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Another stupid age question


Longjourney
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All my life, I've worked at jobs that, although were meaningful, did not fulfill me. Lately, I've started flying gliders and have had the time of my life. In addition, my son has started helicopter pilot training in the army, which has got me thinking about flying helicopters.

 

Okay, now the stupid question: I'm 51 years old. Can I get a job, after 1000 hrs as CFI, if I train to fly helicopters? Can I reasonably expect to be able to repay the loans I would need to get through training? I can travel for brief or periodic assignments. I live in North Texas, so I would hope to get a job with a gulf operation. Is it do-able?

 

Thanks for any advice.

 

Jeff

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If you want to be a pilot, with reasonable expectations...you should do it. That is what I am currently doing. I am 45 and taking my time doing it. I am doing pay as you go...and I know that that will slow me down. My so called plan..has me doing what I enjoy doing...I want to fly. My hopes are that I can become a CFI. I have been at my current job 25 years...and based on company math...I am eligible to retire in 2 years (but can not collect til I am 65). I will find a job in the industry and will work "another hobby"...that is what I have done most of my life...my jobs have changed according to my likes (moved jobs, stayed with same company). I have saved hard all my life and have recently lost two family members ..who left money in the bank..and although I appreciate it...my life is not to save for others...it is for me to life comfortably and do what I love...you only live once...so I have learned. Use your common sense...at least go for your PPL and figure out if your desire stays and if it does...keep going...

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If you like to teach and can accept CFI pay to live on then it is worth it, anything beyond that is a bonus.

 

Jerry

 

My thoughts exactly. Just keep in mind that CFI pay won't repay your training costs.

 

I would think it is unlikely (though not impossible) that a commercial operator, such as those in the gulf, would be willing to invest in your transition training when you have 20 to 30 years less working life ahead of you than other people competing for the same position.

 

Don't mean to be a rain cloud over your parade, just trying to be realistic.

Edited by heli.pilot
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My thoughts exactly. Just keep in mind that CFI pay won't repay your training costs.

 

I would think it is unlikely (though not impossible) that a commercial operator, such as those in the gulf, would be willing to invest in your transition training when you have 20 to 30 years less working life ahead of you than other people competing for the same position.

 

Don't mean to be a rain cloud over your parade, just trying to be realistic.

 

I know three guys who went to training classes in the GOM (over 50) after they got their 1000 hours. The problem wasn't the turbine transition, I hear it was the water egress training. This isn't typical, I'm sure, but it has been done. I know one of them went to another company, gave it a second shot and is doing well there.

Edited by ADRidge
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I've heard various things about it. Having not actually gone through it myself, I'll let someone else break that down if they care to.

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Realistically? Give it up. You won't make enough money before retirement to pay for the training plus living expenses. The problem with your age is that you don't have enough productive years left to make it worthwhile. There are just too many people competing for too few jobs, and willing to work for too little compensation. And truthfully, flying helicopters ain't all it's cracked up to be. It beats digging ditches, and doing roofing work, and lots of other jobs, but it's not that thrilling, and certainly not that well paid.

 

The water egress training I experienced was done in an indoor pool, with a 'dunker' simulating a helicopter. You have to repeatedly get out of it while it's inverted, once blindfolded, IIRC. It's been a few years since I did it. You also have to tread water for awhile. If you're not in decent physical shape, it's exhausting. And if you go into the water for real, it will certainly be exhausting, and there are no divers in the pool to save you if you get too tired. There are lots of hungry fish out there bigger than you are and they can all swim better than you can. I've seen sharks that could swallow a human in one gulp, and had a few on a handline for awhile. I've even seen a few landed with the aid of cargo baskets, but not many.

Edited by Gomer Pylot
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I was under the impression that the "turbine transition" that you received in the gulf was actually a 135 course. Being that any new hire with that company would have to take the companies 135 training and 135 checkride? Sorry if I am wrong, I just started commercial a little while ago. Wouldn't that mean any new hire, would have to go through the training, regardless of if they had 10 hours or 10000 hours.

