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What do I need to do? How much?


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Hey I am very interested in flying, and have since a very young age. I really want to be an either EMS Heli Pilot, or a pilot for news stations, or anything of the similar. How would I go about this? Would I be able to get a loan for all the training expenses? Should I attend college and get an Associates or BA first? Would prior working experience help? I have no debt at all, and am graduating high school soon, but am pretty blank about this subject. If you guys could answer those above questions, I'd be thankful. Also if it helps I live in New Jersey, but would like to live and fly somewhere else, but it's not a necessity. Thanks in advance. :D :D

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Hmmm, I was just thinking about this.

Alot of the answers you seek depend on what kind of financial backing you have. If your parents are going to help you pay for everything to make your career then you're in luck. If you're like 90% of the people out there and you don't really have any money then this is what I would suggest.

(the following assumes no education, no aviation experience, no money saved, civilian helicopter desire with no desire to serve in the military or desire to take expensive and unrealistic loans)


1. Stay living at home

2. Go get a job as a mechanic helper or broom pusher to work up to helping the mechanics and start talking about apprenticeship to acquire your A&P license.

3. Go get a second job at the airport/heliport near you

4. Save all your money except basic living expenses your parents won't pay for

5. When you have saved $40000 (3-5 years depending on how frugal you are) start your flight training. Do not quit your other jobs until you have completed your flight training.

6. Get flight instructing job for 1-3 years... (you may have to continue other jobs)

7. As soon as possible transition to turbine powered helicopters and live the gulf life or other entry level position for 5-10 years to gain experience.

8. Apply to EMS or news stations and acquire dream job.


So best case would be 9 years to your dream job and worst case would be 18 years. If that sounds too long, go and get expensive loan and be happy now and unhappy for more than 18 years.


Good luck



If you can't stay at home and not pay rent/ have girlfriend/ have kids/ have other hobbies/ have current debt....... add 5 years to get your $40,000 saved up.

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alex2009 asked- "Hey I am very interested in flying, and have since a very young age. I really want to be an either EMS Heli Pilot, or a pilot for news stations, or anything of the similar. How would I go about this? Would I be able to get a loan for all the training expenses? Should I attend college and get an Associates or BA first?"


You want to become the all-around person somebody wants to hire for the positions, and, incidentally, an experienced helicopter pilot. The driving desire to get there is the first qualification in the process, the ability to make it happen the second.

The flight training and experience accumulation itself is at least a couple of years worth of work. Just having the flight experience is not, repeat -NOT- the decisive criteria. Having the experience is only a cull point that eliminates applicants that you don't want on the job. You pick the best potential employee from those qualified.

Education never hurts and a degree is preferred (not an absolute requirement) by my employer, a typical job posting at Air Methods:


"Job Description:


VFR Helicopter EMS Operations






* Commercial & Instrument License in category (rotor wing).

* ATP rating in category preferred.

* Medical Certificate – Class I or II per contract requirements.

* 24 months recency of flight experience is preferred.

* Proficient in VFR programs.

* College degree from an accredited institution is preferred.

* Excellent interpersonal skills.

* Ability to work respectfully and collaboratively with others.

* Desire to be part of a team.

* Must live within the geographical location of the base (i.e., an approximate driving time of one hour - subject to customer approval).

* Ability to conduct activities requiring lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling on a frequent basis up to 80 pounds.

* Assisting with lifting of patients may be expected.

* Weight limit per program policy (if applicable).



Flight Hour Requirements (all in category - "rotor wing"):



* 2000 hours total time in category.

* 1000 rotor wing PIC hours.

* 50 rotor wing instrument hours actual or hood.

* 500 rotor wing turbine hours.

* 100 rotor wing unaided night hours.



Aircraft: AS-350"


Typical salaries- http://www.helicoptersalaries.com/pay_scales/index.htm


That's typical EMS in my experience, flight experience down a little from a decade or so ago.

To the question, "Would prior working experience help?", I'd say it's an absolute requirement for an EMS interview.

Edited by Wally
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The other two posters nailed it, work your butt off and save as much money as you can. Do not quit your day job until your through all of your training and have a *steady* flight instructing job. You will hardly make enough to live on as a flight instructor, so you may need to have another job on your days off or perform extra duties for the place you work at.


Be ready to move......I didn't, but every other pilot I know has moved several times for a job. I did all my training, flight instructing, EMS job, traffic job, etc all within 30 miles. I lived with my parents while I was a flight instructor (was going to college, then grad school at the same time.) I was a part time mechanic on a few business jets around the airport too after I got my A&P. When I was 22, I got my first EMS job. Six months later, after my fiancee graduated nursing school, then we both moved out of our parents' places and got our own house halfway between our two workplaces.


I could have gotten into EMS sooner, but I didn't want to move because of school, girlfriend, etc. I had a chance to go to Temsco & Coastal when I was 20 and could have gone to PHI or Airlog shortly thereafter. It would have made for a more well rounded flying career, but I have no regrets. I stuck it out an extra year or two as a flight instructor so I didn't have to move--got grad school out of the way during that time.


I was lucky that everything fell into place at the right times, the econmy was good, I had the funds made available able to me, etc.......a LOT has changed since then though. Best of luck.

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