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Mountain One Helicopters @ KEIK


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Hi, I'm a soon-to-be student shopping around schools in Colorado, and I live in Denver. I checked out Mountain One Helicopters and really liked the staff and the laid back atmosphere. Next week I'm going to check out HeliOps and Rotors, which I understand are larger schools with more students.

 

I plan to get my CFI/CFII and instruct until I can be hired by a tour operator, so my question pertaining to Mountain One is this:

Will my time instructing take a lot longer (to build 700-1000hrs) than the other schools I am looking at in the area, specifically HeliOps and Rotors??

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Hi Dodo,

To be honest I am not so sure that Rotors is even still afloat. As far as training goes, a smaller uncontrolled airport such as KEIK can be very beneficial. One: You are responsible for seeing and avoiding (Great for building situational awareness) and Two: KBJC and other controlled airports can be quite congested at times, you can find yourself waiting on the ramp for clearance. Not a bad experience communicating but it can really cut in on your actual time spent flying. I am not saying you should avoid controlled airports completely, but having your base at an uncontrolled airport means you can rive and depart as you you please and you can choose your own approaches in accordance with wind and terrain/obstacles.

As far as your second question goes, I don't think any school really can guaranty you a job after completing your CFI. It all depends on your attitude and compatibility. Although, Mountain One does seem to be in a very good position in the in the Denver area right now and if any school in Colorado could offer you that kind of opportunity they would most likely be the one.

 

Hope this helps

-Ted

Edited by HeliTed
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Hi Dodo,

 

Welcome to VR.

 

My response will be below in italics:

 

To be honest I am not so sure that Rotors is even still afloat.

 

Rotors is still in operation.

 

As far as training goes, a smaller uncontrolled airport such as KEIK can be very beneficial. One: You are responsible for seeing and avoiding (Great for building situational awareness)

 

Aren’t you always responsible for seeing and avoiding??? I hope so..

 

and Two: KBJC and other controlled airports can be quite congested at times, you can find yourself waiting on the ramp for clearance. Not a bad experience communicating but it can really cut in on your actual time spent flying.

 

I have heard that before, but have not seen it to be true here in Colorado, it may be different other places but here at KBJC in all of my flying here over the past four years only a very few times have I had to hold for departure, and have NEVER spent more than a couple of minutes holding; that is two to five minutes at the longest. I have been held outside of the airspace on a couple of occasions tho; once on a busy Saturday for ten minutes and once the day before an airshow when the space was ‘sterile’ due to the F18s coming in (12 minutes). I have flown in and out of KAPA about 50 to 60 times and have never, ever been held there for any reason.. in fact, they usually clear you to land on your first call and they are the second busiest single runway airport in the nation, also a ‘controlled airport’. I would expect that the benefits of training inside a controlled area highly outweigh the negatives (unless you are flying for fun and never plan to travel to a controlled airport). Now, that being said, if you train ONLY at the airport that could be a hindrance, which is the case with some schools. I recommend that you find a school that also has off airport training areas.

 

I am not saying you should avoid controlled airports completely, but having your base at an uncontrolled airport means you can rive and depart as you you please and you can choose your own approaches in accordance with wind and terrain/obstacles.

 

Can you not always do that?? We certianly do at KBJC..

 

As far as your second question goes, I don't think any school really can guaranty you a job after completing your CFI. It all depends on your attitude and compatibility.

 

Agreed..

 

 

To answer your original question Dodo.. it can make a significant difference if you choose a school that isn’t moving forward. You should ask the CFIs on staff at the schools you look at how many hours they have flown over the past year or so. Our CFIs fly about 800 hours per year (some more). We have friends at other local schools that have been CFIs for three years and still have less than 300 hours because there are too many instructors on staff or the school doesn’t have enough students (or both). Imagine if you fly two hundred hours per year.. it could take a long time to get to that magic 1500 hours (used to be 1000). If your goal is to be an instructor and you have another income then that’s not such a bad thing. But if you want to move on in the industry it can be quite frustrating.

 

dp

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I agree with Helited, when you train in a controlled environment like KBJC (Heliops/Rotors of the Rockies) you start to become reliant on the tower to some degree, especially as you have to ask for permission and get clearance from ground and tower control. It's like getting more "help". When you fly at Erie, you are responsible for all of your decision making and do end up being much more situationally aware. You don't realize it until you experience it.

 

I just switched from Heliops (KBJC, controlled) to Mountain One (KEIK, uncontrolled) and its very different. You end up realizing how much you relied on the tower for instruction to do stuff. At Erie, you land and depart direct to the hangar and are responsible for all of your decision making. No permission or direction from a tower (and there are people that don't even announce themselves which makes you even more sharper and aware). I like this much much better. I'm taking my checkride soon and flying out of Erie has made me sharper. I prefer the school and my instructor too.

