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Boatpix / Helicopter Academy Experience


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Hey Everyone,

 

My name is Dave, and I live in PA/MD. I achieved my Private Rotorcraft back in Feb, 2011 with Advanced Helicopter Concepts in Frederick, MD (see separate review - also very positive), at about 70 hours. I was then looking to find inexpensive ways to build cross country time for my instrument/commercial ratings and found some here on the VR forums. First I found Bootcamp Helicopters in Columbia, MD (see separate review - also very positive) and then I had started reading about Boatpix / Helicopter Academy via this site, www.r22.us, www.boatpix.com, and www.helicopteracademy.com

 

At first, I thought it was too good to be true. Such a great rate, a job offering hour for hour, and so many locations to choose from. So I asked Robert from Bootcamp Helicopters if he knew anything/what he thought. He said Tom is a stand up guy, has helped a lot of pilots out with jobs AFTER working for his operation and that he actually had flown a few hours with them as well, and was very happy.

 

So I gave Tom a call just to ask some basic questions really. I was mostly concerned about the time that I would be on the controls during the weekends, taking photos of boats. While the rate was discounted nicely, I didnt want to receive a discounted experience. He explained it to me the best he could over the phone, but he then also offered to FLY ME DOWN FOR FREE, ROUND TRIP, HOUSE ME and give me a FREE HOUR to show me what his operation was about. I tried not to show my excitement too much through the phone, haha, and responded "well, that's an attractive offer."

 

So a few weeks later (April 22-24), I was on my free southwest ride to Fort Lauderdale, where Barnabas, my instructor for the weekend, picked me up. We drove straight to North Perry airport, hopped in a 22 and flew up to West Palm Beach area to photograph a $40 million dollar yacht, a private shoot. It was awesome. Oh, and who got to do ALL the flying? Well, I DID (again, already have my private with about 85 hours at that point). Barnabas' hobby is photography, and with 600 hours, i think he'd rather be taking the pics than flying, haha. We got about 2-3 hours that day, as it was late Friday when i got there. This was my first day being taught how to "take a boat", what angle to fly up at, speed, how/when to circle, how to orbit a sailboat, etc, etc. I had never done any low level flying before, and here I am 40 feet over the water learning some awesome maneuvers.

 

Saturday, we got up early and burnt 2-3 tanks of fuel taking boats around Miami/Ft Lauderdale. Was a great day and I really started to pick up on the low level flying. We flew 6-7 hours this day, and Id say I was on the controls all but .5 collectively. When the sun is on a certain side, and the boat is going a certain direction, it is best for the student to take the photo. However, you mostly only have this problem early/late in the day. When it was high noon, etc, i was able to do the flying the entire time.

 

Sunday was the best. We got up early again and flew down to Marathon, along all the florida keys! Ive always vacationed in FL and driven down to the keys on my motorcycle/boat and it was even better from the sky. When we got to marathon, we refueled, burnt another full both tanks, refueled again and flew back, taking boats all the way up and back and while there. It was the best flying experience I have had yet, and I cant wait to do it again. We logged another 6-7 hours this day, again almost all of it me on the controls... mostly because Id ask Barnabas to take them so I could take some personal photographs of the keys/water/houses/amazing views!

 

So in 2.5 days, I logged 16.2 hours (1 free) for an even $3 grand! All in the beautiful areas of South Florida! HOW CAN YOU BEAT THAT!? Again, I was very skeptical at first but am very glad I called Tom and took him up on his offer. He really is a great guy, even if just over the phone so far (didnt get to meet him yet).... and the ticket was purchased roundtrip before I left, so I knew i had not just a free ride there, but a free ride home. Also, Barnabas was a great host, instructor and pilot and I cannot thank him enough either!

 

Since I have returned to PA, Tom has stayed in touch and I will be flying Memorial day weekend with another one of his instructors for a sailboat tournament up in the northeast and I cant wait! I am at 110 hours now and will probably grap another 20 that weekend if not more, plus what I get in between! Need to get this Commercial written test out of the way, upgrade my class 3 medical to a class 2 and quick, because these hours are coming fast! and affordable! well almost, haha

 

And the best for last, the PICS:

 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150581948790537.661201.541340536&l=b20c5089ee

 

Thanks for reading! Give Tom a call if you need some hours/a job! Can't wait to start getting my hour for hour back at $20/hr instead of spending $200/hr!

