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Hey all, new member here looking for a litle advice on a possible transition from army to civ helo pilot.

 

A little background info on me, I'm a CH-47D/F instructor pilot with almost 7 years in the army and I'm 26 years old. I have about one year until my obligation is up, and I'm able to leave active duty. I'm about to leave on my third tour to Afghanistan, and Ive had quite enough of it. I'd like to get out ASAP and continue to fly helicopters. When I get out I should have approx:

 

1800TT

1000PIC (500 IP)

350 NVG

30 Night

75-100 (Hood/WX/Sim)

I have extensive sling load and mountain flying experience.

I have some leadership experience as an air mission commander and flight briefing officer.

I have graduated and instructed at high altitude and power management courses.

I was a high school to flight school guy so I dont have any college or legitimate work experience outside the army.

 

I'm just trying to figure out if I will have a legitimate shot at a decent job out the gate or shortly after, and where I should be looking. Also is there anything I can do to give myself more or better options. I would be willing to work anywhere in the US, but would prefer Texas.

 

Any help or input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

 

CW2 Jeff Coats

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Hey all, new member here looking for a litle advice on a possible transition from army to civ helo pilot.

 

A little background info on me, I'm a CH-47D/F instructor pilot with almost 7 years in the army and I'm 26 years old. I have about one year until my obligation is up, and I'm able to leave active duty. I'm about to leave on my third tour to Afghanistan, and Ive had quite enough of it. I'd like to get out ASAP and continue to fly helicopters. When I get out I should have approx:

 

1800TT

1000PIC (500 IP)

350 NVG

30 Night

75-100 (Hood/WX/Sim)

I have extensive sling load and mountain flying experience.

I have some leadership experience as an air mission commander and flight briefing officer.

I have graduated and instructed at high altitude and power management courses.

I was a high school to flight school guy so I dont have any college or legitimate work experience outside the army.

 

I'm just trying to figure out if I will have a legitimate shot at a decent job out the gate or shortly after, and where I should be looking. Also is there anything I can do to give myself more or better options. I would be willing to work anywhere in the US, but would prefer Texas.

 

Any help or input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

 

CW2 Jeff Coats

 

With your background, you should definitely consider CBP.

 

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/careers/customs_careers/air_marine/

 

I don't know if they are currently hiring, but it's one of the few jobs that will give you the pay and benefits you are accustomed to and let you apply your military years towards retirement.

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Get your ATP if possible. You won't actually use it, but it will likely increase your salary somewhat, depending on the job. With a couple of thousand hours, you can get a job most places, as long as your attitude is good. Be prepared to fly small helicopters, there aren't a lot of Boeing jobs around, especially in Texas. In small helicopters, you'll be flying right on the edge of performance, and there is no extra power available. You need to be smooth on the controls and slow on the approach and departure. Nobody is going to be shooting at you, so there is no hurry. The biggest fault usually seen with ex-military these days is being used to having lots of power available, and hovering way up in the sky. That won't work well on the outside.

 

What EMS operators are looking for is total time, plus night, instrument, and NVG time. Having the NVG time is a definite plus, and an instrument rating is a requirement, even though you may never use it. You won't get an EMS job without the instrument rating. There are normally jobs available in the Gulf of Mexico. That changes periodically, as the oil industry goes through cycles, so check on that when you're ready to get out if you're interested.

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What EMS operators are looking for is total time, plus night, instrument, and NVG time. Having the NVG time is a definite plus, and an instrument rating is a requirement, even though you may never use it.

 

I'm not shopping for a job yet, but just out of curiosity, if you have the total time, night, and instrument, how likely is it that one will get hired with little-to-no turbine time?

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I'm not shopping for a job yet, but just out of curiosity, if you have the total time, night, and instrument, how likely is it that one will get hired with little-to-no turbine time?

 

PIC time is king. If you have 1000PIC than you have a shot. Without at least 1000PIC then prepare to keep instructing.

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Jeff,

It depends on what you really want to do immediately after the Army and long term.

 

My observation is that the Gulf of Mexico is a good general transition for military pilots, at least with the big operators there. Military, civvie, US or otherwise, they will train you to align you with their way of doing things. You're not a "Military, civvie, US or otherwise new guy", you're just another new guy, anonymous and unlabeled until you are known for yourself. You will be well founded in the civilian legal aviation technicalities and work philosophy for your next job, if you decide to move on. Well, except that you'll never have that level of support and company involvement in other civvie jobs. The average annual stick time in the Gulf is vicinity of 400 a year, stay until you reach your magic number. I went there for a year and stayed 13...

 

The Gulf is hard for night unaided, your most substantial logbook weakness if you're immediate interest is EMS. Night is generally impossible in the 'small' VFR Gulf aircraft, and skinny for IFR, which usually comes with seniority. An ATP is/was helpful when I made that transition. Night unaided is also relatively skinny part of the job in non-GoM helos.

If EMS is your interest, here's a map of bases:

EMS Flight Crew Base Map

There are 'good EMS companies' and 'bad EMS companies', but the base and program weigh heavily in satisfaction, so that would be my starting point, visit a base and evaluate atmosphere unless the operator's a firm NO-GO with you.

 

Networking helps, whatever your goal. If you know somebody who can introduce you to useful contacts, that's a big plus. "The old boy" network isn't mandatory, however, and one can get a job without it. It's tougher on a cold call, but the sale is the same once you've established contact. You are a solid prospect for a lot of positions, don't sell yourself short as "a high school to flight school guy so I dont have any college or legitimate work experience outside the army." The accomplishment speaks for who you are. If your long term goal is management, you will need the sheepskin, N/A for mere line pilots like me, thank you very much.

 

Wally

Edited by Wally
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Bootcamp, it depends. If you have a couple of thousand hours, you have a chance without turbine time, I think. It depends a lot on your other experience. Most companies have a checklist they go by for new hires, and the more boxes you can get checked the more likely your chances of being hred, and the more money you get to start.

 

1,000 hours won't get you hired at most EMS companies, though, even if you do have turbine time. Most want 1500, and prefer 2000. EMS is not a place to learn to fly, because you won't fly much, and have to be proficient even if you haven't flown in a month or more. I've gone more than a month without turning a blade, then the first flight was in the middle of the night to a scene in the boonies. I'm not sure I could have done that successfully with only 1000 hours total flight time.

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Wally, you mentioned the need for unaided night time. Do operators accept unaided night (or simulated/actual instrument for that matter) in an airplane, or does all of it have to be in a helicopter? I assume they'd want you to have some unaided night in a helicopter and obviously an instrument rating for helicopters, but will my fixed wing hours be of any use to me? Thanks.

 

Steve

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