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H.E.M.S. Pilot Path

hems pilot privateschool

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#1 Steven_Ceva

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 19:49

Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum and I'm very confused on how to become a hems pilot or what are the requirements. I'm 18 and graduated from high school last yeah, I took some college credit courses such as English, Speech, Biology, Psychology. Right now I'm planning to register on a private schools for pilots here in Florida. But I need some guidance. I appreciate any help, advice you could give. 



#2 AdminLB

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 08:55

VERY broad question. This is a great place to start:

 

http://www.thehelico...roductCode=CDE1

 


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Lyn Burks
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"It's better to break ground and head into the wind than to break wind and head into the ground."

#3 Velocity173

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:11

There's also another thread on the next page titled "How long did it take to get to EMS" that will answer most of your questions.

#4 eagle5

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:19

For us HEMS is like being an airline captain. Its the top level job that takes many long years to get to. There are plenty of ads on the job page that will tell you what the minimum requirements are.

Edited by eagle5, 29 May 2014 - 10:21.


#5 JohnLeePettimore

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:45

First off, let me start by telling you that I am not an expert. That being said, I can share the.wisdom that was shared with me on this forum. You might start by reading the thread in the general helicopter forum titled Building turbine time in an experimental. That was where the heavy hand of wisdom was applied firmly to the back of my head. I was trying to get answers to the exact same question. If I might ask, how are you going to be paying for your flight training? It's a very expensive endeavor, and there are ways to pay for it without going too deep into debt.

#6 Flying Pig

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:03

HEMS is one of the "end goal" jobs.  People don't get into HEMS as a stepping stone to get somewhere else.  However, the guy flying the S92 in the gulf,  the guy flying the 212 on a fire contract, the guy flying a 530F long lining over a transmission tower,  the deputy sheriff performing a SAR in a 500E or the homeless looking dude with the beard flying a UH1B spraying fields might disagree and say that their job is the end goal after many years of hard work  :D   The great thing about flying helicopters is there is no definition of what defines "THE" job.    To the original poster,  as you pursue this career path of flying helicopters, you will be exposed to many aspects of the market.  What your dream job is now, may not be after you finish your Commercial.  After you finish your CFI, it may change again.  After you finish your stint in Vegas or the Gulf, it may change again because now jobs that seemed impossible are now within your reach.   Absolutely nothing wrong with HEMS.  But the great thing is that the initial path you take to get into HEMS is the same path you take to pretty much get anywhere else in the industry.  So what ever you decide, it won't be wasted as long as you stick to the plan, research and be aware of people who claim they have found short cut that they will be willing to share with you for a mere $75,000.    Think of the helicopter industry as a railroad.  Everyone gets on at Grand Central station.  The first 100 miles is just a straight away and everyone is having the same experience and seeing the same things out the window....everyone who wants to fly helicopters gets on at the beginning of the line.  As you fly down the tracks, people start jumping off at different stops and either stay, or take connecting trains to other locations.  You may meet up with them again at another stop or you may never see them again.  No stop is wrong, no stop is better than anyone else's destination.  Some people do get off on the wrong stop occasionally, but if you don't like it, just get back on the train and ride it to the next stop.  Is that enough analogy for you?  Now snatch the grain of rice from my hand :lol:


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#7 JohnLeePettimore

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:48

Well stated Flying Pig.
I have recieved a lot of great help and advice here. I started this dream wanting to be an HEMS pilot. But I did a lot of reading here and other places that changed my outlook. I am not starting my helicopter career to sit on standby and wait for a call to come in. I want to fly. That changed my outlook, finding out how many hours your average HEMS pilot actually flies. So now my goal is to make it to the GoM, a tuna boat, ENG, ALE, Ag, pretty much anything that would allow me to fly all the time. I still have a dream of buying a Mosquito or Helicycle for my own personal use, but now with full knowledge that it will be of absolutely no use to me in a professional advancement capacity. I have only been on here for a couple months, and haven't even started yet, but already my outlook has completely changed. I'll go ahead and jump down off my soap box now to make room for the guys with actual experience.

TLDR; keep your mind open.

#8 Azhigher

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 12:33

Go to flight school, get all your ratings.

Work at said flight school as an instructor, build 1200+ hours.

Go to the Gulf of Mexico, Las Vegas, or Alaska for an entry level turbine job that flies a ton.

Do that for a year or two and you'll have the hours to land an EMS job.

