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I'm in need of "Direction"

Military Civilian Help Aspiring Pilot New Guy Student Determined

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#1 UgleeBarnacle

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 21:33

Hello all!

I would first like to say that this is my first post, and I have enjoyed reading as much as I can handle from this website as I can. (Also, I am new to the forum, bare with me)

I am a high school senior to be from Columbus, OH, and will soon be turning 18 in September. I have been interested/obsessed with helicopters for several years now, and it really kicked off with career shadowing day my freshman year at high school, in which I got to bum around a local shop called Helicopter Minit-Men. We stay in touch with the owner and it is an excellent resource, as well as old man - young man friendship.

I have also met and gotten to know a chief pilot at Due North Aviation, which is very close to Columbus. I liken him to the Mr. Miyagi of helicopters, in that he's just doing his thing in the middle of nowhere and that, now and again, that determined kid (me) comes out to bug him!

I tell you this to show that I have been very proactive in my exploration of the helicopter industry, and that I wish to set myself apart from the kids my age that still don't know what they want to do...

I know what I want to do.

The main struggle is HOW to go about doing it! This is the year where we are to send out the college applications, and my main struggle is how to fit aviation in there? I am fairly smart (not to sound arrogant), and there is the possibility of going to college for an unrelated degree and forming a "backup plan" with it, and going through the civilian route of training for flight.

I could also do an "aeronautical science" degree to finance pilot training via student loans, but that provides little backup plan.

Then there is the possibility of WOFT, and with a CW3 for a neighbor just down the street (although he is not a pilot), I have a good resource and guide for this. I should also note that my family and I are tremendously respectful of and thankful for our military. However, my parents seem to change opinion very quickly when their baby starts talking about flying for said military...


I should also mention that money IS a bit of an issue. I know, I picked the perfect industry to hope to enter...

Any information or guidance you all can provide to me is GREATLY appreciated. I understand that I can get most information to make my decision by reading what is already written, however, I just hoped that you could give direction based on my situation as it stands.



#2 mausermolt

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 13:32

When i was 18, you sound exactly like i did. all giddy about going to fly helicopters. well let me tell you it gets very discouraging and frustrating sometimes so here are some tips:

dont let any flight school talk you into the whole "we guarantee you a job" or "we will give you a job if u just give us 10K measly $$" because they just cant hire everyone, thats a fact.

Dont take out a loan for your training. save your money until you can pay for all of your training, because you wont be able to hardly survive on the first jobs salary.

if this is what you really want to do you have to work HARD for it. not to make it sound like a horror story but it will consume your life. not that is a bad thing i enjoy being surrounded by awesome machines all the time. but it leaves little room for a social life.

read some of the posts on here, there are alot of people that have tried to get into this industry and have spent TONS of money, only to be let down and burned out of the industry.

keep your whits about you, and keep researching. and try not to step in the Bull S(&@...its everywere
  • rotorhead8 likes this

Every helicopter has its own personality, and most of them are like your ex: unstable and would like to kill you


#3 Bobsyouruncle

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 13:51

Well, I think if you wanted to do WOFT than it is definitely the cheaper route. I don't know that you would be all that competitive prior to graduating college though, and the military may not be for you- so that's something to consider.

#4 heloidaho

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 15:51

Having more than one plan is a good option. I think you'll find lots of posts on here about taking on debt vs. the reality of getting a job. The dream pans out for some people and not for others.

I definitely don't think that getting a degree, like in mechanical engineering, would ever hurt you when you decided to pursue aviation. And it might give you more options than just being single minded on aviation or aerospace. Just my 2 cents.

You're young. Get that college education while pursing aviation on the side with as little debt as you can. You could graduate college at 24, get a job, and pick up flying as a second career. You would still have years of eligibility to apply to the military as an aviator, too. Just keep educating yourself and improving your resume regardless of what route you pick.

As far as the WOFT route, I'd just warn you that you shouldn't pick that route if you're only doing it to fly. The military route isn't all sunshine and rainbows. The training is fantastic, but it has disadvantages like any other choice. Opportunity cost and all that.

Like Bobsyouruncle says, it might not be for you. It isn't for everyone. But if you feel like serving in the military sounds like a good time, you can get loads more information--and weigh advantages and disadvantages--by poking around on the military helicopters section of this website. Lots of smart people over there in various stages of the WOFT process.

