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noob, need opinions, price and location doesn't matter


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Hi everyone,

I am new to this whole industry and looking to start my pilot career. I'm currently in Ohio but the VA is going to pick up the bill so price and location doesn't matter. Obviously everyone can say that their school is the best but I'm looking for some convincing testimonials. This is going to be a huge step in my life and I will be away from my girlfriend and daughter for a while so I want the best training that is possible. So far I am interested in a couple schools: Quantum Helicopters in AZ, All American Helicopters in TX, Rotors of the Rockies in CO, and Alyeska Helicopters in AK. My biggest concerns at this point are not getting caught up in a pilot factory. I want to know that the instructors are passionate about passing down knowledge and not just building time. I would also like to get some good mountain training. This wouldn't be really important at first but it would play into my long term goals. Ok, so if you could pick any school in the country which would it be and why? Thank you all for your time.

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You might look down the runway from Rotors of the Rockies and check out Colorado Heli Ops. I've never trained there, never spent a dime. But I know a few of the folks who work there and they are most assuredly top-notch.

 

All American is a good school too, but if I had it to do all over again, I would have trained at altitude. The simple fact is you'll be operating closer to the performance limits of the helicopter and you'll learn how to fly at those margins, which is where you'll be most of your professional life. You'll learn weather first hand in an environment where it can change very quickly on you.

 

The folks I know up at Colorado aren't building time. They don't seem to be a pilot factory. I've steered a few folks up that direction and they all seem to love it.

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This is going to be a huge step in my life...so I want the best training that is possible....My biggest concerns at this point are not getting caught up in a pilot factory.

 

Any school you go to, ask them if they have a credible plan for getting you from 200 to 1000 hrs. Many schools can offer the same level of quality when it comes to training, but with out a way to get yourself to at least 1000 hrs, you're just part of the system that trains 4 times more CFIs than the market can support.

 

...not just building time.

 

It's good that you're aware that this can be an issue. Be cognizant of the instructors you do demo flights with. Sometimes you'll get an 800-hr instructor on your demo, only to find that they got hired away or have a full schedule by the time you get there.

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Any school you go to, ask them if they have a credible plan for getting you from 200 to 1000 hrs.

 

I've heard you say that a few times, and honestly besides BoatPix and SSH (when is was running) I don't know any other schools that have a plan for their students...

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If I had it to do all over again, I would have trained at altitude. The simple fact is you'll be operating closer to the performance limits of the helicopter and you'll learn how to fly at those margins, which is where you'll be most of your professional life. You'll learn weather first hand in an environment where it can change very quickly on you.

 

I second that. If you're free to choose get high altitude training! I've just been on a road trip all the way from FL to UT to find a job and I've seen a lot of schools, all different kinds and sizes. In a nutshell: from FL to CO nobody was hiring anyway, from CO to UT everybody wants you to have that high altitude experience. It's valuable. This goes for R-22 and R-44 time as well, by the way.

I met a couple of nice folks on that trip, talked to a lot of chief pilots and owners. I didn't train with any of those schools but from what I saw you should take a closer look at Rotors of the Rockies, Colorado Heli Ops (had a nice talk with Dennis there), Upper Limit and Universal Helicopters (Matt is also a very reasonable guy). I'm not sure which one gives full VA benefits, I know for sure that Upper Limit is accepted for the 100% GI bill.

Even though I still couldn't find a CFII-job on this trip the experience was well worth it. Spend the money and take your time to drive around and visit all the schools you consider and talk to as many people as possible! Also take a close look on their aircraft and their maintenance. In my opinion this always reflects on how safety is handled and business is done.

 

I trained at Bristow Academy, FL. Nothing bad to say about the training itself. Everything's very safe, procedure oriented and by-the-book (did I mention procedures? Procedures!) which is really good. Maintenance does an outstanding job and if your aircraft is grounded for whatever reason and they can't fix it right away there is a good chance you can find another aircraft for the day. That's the big advantage of having close to 50 helicopters (S-300, R-22, B-206). Also the instructors are knowleadgable and eager. The vast amount of designated outside training areas in the outskirts of Titusville is a big pro, about 7/10th of all your landings are off-airport landings between jungle and swamps. Still it trains your situational awareness because of the (at times painfully) high amount of helicopter traffic and radio calls around you (also an advantage). The minority of the training takes place in the airport traffic pattern but if so there are 5 independent patterns available at all times (Class D, Orlando Class B Airspace is just around the corner). The weather is rather predictable in the summer and you're gonna see a lot of thunderstorms. Which is really cool if you want to see how weather actually works ;) And you don't have to look on the charts to see tomorrows weather and fronts - just step outside, you can see it 2 days in advance :P

Which leads me to the biggest dissapointment: Florida! You learn to hate this place with a passion. It's flat, it's hot and it's humid. And anytime you step off a paved surface there is something waiting for you to eat your feet :angry: Get used to all sizes of creepy bugs, spiders and mosquitos. Another thing: Even though most instructors, chiefs and staff know you by name you might feel it's a pilot factory nevertheless. Also you'll find at times that some things are just too restricted and by the book.

