WHERE DA FISH.

-POWERLINE PATROL: SEE ABOVE BUT YOU GET TO SAY TOWER ONE, TOWER TWO, TOWER THREE, TOWER FOUR, TOWER FIVE.......TOWER 496, TOWER 497 ETC.

-PIPELINE PATROL: SEE ABOVE BUT YOU GET TO SAY, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE,.......SH!T THERES A WIRE! OK, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE, YUP ITS A PIPELINE.

-EMS: GET TO WORK, HAVE 7TH CUP OF COFFEE, PREFLIGHT, PEE, NEWS AT 6, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, BEEP BEEP BEEP, MOTORCYCLE VRS A BIG RIG, FLY 20 MINUTES, LOAD PATIENT, YUUUUUUUKO THAT LOOKS LIKE IT HURTS! FLY 20 MINUTES, OFFLOAD, DEBRIEF, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP, EAT, SLEEP. GO HOME.

-LOGGING: GET UP AT 5, HAVE 3RD CUP OF COFFEE, PREFLIGHT, COMIN UP, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, WIPE UP CP'S PUKE, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, LOG, ECT SHUT DOWN, GO HOME. DRINK MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF BEER WITH HOOKERS.

-FIRE: GET UP AT 4AM, DRIVE AN HOUR, HAVE 9TH CUP OF COFFEE, MISSION PLAN, YOU WANT TO DO WHAT? PUT ON BUCKET, GO TO FIRE, OH BIG FIRE! UP DOWN TURN AROUND FETCH A PAIL OF WATER. REPEAT 160 TIMES. SHUT DOWN WAIT UNTIL 14 HOURS IS OVER. OUT OF DUTY TIME FIND TENT EAT AT BASE CAMP, VISIT LITTLE BLUE ROOM, SLEEP, UP AGAIN AT 5AM. REPEAT

-CFI: GET IN AT 9AM, HAVE 10 CUPS OF COFFEE THREE CIGS AND WAIT FOR NO SHOWS, NON ENGLISH SPEAKING STUDENT SHOWS UP, PREFLIGHT, FLIGHT, SCREAM I HAVE THE CONTROLS, REPEAT 20 TIMES, AFTER HOUR FLIGHT CLEAN SHORTS, REPEAT 5 TIMES, GO HOME KNOWING YOUR THE PILOT GOD THAT SAVED THE R22 FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE STUDENT PILOT, GET ON PC AND TYPE RESUME, YUP GETTING THERE, 252.4 HOURS, LOOK FOR WAY TO GET TURBINE JOB WITH OUT FLIGHT TIME, GO TO SLEEP THINKING HOW GREAT IT WOULD BE TO BE WORKING AS A "REAL" PILOT!

From an unknown author




Tag, just for that gem.
Stryker428 on Xbox Live

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delorean
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Posted: 7/14/2012 10:40:08 AM
[Last Edit: 7/14/2012 10:42:58 AM by delorean]
Originally Posted By esa17:
Second, don't get any sort of aviation degree. That leaves you with no backup in the event of you not being able to live out your aviation "dream".

As far as the demand for helicopter pilots, it's fairly similar to fixed wing so repeat after me:

There is no pilot shortage!
There is no pilot shortage!
There is no pilot shortage!

If anyone tells you otherwise, stand up and leave.

The next thing to consider is your wage. To get back to $70k you're probably going to work for the better part of a decade. Expect your starting wage to be closer to 20k than 30. Benefits...nope. Being a CFI is how you will likely build your time and that won't pay well.

Since you're a LEO I'd consider trying to join a department that will train you to be a chopper pilot. I know Jacksonville had a program like that because I trained a few of their guys through their fixed wing private. Fort Worth had a similar program also.


I agree with you on the degree.....if you're limited on cash and time, spent it flight training. Unless you're looking at eventually going into management, that degree it's going to mean anything. Employers look at FLIGHT TIME. Once you start EMS, work on your degree then––you'll have PLENTY of free time at that point.

There *is* a pilot shortage, but it's limited to those with 2000+ hrs that can fly EMS. Air Methods is short 100 pilots, AEL is short 50 pilots, all the EMS companies are short. Even with all the guys coming back from the war, there's still plenty of openings. No shortages when it comes to <1000 hr jobs though. New CFI's have to be hurting.

The wage will suck initially, but it's easy to get to $100K+ once you get the hours. Bristow's new contract is $68K for starters in light singles. EMS is lower, but with all the workovers from the pilot shortage, you can work all you want. I got my commercial & CFI in 2002 and started flying EMS in 2004. Since 2006 I have never made less than double my starting pay in '04.

Good luck......it's a lot of work, crappy pay, etc to get to a point where you rarely fly and make good money for it.


EDIT: You're in Portland. Just keep your job, house, etc and go to Hillsboro! That's a good school from what I've heard.
TheFightinFrog
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Posted: 7/18/2012 11:49:55 PM
Thanks for all the advice. I appreciate it. It's good to hear from people that are in the career field.