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5 years ago I decided I wanted to be a helicopter pilot. I'm not exactly sure what stopped me then. But I have been bitten with the urge again. My problem is, I'm not exactly rich. And I'm not sure how to get the money saved for lessons or even the steps I should take. I'm assuming the best bet is to talk to a pilot and find a mentor. Would it be ok if I only took a lesson every 2 weeks? That seems like it would take eons to get licensed. My goal if everything goes as planned would be to become a heli pilot commercially. To have my job always have a window seat and always be on the top floor would be amazing. I can't wait to hear from some heli veterans and newbies like me.

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It would probably be better to save enough money for one rating (at a time), then do the training three to five days a week. Training once every two weeks would make it very hard to progress (too many steps back before going just one step forward)?

 

As far as saving money goes, you may want to look into trucking. Entry-level trucking jobs are primarily "long-haul". You will be living in the truck for three to four weeks at a time, which means you could probably save money by not having an apartment, or car?

Edited by r22butters
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CassieOwl,

I would like to say, "Follow your dreams" and "Go for it", but this isn't a pep rally. For every 1 pilot who will comment here and tell you that it is worth it, there are probably 300 people before you who have fallen prey to this idea. It is important to 1st don't take on debt should you decide to pursue this training, 2nd understand the difference between a hobbie and a career, 3rd recognize that at the end of the day it's just a another job with a high burn-out rate i.e. away from home alot, destructive relationships, potentially deadly, and really bad pay. Good luck

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When I did my private in Ireland in 05/06, I did it over the course of a year. At one stage, there was a gap of 3 months in my training. I still managed to finish in just over minimum hours.

 

Yeah, it isn't the most economical way to do it but it worked. Saving for your rating is a good idea and not getting a loan is an even better idea, especially in the current market for newbies.

 

Research long and hard, go for an intro flight to see if you even like it and then take the steps towards your cert if you decide to go through with it.

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First to answer the question,

 

If you have any desire at all to be a pilot, specifically a helicopter pilot then you "will have to pay to play". This is an exact quote from Lyn burks at Heli-Success this year. He said it a few times as well as some of the other pilots / instructors. It would not be effective in my opinion to save up just to get one flight and a couple hours of ground in every two weeks.

 

If you have a dream to fly, don't let anyone or anything stop you. Although this is not a prep rally, this is definitley a place where pilots can help other pilots and aspiring pilots fulfill their dream. Helicopter's are a funny thing, once they get in your blood, you will never be able to get them out. Your hooked for life! If it's something you just want to try, then get your private license and if you then decide that you want to make a career of it, then get into a career program and get your ratings. If your not sure if you want to make this your career, then don't wast the 80k-100k. If I were you, I would find a local flight school and talk to them. If they are a good flight school, they can mentor you and guide you in the best ways to get the funding needed and the time frame needed to get your ratings. Just remember, you never want to look back on your life once you are "up there" in age and say to yourself, "I wonder what it would have been like to fly helicopters." A life of regrets and would have's, could have's, shoud have;s, is not a life at all.

 

Also with all that said, right now is a tough time to start your training if you are funding it through private and or student loans. Not saying it can't be done, but the quickest and easiest way to get money for flight training right now is to be enrolled through a college who offers a degree in aviation. For example, Utah Valley Univeristy has a global aviation degree program which is online. As a student you will be eligible for the money needed to start and complete your flight training and you will be required to take a minimum of 6 credit hours per semester. These loans will be deferred until you graduate from college. Private loans are pretty much a no go, unless you have a co-signer that has perfect credit and enough assets to back an 80k-100k loan. I quoted Lyn Burks earlier who is the owner of this site and an all around great guy / pilot. He funded all of his training out of his pocket, but remember, he did this a number of years ago when the price of flight training wasnt nearly what it is today in regards to fuel cost and inflation. I'm not saying it was not a cheap venture back in the day, but I am saying it is extremely expensive today to get your ratings.

 

Now I will direct my comments to Carpenter:

 

I have to disagree with you on about everything you said. Unless a person has around $100,000 sitting around, how is that person supposed to complete their flight training? I am one of thousands of people who took out student loans and got into "debt" to live my dream of becoming a helicopter pilot and have not regretted it once. I do not feel like the "prey" you speak of. It is just a fact of life for me and thousands of others who chose this career path.

 

I'm going out on a limb here and assuming that you are a pilot, if thats the case, it really sounds like you hate your job or your circumstance. You knew or should have known when you chose this career path that it was highly likely that you would have to travel, be away from family (and if they don't support your career path, you should have discussed that before you chose to become a pilot), that it is a high-risk job and that you will never make the money that an Airline pilot makes. Helicopter pilots chose this career because they love to fly and they love the adventure and opportunities that come with living the lifestyle of a career helicopter pilot.

