Deciding to become a helicopter pilot is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Of course, being a helicopter pilot can be fun and lead to interesting career opportunities. It can be a perfect career for those willing to travel, but there are lots of factors to consider like cost, location, type of career you want after your training, insurance, etc. We asked couple questions seasoned pilots to know what consider and we came up with the following guidelines, which could help you make the right choice.
Finding a school that meets your needs
This is probably the most important thing to consider. There are many types of flight schools and it is important that you pick one based on your career goals. Do I want to be in the tourism industry? Am I willing to travel? Do I want to use the sling? Do I want to work on forest fire operations? Of course, you might not know right away what you might want to do, but it could greatly influence your choice when it comes to picking a flight school.
First things first: start by making a list of schools. If the school has a website, check it out and look for flight programs. However, as you might have guessed, don’t base your decision on what you see online alone! Check out helicopter pilots and students’ forums, join Facebook pilots’ groups and ask questions.
Here are some questions you can ask when visiting flight schools:
- Does the school philosophy or goals match yours?
- Do they offer housing?
- Do they offer financial aid or scholarships?
- How long has the school been in business and how experienced are the flight instructors?
- How many students have graduated and how many do they have right now?
- How many students found a job right after they graduated?
- What types of helicopters are used for training?
- Do they have flight simulators?
- What are the commodities nearby? (Restaurants, parks, movie theaters, etc.)
Location is important especially regarding the type of training you would like to get. If you want to get mountain training for example, even though Florida sounds like a great place to train, it would not be the right place to go, since there are no mountains in Florida. If you would like to work in Canada or any northern country, getting training where there is snow could also be a smart move.
Visit the schools and meet the flight instructors
The next step is to visit the schools and meet with the instructors. Be ready with your list of questions and listen carefully to everything. Do not hesitate to ask for more information if an answer doesn’t quite satisfy you. If you see students, do not hesitate to ask them how they feel about their instructors.
As described by Transport Canada, ‘Flying is an activity of purpose, personal satisfaction, achievement and pleasure.’ You will become a pilot more by passion, than for the money. However, the road to get there might look rocky at times, especially when considering the cost. Compared to most career training, learning to become a helicopter pilot can be quite expensive, especially if you need to move to another city and have to pay for housing.
When it comes to helicopter pilot training, the saying ‘Time is money’ makes a lot of sense, but we think every pilot would agree that it is all very worth it at the end! Good luck with your research!
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