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is the career worth the price of admission?


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#1 DEEZALL

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 01:26

Like the title says, I am looking at becoming a pilot for a living. My end game would eventually  be in medivac or owning an air tour company. Hell as long as I can fly most of the day for a living I think I'd be ok. I have done an intro flight and loved it. There is nothing like it  to me. I'm sure its like any job, there are good days and bad days. I'll be 40 in a month, so most of the L.E.O pilot positions  are out of the question. Is the initial $35k to $50k to get started work out to $50 - $60k income back with in 2- 3 years. Also if I were to use a friends rotorway or buy one could that be used to build hours?


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just a newb trying to absorb as much info as possible.


#2 AS350 pilot

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 16:51

This is a widely debated topic, so I'll just give my opinion short and sweet.

 

$35k to $50k unfortunately isn't realistic for someone with zero time to become an employable CFI (most likely your first job). Even 10 years ago when I went to flight school if you got done for $60k you were doing good. Now I'm sure it's more.

 

$50k to $60k during your first 2-3 years is very unlikely. As a flight instructor you will struggle to make a wage that you can survive on....sad but true. I'm talking like poverty level income for most areas. After that, my experience has been tours and it paid well, fallowed by utility and fire and it also pays well. 

 

I can only answer this question for myself; has it been worth the price of admission? Yes, without a doubt. The industry can be difficult to break into and you will find plenty of nay sayers (especially lurking on the internet) but if you make it past that, it's a very unique and exciting way to make a living. 

 

Good luck!


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#3 r22butters

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 17:08

You want to begin this odyssey at the age of 40?,...damn! :o
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The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

Aaaaaaaany day now! :D

#4 DEEZALL

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 17:49

Yes at 40.... I've always wanted to but there was a lot of negativity in my life at the time. "That's for rich people"...so on and so forth.  Now that I can pay for it, (in time) I'd rather try for it than wish I had. As far as the nay sayers, most of them are just unhappy people who don't want others to be happy.  Thanks for your input so far. Can anyone answer the last question? Do the hours you put in to be recognized have to be in a "certified" helo i.e. experimentals like rotorway? I can't seem to find it on the faa site. Thanks in advance 


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just a newb trying to absorb as much info as possible.


#5 Fred0311

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 18:05

Technically, yes but a better answer is it depends. One employer might see it and say it checks the box he's good to go and another might think thats not a real helicopter and he'd hold it against you and you'd never know. I definitely wouldn't buy one to build time but using your friends probably wouldn't hurt.

Edited by Fred0311, 28 August 2017 - 18:07.

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#6 r22butters

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 18:53

Using an experimental to build hours? I have heard that yes you can, I also almost took a job in an "experimental" R22, which makes me wonder if we should sub post this thread under that other thread posted today, "Sacrificing safety to build hours"?

In my experience though employers prefer "flight instructor" experience to "joyriding in my own aircraft" experience, so,...?

Anyway, you might want to read that other guys post and ask yourself, at my age am I willing to put up with that kind of sh*t? At 44 I realized, no, and thus am just a happy renter,...as well as the resident nay sayer!
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The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

Aaaaaaaany day now! :D

#7 AS350 pilot

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 18:57

As for the rotorway - my 2 cents are that it's probably fun but counts next to nothing if you're talking about putting it on a resume and counting on it being a way to become a professional pilot. 

 

It's tough enough to get a job as a cfi with 200 hours (the min to teach in Robinson helicopters). Don't give a potential employer a reason not to hire you like having half of your flight time in a rotorway. 

 

Also, if you don't have any other responsibilities like a family to take care of 40 isn't that old. With good health you could easily fly a 25 year career. 


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#8 DEEZALL

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 20:19

Thank you all. All good input! Some of it wasn't what i wanted to hear but that makes me want to work harder for it, it's just gonna take a little longer. Thanks again for taking the time to help a newb out!     


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just a newb trying to absorb as much info as possible.


#9 wants to fly

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 13:17

I was 43 when I started from nothing. You will never succeed at the things you never attempted. Life is happening now.


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#10 DEEZALL

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 10:31

I was 43 when I started from nothing. You will never succeed at the things you never attempted. Life is happening now.

how long ago was that? if you don't mind. How long did it take?


just a newb trying to absorb as much info as possible.


#11 r22butters

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 13:21

I was 43 when I started from nothing. You will never succeed at the things you never attempted. Life is happening now.


As a middle aged second career failure, I too would be interested in reading your success story.
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The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

Aaaaaaaany day now! :D

#12 ARM_Coder

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 15:46

I started my PP course at 48, dreaming of a quick and easy transition from Engineering to the Helicopter industry. The market here in Brazil was booming few years ago.

 

I finished the CP and CFI courses about a year later. Now, at 50, I'm deep again in Engineering. No plans to work as a pilot anymore.

 

What happened?

 

First, there was a crisis of epic proportions here in Brazil, that hit the Helicopter industry square and hard. So things became very difficult to everybody.

 

But the deepest reason was that, I'm an accomplished engineer with 25+ years of experience. So I have a level of seniority that I know I will never achieve as a pilot. Not starting at my age. In a VERY favorable market this is still manageable (you're hired soon and build hours fast), but in a depressed market, seniority takes too long to achieve, so the only way is to begin young.

 

There's a friend of mine that IS an employed pilot, and he did LESS hours than me in 2016-17. For a good number of certified pilots the only way to fly is to PAY for it, like I did.

 

In the end, I think that anyone that earns the CPL (me included) can pursue the career. But the sacrifices are high, and get higher with age. I pondered that the sacrifice would be too high in my case, so I bailed out, but to each its own.

 

Cheers!