 

Dave

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Interesting post.. I just had dinner 2 days ago with some people that owns a few larger yachts here on the Texas coast. amazed me when we got talking about helicopters that they knew boat pix. . . and the opinions were not high. believe it or not, boat owners dont want you to fly around them at 40 feet taking pictures, so Tom can send them a bill for un-solicited services.... Glad you got some hours. but you got them because the owner is not a well liked business person

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...believe it or not, boat owners dont want you fly around them at 40 feet taking pictures,...

 

When we were taking pictures during the fishing tournament I felt as if we were part of the event, and well received. :)

 

However, a few days later, during my last hour with them, we flew into the bay to do what they called "boat scanning". I did not like that at all. I felt like I was just bothering people, and a few of them even stopped dead in the water as they saw us approach, and didn't move again until we veered off! <_<

 

It just depends on what type of photo flying you're doing.

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When we were taking pictures during the fishing tournament I felt as if we were part of the event, and well received. :)

 

However, a few days later, during my last hour with them, we flew into the bay to do what they called "boat scanning". I did not like that at all. I felt like I was just bothering people, and a few of them even stopped dead in the water as they saw us approach, and didn't move again until we veered off! <_<

 

It just depends on what type of photo flying you're doing.

 

 

 

just curious, why aren't you flying for Tom since you went and spent $$ with him, and are an out of work pilot?

 

 

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just curious, why aren't you flying for Tom since you went and spent $$ with him, and are an out of work pilot?

 

I only did a small handful of time-building hours with them a few years ago. I don't have the 20K it takes to become "hirable",...plus I cannot take pictures without getting seriously nauseated. :D

 

If he were actually hiring pilots to fly photographers around, like Air Photo Inc. does, then maybe I would? :huh:

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I only did a small handful of time-building hours with them a few years ago. I don't have the 20K it takes to become "hirable",...plus I cannot take pictures without getting seriously nauseated. :D

 

If he were actually hiring pilots to fly photographers around, like Air Photo Inc. does, then maybe I would? :huh:

 

 

For Nausea (vomiting) send Tom an email at tm@boatpix.com and he can send you some great articles to overcome "tossing your cookies" as he understands it from boating and flying perspectives. A US Marine in Carolina that just got his CFI today with HelicopterAcademy.com was given this file and overcame this situation. Tom is a pretty well respected author and photographer but some boaters think that if the wind is free so should everything else. With helicopters in Austin and Houston I suppose every boater in Texas would have an opinion but it would be doubtful that they would keep two in the state if it didn't make financial sense. It is sort of amazing how everyone that gets some time with them gets launched into a job where that isn't the case anywhere else.

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When we were taking pictures during the fishing tournament I felt as if we were part of the event, and well received. :)

 

However, a few days later, during my last hour with them, we flew into the bay to do what they called "boat scanning". I did not like that at all. I felt like I was just bothering people, and a few of them even stopped dead in the water as they saw us approach, and didn't move again until we veered off! <_>

 

It just depends on what type of photo flying you're doing.

 

I guess back in the bay where the girls are taking their bikini tops off and swinging them wildly over their heads to signal the helicopter.......

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...It is sort of amazing how everyone that gets some time with them gets launched into a job where that isn't the case anywhere else.

 

Everyone? :huh: ,... <_<

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For Nausea (vomiting) send Tom an email at tm@boatpix.com and he can send you some great articles to overcome "tossing your cookies"

 

Does this mean that posts by you "Boatpix" are not by Tom?

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Sounds like a great deal..

 

you pay 200$ an hour to fly circles around boats and everybody gets hired... yeah!

 

Pay a couple bucks more and get some usefull training done. Look for a good instructor and ask him to keep you really busy all the times... more than 5 minutes straight and level is waste of time and money...

 

your time and money....

 

I would go for pinnacle, off airport, autos, night, EPs etc training over and over for a little more money and a lot more fun...

 

that money would be spend towards your skills and not for somebody elses photobusiness...

 

happy fuelflow

 

L

 

Ps. if you do selfpromoting in a public forum, be smarter than Facebook was ;-)

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  • 2 years later...

He was given a free ticket airline ticket to come and get a free hour of flight time. It's a promotional thing. He liked what he saw, finished his ratings and got a job with us. He got enough hours working for us to get an r44 job and left. Good satisfaction all around.

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