#5 UgleeBarnacle

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 21:04

Thank you all for the info! Seriously.

It just seems like such an excellent way to enter the industry and gain a load of time, experience, and knowledge about these crazy contraptions.

Would it be a waste of opportunity though? A large amount of my college is already paid for (what with those "pre paid college credits" that you can't buy anymore, but are still valid, and merit based scholarships). I have NO idea what to major in though. Business Administration with a focus in the aviation department (at OSU)? Maybe aerospace engineering?

And I completely agree with the "don't trust the flight school's guarantees entirely" statement. I have visited two so far, Due North Aviation and Palm Beach Helicopters, and both were fairly honest. "Sure, we hire students as instructors, but certainly not all of them."

That's part of what terrifies me about the civilian route, that I may invest so much to become an entry level candidate in an industry that doesn't want ENTRY level folks. It's just horribly risky...



#6 Parafiddle

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 00:43

A college degree is something that you can always take with you. Don't worry about knowing exactly what you want to major in right now. The first two years of college you will spend a lot of your time knocking out your General Education requirements. During this process, you will also be exposed to lots of information that may spark your interest to pursue a specific field or major. Consider yourself VERY fortunate to have most of your college tuition already covered and being worried about being deeply in debt and looking for a job after graduation.

As far as flying, it will always be there. I didn't start flight lessons until I was in my mid-30's and had completed my Bachelor's and Master's degrees. At that point, I finally had the money to start taking some flight lessons. Remember, earning your ratings just gives you a license to learn. Regardless if you want to fly as a profession or just as a hobby, you still have to have enough money to stay proficient.

As far as the military route goes, as others have said, it isn't for everyone. I have 20+ years in the Army, between active duty, Natl. Guard and Reserves. At times I have loved it and at other times I have loathed it. I'm not a military aviator, but plenty of military pilots have mentioned before on this forum that as a military pilot, you are a soldier first, then an officer (commissioned or warrant), and then a pilot. If you are only thinking about racking up flight hours quickly, the military isn't necessarily the place to do it. Your training will be top-notch (assuming you make it all the way through), but the pace of earning hours in your logbook can vary significantly.

Don't let the bright shiny helicopter lure you into false hope. The bottom line is you need to be able to support yourself. A college degree is likely to give you a much better opportunity to that then a freshly issued pilot's license. Never borrow a bunch of money to get your ratings. A much better plan is to get a good job and then save your money so you can pay for your ratings without borrowing. Remember to have enough to realistically earn your rating (more than the minimum hours required by the FAA) as well as maintaining proficiency and networking at events like Heli Success. This forum contains a wealth of information. The search function is your key to discovering that information. Use it frequently to help you make informed decisions.

Finally, consider this bit of advice: When I was your age, I considered going straight to college, but then took a sharp turn to pursue my interest in firearms by going to gunsmithing school. Without doing a lot of research, I spent a bunch of money on trade school, and then opened my own gunsmithing business. I ended up working a crazy number of hours for several years and eventually closed it down because I was still living below the poverty line and working a second full-time job to make ends meet. Ended up going to college, graduated, got commissioned into the Army and went on active duty. Looking back 20 years, I wish I would have skipped the gunsmithing stuff and gone straight to college as I would have been farther ahead and saved myself a lot of pain and suffering. Hindsight is 20/20.... Point is, don't jump into anything without thoroughly exploring all of your options and weighing the risks. Remember, your parents have a lot of life experience to draw from. Don't disregard their advice as they only want what is best for you.

Good luck in your decision and welcome to the forum.
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#7 helistar

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 10:57

Would it be a waste of opportunity though? A large amount of my college is already paid for (what with those "pre paid college credits" that you can't buy anymore, but are still valid, and merit based scholarships). I have NO idea what to major in though. Business Administration with a focus in the aviation department (at OSU)? Maybe aerospace engineering?


It would be a huge mistake and wasted opportunity for you to turn down a free education at OSU and one you'll regret later in life... Your debating whether to turn down a $100,000 education, that in a few years you'll realize you need to advance your career and then be forced to take out student loans to accomplish...

The helicopter business will still be around in five years and with your degree in hand you'll be in a much better position to accomplish your goals debt free...