 

 

If I were in your situation I would choose a mid-size school with a good reputation at high altitude and where you have good chances to get hired. Because getting a job for the first 1000h is tough if not close to impossible right now.

Edited by Hawkeye0001
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I'm using the ch33 benefits at Leading Edge Aviation in Bend, OR and Central Oregon Community College. I moved out here from the east coast. Its a great school...high DA in the summer, small school atmosphere, friendly staff. Any questions, let me know.

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Bell Academy is price doesn't matter...

 

Yeah, no kidding.

 

I have about 5 months of chapter 30 benefits left, then "up to 12 months of chapter 33". Once I get done with the chapter 30, I am going to try to figure out how to go to Bell(or any factory course) and have the chapter 33 pick up the tab.

 

I just have to find a course that will work.

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I've heard you say that a few times, and honestly besides BoatPix and SSH (when is was running) I don't know any other schools that have a plan for their students...

 

Me either. If you get into this without a good plan for getting your first job, you have

 

A friend of mine just yesterday got a letter from the school she went to saying, basically, "We have too many CFIs looking for jobs. Even though you've been looking for over a year, we will be hiring somebody who graduated more recently than you did. Do not count on a job with Xxxxxxxxxx.

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I'll be out towards the Oregon way probably around March, Crashed_05. Though I'll be heading out towards Newberg to train with Precision, and will be going to Portland Community College. :) Happy flying!

 

Awesome...good luck. Being an aircrewman in the military helps out a lot. You'll already know airport procedures and how the radio calls should be. I got my private in two months, workin on commercial now.

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Sorry to get off topic but there seems like a lot of reliance on school to get a pilot to 1,000. A flight schools job is to train one to be a competent pilot and get the ratings you want. If being a CFI is the way you want to go, it shouldn't be to build hours. I think its more important for one to figure it out themselves rather than get a sugar coated "plan" from a flight school to get their dream job.

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R22139RJ Posted Today, 12:14

 

Sorry to get off topic but there seems like a lot of reliance on school to get a pilot to 1,000. A flight schools job is to train one to be a competent pilot and get the ratings you want. If being a CFI is the way you want to go, it shouldn't be to build hours.

 

Just in case you haven't noticed, being a CFi is the only way for a civilian to build hours. If you ever want to have a career as a pilot, you have to teach, its not a choice! If a flight school cannot get us a job, where are we supposed to go? :huh:

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If you're going to utilize your GI Bill to pay for training, be sure to go to a school that's affiliated with a university and accepts chapter 33 benefits. You may have to go to college at the same time, but at least you won't have to pay anything out of pocket and you'll still get E-5 with dependent BAH based on the location of your school.

 

I earned all my ratings (through CFII) while I was enlisted and unfortunately paid out of pocket. If only I would've waited a couple of years, I wouldn't be stuck trying to pay off this crazy amount of debt on a CFII salary.

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Even though you've been looking for over a year, we will be hiring somebody who graduated more recently than you did. Do not count on a job with Xxxxxxxxxx.

 

I had this happen to me. Then I was told like 2 months later that the school was only accepting CFII's. I only have my CFI. What a bummer, oh well. Good luck

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Just in case you haven't noticed, being a CFi is the only way for a civilian to build hours. If you ever want to have a career as a pilot, you have to teach, its not a choice! If a flight school cannot get us a job, where are we supposed to go? :huh:

 

Not the ONLY way, but yes the most common for sure. It is also not the schools job to find their students jobs. How many people here have gone to college and got a degree? Did your college have a job lined out for you? Mine didn't...its a chance you take...some people make it quick and easy to their "dream job" others have to work at it...no free lunches in this business...

