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Helicopter Academy VS. Palm Beach Helicopters

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I am still looking at schools, Helicopter Academy and Palm Beach Helicopters both look good to me. Helicopter Academy has a location in St. Pete that I would be interested in attending. I talked with Helicopter Academy last night and they said they are VA approved, so that helps me a lot. I also know that Palm Beach Helicopters is VA approved as well. I am currently overseas with the military in Iraq, and the VA approval is very important to me. Another very important thing to me is a job after school. I know that Helicopter Academy is basically a Pay-for-Job school, but it seems that that may be a very good thing with the economy right now. I am just looking for other peoples opinions on these two schools. Any help you could give me would be great. Thanks.

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I can't speak to either of the schools but I can warn you about the guaranteed job situation. A school at my airport hired all their graduates...they weren't that big of a school, nor that busy.....recently I think they were lucky to have 4 students training and they had ~16+ CFI's....so all I'm saying is a job doesn't mean your gonna get to fly.

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I've only heard good things about HelicopterAcademy and they list the phone and email addresses of each CFI on the website. I've spoken to each of the sixteen CFI's and each of them either started with HelicopterAcademy or transferred from another school. And they fly a lot. The business model of the photo company paying the helicopter company to take pictures of them has been around since January of 1986 and this company has grown slowly and carefullly. The VA has you first pay for your private and then it pays 60% of your remaining training. The VA requires a lot of infrastructure that HelicopterAcademy doesn't necessarily have at the location you might want so they absorb the 60% in a place like St Pete or anywhere for veterans. A good example is New Bern, NC where there a bunch of veterans flying with them. They pay for the private themselves like any other school. Then HelicopterAcademy absorbs 60% of the rest of the training.


You can call any of those pilots and you'll find out how many hours they logged last month, or the month before, or year etc. You'll find it's a lot. The St Pete pilot is returning at the end of the month but you can contact him by clicking on the Annapolis location for phone number and email. It's probably hot in Iraq but it's gettting cold up North in Seattle, Chicago and Boston so those helicopters are looking at temperatures in the 40's range this weekend so the helicopters won't be doing photo as the spec is 60 degrees but the helicopters remain there yearround. The Southern helicopters are flying A LOT of photo as it's still in the 90's in Florida. The recent Columbus Day Weekend in Miami saw four full days of flying for two helicopters and covering the Blue Angels airshow in San Francisco racked up a lot of hours last weekend for the Portland and Los Angeles helicopter. It's really hard to compare HelicopterAcademy and other schools as HelicopterAcademy has so many locations throughout the country near large bodies of waters with boats. Look at the Google map on the website and it will make sense. Inland lakes like "Lake of the Ozarks" and the lakes North of Atlanta have a lot of boats and thats why you'll see helicopters there operated by HelicopterAcademy. The HelicopterAcademy program takes a student to 300 hours and CFI as that is what many jobs require as the Pathfinder Indemnity insurance policy stipulates that to instruct. Instruction is where most pilots get the first job. HelicopteAcademy guarantees you a job to 500 hours and I'm not aware of any other school anywhere that guarnatees you any sort of job. Taking you from 300 hours to 500 hours on boat photo is easy for HelicopterAcademy as it's only the cold or rainy weather that keeps them from flying the helicopter every weekend.

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Boatpix Posted Today, 11:40

covering the Blue Angels airshow in San Francisco racked up a lot of hours last weekend for the Portland and Los Angeles helicopter.


How did you guys cover that show? They usually have a TFR up for it. :huh:

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tonymont Posted Today, 00:11

Botapix - "HelicopterAcademy guarantees you a job to 500 hours".


Why only 500 hours? Then what happens? You get booted? What if you want to keep doing the photo work to build hours to 1000 in order to be more marketable? Just wondering, thanks.


The guy I flew with was going to 1000, but that was a couple of years ago, I suppose things could have changed?


The only problem with working for Boatpix, is that you have to take pictures. I couldn't do that without feeling the need to 'blow chunks' every five minutes. So I had to do all the flying, which was great! I had a lot of fun, but I was also paying for it.