Edited by slick1537
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I know three guys who went to training classes in the GOM (over 50) after they got their 1000 hours. The problem wasn't the turbine transition, I hear it was the water egress training. This isn't typical, I'm sure, but it has been done. I know one of them went to another company, gave it a second shot and is doing well there.

 

I stand corrected!

 

It seems that these operators make a pretty significant investment in training new hires, so I had anticipated they would favor hiring the newbie that has more working life remaining. But, it sounds like it can be done.

 

As Gomer said, the problem is making enough to pay for the training costs. I figure I'll be about 33 by the time I move on to that first turbine job, and I still had to think long and hard about the cost of training. At 50, I don't think I'd be spending the money. As suggested by someone else, I might just find myself a nice beach somewhere...

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I was under the impression that the "turbine transition" that you received in the gulf was actually a 135 course. Being that any new hire with that company would have to take the companies 135 training and 135 checkride? Sorry if I am wrong, I just started commercial a little while ago. Wouldn't that mean any new hire, would have to go through the training, regardless of if they had 10 hours or 10000 hours.

 

Its both. And to be put on that companies 135 cert, everyone reguardless of hours does it. Even if you move compaines you still have to do the "ride" with your new company. There are some exceptions, but most of the time you get a full 135 checkride. You wouldn't necessarily go through an entire course. Its up to the company. We had a guy just go through a couple of days (instead of the normal 14) to learn our paperwork and procedures, then he did his ride.

 

A turbine transition is just included in most "entry" turbine jobs to ensure you're up to speed with a turbine even if you are very experienced. It's a good idea no matter what when you really look at it. Even if you have a ton of turbine experience, you still may learn something. I learn something new flying everyday.

 

The water survival training is a 2 year certification. It's still done just like Gomer stated. Like Gomer stated, it's not too difficult, but it does cause some problems with being inverted underwater for some. There is some considerable amount of swimming invovled. Nothing too bad, but it's fully clothed so you tire very quickly.

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All my life, I've worked at jobs that, although were meaningful, did not fulfill me. Lately, I've started flying gliders and have had the time of my life. In addition, my son has started helicopter pilot training in the army, which has got me thinking about flying helicopters.

 

Okay, now the stupid question: I'm 51 years old. Can I get a job, after 1000 hrs as CFI, if I train to fly helicopters? Can I reasonably expect to be able to repay the loans I would need to get through training? I can travel for brief or periodic assignments. I live in North Texas, so I would hope to get a job with a gulf operation. Is it do-able?

 

Thanks for any advice.

 

Jeff

 

Like many have said, at least go for your Private Helicopter. That way you'll know if its something you really want to do. And you and your son would have something pretty cool in common to talk about and share!

 

The part about a second career is doable, but you might not ever recoup your investment...I don't think any of us ever will. But that's not why we do it. We fly helicopters for the love of flying. I know some second career pilots that are CFI's and teach as a way to supplement their income and just enjoy life. That may also be an option. You could come to the Gulf eventually if that's your plan.

 

Go for it if it's a dream. if you don't, you may regret not at least trying!

 

john

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Never done the dunker training but have been in the water for real (15 min in the English channel in October) NOT an experience I would recommend & have no wish to repeat even for training I was 35 at the time, and real fit.

As this was not aircraft related I never hat the extra problem of extracting myself from a sinking cabin.

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Realistically? Give it up. You won't make enough money before retirement to pay for the training plus living expenses. The problem with your age is that you don't have enough productive years left to make it worthwhile. There are just too many people competing for too few jobs, and willing to work for too little compensation. And truthfully, flying helicopters ain't all it's cracked up to be. It beats digging ditches, and doing roofing work, and lots of other jobs, but it's not that thrilling, and certainly not that well paid.

Sounds like you don't like flying anymore.

 

I've spent the money to get CFI and I plan on paying off my loans with my current job while working part time teaching. I will teach full time after that and see if I can get a job in the Canyon or Gulf later...not really worried about it as long as I get to fly.