Start the college process now and make sure you've completed the early admissions paperwork, since this does open additional funding for a select few high school students... Also seek admission to your top five choices of colleges/universities, because they all offer several different type of school grants and scholarships of different dollar amounts... Then make sure to take a tour of each school and then go back and visit your top two choices a second time before committing to one school... Remember there is no requirement to commit early and each school will let you know the deadline for accepting scholarships and grants... Talk to the schools FinAid, professors, counselors and students... Then choose a school that best fits you & your interest...

Flight scholarships, most aren't available to freshman students and many require a private rating... However there are a select few for high school senior students graduating in the spring and their application deadlines are approaching fast, since most have a Sept-October deadline for the 2013-2014 school year...

Academic scholarships & needs based scholarships are available everywhere and I'm sure OSU has a database of those available to incoming freshman... Once again the best ones will have an early deadline... The bottom-line is apply for as many as possible & apply even if your not sure you meet all of the requirements... Scholarship applications are all basically the same, with the exception of the essay word count requirement, so once you have completed your resume and a couple applications, you'll have all the info needed to simply complete the endless supply of applications rather quickly... Just be truthful and also don't be afraid to be creative with your writing in an effort to standout from the same old boring essay... Community service is a huge requirement for a lot of scholarships and they want documented proof, so if you claim 400 hours, then you better have a document with contact info so they can verify...

While in school continue networking like you've been doing and enjoy the free education... It's worth a lot more than you currently realize...

If you have any questions feel free to send me a pm since I'm always happy to help point someone in the right direction... As a few people on here know, I turned down more scholarship money than my education cost... But it's a lot of hard work to put yourself into that position, however the rewards are well worth the effort... There's nothing like being able to choose between several colleges and to do so with out having to worry about the huge debt associated with a college education...

Go get that free education while it's being offered and then after you have your degree if your set on flying for the military, apply for street to seat, or enter the Marine's guaranteed pilot slot program in which you'll earn a larger pay check and have the opportunity for greater career advancement... In fact I forgot to mention the Marines have a college program where they'll pay for the last three years of your schooling, however it's only available after you finish your freshman year and they'll guarantee you a pilot slot in writing while your still in college...

Personally, if your grades are a good as you claim, I'd say get the free education without the military commitment since this opens the door for you to choose whatever career path is best for you after graduating, including the military option...
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Life's too Short for Excuses...

#8 UgleeBarnacle

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 11:38

Thank you many times over for the information again! You are all quite nice people, I'm happy to have joined the forum. :D

And to give an update on my train of thought and the course it is taking now, college seems to be the more responsible route, even if I don't see it that way at times because I'm, well, young and dumb...

That is an excellent point, "Helicopters will still be there, college opportunity may not be." (paraphrased anyway).

I'll certainly remember it!

#9 nightsta1ker

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 21:37

Just keep in mind. If you want to be a helicopter pilot, this very well might be your future. And that might not be a problem. Unless of course you at some point acquire any of those things...

Posted Image
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#10 UgleeBarnacle

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 13:14

I actually found that ^^picture^^ really funny!

And another question:

Seeing as I'm very close to OSU, which sadly only offers fixed wing ratings (although they should get a helicopter! Get like UND in that respect...) would it be more attractive to future employers to go through fixed wing courses and later do helicopter add on ratings? I doubt it is less expensive, but if I were to do something along the lines of business and aviation ratings at OSU and gain a little flight instructor experience, even though it is in fixed wing, am I more competitive when I later set out to achieve helicopter instructor ratings and an instructor job?

I hope that all made sense, I can try to clarify if it didn't!

#11 Spike

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 14:14

I actually found that ^^picture^^ really funny!

And another question:

Seeing as I'm very close to OSU, which sadly only offers fixed wing ratings (although they should get a helicopter! Get like UND in that respect...) would it be more attractive to future employers to go through fixed wing courses and later do helicopter add on ratings? I doubt it is less expensive, but if I were to do something along the lines of business and aviation ratings at OSU and gain a little flight instructor experience, even though it is in fixed wing, am I more competitive when I later set out to achieve helicopter instructor ratings and an instructor job?

I hope that all made sense, I can try to clarify if it didn't!


Short answer, no.

Helicopter operators want helicopter time.

Helicopter operators that also operate fixed-wing will want both, with an emphasis on helicopter time (all things being equal, helicopters are more expensive to operate and insure).