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I know this can be a sensitive subject on this forum, and anywhere you talk about training, but there is no doubt that training at high altitudes (above 5000') can be very beneficial to your career. At the Robinson course a couple of years ago the guy speaking to 69 of us asked how many in the room were training at high altitude.. about 9 pilots put their hands up, then he said, how many are training at or above 5000'. Three of us put our hands up, to that he said "I'd like the rest of you to look at these guys, they will be the best pilots in this room". In doing research for Aviation Futures about a year and a half ago i met with one of the head recruiters for the largest EMS company in the world. After about 45 minutes talking about training and the industry i ask him "is it really important that a pilot trains at high altitude?" his answer was "not only at high altitude, but in Denver, you can train at high DA in New Mexico where the weather is almost always beautiful, but the weather changes in minutes in Denver, there is snow, rain, wind and mountains... i will pick a pilot trained there over any other applicant!".

 

The Border Patrol can accept a pilot trained at high DA with mountain experience at 1/2 the minimum hours. The industry knows, people with no high altitude training will tell you it's not true.. but the people that matter will tell you that's the kind of pilots they want.

 

I found this out after i started training in Denver and before i had a flight school here. The above information is part of what convinced me to open Heliops as i really didn't want a flight school, it was just necessary to have a starting place for Aviation Futures..

 

 

jmho,

 

dp

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Just in case you haven't noticed, being a CFi is the only way for a civilian to build hours. If you ever want to have a career as a pilot, you have to teach, its not a choice! If a flight school cannot get us a job, where are we supposed to go? :huh:

 

Its not the only way to get your hours, but the most practical. Flights schools don't have a plan other than hire CFIs and if there are too many, not much else can be done. Im fortunate my school had an opening when I finished and the owner liked me more than the countless resumes he had. Economic depressions suck and you may just have to hold out until there is an opening somewhere. You can't expect a school to have a syllabus to get you to 1000. Their priority is providing a service.

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Just in case you haven't noticed, being a CFi is the only way for a civilian to build hours. If you ever want to have a career as a pilot, you have to teach, its not a choice! If a flight school cannot get us a job, where are we supposed to go? :huh:

 

Flight schools, are exactly what their name implies. Schools that teach a person to fly.

 

Employment agencies are the people who are in the business of finding jobs.

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I should clarify what I meant when I said that you should only look at schools that have a credible plan for getting you to 1000 hrs. I didn't mean that students should have an expectation of getting 1000 hrs of flight time for 200 hrs of education, or that schools owe this to their students. This would be a nice to have in a school--colleges and trade schools have alumni networks, career assistance and development programs, job fairs, and partnerships with companies that lead to internships or hires. Even though their purpose is to provide education, they do these things because they know it makes them more attractive schools. I chose my graduate school in part because I knew their reputation would lead to connections that would maximize my chances of future employment.

 

What I am saying is that students hold the money. As a student, your money might be best invested in a school that offers a plan for getting you to 1000 hrs. The flight school business model produces a vast excess of CFIs who attain an education that can only be applied to one job (in the vast majority of cases). If you choose a school that follows this model, your chances of making it are driven mostly by factors you cannot control (luck, timing, the economy). Once you have given that school your money, you hold no power, and are a pawn of the marketplace. You can, however, select or negotiate a program for getting both an education and experience when you are looking at schools. Schools operate in a competitive marketplace, and, as a paying customer in an economy that is very unfavorable for flight schools, students should be seeking the best deals for themselves. If 200 hrs and some plastic in your wallet is enough to make you happy, you should be able to find many schools who are willing to accommodate you. If you want a career though, you need 1000 hrs of experience, just like the hundreds of other guys out there. A school that can get you there (using a valid and sustainable business model...ie, not SSH's) maximizes the probability that you will see a return on your investment.

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I would have to assume that a school would only want to employ top notch students, and there is no way of guaranteeing that a student is top notch until they have demonstrated their abilities. Although it would be a plus, I don't think I would base a decision around whether the school had a plan to get me to 1000.

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Simple fact is, you should pretty much count on not being hired by your school. Or by any school, at least for 6-12 months. Just go get the best bang for your buck as far as schools go. Best way to go about doing that is to spend as much time as you can researching schools, and then spend some more time.

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If you want a career though, you need 1000 hrs of experience, just like the hundreds of other guys out there. A school that can get you there (using a valid and sustainable business model...ie, not SSH's) maximizes the probability that you will see a return on your investment.

 

Realistically these days, you're probably looking at 1250-1500 for a job.

 

Most schools when asked are going to talk around the subject and try and convince you what a great chance you have of getting a job. Don't believe it. Your chances are 1 in 5 at best. With the lack of low time jobs right now, they're probably worse than that.

 

Going back into the military with a guaranteed slot in flight school is one of the best options you have, but I doubt you want to hear that.

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