If you get the chance, go to work for them. I would, but I doubt they would hire a guy to just fly? :huh:

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PBH was my original choice of schools. It seems to be professional and they will help you in any way they can. They watched my kids while i got an FAA physical next door. Their facilities are VERY well maintained and clean. The instructors i talked to were all helpful. I attend college with a few of their students and they never have anything bad to say about them. As for flying in the West Palm Beach area, it is awesome! Flying over the beach is an experience you will never forget.


I said PBH was my first choice but, i changed my mind before training. I attend Palm Beach Community College, where they have a rotary wing program. They contract with both Palm Beach Helicopters and Cloud Nine Helicopters for flight training. (both VA approved) After seeing that all of the other students in the program were training at PBH i decided to check out Cloud 9 Helicopters. I decided to train at Cloud 9 because they have 12 R-22's, 3 R-44's and all of the aircraft are set-up the same. After a tour of the facilities i was pretty impressed. The way they had things set-up dress-right-dress and high speed looking, made the choice easy for me. Being a former Army guy it kinda just felt comfortable.


After talking to the staff and some students at Palm Beach Helicopters and training at Cloud 9, I feel that both schools are really good. They are professional and interested in training good pilots. They both have living arrangements available if needed. I think that the West Palm Beach area is really great to train and fly in. It never hurts to have a blue-green beach to fly over either. If you decide to train at one of these schools i think your money will be spent wisely.

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If you want to do this as a career I would look to the school that can give you a job after your training, I know a few pilots that did training with Palm Beach but ended up working for Helicopter Academy (which requires more training from Helicopter Academy since most schools only train pilots how to do cross countries and pattern work). I'd save my money and just start with Helicopter Academy.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

Hello everyone!


I just wanted to write a quick one about how Palm Beach Helicopters helped me acheive my dream.


I finished up my 6 year enlistment in the Air Force in March of 2010. I wanted to become a helicopter pilot and I decided to rely on Palm Beach Helicopters to make it happen. I am an OIF/OEF Veteran with the Post 911 GI Bill benefits. Through this program I was able to get my PPL through CFII in a little over a year and graduate from the associated college, Palm Beach State University, in 18 months with an Associates in Aeronautical Science.....FOR FREE. Technically speaking it wasn't free because the Post 911 benefits covered the expenses but as far as my wallet knows, it was free!


If there are any Veterans, or civilians, that need information about becoming a helicopter pilot and not sure how to afford the expenses please write me back!

I know so many friends that were worried about getting out the Armed Forces because of the economy and whatnot. I am here to tell you, YOU CAN DO IT!


As for an update to the courses availible this semester, the Post 911 GI Bill is now covering NVG, Turbine Transition and External Load. All of these courses are now being taught at Palm Beach Helicopters and I will be sure to update you about these courses as soon as I take them next month!


I hope this serves as a light in the darkness for anyone looking for a professional school to obtain their helicotper licenses. You're not alone and I will help you out as much as possible.



Good luck and thanks for reading!


EOD Heli

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I suggest you take all of the information which is provided in this thread with a HUGE grain of salt…..


Before you make a decision, personally visit all of your prospective schools and see which one “fits” you the best. Not all schools are equal. Some only want your money and could care less about you, or your best interest. When you visit, it’s important to speak with students away from the school environment so they may speak freely. If possible, get contact information of former students so you can speak with them as well. None of the contacts should be provided by the school itself… It should be provided by the students without the schools knowledge…


If you are going to seek information about flight schools on the internet, I suggest you listen to the folks who are not directly involved in the flight training sector. That is, communicate with those who have nothing to gain and who’ve moved on to other types of flying gigs. Most of these folks have attended these schools and will most likely give you an honest opinion. These are the opinions worth considering….


Helicopter flight training is a “buyer beware” business…. Never forget that as you conduct your research…


Lastly, certification to become employable (CFII) should cost approximately 70K. Anything beyond that should be considered unnecessary and only a means to separate you from your cash…

Edited by Spike
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