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#13 Nearly Retired

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 20:07

The question: "Is this career worth the price of admission?" is something nobody...NOBODY can answer for you.  If you come to a helicopter forum and ask such a thing, the majority of answers you get will be positive.  Flying for a living is what we all dream of from the beginning.  So people young and old will say, "OF COURSE IT IS!"

 

There are a couple of problems.  For one thing, there is not a single guaranteed path to follow.  Just because one guy did it one way does not mean that way will work for you.  You'll be blazing your own trail, pretty much.  And there's no guarantee of success.  Just because you want it more than anything in the world does not mean it'll happen for you.  Maybe it won't.  

 

You ask: "Is the initial $35k to $50k to get started work out to $50 - $60k income back with in 2- 3 years."

 

Totally unrealistic.  Totally.  Increase the cost to get there by about one-half and the time it takes to actually get a "good" job by double.  Then you'll be in the ballpark.  There is not now, and never will be a shortage of people who want to fly for money.  Employers know this and set the starting pay accordingly.  Get in line.

 

Or maybe you'll be the one that gets lucky.  

 

So good luck!


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#14 Wally

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 09:41

If you have to ask: then NO, it's not "worth the price of admission".
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Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#15 helonorth

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 13:27

 Is the initial $35k to $50k to get started work out to $50 - $60k income back with in 2- 3 years. 

 

 

Yes, but plan on the higher end for the training cost. Nothing unreasonable about those numbers. You could be flying tours at 500 hours in a R-44. $50K would probably be on the high side the first year, though. 

 

Yes, you can build time with the Rotorway. I don't know if buying one would be a good idea. It would be a great option to build time very cheaply if you had one to use. 

 

The key to this whole helicopter thing is to be mobile. You have to be prepared to move for each job until you get a schedule or get paid enough (or get paid) to commute. Plenty of opportunity out there. You just have to seek it out.


Edited by helonorth, 03 September 2017 - 13:27.

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#16 DEEZALL

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 23:56

I've been looking at different forums, all i can say is wow!! I think some of these guys just want to watch the world burn. or they're afraid of the market saturating even more.  I think I'm gonna try it, might take me a while but it'll be worth it. If nothing else, it'd be something to do on the weekends. 


just a newb trying to absorb as much info as possible.


#17 avbug

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 12:46

You'll read and hear a lot of negativity, and a lot of skepticism among those who have been in the industry for a while.  This is not the product of fear of competition.  

 

I have been working professionally for more than three decades as a pilot and mechanic. There is no possibility that your entry into the business could compete with me in any way, and by the time you do become competitive, I'll be long gone.  It's not about competition.

 

It's about having been there and done that, about having endured the years of establishing a career, the years of starting over, the job changes, the moves, the bankrupcies, closures, mergers, furloughs, downsizings, etc, and having seen enough of the industry to know the pitfalls, dangers, hazards, risks, costs, pros, and cons to a career.  

 

"Worth it" is highly subjective.  If you're talking about a return on your investment, or even a return adequate to pay off the cost of entry, then you'll be amortizing for a long time to come.  In other words, don't expect to enter and make it all back right away.  Or any time soon.  Don't expect to become certified and have the world fall at your feet.  You'll complete flight training, be in debt, and find that you're not qualified to do anything but instruct.  You'll be  dime-a-dozen, with everyone else at your peer level in the same boat, and that's your competition.  You'll have a few hundred hours and the jobs you want will take thousands.  

 

You'll get there.  We all did.  It takes time.  During that time, income can be scarce. Hours can be long.  Stability can be minimal.  You'll likely need to move.  Repeatedly.  

 

There's a tendency for new blood to say that the voices of experience are simply curmudgeons, and to disregard those voices.  That would be a mistake.  Those of us who have been flying for a long time, working for a long time, involved since our early teen years...we've already been down that road, and it's a road you'll walk more than once.  If you start to hear a common theme, understand that it has merit.  This isn't to discourage you, but don't walk a rocky road blindfolded.  


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#18 Fred0311

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 13:23

I started flight school in 2012, and in that time I've moved 7 times, been furloughed once, and quit a job once. I recently started a job with a modicum of stability but will likely be transferred to another location in a few months. It's been a rough road...

Edited by Fred0311, 11 September 2017 - 13:24.

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#19 r22butters

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 13:41

It also depends on your starting point. The price a twenty year old is willing to pay is probably different that that of a forty year old!

It also depends on what you want to do? If you love teaching I have met a few old guys who started late and just stayed at flight schools, a couple of them even started their own schools and seem perfectly content with that being as far as their flying career ever goes!
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The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

Aaaaaaaany day now! :D

#20 ByteFlighter

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 15:12

If you are actually considering becoming a helicopter pilot for a living, and you plan on paying your way through a civilian flight school just to get a CPL & FI, the answer is simple: Don't waste your time or money.

 

If you want to fly for a living, go get your fixed wing licenses. If your heart is set on helicopters: join the military. The ROI as a helicopter pilot is so terrible its absolutely insane what people pay out of pocket to do for a career instead of just a hobby. Unless you are a stellar, high time, multi-situational veteran, expect to make under $80k for the rest of your career. If by some chance you land a contract flying in the Persian Gulf for maybe 120k, have fun enjoying a booze-less, burkini filled stay in a country where westerners & women are considered sub-human by the locals.

 

The economics of this question couldn't be clearer. Fixed wing airline pilots can now top out at anywhere between 300k-400k a year, average 250k a year and save about 1/4 on the cost of flight school. Trust me, I get the love of flying a helicopter over fixed wing. I have quite a bit of experience flying both which is why I joined the military to fly helicopters. I promise you, spending 100k to live on food stamps as an Instructor and dragging your family below poverty level for an undetermined amount of years just to make a meager 80k and "enjoy" your career is utter nonsense. But hey, go for it.


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