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Posted: 10/26/2006 4:38:08 PM EDT
I am thinking of going ahead and getting a helicopter pilots licence.  Who out here is doing it and what did you do to get your start? How hard was it to do?  Starting job availability?  Any good info would be great.

Thanks!!

Link Posted: 10/26/2006 4:48:09 PM EDT
[#1]
I'm not a heli pilot, but my brother is.  He is ex-Navy now working for a vertical replenishment outfit.  There is no shortage of former Navy, Marine, Army, USCG, and USAF (not to mention UK, Aussie, NZ, etc) pilots on the job market.  They generally have thousands of hours on various airframes, with the best training in the world. Your chances of doing anything other than waste your money are slim to none.

Hope that helps!
Link Posted: 10/26/2006 4:52:36 PM EDT
[#2]
You can be a flight intructor, build time, and then find a job doing something. Its a not a waste of time to fly ANYTHING. Its great. Im not rotary wing, but I understand the job market. Its hard. Word of warning tho, heli training is EXPENSIVE as HELL.
Link Posted: 10/26/2006 5:00:28 PM EDT
[#3]

Quoted:
You can be a flight intructor, build time, and then find a job doing something.
heli training is EXPENSIVE as HELL.


+1 Rotorcraft traing is close to 2 to2.5 times as expensive as fixed wing.  When I did my flight traing I was paying close to $90 per hr including instructor.  I took some heli training and it was $230 per hr
Link Posted: 10/27/2006 4:22:55 PM EDT
[#4]

Quoted:
You can be a flight intructor, build time, and then find a job doing something. Its a not a waste of time to fly ANYTHING. Its great. Im not rotary wing, but I understand the job market. Its hard. Word of warning tho, heli training is EXPENSIVE as HELL.


I did see the cost to do it!  So as a flight instructor you earn more hours to get a better gig?  Is there really that big of a flood in the pilot market with former mil?  I thought that they didnt get any rating from the FAA and would still need to get thier licence even though they had all the mil hours.

Link Posted: 10/28/2006 1:46:40 AM EDT
[#5]
What's going rate for wet time in a Robinson? I was looking in the mid 90's about about $190/hr.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 2:37:03 AM EDT
[#6]

Quoted:


I did see the cost to do it!  So as a flight instructor you earn more hours to get a better gig?  Is there really that big of a flood in the pilot market with former mil?  I thought that they didnt get any rating from the FAA and would still need to get thier licence even though they had all the mil hours.



Coming out of flight school as a newly winged naval aviator I had, for the price of a tutorial and written test, single engine land, rotary wing, and commercial pilot's licenses from the FAA.  

I will admit that I have little idea what the civilian job market is like for rotary wing guys.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 2:53:17 AM EDT
[#7]
I have been looking to fly for the Army for a while now.  When I was looking at civilian flight schools, I was finding that most schools were in the 45,000-60,000 dollar range, which was about a year and a half, I think.  I believe it would get you a personal license, and a chance at becoming an instructor for the school to build your hours to get your commercial rating.  

Even after that, the amount of hours needed to get a decent commercial job generally (not always) would send most people deep into debt, and chances of getting a job are still slim with ex-mil guys charging for the jobs, also.

On the other hand, I hear the market is currently flooded with Viet Nam era pilots (the Army trained thousands of pilots during that time, i guess) who are starting to retire in generous numbers, leaving lots of jobs available.  

But don't quote me on any of this :)
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 3:56:59 AM EDT
[#8]

Quoted:
I have been looking to fly for the Army for a while now.  When I was looking at civilian flight schools, I was finding that most schools were in the 45,000-60,000 dollar range, which was about a year and a half, I think.  I believe it would get you a personal license, and a chance at becoming an instructor for the school to build your hours to get your commercial rating.  

Even after that, the amount of hours needed to get a decent commercial job generally (not always) would send most people deep into debt, and chances of getting a job are still slim with ex-mil guys charging for the jobs, also.

On the other hand, I hear the market is currently flooded with Viet Nam era pilots (the Army trained thousands of pilots during that time, i guess) who are starting to retire in generous numbers, leaving lots of jobs available.  

But don't quote me on any of this :)


Yes, the Vietnam vets are retiring......and making room for the War On Terror vets. Face it, the civilian road into rotary wing is about the hardest row-to-hoe there is. If you want to fly for Life-Flight or the Sherriff's dept your best and cheapest route is through the .mil.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 4:03:09 AM EDT
[#9]
I flew OH-58s (off the record) in the early eighties when I was with the TANG.  
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 9:42:11 PM EDT
[#10]
I know a professional heli pilot that had to do it himself in the 70's and 80's after the Army said "Ni!" to his eyeglasses, and he had a tough time of it even while the Vietnam Vets were still in Vietnam. Just don't see an easy way to get into this without wearing dog tags. Sometimes airliners prefer civvy pilots over .mil as they aren't as rough with the controls (passengers don't care for that), but heli pilots are only expected to get it done and not crash the bird.
Link Posted: 10/28/2006 9:47:20 PM EDT
[#11]
You will need around $60k for a turbine rating.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:22:57 AM EDT
[#12]
I started out as fixed wing only (Naval Aviator, EP-3's) and after getting out I transitioned to rotary wing.  While the military does not give you an FAA license, you can take the "military competency exam" and get all of your qualifications (except ATP) on your FAA pilot license.  When I did it, the prep course and the test cost less than $100 and took less than 3 hours.

The comments on the cost of helicopter training are correct.  It's a lot more expensive to earn a rotary wing license than it is for fixed wing.  As noted, you will need to build about 1500 hours of flight time before you will be able to compete for a job as a commercial helicopter pilot flying turbine powered helicopters.  Most civilians build that time as flight instructors (which might pay between $18-24K per year depending on how many students you have).

If you really want to fly helicopters, the Army or other branch of the military is the way to go IMO.  The Army is the only branch of the service that does not require a 4 year college degree to become a pilot.

If you can't or don't want to go the .mil route, you should still fly helicopters if that is really what you want to do.  It will cost a lot of money and as a helicopter pilot, your potential salary will never be as high as an airplane driver.  I love going to work every day and flying helicopters.  To me, that's worth more than a little extra money.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 5:33:34 AM EDT
[#13]

Quoted:
... Sometimes airliners prefer civvy pilots over .mil as they aren't as rough with the controls (passengers don't care for that), but heli pilots are only expected to get it done and not crash the bird.


Where are you getting this bizarre misinformation? If you don't know what you're talking about, don't talk about it.

Highland Mac, you might want to look into the National Guard, it's the best of both worlds. If I were starting over again, that's the route I'd take.
Link Posted: 10/29/2006 9:09:25 AM EDT
[#14]
The guys who pack boxes at our warehouse make about as much as the CFIs do at the local Heli Flying School.

At $240 an hour plus fuel surcharge for a R22 and $440 an hour for a R44 the guy who is making money is the owner of the school. He is a CFI and dosent't even fly with students anymore.

So if you are looking to make money as a CFI the only way I can see is with your own helicopter. For a commerical pilot there are openings but it is hard to beat the amount of hours a .mil pilot will have over you.

All that being said at the very least get you first solo under your belt as one of those "life's checklists" sort of this. I cannot remember much of my checkride but every second of that first solo is burnt into my brain.
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