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Possible Schools - $$ and other questions

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Hi Everyone,

Looks like a great supportive community here.

I'm taking my demo flight tomorrow at Northeast Helicopters, which is closest to where I currently live. I have no prior experience with helicopters.


It seems a lot of schools have excellent reputations, but I'm really confused by the drastic cost and time-frame differences between them.


For example, I spoke with Rhonda at Northeast for a long while (nice lady). She said it takes 12-18 months to complete the PPL(h), and there average cost is somewhere around $70K.


A friend of mine turned me on to Tomlinson Aviation in Florida. I spoke with the owner himself, Neal Tomlison at length (also sounds like a great guy).

He told me that in 4-6 months of full time work I could have the CPII, and I'd be spending around $50K.


I just got off the phone with a guy at Guidance, in Arizona. He told me around 2 years for the CPII, and between $95,000 - $105,000!

Wha? It sounds like some of this added expense is that they only have an instrument rating in the R44. Could this be?


This begs the questions: why would anyone pay $100K and take 2 years when they can get the same thing for $50K in 4 months?


So far Tomlinson really sounds like the win to me, but I'm sure there are other considerations aside from cost. Such as, how important is it to train in the mountains?


Also, Guidance has over 100 students at any given time on average and can't possibly employ them all as instructors. Apparently 93% of them are placed into other instructing positions.


Tomlinson sounds like a 10 student operation, with lots of one-on-one.


For me at this point in my life (30 years old), if I go for this, it will be all-in, full-out get it done as quickly as I possibly can and for the least amount of cost.




Thanks to all.


*edited: meant to type "CFIi," not CPIi.

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Quick answer to only a few of your questions (the most obvious ones):


1 - four to six months to get through CFII is only possible if you do nothing else that whole time, you have an uncanny knack for flying, you never hit "the wall," you're also an ace at the books, and nothing unforseeable happens (ie, broke aircraft, broke ankle, spate of nasty weather, can't get hold of an examiner when you need him, your grandmother passes away, etc.).


2 - $50k is laughably low. $105k sounds much too high. Maybe my information is dated (I left instruction about a year ago), but at the time I was seeing people do the whole thing in $65-80k. If the school you're looking at quotes $105k, I'd take their word for it...if it sounds too good to be true, it is.


I'm not going to give financial advice or advice on which school is best. I don't know you from Adam, so it wouldn't be worth hooey, anyway. But whatever the cost quote you decide to believe in, I'd round it up. If that school says $50k is average (again, I seriously doubt this as being realistic), round it up to $60 or $70k. If it turns out you saved up too much money, well that's a shame. If you borrowed too much, make a big payment on the loan. But if you run out, now you're stuck spinning your wheels, unable to finish training and getting rusty in the meantime.


That's my 2c.

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By your description of the information you were given, I’d suggest you keep researching. I say this because, by what you posted, those numbers are way off just as Mr. romanweel pointed out. Plus the terminology doesn’t jive either… CPII???


This site has tons of information on the subject in addition to the Justhelicopters Alternate forum. Sit, read and absorb…. Then make phone calls… Then ask more questions… Then decide…..

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That quote from Guidance sounds high. I'm a student at Guidance and I'll be at slightly over that with my AAS degree requirements included, with all 100% R44training. I think I'll be at about $110-115k, PVT thru CFII, all R44, some R66, academic classes at Yavapai College. If you only did flight training w/o the AAS degree, the price would def be lower.

Edited by superstallion6113
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I haven't instructed in almost 3 decades, maybe the art and science have made progress, but when I started flight training 44 years ago the US Army allocated 32 weeks of flight training (and 4 weeks of preflight) and 210 flight hours for an Army rotary wing aviator. Granted, we only flew half days...

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Most schools will run you ~65-90k as was stated above, maybe a little over that if you do a lot of 44 training, or if it takes you a little longer than normal to get through a program.


Another factor to take into account is what the schools reputation is. There are certain schools that are known for putting out quality pilots and due to their reputation it's a little easier to land your first turbine job after you instruct.


When you are at the 1000-1200 hour level you are one resume in a stack of 100's, every little thing you can get on your resume to make it stand out may be that small factor that helps you land the first "real" job. (Besides networking of course)

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Also, Guidance has over 100 students at any given time on average and can't possibly employ them all as instructors. Apparently 93% of them are placed into other instructing positions.



Of course, but then again not all 100 students will complete the program and remain in the area. Let me explain.



93% into "other" instructing positions? Highly doubtful. I think you may be getting false information.


1.) It seems (and this is through reading, hearing what others have to say, and paying attention to the helicopter industry) that very few schools these days take outsider instructors who have come from other schools.That might have been possible years ago when times were different, but that is surely not necessarily the case these days. I'd imagine some of them go off to other places and find instructing positions, but probably very very few. Fortunately for a couple of our instructors, 1 fully ready CFII come from across the states, and another CFI came from SoCal and ended up completing his Instrument and CFII, then was hired by our school.