 

Also, its true about KBJC getting congested. A few times Ive asked to proceed inbound back to KBJC and was told to remain outside the airspace for a good 5 mins until they could clear me back in. One guy was going for his checkride last year and ON the checkride he was made to wait even longer - stressful. The delta taxiway where helicopers practice also gets really congested. When Erie gets congested, there are tons of surrounding fields to practice all sorts of stuff so you don't worry about it.

 

Having said that, the guys in the KBJC tower are really cool and spending time communicating with a tower is important to get over your fear of them.

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I have to agree with Carlos on some of this, we love Erie airport as it does have it’s strengths and it’s close, we fly there almost every single day as it’s just six miles away and right on the edge of our airspace. (I just asked one of my CFIIs how many times he had Flown to Erie in the past week.. he said 90% of his flights or about 18 hours).

 

It is good to fly at uncontrolled airports, and controlled airspace can be too much for some pilots, but, it’s even better to fly in both.

 

jmho

 

Just for the record; we refer students to Mountain One all of the time, they have a good operation.

 

dp

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I only went an uncontrolled airport 4 times during my Private training,...then I ended up taking my checkride at one. The added radio work can be distracting (especially when you're being tested), but Hell,...if I could handle it, it can't be all that bad? :P

 

I prefer practicing at uncontrolled airports (because I've spent way too much time "extending my downwind", because the tower (or maybe the school) insists that I share the runway with the airplanes, instead of landing on that nice clear ramp next to it). :unsure:

 

Plus, if we want to practice autos, we just do them (instead of having our "request" denied,...only to later have the tower tell us, while we instead do a steep approach, to "expidite our landing", (or in other words, "hurry up jackass, so the King Air behind you can land"). <_<

 

I do, of course, agree that its good for a Student to get training at both, (we actually never did any training at our home base), as long as they're not wasting too much time/money waiting for traffic to clear.

:D

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Going to go against the grain here and just say that I love busy controlled airports.

 

It's way more workload than an uncontrolled field, and you still have to be very watchful of other traffic, my airport has had a few mid-airs.

 

Communication is a huge skill to have as a pilot and being able to handle the aircraft and the tower really helps develop that.

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Going to go against the grain here and just say that I love busy controlled airports.

 

It's way more workload than an uncontrolled field, and you still have to be very watchful of other traffic, my airport has had a few mid-airs.

 

Communication is a huge skill to have as a pilot and being able to handle the aircraft and the tower really helps develop that.

 

Ditto Shaun. I was weaned in a very intense bit of D/B airspace and I miss it! Sure it was a little intimidating at first but by the time I was teaching in it I had already seen a LOT and was comfortable with almost anything. I still consider it a huge bonus in my early training.

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Ditto Shaun. I was weaned in a very intense bit of D/B airspace and I miss it! Sure it was a little intimidating at first but by the time I was teaching in it I had already seen a LOT and was comfortable with almost anything. I still consider it a huge bonus in my early training.

 

Congestion buddies! Uncontrolled airports are like dirt roads, towered busy airports are like a 5 lane freeway and no one has a brake pedal.

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Thanks for the compliments, DP, and the referrals. They are coming in droves recently!

 

Obviously there are benefits and drawbacks to either type of training location--controlled or uncontrolled. We feel that KEIK is very conducive to initial flight training. I have found that the hectic flight environment at a busy controlled airport can be overwhelming for a new pilot. When we had a location at KAPA (Centennial, one of the nation's busiest class D airports), I was having to do a lot more for the students. More often than not, I would handle the radios and fly us away from the airport to find a quiet place to practice, then fly us back to the Heliplex. Several new pilots were scared off thinking "I'll never be able to handle all of this!"

 

We love it here in Erie. If you think uncontrolled means quiet "like a dirt road," come visit KEIK on a Saturday morning... not uncommon to have 6 or more aircraft (various types, with and without radios) sharing the pattern for a single runway. We learn to avoid the flow of fixed wing traffic, use the taxiways and non-movement areas as a rule, and avoid the pattern as much as possible. Square patterns around the patch to a prepared surface is fine for the earliest levels of learning, but becomes boring and unproductive quickly. What realistic scenario has a helicopter pilot flying rectangles around a runway? Our hangar is located on private land less than 1/2 mile off airport. We pull out right in front of the hangar, fuel up from our own tank, and off we go. Cheaper fuel, no waiting for fuel trucks, no talking to ground, no clearances required to depart or arrive, no taxiing. Always in and out directly to/from our spot--the way helicopters are meant to fly. This is the most economical way to fly helicopters and gives our pilots the biggest bang for their buck. The extra .1, .2, .3 waits and ferries really add up! We also have several pinnacles, confined areas, tree clearings, ditches, creekbeds, and various other land features surrounding the runway and on property that directly abuts the airport for more realistic and challenging practice.