 

Choose your words and advice a little more carefully. You can still give a realistic outlook to an aspiring pilot without crushing his/her dream and making this industry sound like crap.

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People should be made aware of the realities of the industry. Far too many enter with big plans and no idea, and leave with no job, no hope, and a lot of debt. Such failures are a disservice to everyone.

 

The inability to get funding to train today is largely the result of the lies and greed perpetuated by illegitimate operations and schools that preyed on people who were all hope and too little fact. The helicopter training funding world collapsed on just such dreams; these don't put food on the table nor repayments in the bank.

 

The notion that one can train and go to work, and thereby justify exorbitant fees and loans is silly. Paying as one goes is a much better approach, and it doesn't require that one have a hundred thousand dollars socked away to do the job. One certificate at a time, one rating at a time, paying as you go, is a far better plan than ending up in debt with only a few hours to show for the expense, no job prospects, and no way to recoup the loss or repay the loans.

 

If one is truly dedicated to the job, work hard, work two jobs, get through the private, then the instrument (yes, do the instrument), then the commercial, then the CFI and CFII, and do it properly. One step at a time. Ending up in debt over the process is not good planning.

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Pilot430:

I am a very strong advocate for following dreams. However, I like many others have chosen to obtain ratings in the quest to become a professional commercial pilot. I personally do not believe that leveraging one's future (amassing huge debt) is a smart decision. I wanted to pursue a second career in aviation because I also had that dream and didn't want to have regrets with age. I am saying that flight schools like all institutions of learning are a business for profit and gullible greenies aren't able to recognize this fact in advance.

 

The industry is overcrowded right now- this is a fact.

With the lack of upward mobility right now, affording loan payments is a struggle

Student loans unlike other debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy

 

You cannot hide from the truth of the facts. One problem is that once a newbie tastes flight like you say, all realities are thrown to the wind. Ask the hundreds, if not thousands that have tried.

 

My apologies to CassieOwl if my comments are taken out of context, I merely want to help others become better informed by others that have gone before him/her.

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"Pay as you go - one lesson a week" will typically end up costing you more, because your progress will be slower especially on the initial lessons. I know a lot of people who tried it - everybody is different, but on average they end up spending WAY more than someone who does it full time. Many give up when there training gets delayed even further because of some unplanned other expense.

 

Taking on a huge loan to gain a licence for a field where initial employment can be very hard to find is a very very risky thing to do. And by "risky" I mean "stupid". Step off that cloud for a moment and think about it: Your first job will most likely be low pay, and you may have to travel around the country - or further - to find it. Having to work 2 jobs to make loan repayments isn't exactly going to increase your chances...

 

Military is an option for some, not all.

 

So I will back up R22butters and Carpenter here: How about you save your money, then do your training when you can actually afford it?

 

 

Sound harsh? Read it again. I'm not saying "don't do it" or "you can't do it". I AM saying: be realistic, have some patience, and do it right.

Edited by lelebebbel
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lelebebbel,

 

You say that a person will end up paying more by going at it once a week and their chances of finishing are slim because of other expenses and events that may occur doing one's training, yet you follow it up by saying that getting loans is "risky" and by "risky" you mean "stupid". So how exactly is a person supposed to start and complete their flight training? If I understand you correctly, you are telling people to be patient, get a real job, work over the course of about a decade to where you can save up the 80k-100k and then go get your ratings. Although I really like this idea, it is not practical / realistic, because just as you stated, events and things will come up that will require you to put your money in other places rather than saving for flight training.

 

If I understand what all of you are saying in this forum, it's that taking out loans to complete one's training is "risky", "stupid", "not planning well", "silly", etc... So I'll throw a wild card in their and submit (again if I understand you all correctly), what if I were to purchase a house? Are you all saying that the only way I should even consider it is if I can pay for it with cash? Are you suggesting that I work 2-3 jobs with a family and live with the in-laws for 10 years until I have saved enough money to purchase a house that would fulfill our needs? I guess I just don't understand any of your arguments on how taking out loans to start and complete one's flight training is foolish.

 

Flight training is essentially entering into higher education and should be considered an investment and like any investments, there is a risk involved. The biggest risk is whether the person in flight training has the willpower, attitude, and ability to start and complete flight training. The forecast for this industry is positive and although the industry currently looks "bleak" it can still be done and you can't base the entire risk factor soley on the current circumstance of the helicopter industry. tough it out as a CFI and land a turbine job in 3 to 5 years. If a person can do this, they will be making around $60,000 a year in their 3rd to 5th year of flying, which is more than enough to start paying back loans and support a family.

