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I am a new student... tips/help


CO423
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Hello I am new to this forum, as well as in the industry. This week I am flying twice and also going to be involved in some ground school. A career in Aviation has always been a dream, and I do believe that it is time to make it a reality while I am still young. I am 23 years old, as of today, which I feel is a good standpoint to start this career path.

 

Anyways, I have been on ascension helicopters reviewing a lot of maneuvers and trying to learn what I can from the website. I am also working full time to support myself currently. Looking for some tips and/or information about flying as a new student. I plan to learn a lot through ground school, but also want to stay busy in the evenings with material to study. I will be buying more of my books this week, which I know will give me some material to study. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to make this decision, and really want to put "my all" into this.

 

What does it take to be looked upon as a great pilot in the career industry? I do NOT know it all, and I do NOT have the "know it all" reputation. Being a new student and fairly young, I do have high goals for long term future plans. I do not have a precise decision on what I want to do, but have a pretty good idea.

 

Just looking for some POSITIVE encouragement and information about the industry.

 

 

Still reading? Let me tell you a quick some about myself.

I have grown up with a wrench in my hand, and running equipment most of my life. Since high school I have been a huge part and hard worker in the ski industry in a very professional manner. Mostly operating a $550,000 snowcat (compared to a chopper is not that expensive), which is 23' wide and has a C15 motor in it. I am very proud to have worked my dream job in a snowcat and on the 120' lift towers in the summer since high school. But I have left these positions to change my career to aviation. I feel as I really have what it takes for this industry, and would just like some input or good material to study, whether it be terminology or tips on finding that first job so that I can at least start thinking like you guys.

 

Good Day!

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Welcome to the wonderfully maddening world of helicopters! It's loads of fun, but it can rip your heart out and spit it right back out in your face if you're looking to make a career of it. And this is coming from someone who got lucky and got a job fresh out of flight school!

 

What does it take to be considered a great pilot? Study and a damn good attitude. You will never stop learning, even (especially) out of flight school. You should also get it in your head that you cannot ever give up. You're gonna run into so many challenges while earning your ratings, it will sometimes seem impossible.

 

Also, try to never burn any bridges. This is a minuscule industry, and your peer one day could be your Chief Pilot the next. A guy I went to PPL ground with is now in the training department at a major offshore company. Network, network, network.

 

If you're about to start flying, go ahead and get some kind of test prep software for your Private Pilot written exam. I use ASA, but Dauntless makes a good one as well. In study mode, it will explain the reasoning behind the answers, and will give you a leg up when you get ready to actually start wiggling the sticks.

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If you have wrenching skills, a very clever career path would be A&P, working here and there towards your piloting. A combination A&P and Pilot career is a hard combo to beat in this industry. If you haven't thought about it, maybe you should. If you have thought about it, maybe you should some more. Good luck young fella !

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Although an A&P may give you a slight edge over other pilots, I doubt it will really set you apart too much. The worlds of flying and wrench turning are kept separate enough that it may be difficult to keep experience/currency in both realms. I myself am having this difficulty. If you want to fly, fly. Work whatever job you need to to pay your bills. I would not necessarily say that A&P school is a good place to start on your path to being a career pilot. Just my two dollars.

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Although an A&P may give you a slight edge over other pilots, I doubt it will really set you apart too much. The worlds of flying and wrench turning are kept separate enough that it may be difficult to keep experience/currency in both realms. I myself am having this difficulty. If you want to fly, fly. Work whatever job you need to to pay your bills. I would not necessarily say that A&P school is a good place to start on your path to being a career pilot. Just my two dollars.

 

To this day, my A&P cert enhances my marketability and had undoubtedly kept me gainfully employed as a pilot for many, many years……

.

It’s been said plenty. To posture yourself for employment, you’ll need to bring something else to the table. An A&P certificate is one of those things and it garners a huge edge…..

 

However, if you have no desire to wrench then don’t waste your time….

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Be serious about learning to fly and everything about it. Don't take yourself too seriously.

This is WORK, unless you're of "independent means", so work at it. When you start playing at it you're a dilletante and an accident waiting to happen. It can be enjoyable. It would be my avocation if wasn't my vocation.

Learn from every minute of every hour of flying. Analyze and dissect your mistakes, and learn from anybody else's experience you can avail yourself of. Nobody set out to do something stupid and crash.