 

Jerry

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Hello Longjourney,I myself have contimplated the same thing,I also have worked long and hard to get where I am,I also have comm multi instru. fixed and private instru. rotor.The problem arises when you factor in the cost of doing what you want versus a sound business decision.The harsh reality of the aviation industry is they eat up people and their money,with the illusion of future employ.Dont get me wrong,I love to fly, and a rotorcraft is the most fun and enjoyment I think you can have.Sooo,where does this leave us, by us I mean all the people who are OLD,I am currently taking my comm. training and continuing on as if I am 25 years old.I may not ever have job in GOM, or Vegas,but I will have an experience that you or anyone else can take from me.Do as others have said take private,see how it feels,you like it and can afford living while training,do it,the job you find later might be ferry work or instructing,and as an older person we can use our life experience and knowledge of life to guide others on this quest,the quest that only pilots will ever truly know.Good luck and blue skies,never surrender,EVER.

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At 51, do it for a side hobby, as a new thing to do. Like I am. If you have to finance the training, then don't do it. Life is too short, besides a 51, if you sold all your assets an moved to Colombia, you'd like like a King. Beautiful young ladies, tropical, great healthy food, natural juices, etc.

 

From my first experience, flying a helicopter requires a lot of concentration, and it's not easy! Very intense! One mistake and you could go down! And if you go down, that's a bad way to die.... very scary falling 1-20 thousand feet down.

 

Try fixed wing training.... you might like it more, I will soon.

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Hello Longjourney,I myself have contimplated the same thing,I also have worked long and hard to get where I am,I also have comm multi instru. fixed and private instru. rotor.The problem arises when you factor in the cost of doing what you want versus a sound business decision.The harsh reality of the aviation industry is they eat up people and their money,with the illusion of future employ.Dont get me wrong,I love to fly, and a rotorcraft is the most fun and enjoyment I think you can have.Sooo,where does this leave us, by us I mean all the people who are OLD,I am currently taking my comm. training and continuing on as if I am 25 years old.I may not ever have job in GOM, or Vegas,but I will have an experience that you or anyone else can take from me.Do as others have said take private,see how it feels,you like it and can afford living while training,do it,the job you find later might be ferry work or instructing,and as an older person we can use our life experience and knowledge of life to guide others on this quest,the quest that only pilots will ever truly know.Good luck and blue skies,never surrender,EVER.

 

Nicely put

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At 51, do it for a side hobby, as a new thing to do. Like I am. If you have to finance the training, then don't do it. Life is too short, besides a 51, if you sold all your assets an moved to Colombia, you'd like like a King. Beautiful young ladies, tropical, great healthy food, natural juices, etc.

Colombia is a beautiful country, my first wife is from Medellin and the airport there has got to be the most dangerous I have ever been to. Very few people speak english in Bogota or Medellin so I hope your spanish is good, I would love to move back there sometime.

 

Jerry

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Don’t listen to anybody that tells you to give it up. Most old timers I have talked to are bitter and have been in the industry too long. If it is what you want to do then go for it. I have seen many guys older than you doing well in the industry as heli pilots. Some are flying tours in Las Vegas, some are flying EMS. There are no age restrictions for heli pilots like there are for fixed wing guys. If you want to do it, then do it. If you’re smart, well groomed, have a college education and are a good pilot, you will get work after CFI.

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Don’t listen to anybody that tells you to give it up. Most old timers I have talked to are bitter and have been in the industry too long. If it is what you want to do then go for it. I have seen many guys older than you doing well in the industry as heli pilots. Some are flying tours in Las Vegas, some are flying EMS. There are no age restrictions for heli pilots like there are for fixed wing guys. If you want to do it, then do it. If you’re smart, well groomed, have a college education and are a good pilot, you will get work after CFI.

 

Nobody is saying he can't do it. They're just making sure that he doesn't jump into it with his eyes shut.

 

Do it for the love of flying. Do it to check the box on your to do list. Do it because you've always wanted to. Do it just for the hell of it. Just do it with your eyes open to the reality that many helicopter pilots live just above the poverty level - if they can find employment at all. If you're already financially secure and simply want a second career, then go for it.

 

FWIW, I don't think 51 is that old. These days, if your health is good, you easily have 15+ good flying years ahead of you. Even if you need to work, I think you have plenty of time to do whatever you want to do in the aviation community, pay off training loans, and even build a little pension for yourself - if that's your goal.

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