 

Also: Different strokes for different folks, when I was in flight school I thought the same thing, "I don't want to sit around all day and not fly, I want to fly!" And then I flew 800+ hours a year for 2 years and then 600+ for 2 years after that and by then I was good and ready to slow down and get a job where I could live where I wanted and be home every night.

 

Anywho, the nice thing is as was said above as you go along and build experience to get into just about any field you'll probably meet the EMS minimums  should you ever want to go that route.


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#9 Velocity173

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 16:32

JLP, when we were young we all said we wanted to fly all the time. As WO1s in the Army everyone wanted to fly the aircraft they wanted and then go to the duty station that flys the most. As we get older and mature, that all changes. We no longer revolve around flying, it becomes a job. An enjoyable job but I don't get up in the AM and say "man, I hope we get a bunch of calls and I hope we fly all day!" My crew would kick my ass if I came into work and said that.

It's work and as such it requires professionals to do it. It's not going on a joy ride simply because you like the feeling of being off the ground. It's not "oh I have slipped the surly bounds of earth" romantic nonsense. It's flying for a purpose. Someone else's purpose. They tell you were to go, when to go and in doing so you have to comply with a myriad of company / FAA rules and regs while doing it. When I want to truly enjoy flight, I going flying in my plane on my days off. That's a release. That's freedom.

This will sound funny but it's the best comparison that I can give when it comes to how I look at what I do for a living. If you've ever watched the movie Days of Thunder there's a scene in it where the guy talks about when he was a kid all he could dream about was leaving the farm to be a race car driver. After he became a race car driver for awhile, now all he can think about is going back to work on a farm. That's kinda like this job. As we become older and wiser, we begin to place more importance on other aspects of our lives than just flying alone.

Same goes for military aviation. I read about the young guys and gals posting in WOFT. Right now in their lives they revolve around flying. I was the same way. It defined me. After 12 yrs of flying the world's greatest utility helicopter in two wars and doing some of the most demanding flying I've ever done, it no longer defines me. My priorities revolve around family now and not looking for that next thrill, racking up hours or moving up the helicopter food chain to the newest and greatest airframe. To me, there's no helicopter status. It doesn't matter if you're flying an R-22 or an S-92. As long as you're getting paid to do it and you're happy with where you are in life, that's all that matters.

So, like Azhigher said, when I retired from the Army, I too was looking for a job for location and the stability to be home every night. It's an easy yet sometimes challenging, sometimes rewarding, secure job, that pays the bills (barely). :)

Edited by Velocity173, 29 May 2014 - 16:33.

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#10 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 19:31

The thing about EMS is that you don't fly very much, but when you do you have to have all your stuff in one bag.  You may not fly for a month, and then you go out at 3AM to a wreck on the highway, or in the woods, and you have to do the landing and takeoff perfectly, no mulligans allowed.  You can't do that as a new pilot.  It takes a lot of experience and practice.  So the way to get to EMS is to fly a lot, and I do mean a lot, in other fields first.   I've been flying for more than 40 years, and it still takes me a little time to get back in the groove after I've been off for a week.  If I go a month without flying, and I've done that far more than once, then I really have to concentrate for the first flight, and more.  I can fly the aircraft without even thinking about it, but there's always that uneasy feeling that I'm missing something for the first flight or two.  I try to make it a habit to do everything right, every time, because habits are what you fall back on when things aren't right.  Without experience to fall back on, and not enough flying to maintain proficiency, you're between a rock and a hard place.  Get a few thousand hours elsewhere before you think about EMS.


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Best Regards,

Gomer

#11 Spike

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 21:16

To me, there's no helicopter status. It doesn't matter if you're flying an R-22 or an S-92. As long as you're getting paid to do it and you're happy with where you are in life, that's all that matters.


Word…….

Additionally, flying is a small part (and the easy part) about being a pro-helo pilot. The other, more significant part is; being able to get along with other people. Helicopter companies, including EMS providers, are employers of people. The helicopters are just tools used to complete the job in order to gain the profit. Being able to get along with people you don’t necessary like (understatement) is a must in this business. This is why from day one, you’ll here hear about the importance of “attitude”. No matter how many certificates or ratings you have, having the wrong attitude can, and will, diminish your chances for advancement…. Never forget this......


Edited by Spike, 29 May 2014 - 21:18.

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#12 Velocity173

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 21:55

Word.