I don't know any 'great pilots', I have met a few great people who were also very good pilots. I also know complete jerks who are very good pilots, but I don't know any great pilots.

As posted earlier, this is a small industry. Once established, your reputation may well precede you. Working hard to give value and treating people well is not only good karma, it's profitable.

As to the A&P, I've heard both sides expressed by professionals who've experienced them: The helo pilot without an A&P is blind trust if not a death wish; And having it can be the chain that keeps a productive wrench from being a valuable pilot. If I was smart enough, I'd have it as well as an ATP.

Edited by Wally
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To this day, my A&P cert enhances my marketability and had undoubtedly kept me gainfully employed as a pilot for many, many years……

.

It’s been said plenty. To posture yourself for employment, you’ll need to bring something else to the table. An A&P certificate is one of those things and it garners a huge edge…..

 

However, if you have no desire to wrench then don’t waste your time….

 

Spike, I'm not saying it doesn't give you an edge, and that edge may be more or less valuable at different ends of the market. What I was saying was, don't go out and get your A&P thinking it's a doorway into being a pilot. It's not! If it happens to be available to you at some point, take it, it certainly can't hurt. Knowledge is power. At the entry level (flight instructing/tours), an A&P is not going to be much of a deal breaker unless they primarily want you turning wrenches and are willing to throw a few scraps your way. Someday when you have a few thousand hours and want a job with an operator, having a pilot that can also turn wrenches in the field might be seen as invaluable. I know a lot of guys that got jobs as mechs in hopes of sliding into a pilot job. It doesn't always work that way. My advice: Get your ratings through CFII and try and get a job. Pick the right school (one with steady business and a decent turnover rate) and you may get offered a job immediately after your checkride. Pay your dues. It will happen eventually. All that my adventures in maintenance did for me is set me back 7 years. Oh, and btw, mechanics don't get paid very well! I just wouldn't make it a priority if you want to be a pilot.

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Spike, I'm not saying it doesn't give you an edge, and that edge may be more or less valuable at different ends of the market. What I was saying was, don't go out and get your A&P thinking it's a doorway into being a pilot. It's not! If it happens to be available to you at some point, take it, it certainly can't hurt. Knowledge is power. At the entry level (flight instructing/tours), an A&P is not going to be much of a deal breaker unless they primarily want you turning wrenches and are willing to throw a few scraps your way. Someday when you have a few thousand hours and want a job with an operator, having a pilot that can also turn wrenches in the field might be seen as invaluable. I know a lot of guys that got jobs as mechs in hopes of sliding into a pilot job. It doesn't always work that way. My advice: Get your ratings through CFII and try and get a job. Pick the right school (one with steady business and a decent turnover rate) and you may get offered a job immediately after your checkride. Pay your dues. It will happen eventually. All that my adventures in maintenance did for me is set me back 7 years. Oh, and btw, mechanics don't get paid very well! I just wouldn't make it a priority if you want to be a pilot.

 

I don’t want to hijack the thread, however, please validate…. How many pilot jobs have you had?

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Spike, I'm not trying to prove you wrong. And I'm not trying to one up you either. I'm a veteran mechanic and a rookie flight instructor. Been flying since 2000, helicopters since 2003. And I spent 6 years in the Army as a mechanic. Now I'm out and trying to be a pilot. I turn wrenches as a day job and fly on weekends. In my personal experience (and this includes others I know who are on similar career paths) being a mech is not necessarily the magical key to the castle. I would be a lot more established as a pilot if I had stayed out of the military and just paid for my ratings sooner. And at THIS STAGE (less than 1000 hours) in my flying career, having experience as a mechanic means zilch when it comes to a pilot job. Maybe some day in the next few years I will be singing a different tune, but right now I'm strapped for cash and barely flying enough to stay current!

 

Bottom line here is this. There is no "pipeline" for helicopter pilots. Ask ten different pilots how they got to where they are and they will have 10 different stories, and what worked for one pilot may not work as well for another. I know plenty of pilot/mechanics who can only find work as mechanics. I also know plenty of ladder climbing pilots that don't know what a set of diagonal cutters are and couldnt do a proper safety-wire if their life depended on it.