 

On the flip side, the transition from uncontrolled to controlled communications can be quite intimidating. Everyone is so afraid to say the wrong thing or sound stupid. No matter how much we prepare, the first flight over to KBJC is usually... messy. We rehearse the calls again and again on the ground but two miles after takeoff, prior to entering the Delta airspace I look over to see a deer in the headlights. Sideways glances ("help me!"), tongue chewing, long pauses, and anxious giggles ensue. I like to introduce our new pilots to controlled airports once or twice prior to solo, with me handling radios, and then later around 20-30 hours and get them talking. Learning to fly, and listen, and communicate effectively is a heavy workload for a fresh pilot. (Add-ons ratings are another story). Early on, the most important thing is to be able to focus and learn to control the machine. We have found the learning curve to be much more effective in this direction... after all, what is the order of priorities---? AVIATE, NAVIGATE, COMMUNICATE.

 

--JMc

Edited by 280fxColorado
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I have to agree with Carlos on some of this, we love Erie airport as it does have it’s strengths and it’s close, we fly there almost every single day as it’s just six miles away and right on the edge of our airspace. (I just asked one of my CFIIs how many times he had Flown to Erie in the past week.. he said 90% of his flights or about 18 hours).

 

It is good to fly at uncontrolled airports, and controlled airspace can be too much for some pilots, but, it’s even better to fly in both.

 

jmho

 

Just for the record; we refer students to Mountain One all of the time, they have a good operation.

 

dp

 

Hey there DP and anyone else under a mistaken assumption about the identity of cocoflyer,

 

I would like to make it clear that I am not cocoflyer. Despite the coincidences, any posts made by cocoflyer are expressly NOT MINE.

 

I am currently a student pilot in the Denver, Colorado area approaching my Private Pilot checkride. I have a very friendly relationship with the entire team at Colorado Heli Ops at KBJC and can attest to the quality program they operate. Recently, I have been flying with the guys at Mountain One at KEIK and I am very impressed with their operation as well. Both schools and both airports have a ton to offer and I am glad to have gotten a taste of each. Prospective student pilots can rest assured that Colorado is an amazing place to learn to fly helicopters.

 

Best,

 

Carlos, aka Coco Garcia

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  • 2 weeks later...
When we had a location at KAPA...

 

Hi JMC, I take this to mean you no longer train at Centennial? Your website still says you do.

 

If not, does anyone know if there is any helicopter training available at Centennial? Not finding much on Google other than Mountain One and some others that appear to no longer be in business. Strange to me that such a busy airport doesn't have more schools...

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Strange to me that such a busy airport doesn't have more schools...

 

I also find it amazing that there is no school currently at Centennial (KAPA). Not only is it conveniently located, but the controllers are the most helicopter-friendly, accommodating people in the industry.

 

We (helicopter pilots at KAPA) have four pre-designated departures and arrivals: Reservoir (north), Lincoln (south), Broncos (east) and Arapahoe (west). We also have an open field on airport property, south of the tower, where they let us play as well as a great compass rose where they allow all kinds of approach and hovering practice. When wanting pattern work, they never hesitate to let us do low, slow work, autos, and short-tight traffic.

 

Perhaps it's too expensive to operate out of there due to overhead? Not sure. But in my opinion, it is an untapped opportunity.

 

Personally, I've found Rocky Mountain Metro controllers to have "attitude" with helicopter traffic. Erie people are nice, the new airport management is super ... but the drive is a killer!

 

BTW ... another airport totally unused is Front Range. Certainly no more inconvenient than Erie. Hangar space is plentiful, airport management would love to nurture helicopter operations and controllers treat us great.

Edited by MileHi480B
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I know this is my first post, but I wanted to chim in on the Conversation. I am a CFI for Front Range Helicopters out of KFNL. We are also Uncontrolled but we have a lot of traffic ranging from Aligient Air with DC-9's to the weekend pilot with no radio.

 

We currently have a great operation at KFNL, about 2 years ago KFNL went from a class G airspace to Class E because of the increased traffic.

 

I have top agree with 280fxColorado on the students using the radio in a controlled airport. It is a mess, and for some reason they get flustered everytime!!

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Is it or is it not just plain silly to plan on or do all your training at one type of airport ??? Training requires both types of airspace. Check out the instructors & the equipment, then make your own decision. You'll be spending quite awhile working at the place you get hired (if you get hired), so you want the best equipment(meaning everything to do with the school, not just the heli's), & you want to be comfortable. Good luck to you.

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Is it or is it not just plain silly to plan on or do all your training at one type of airport ??? Training requires both types of airspace. Check out the instructors & the equipment, then make your own decision. You'll be spending quite awhile working at the place you get hired (if you get hired), so you want the best equipment(meaning everything to do with the school, not just the heli's), & you want to be comfortable. Good luck to you.

 

Of course. But I'd like to do the majority of my training (and if the stars align, working, eventually) at the airport 20 minutes from my house instead of the ones that are 60-120 minutes away.

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One more thing & I know not everyone will like this comment, but, if you're a pilot and you can't handle flying in controlled airspace, then you shouldn't be flying.

 

Or,...you could just get a Recreational Pilot's License, and go fly out in Butt-Crack nowhere

:D

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