Additionally, flying is a small part (and the easy part) about being a pro-helo pilot. The other, more significant part is; being able to get along with other people. Helicopter companies, including EMS providers, are employers of people. The helicopters are just tools used to complete the job in order to gain the profit. Being able to get along with people you dont necessary like (understatement) is a must in this business. This is why from day one, youll here hear about the importance of attitude. No matter how many certificates or ratings you have, having the wrong attitude can, and will, diminish your chances for advancement. Never forget this......

Ain't that the truth. Being around the same people all day you have to find a way to get along and not get on each other's nerves. It doesn't happen that often but there are cases where pilots get "run out of town" because they're not a team player. You'll hear such and such was released simply because they just weren't working out. I think one would have to be extremely anti social or just weird not to get along with their crew. You don't have to be so tight that you hang out with one another after work but if one comes off as being aloof or keeps to them self, they won't last long.

Edited by Velocity173, 29 May 2014 - 21:56.

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#13 Flying Pig

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 23:33

I know a pilot personally who was handed his final pay check as he showed up for his shift.  Probably 30K+ hours... had been the CP of two other places over his years.  Amazing pilot, but the guy was an arrogant A-hole.  He accepted a line pilot job at an EMS operator as a retirement job.  After about 6 months, the nurses and the other pilots were pretty well tired of hearing about how awesome he was and the director thanked him for his time and sent him on his way.



#14 aeroscout

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 00:47

By the time you get to a HEMS flying job you will have had a knowledge, experience, and work ethic equal to exceeding any of the med crew you would work with. But it won't be valued to the same extent. Any conflict gets resolved with the dismissal of the pilot. You will never win any conflict except maybe in the short run.

The med crew can help you or hurt you. But you can never count on them for anything. Anytime they let you down you will be held responsible. Make sure you always either do it yourself, or check behind anything they do or don't do.



#15 JohnLeePettimore

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 06:33

I definitely don't have a problem getting along with people, and I would definitely say that I work week with a team. I realize that it's a job. I have experienced that first hand. When I first started out as a mechanic, I loved it. When I would get off work, I would work on one of my cars or fix a friend or family member's car. Fast forward 15 years, and my car barely runs because by the time I get done working on Army trucks all day, the last thing I want to see is another vehicle that is in need of repair. I keep my wife's car in good order because she and my children are counting on that car to be safe. So I do feel you there. But for now I am in that "Everything revolves around flying" mindset. That's probably a good thing, with me about to start my training. If it goes away, I'll still have a job that I will enjoy, but I'll pump the brakes and find a flying job with more down time. It will probably take a while. I didn't stop looking forward to the drive to or from work until I moved to the DC area. But for now, I need to concentrate on this upcoming move. As of Wednesday, I will be a civilian again!

#16 Hobbit64

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:17

Same goes for military aviation. I read about the young guys and gals posting in WOFT. Right now in their lives they revolve around flying. I was the same way. It defined me. After 12 yrs of flying the world's greatest utility helicopter in two wars and doing some of the most demanding flying I've ever done, it no longer defines me. My priorities revolve around family now and not looking for that next thrill, racking up hours or moving up the helicopter food chain to the newest and greatest airframe. To me, there's no helicopter status. It doesn't matter if you're flying an R-22 or an S-92. As long as you're getting paid to do it and you're happy with where you are in life, that's all that matters.
 

 

Totally agree.  I hit this point a couple years ago.  Love to fly and think can't think of doing anything else... BUT.. the highlights of my day are the wife and little one.  

Shame that at a point that I could get high paying jobs, I won't even consider them due to the time away from home.


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#17 Velocity173

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:13

 
Totally agree.  I hit this point a couple years ago.  Love to fly and think can't think of doing anything else... BUT.. the highlights of my day are the wife and little one.  
Shame that at a point that I could get high paying jobs, I won't even consider them due to the time away from home.

Yep, I've got friends who could have gotten me on to overseas contract or GoM stuff making far more than I do now. I always tell them how appreciative I am but I respectfully decline.

I have no desire to go the Middle East and do the same job as a civilian that I did in the Army. Couldn't stand that place or the mission when I was in the Army, sure not going to serve those people as a civilian...no matter how much they pay me.

I've actually thought about GoM. Every time the finances get tight (right now) I start thinking if I was working in the Gulf I wouldn't have this problem. Then I start thinking about the reality of it; the commute, being gone from home 2 weeks at a time, flying all day long, flying over water, platform to platform, spending the night on a platform, dual pilot. Oddly enough, dual pilot is one of the biggest reasons for not wanting to go down there for the extra money. I love the single pilot mission. Not an anti social thing, I get along with my crew but I just like being the one who is responsible for everything up front. I don't care if it's proven dual pilot is safer than single, call me a risk taker but I prefer the challenge. I would love to go on to one of the King Air single pilot spots in EMS years down the road. Don't think I'll ever really get the ME hours to get hired though.