 

I'm not telling the topic starter not to get the A&P. Just saying it's not a gaurantee to a flying job. Really... There ARE no gaurantees in this business. And Spike, unless you want to offer me a job, I don't think you can really argue with that. :D

 

 

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Spike, I'm not trying to prove you wrong. And I'm not trying to one up you either. I'm a veteran mechanic and a rookie flight instructor. Been flying since 2000, helicopters since 2003. And I spent 6 years in the Army as a mechanic. Now I'm out and trying to be a pilot. I turn wrenches as a day job and fly on weekends. In my personal experience (and this includes others I know who are on similar career paths) being a mech is not necessarily the magical key to the castle. I would be a lot more established as a pilot if I had stayed out of the military and just paid for my ratings sooner. And at THIS STAGE (less than 1000 hours) in my flying career, having experience as a mechanic means zilch when it comes to a pilot job. Maybe some day in the next few years I will be singing a different tune, but right now I'm strapped for cash and barely flying enough to stay current!

 

Bottom line here is this. There is no "pipeline" for helicopter pilots. Ask ten different pilots how they got to where they are and they will have 10 different stories, and what worked for one pilot may not work as well for another. I know plenty of pilot/mechanics who can only find work as mechanics. I also know plenty of ladder climbing pilots that don't know what a set of diagonal cutters are and couldnt do a proper safety-wire if their life depended on it.

 

I'm not telling the topic starter not to get the A&P. Just saying it's not a gaurantee to a flying job. Really... There ARE no gaurantees in this business. And Spike, unless you want to offer me a job, I don't think you can really argue with that. :D

 

 

In my opinion,

 

The concern is misinformation, not if you’re trying to prove me wrong or “one-up” me….

 

The validity of the A&P certification as a pilot is up to the individual. At this point in your career, it may not be significant to you, but with my first CFI job, it was paramount and has been a “deal-maker” on several occasions. This is two different perspectives from two different people. From your perspective, stating to anyone “I doubt it will really set you apart too much.” is misleading, especially at this point in your flying career……

 

In today’s business marketplace, many are finding out that diversification is an avenue for success, if not a lifesaver from complete failure. This holds true for helicopter pilots as well. If two pilots of equal experience are competing for a pilot position and one holds an A&P certificate, the pilot with the A&P will have the advantage. It’s that simple. Under the same scenario, it would be foolish for the pilot with the A&P to refuse to wrench. That would just be plain dumb…..

 

The OP clearly stated his appreciation for his mechanical experience. Maybe I’m wrong, but people who have the means and desire to do both, should. In fact, I’d strongly encourage it based upon my experience as a pilot.

 

No, there are no guarantees, this should go without saying. However, nor will there any kind of advantage to a CFII with an R22/R44 SFAR endorsement and a bunch of S300 time. Why? Because everyone else will have the same experience….

 

Like I said, what else can you bring to the table? Or better yet, what is going to set you apart from everyone else?.....

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Welcome to our passion.. and happy bday!

 

there is some good info here:

 

 

http://helicopterforum.verticalreference.com/topic/10871-some-of-the-things-i-learned-my-first-year-as-a-student-pilot/

 

you should also get Lyn's ebook: which is listed on that topic toward the end.

 

aloha,

 

dp

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Approach your training like a professional. You have a job to do every day so work at it like you're getting paid to. It's OK to have fun with it, but remember that simply buzzing around seeing the sights isn't accomplishing your training mission. Get into the books and do your best to stay ahead of the game. If you can walk in each morning and tell your instructor what training you want to get done that day then you're doing good. If your instructor says "no, we're doing this" well then you're doing that, but at least you have taken charge of your training. Don't be one of those dudes that simply shows up when it's time to fly.

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Thank you so much for all of the responses! I was not expecting it.

 

I really appreciate the conversation about the A&P.

I will look into this most def. As far as the A&P goes, and wrench experience, I am just burned out on trying to fix things. I understand just about any diesel/engine type and can perform many tasks. I have no doubt that I could maintain a helicopter, under certain conditions (which i would not even consider doing). As long as I can remember I ave been working on automobiles, snowmobiles, elite mountain bikes, dirt bikes; and I am burned out working on things, it requires too much physically, and I am an athlete. Although I will look into the A&P, and I am interested, I sure hope that it is not a "must".

I am considering taking a meteorolgy course eventually at a local college close to denver, but that would not be for a few years most likely.

Understanding that this heli-world takes everything that i can put into it, I need this goal for myself, and my ultimate goal is to be a successful rotorcraft pilot (which seems reasonable).