Fixed wing operators want fixed wing time.

Edited by Spike, 03 August 2012 - 14:15.

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#12 UgleeBarnacle

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 09:36

Another question for whomever wishes to answer!

So I am looking at OSU for their airport management style Business Admin. degree program, or Miami U. in Ohio for "regular" business admin (maybe a finance minor).

If I were to go with the aviation business program, am I more prepared to work a business position in the aviation industry? Or does a regular business degree prepare me almost, if not just as well, while the aviation tailored degree just pidgeon-holes me?

#13 eagle5

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 11:19

Another question for whomever wishes to answer!

So I am looking at OSU for their airport management style Business Admin. degree program, or Miami U. in Ohio for "regular" business admin (maybe a finance minor).

If I were to go with the aviation business program, am I more prepared to work a business position in the aviation industry? Or does a regular business degree prepare me almost, if not just as well, while the aviation tailored degree just pidgeon-holes me?


Personally, I'd go with something in "high-tech", but I would bet that the "regular" business degree would be better for finding that "back up job", which is usually going to be outside of aviation. Helicopter pilots don't need a degree to fly, so why bother getting one that is "in" aviation?

However, your question would best be answered by someone who works in the business side of aviation. Try asking someone in the administrative office of the tower, or at one of the manufacturers?

#14 aeroscout

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 13:27

Student loan debt, over the life of the loan will eventually cost 2 to 3 times what you borrowed. Unless of course you pay it off early. Repaying student loans can be crippling financially.

#15 helistar

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 17:32

Your business degree should be based on your career interest, not that of someone unfamiliar with you personal goals and interest... The short answer is a general business degree will be a broad a based general business education, whereas your aviation business degree is focused on both general business education, plus the additional faa regulations and how they effect daily business operations and the decision making process when navigating though those regulations... As a high school senior, do yourself a favor and setup an appointment to Job Shadow with the local airport manager and that will provide you with first hand information... You should be able to set this up through your high school career advisers office...

aeroscout- regarding student loan debt...
The op already posted "A large amount of my college is already paid for (what with those "pre paid college credits" that you can't buy anymore, but are still valid, and merit based scholarships)."
Life's too Short for Excuses...

#16 UgleeBarnacle

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 21:01

The job shadow idea is a good one, I should try organizing one with an airport manager. During my freshman year, I used our career shadowing day to follow the owner of a shop in town that performs maintenance on the Columbus Police helicopters, as well as uses their own helicopters for vegetation control via chemical spraying. Although I didn't get ahold of him that day (but did get to bug one of the mechanics), I have gotten to meet the owner many times since then. With regards to a business like this related to aviation, does the whole "regular" business degree still help me, or does the aviation management one still win? (I guess I should have stated that in aviation businesses, I could include small(ish) businesses too, not just managing airports).

#17 helistar

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 14:44

Deciding which degree helps you accomplish your personal career goals is something only you can decide... I would strongly suggest you start discussing with and visiting your list of colleges/universities your interested in attending and start learning from them first hand what they have to offer and how are they able to help you achieve your career goals... I can't stress enough how important it is to visit your choice of schools a couple times, other than just taking the family tour each school offers... You'll learn a lot more about each school during multiple visits, if the school administration brushes you off, move on to another school, because these are the very people you'll need to rely on when dealing with FinAid issues and the last thing you want is for admin to ignore your inquires because it will cost you or your parent cash out of your pockets... Also if your undecided as to a major, simply enroll and start fulfilling the general education requirements and declare your major later, or enroll in one now and change majors later... Either way, just make sure to get that free education...

Simply get on the phone and start calling the schools now because later in the year they will be extremely busy... They're slower right now so they are happy to spend a lot more time any questions or concerns you and your parents might have...
Life's too Short for Excuses...

#18 UgleeBarnacle

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 18:26

So for anybody that has been tossing and turning, wondering what this youthful aspiring pilot will do with his life, update inbound!

 

In this summer before college, I plan to get my PPL-H at Due North Aviation. So pumped!

I've been accepted to The Ohio State University main campus, and was admitted to the Fisher School of Business. I plan to major in Aviation Management. The Fisher staff are all very helpful and awesome all around, and I'm super excited to see where this goes.   ^_^







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