If this job paid 6 figures, our pilot shortage would be nonexistent. I was just talking to a coworker about it yesterday. He was saying that if pay was a little more competitive with other sectors, he'd never have a reason to leave. I agree.

Edited by Velocity173, 30 May 2014 - 08:20.

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#18 Wally

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:32

First step- and easiest, but not EASY- is getting the certificates. Look for a school that you will attend regularly, whether it's an easy commute from your home, or somewhere that you will be able to live during course periods.

You also want a facility that has adequate resources to schedule and support the aircraft. One ship operations are fine as long as the aircraft is 100% otherwise you want a spare available. Same for instructors, they're not interchangeable. This is a hugely personal experience and personalities do occasionally clash, and it's good to have a second opinion when you encounter an issue of any sort.

Visit schools, talk to instructors and students, look at aircraft, and listen carefully to the sales pitch.

 

Commercial and instrument, or ATP required for hire. After 'school' you accumulate hours, experience and skills. My analogy is that your initial training is the foundation and your experience is the framework your career will be built in and on. HEMS isn't hard (except when it is) but it's not a job to build experience and skills at, most HEMS jobs don't fly enough to do that.

I think my employer is not unusual in experience requirements:

Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Program:

•       2000 total flight hours with minimum of 1500 flight hours in category

•       1000 hours PIC in category

•       500 hours of rotor wing turbine time

•       200 hours of cross-country flight time, at least 50 hours of which were at night

•       100 hours unaided night as PIC

•       50 hours total actual or hood instrument time in flight and in category (simulator time does not count)

 

Many, if not most pilots I work with have much more than the minimum experience.

 

'Getting there' could well take 5 - 10 years.


Edited by Wally, 30 May 2014 - 08:35.

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Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#19 Hobbit64

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:55

Yep, I've got friends who could have gotten me on to overseas contract or GoM stuff making far more than I do now. I always tell them how appreciative I am but I respectfully decline.

I have no desire to go the Middle East and do the same job as a civilian that I did in the Army. Couldn't stand that place or the mission when I was in the Army, sure not going to serve those people as a civilian...no matter how much they pay me.

I've actually thought about GoM. Every time the finances get tight (right now) I start thinking if I was working in the Gulf I wouldn't have this problem. Then I start thinking about the reality of it; the commute, being gone from home 2 weeks at a time, flying all day long, flying over water, platform to platform, spending the night on a platform, dual pilot. Oddly enough, dual pilot is one of the biggest reasons for not wanting to go down there for the extra money. I love the single pilot mission. Not an anti social thing, I get along with my crew but I just like being the one who is responsible for everything up front. I don't care if it's proven dual pilot is safer than single, call me a risk taker but I prefer the challenge. I would love to go on to one of the King Air single pilot spots in EMS years down the road. Don't think I'll ever really get the ME hours to get hired though.

If this job paid 6 figures, our pilot shortage would be nonexistent. I was just talking to a coworker about it yesterday. He was saying that if pay was a little more competitive with other sectors, he'd never have a reason to leave. I agree.

I have always wondered how a King Air EMS gig would be.  For work, I currently fly EC-145's and B-200's and would pounce on an EMS gig at the bases near me in a heart beat.

 

Unfortunately there'll probably never be a King Air EMS gig nearby.  HEMS would be every bit as good too, probably the best option as the B-200 is a part time job.  I could keep a foot in both and not get stale.

 

While I prefer wearing Bose A20's over an HGU-56 with goggle and stupid survival vest, if given the choice, Id take a RW EMS gig with no thought.  All the same, King Airs a such good,honest planes too.  I assume the FW EMS side is similar schedule wise.. just no hovering- after six months of no RW flying I'd lose it.


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#20 romanweel

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Posted 19 March 2015 - 05:18

 I don't care if it's proven dual pilot is safer than single, call me a risk taker but I prefer the challenge.

 

A little off-topic and late to the party, but...is there actually hard evidence that helicopter dual pilot ops are safer than single pilot?  I'm sincerely doubtful, but also sincerely curious.  I've looked and haven't found it, myself...anyone else?


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"There is no such thing as an emergency take-off.  Unless the world is ending. But probably not even then."






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