 

SBuzzKill, thank you for the advice. I will start to hang out at the school more often on my days off. I just don't want to become an annoyance to them being a new student. Still trying to get all of the guys to start recognizing me at least.

ADridge- I come from a small town ski industry I can totally understand not to burn any bridges, thank you.

RckyMtnHI thank you! I will also check out that book and thread.

 

I appreciate all of the responses.

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Spike: No, you're right. Absolutely. But I wouldn't recommend you try to get into flying by going to A&P school first. You probably won't be making enough to pay for flight training as an entry level A&P and you probably won't have much free time either, especially if you are working for a helicopter operator. Get your pilot ratings first, then go for your A&P. It's all good stuff to have, but the order in which you accomplish your goals is important. The A&P job might be your ticket to a flying job at some point, but not unless you are already rated.

Edited by nightsta1ker
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Spike: No, you're right. Absolutely. But I wouldn't recommend you try to get into flying by going to A&P school first. You probably won't be making enough to pay for flight training as an entry level A&P and you probably won't have much free time either, especially if you are working for a helicopter operator. Get your pilot ratings first, then go for your A&P. It's all good stuff to have, but the order in which you accomplish your goals is important. The A&P job might be your ticket to a flying job at some point, but not unless you are already rated.

 

Nor would I recommend going to pilot school to facilitate a mechanics position. I also do not recommend becoming a cop, firefighter, soldier, paramedic, lumberjack, lineman, fisherman, etc, to become a pilot…. If you want to be a pilot, then focus on becoming a pilot. However, if the individual wants to do otherwise, then who am I to say……..

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I will start to hang out at the school more often on my days off. I just don't want to become an annoyance to them being a new student. Still trying to get all of the guys to start recognizing me at least.

 

I appreciate all of the responses.

 

Not a bad idea, just don't get too crazy about how much you "hang out". There were times as an instructor that it got extremely irritating to have 3-4 students just hanging out at the school like it's a social club. Sometimes instructors like to do their lesson, debrief, then have some time to themselves without having to entertain people all day.

 

All I am saying is that moderation is the key.

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When you said this: "And at THIS STAGE (less than 1000 hours) in my flying career, having experience as a mechanic means zilch when it comes to a pilot job."

 

my understanding is that you have your A&P after completing your army service and "turn wrenches as a day job"..... do you turn wrenches on airplanes, helicopters, military aircraft or something else in that job?

 

I believe there is a stark difference in "having experience as a mechanic" and having completed a part 147 program... now don't get me off track here cause I think the apprentice program is awesome for people that have an in with a company needing specific maintenance requirements...

 

I will give you credit that if all you want to do is fly then forget the A&P and focus on flying... I'm merely trying to persuade young, uninformed people that there is alot to learn in aviation and if you just want to be known as the stick wiggler you just shot one leg.

 

What we need in the Helicopter world are more "professionals" that can accomplish more than one task of a business model... this is not to say that if you have your A&P you have to be the one turning the wrench...

 

I know of a number of operators looking for pilots and what is it they are looking for? More experience usually... not necessarily more hours.

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Well at this point, I don't feel like I have a leg to stand on here. I'm at the bottom looking up. You guys are at the top looking down. I can tell you that what I am doing now is not what I envisioned myself doing 10 years ago. I have learned a lot along the way and have picked up some skills that I hope can serve me in my career as a pilot. I do work on helicopters. I am a contractor and work on Army Chinooks. I also help my part time employer work on their helicopter. Is this useful? Yes. More for them than for me. It certainly keeps me very busy. Building flight time is still slow though. I need more wrench turning time like I need another hole in my head.

 

Looking back at the last ten years, I just really regret not pursuing flying harder than I did. I let the money scare me away. Now it's even more expensive to learn and I am 10 years older. I don't regret the mechanic experience, I just wish I had gotten it second. Life has a way of keeping you too busy to do things like learn to fly. I suppose if you are young and have lots of money and time, you can go to A&P school and take helicopter lessons at the same time. The rest of us have to find a way to pay the bills, and this day in age that usually takes two incomes or lots of overtime.