 

Don't get me wrong, I really like the idea of saving up and paying for flight training as you go, I just don't understand how that is a realistic possibility in today's world. Not saying it can't be done or shouldn't be done, just saying that it would be a tough road and in the end more expensive as you have stated.

 

Ultimately the decision is left up to the person who is wanting to get into this industry and everyone is faced with different circumstances and different balances in their checking accounts. So talk about it, think about it, weigh out the pro's and con's, find a mentor, pray about it for heavens sake and make the best decision for you (and your family) and move forward and don't look back. If you can do that, I promise you will not regret it and you will have a successful life and career as a helicopter pilot.

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I think someone needs to define “pay as you go”?

 

One’s financial situation dictates the possibilities. If CassieOwl grinds away every day to make ends meet and is expected to put away the extra $350 for one lesson at a time, then the dream will certainly never be a reality. This may have been a reasonable method for fixed-wing training back-in-the-day but not really a solid method for today’s expensive helo training.

 

The truth and facts of the matter are dependent upon the individual and not by what I’ve done or by what anyone else has done…

 

Cassie,

 

This business if full of sacrifices. The blind jump in and realize the monumental sacrifices later on. Don’t jump in blind. If you truly want this, then start now by sacrificing your spare time. I suggest you go get as many jobs as you can and start saving. The mindset should be work-work-work in order to get paid-paid-paid to achieve the goal of flight training. Then, when you have enough money to start training, jump in and commit. Basically, its one goal at a time, and your first goal is to get the required funds to pay for the training. Whatever you do, DO NOT get a loan….

 

Once you start flight training is when you “pay as you go”…

 

Let me put it this way. Let’s say a young man has a dream of becoming elite fighting solider in the US military but has somehow found himself out of shape and overweight by 200 pounds. Would it be a good idea to head on down to the recruiter’s office to see what he can do? Or, would it be a better idea to get in shape and loose the weight before he joins?

 

One goal at a time…….

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lelebebbel,

 

You say that a person will end up paying more by going at it once a week and their chances of finishing are slim because of other expenses and events that may occur doing one's training, yet you follow it up by saying that getting loans is "risky" and by "risky" you mean "stupid". So how exactly is a person supposed to start and complete their flight training? If I understand you correctly, you are telling people to be patient, get a real job, work over the course of about a decade to where you can save up the 80k-100k and then go get your ratings. Although I really like this idea, it is not practical / realistic, because just as you stated, events and things will come up that will require you to put your money in other places rather than saving for flight training.

 

If I understand what all of you are saying in this forum, it's that taking out loans to complete one's training is "risky", "stupid", "not planning well", "silly", etc... So I'll throw a wild card in their and submit (again if I understand you all correctly), what if I were to purchase a house? Are you all saying that the only way I should even consider it is if I can pay for it with cash? Are you suggesting that I work 2-3 jobs with a family and live with the in-laws for 10 years until I have saved enough money to purchase a house that would fulfill our needs? I guess I just don't understand any of your arguments on how taking out loans to start and complete one's flight training is foolish.

 

Flight training is essentially entering into higher education and should be considered an investment and like any investments, there is a risk involved. The biggest risk is whether the person in flight training has the willpower, attitude, and ability to start and complete flight training. The forecast for this industry is positive and although the industry currently looks "bleak" it can still be done and you can't base the entire risk factor soley on the current circumstance of the helicopter industry. tough it out as a CFI and land a turbine job in 3 to 5 years. If a person can do this, they will be making around $60,000 a year in their 3rd to 5th year of flying, which is more than enough to start paying back loans and support a family.

 

Don't get me wrong, I really like the idea of saving up and paying for flight training as you go, I just don't understand how that is a realistic possibility in today's world. Not saying it can't be done or shouldn't be done, just saying that it would be a tough road and in the end more expensive as you have stated.

 

Ultimately the decision is left up to the person who is wanting to get into this industry and everyone is faced with different circumstances and different balances in their checking accounts. So talk about it, think about it, weigh out the pro's and con's, find a mentor, pray about it for heavens sake and make the best decision for you (and your family) and move forward and don't look back. If you can do that, I promise you will not regret it and you will have a successful life and career as a helicopter pilot.