2.) Not everybody who attends will finish the program. There will be many who ultimately decide flying isn't what they want to do as a career. That can and will happen at different stages for different students. Some might realize it during private, some at or after commercial, and some during CFI and even AFTER completing the entire program with CFII ratings (has happened at our school.) Unfortunately there are plenty of Veterans who come to the program simply because the VA is paying for it, not that they want to be career pilots. Those who are not serious about the program will tend to fade away and will leave eventually. There will be some who may finish their training, and then move back to their home state to find instructor jobs. Then there are those who may finish, but don't get hired right away and after awhile, seem to slip away from the whole idea of flying because they couldn't get hired. One of our instructors waited 9 months (yeah, 9 months) to get hired by our school, but he finally did it. Why? Because he wanted to be here flying, simple as that.


3.) Some people will tell you anything to get your business. Those numbers seem absolutely ridiculous in so many ways. It would be hard to believe the flight school told you that information. Did that info come from the school administrator? I would talk to some of the instructors at the school for some better insight, see what sort of information they provide to you.



Our school has over 100 active students as well (not all of which will finish the program.) As of the other day we had up to 21 instructors (6 of whom were freshly hired within the last week, and all 6 have trained entirely at our flight school.) 6 new instructors were hired because 4 have left to or got hooked up with commercial jobs since February, and another 2 are expected to leave before May, also for commercial jobs. The 6 instructors were part of a group of about 12 (all of whom trained entirely at our school) who have been ready since between January-March, and were waiting for the hiring process to begin.


Can your flight school provide you with that type of information? If they can't, and all they can give you is a estimate percentage, I would suggest looking elsewhere.


I would recommend calling and talking to our flight school administrator for a bit. The phone call will be WELL worth your time. Expect about 30-40 mins of information, and have a notepad ready. Ask for Galit 541-383-8825.

Edited by RagMan
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Thanks a lot everyone.

To the site admins: I never saw my post go through after a day or two, so I composed another one. Hopefully you will see this second post and terminate it.


Anyway, I've only heard positive things about Tomlinson, and I'm wondering how it could be possible then that the owner himself would be giving me false info.

What seems a little goofy is that I've called them three times, and each time I get slightly different info.

The office woman first told me I could finish in 16 weeks. Then the first time I spoke with Neal he told me 6 months. The last time I spoke with Neal he told me 8 months, maybe less.

When I asked him how it was possible that his school could be $20K less than everyone else, and take a year less to get all the ratings, his response was "I make friends, not money."


What also sounds cool about Tomlinson is that he runs a second company flying tours over Daytona Beach in an R44. He said after a student has the commercial license they can "volunteer" in this position to build hours, and he also wants them to instruct at his school.



So yesterday I had my demo flight at NE Helicopters. It was in an R-22 with a 26 year old instructor who has 800 hours. I would have no hesitation in working with him full time, but for me the school would not be a good fit.


The flight was something amazing, indeed. He was pretty loose on the controls, and I did quite a bit of solo work on the cyclic. Amazing how touchy and responsive the controls are. It seemed like every time he let go of the cyclic, despite me not seeming to move it at all, the chopper would immediately be flailing all over the place.


We cruised around, aimed for a few landmarks, did some low hovering in a clearing in the wood, and then flew back and did some work between the two runways. He tried to have me creep a straight line about 20 feet off the ground to the other end. I found this very challenging. It was definitely a bit like a carnival ride.


What disturbs me is that I started to get some motion sickness in the last few minutes. A few years ago I developed a sensitivity to vertigo and was car sick for awhile in the back seat. I've only been sick on a boat once, though, and no longer get car sick. So I was really surprised that flying a helicopter would give me these feelings again.


I'm wondering if you guys think this is a case of needing to get my "sea legs," or if it's a really bad sign and means I'm probably not cut out for this. My instructor didn't get sick. But it was windy, and definitely lots and lots of wild movements due to me at the cyclic.


So I left feeling a bit discouraged. But hoping it was either a fluke or there would be a way to get over it or manage it.


Thanks guys. If anyone wants info on NE Helicopters, PM me, or I can write a little review upon request.

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wombosi , Tomlinson is a great school, Neil want lead you on by big promises like some scholls will. If you study, do your flights they will pull you through, They have great instructors and have had great instructors.I know of at least 4 instructors from there that now at Fort Rucker instructing after finishing up and spending time there instructing.If you turn out as a good instructor and have good people skills Neil will end up hiring you there. Ask yourself what you want, how many civilian instructors do you know that work for the goverment making just under 6 figures. Ask around, some schools will keep milking you for money till they figure your almost broke then set up your check ride, few will get you through when your ready. All will depend on you ability and learning curve!
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Everyone is a bit different of course, but to give you some hope, I too had trouble getting my sea legs....first five hours had times that were awful. Slowly it got better as all of those new sensations got better....after about those first 5-10 hours I can't remember it happening in the 1000 hrs since.


Hang in there...it's a lot of new sensations for your middle ear to accept.

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