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Advice Please


Safa
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Hello All,

 

This has all been asked before, so please bear with me. Background: I am a 33 years old. Always wanted to fly helicopters, but was not possible in my country of origin (Hellish Expensive!!!!). I thought I could do the military route, however, there was no intake into our Airforce for several years (Airforce very small). I now reside in the U.S. (Legal Resident) and would like to pursue my dream, as it is alot more affordable here. I have a lucrative career ( I like to think it is anyway) and aim to do training while still retaining my job.

 

The goals that I have set for myself is to complete my training and ultimately fly EMS. I have spoken to a variety of schools and they have informed me that, all going well, I should complete my training in approximately 18 months to 2 years (Private through CFII). Straight off the bat I have a family and I am very family orientated. In other words I will make sacrifices to obtain my goals, BUT not at the Expense of my Family. I have heard many mixed reviews about the industry. Some people state that it is not a good career to pursue if you have a family. Is this true? I personally feel that one can obtain a healthy balance.

 

Questions:

 

1) Firstly; I have heard that there is a exhorbitant amount of low time pilots out in the market today? If this is the case are there possibilities out there for Instruction positions (to build hours)?

I know and understand that most schools cannot guarantee an instructor job after completion of training. I guess the next part to this question is whether a new CFII can find employment elsewhere in the country, or do most schools employ there own students?

 

2) Secondly; I aim to start my training this year, 2009. I am hoping that by the time I complete my training, the high number of low time pilots would have moved up the industry ladder. Is this the case or is there a constantly high turnover of low time pilots out there? I am not afraid of competition, but I would just like to know where I stand from the start.

 

3) Thirdly; My understanding is that employment options for low time pilots are very limited. I aim to fly EMS and most operators require high flight hours. What are the alternative routes that I can follow in order to obtain these high requirements?

 

4) Finally; If anyone out there (I am sure some have) has gone the Loans Route for funding flight training, are repayments of these loans affordable relative to payscale?

 

Any advice would really be appreciated. I am very motivated about becoming a professional pilot, but I would like to go into this with my eyes open.

 

Thanks,

 

Safa

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I think I would be safe in saying you are in the majority of people visiting this site and your dreams are theirs. All of your questions are very typical of the questions everyone has about helicopter careers. I think you know all the answers to your questions...so I'm going to be real here.

What you heard is correct... the helicopter industry is not very family friendly.. now a bunch of guys will come on here saying they have a fine family life... so I'll say what is the definition of "fine" or "good" or whatever... only you know the answer to this but this industry is NOT what you would call family friendly when compared to many other careers.

 

1..yes, there are alot of low time guys but you can still find work... maybe not full time work.

 

2..by the time you finish your ratings... nothing will have changed.. there will still be alot of low time guys

 

3..no other options... except... with your lucrative career.. buy your own helicopter and start flying

 

4..lots of people have taken loans.. my advice.. do not!... No, the repayment plans are not affordable relative to the payscale

 

Now with your eyes wide open... go out there and start paying for what you want.

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You have to understand the helicopter industry- The machines are expensive to buy, maintain and operate. They're slow, too. And, there's not a lot of helicopters compared to airplanes. Helicopters go where there's no other economical transport, so many are based in less desirable locations, and those bases move with the business. The bases are as far down the road as you can get. The work day is typically 14 hours, so home time is at a premium, IF you can get there.

EMS is better in that we're usually not in BFE, but the bases and/or contracts are temporary.

 

As to compensation, look here for fairly accurate salary information for working professionals-

http://www.helicoptersalaries.com/pay_scales/index.htm

Yes, there are jobs that pay more.

 

This is as good a time as any to be starting out because us Vietnam guys are seeing the writing one the wall, we're leaving. "Good" in that sentence is a very, very relative term, think failure rate of 96% instead of 98% (no accuracy implied).

The only reason that I can do this with 40 years of experience is because I'm married to a remarkable individual. And, I HAVE to do it.

 

If you can't live without it; if you'll be miserable if you don't try; and if you're family will come along through some pretty hard times- do it. Otherwise...

Edited by Wally
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Im in the same boat as most. Part timing my way through my PPL on hoping to move on to a career of this. I hear that the Vietnam Guys retiring will open up a lot of oppertunities, but really how accurite does anyone think of this. With so many low hours out there, is this real or just recruiting tactics?

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Some of it is true, some of it is recruiting...

 

The truth is, some people make it and some do not. Not everyone is cut out to do this, and how thick your checkbook happens to be is a terrible indication of your level of success.

 

Some people sail right through, get their hours, and work at the school they trained at. Others have a very hard time about it.

 

Want some good advice? Find out who makes the hiring decisions at the school you train at and make friends with them, learn what he/she wants to see and make sure that comes across in spades during your training.

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Coloheli asked

"Im in the same boat as most. Part timing my way through my PPL on hoping to move on to a career of this. I hear that the Vietnam Guys retiring will open up a lot of oppertunities, but really how accurite does anyone think of this. With so many low hours out there, is this real or just recruiting tactics?"

 

Invited for your consideration-

I'm Vietnam era, trained as the war starting winding down. My class started with 260 Warrant officer candidates, add a few cycled back, and graduated 140 or so. Repeat every other week, smaller and smaller classes. I think I read somewhere that there were 30,000 helicopter pilots trained in the Vietnam era. I'm 59, and know 2 others from my class still flying. There's probably more, but I haven't run into them.

It's not a spiel, it is happening. Me and my contemporaries are having the clock run out. It's an ongoing process, the last couple of decades, and there's fewer old farts everyday. One day soon, we'll be all gone, and a hard charging Robbie Ranger will have my seat. That person will not be much different than me: a lot of dues will have been paid; most contemporaries starting won't work at it long; and those who don't start never finish.

Edited by Wally
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To all those that responded to my questions, thank you. I am still determined to do this. I guess after I have completed the PPL certification I will have a somewhat better understanding. It is going to be a slower road to get there for me but I am determined to still try.

 

Thanks

 

Safa

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