 

So you are saying that a person who would take 10 years and 3 jobs to save up 80k should instead take on an 60-80k loan? Based on the hopes of gaining hours and then finding a high paying pilot job within 3-5 years to repay what will be 120k or more by then, before the bank takes your house and car away?

 

Really???

 

(your house loan example is ironic, remember 2008?)

 

I'm with spike. If you can't afford to save at least some of it up front and have enough spare income to train regularly, you can't afford it. Change something, improve your spare income, have patience but DO NOT GET A LOAN. I can't spell it out any clearer.

 

 

 

.... All that being said, maybe the industry needs loan victims who train, then never get a job because they have thousands of dollars to repay every month, but the only entry level jobs they can find require them to move to Bumhole, Idahoe, and only pay 25k a year. These people surely keep a lot of flying schools going.

Last month I bought a flighthelmet from someone who had to give up on his dream because a very similar situation. Sad for him, but I got a cheap helmet out of it, barely used.. (please excuse my sarcasm)

Edited by lelebebbel
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Wow. A lot of varied opinions. when speaking of loans, what kind are we talking? there are a lot of different loans ranging from 3% to15-20%. Know what your payments will be, then make sure you can pay them. I already have a decent job, but I'm older than many starting out, and felt the need to expedite my training with loans and get college credit for training. I was on a three year plan paying as i went, but with loans it will be just over a year. The difference in flying 1-2 times a week vs. 3-6 is no comparison in efficient use of funds. Time will tell if it was a good decision, but with the parameters i set for myself, it was the best choice for me to get into flying jobs asap. so i definitely see it as an investment in education. everyone here is speaking in generalities, you never know if you'll get that big break or just have to keep pushing ahead or get in a car wreck and be a vegetable. play the hand you are dealt. at some point hard work and professionalism will be recognized, and those habits made during the lean years will serve you well later on.

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I am in Atlanta, Ga. Going to talk to a local instructor today on the industry here. If anything, just get my pilot license and go from there. I currently work 2 jobs and finding time for lessons might make it more difficult than saving up.

 

I know Helicopters Northwest up in the Seattle area has in house loans....They are picky about who gets it but its worth a shot.

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Depends how bad you want to be a pilot. If you buy one rating at a time, it will take you forever! None of us are rich! If you want this I suggest you bite the bullet and get a student loan(sallie mae, or something similar) and do it all at once. This is not a fast process. But speaking from experience the only way to do it is full time and a big student loan. Good luck!

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Wow. A lot of varied opinions. when speaking of loans, what kind are we talking? there are a lot of different loans ranging from 3% to15-20%. Know what your payments will be, then make sure you can pay them. I already have a decent job, but I'm older than many starting out, and felt the need to expedite my training with loans and get college credit for training. I was on a three year plan paying as i went, but with loans it will be just over a year. The difference in flying 1-2 times a week vs. 3-6 is no comparison in efficient use of funds. Time will tell if it was a good decision, but with the parameters i set for myself, it was the best choice for me to get into flying jobs asap. so i definitely see it as an investment in education. everyone here is speaking in generalities, you never know if you'll get that big break or just have to keep pushing ahead or get in a car wreck and be a vegetable. play the hand you are dealt. at some point hard work and professionalism will be recognized, and those habits made during the lean years will serve you well later on.

 

The future earning potential of an entry level pilot is rather low. So low, making payments of any kind would put most entry level pilots in financial hardship. This is why a loan is not recommended. Furthermore, making a small loan payment is easy when you have a decent job. But let’s say you get lucky and find a CFI gig right off the batt. Your income will drop significantly to nearly poverty level. Unless you have a spouse bringing home the bacon, times will quickly get real tough. And will be for years to come.

 

My 2nd full-time PART135 turbine gig paid 20K a year. This is not a “generality”, it’s a reality.

 

Furthermore, attempting to get into this business with a loan puts you at a disadvantage. Why? Because most pilots will amount a sizeable debt while initially working in the business. If you are financially unsound as a pilot, and can’t afford to pack up and head out, at a moment’s notice to the next job, or job interview, then your advancement potential will be hindered….. Fosho...

 

The initial approximate investment cost of 70K is for the training alone and to become marketable. Graduation does not mean the cost of this endeavor ends. In fact, each step in this business will incur an additional cost such as moving, travel, networking opportunities and additional schools. Look a Helisuccess for example; airfare, hotel, meals and seminar, not free… How about the Robinson factory course? Is the new employer going to foot the bill? Maybe, then again maybe not…. What if a potential turbine employer tells you the only thing keeping you out of the seat is the factory course…

 

Secure a loan to make the big steps, not to learn to crawl……

Edited by Spike
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