 

My brother went the civilian A&P route. He was told that his chances of making it as a pilot were slim, so he decided to be a mechanic. Now he wants to learn to fly but does not have enough money or time. I also have met several other A&Ps who tried doing both but wound up getting stuck as mechs and eventually they just gave up trying to be pilots because they reached a point in their mechanic careers that taking a flying job would be a severe paycut they were not willing to take. I certainly will have to take a major paycut when I take my first full time flying job. Half my paycheck for the last 3 years has gone into saving money and paying off all my flight training debt so that I can AFFORD to take the inevitable pay cut. Lucky for me my wife works too so we can still make ends meet. If I was the sole supporter of the family, my dreams of being a pilot would be squashed.

 

What can I say, we all have our different perspectives. The OP said he wants to be a pilot. I was just putting in my two bits and you guys seem to be trying to make me look like I don't know what I'm talking about. It's easy to tell someone to "go do both". I'm just saying that can be difficult logistically.

 

I do apologize for the tone of my original comment that started this debate. Fell into the bear-trap combo of bad day+keyboard. P;us I was on my iPhone at work during a moment of downtime so I didn't have time to say what I really meant. Should have just kept my mouth shut until later. I didn't mean to undermine the importance of having an A&P to supplement your pilots ratings. I really just wanted the OP to focus on flying first. I really honestly do appreciate all the opinions. It makes me feel somewhat more positive about what my future career may have in store for me. Maybe I had lost sight of that a bit.

 

This is my last post on the matter as I really don't want to discuss it any more. :wacko:

 

My apologies to CO423 for inadvertantly hijacking his thread. I wish you the best of luck in your career young Sir!

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Awesome replies. Well I be hang in out around my flight times and before and after ground school more often. I am the quiet type for the most part and mind my own business, but sure like to be available when good/free knowledge/ experience is available.

 

nightsta1ker you did not jack my thread. I am not planning on joining an A&P program, I am really sick of grease and brake cleaner as a job, hints one of the reasons I am so motivated to be a professional pilot. I am worn out working around a shop, although I will always keep the option open to join an A&P program if I can ever fund it. Right now I am really focussing on flying and ground school, that is my goal. I do not have the time, thought, or funds to support the A&P program.

 

It's good to have opinion I have enjoyed reading everything.

Good day

ZAM

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What does it take to be looked upon as a great pilot in the career industry?

 

In my opinion,

 

Being I too contributed to the thread hijack, I’ll make an honest effort to answer this question…

 

It’s has been pointed out already, that there is no such thing as a “great pilot”. However, there are “great pilot” qualities which tends to separate one pilot from the next. These qualities go above and beyond the basic pilot standard which we all have as professional pilots (good stick, good CRM, understands ADM, etc, etc, etc). Here is what I consider “great pilot” qualities.

 

Great pilots:

 

• Are knowledgeable; what is written in the books only provides a fraction of what can be learned in this business. This business can generate a learning moment almost every single day. Soak-up this information when it presents itself and put it into good use. Plus, always share your knowledge with others and never use your knowledge as power over others.

 

• Are always learning; when you believe you know it all, fate usually kicks in and bit*h slaps you back to reality. Great pilots aren't that guy.

 

• Are humble; no matter the career choice, being able to do what you love to do for a living is a blessing. If you treat it as just another job or a burden, you insult those who are waiting in line to take your place. And, let’s face it; helicopter pilots are a dime-a-dozen and anyone can fill your spot at a moment’s notice. Appreciate that!

 

• Have superior judgment; this comes with experience over time. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Most importantly, acknowledge your mistakes and don’t be too quick to pass judgment on others.

 

• Give good cockpit; a negative attitude in the seat provides a negative experience for everyone else in the cabin. Usually, cabin occupants are the customer or, have a direct connection to the customer. Good cockpit can lead to more business.

 

• Have a “can do” attitude; the phrase “get-er-done” or “make-it-happen” is sometimes viewed as a dangerous quality in a pilot. However, being knowledgeable and having good judgment can generate opportunities which others can’t see or, won’t see.

 

• Understand what safe is; as words, safe and unsafe can be subjective terms and often used as weapons. It’s not rocket science and you know what it is (or isn’t) when you see it, or experience it.

 

• Don’t live in fear of what could happen; a kazillion things could happen at any given moment but knowing what’s probably going to happen next is the closest thing to reality. Live in reality based on calculation and not in the “what if” fantasy world.

 

• Give a sh*t; from how they present themselves to others to the cleanliness of their machine, to the shine on their boots, to the angle of bank with a blue hair on board, great pilots give a sh*t.

 

• Make an attempt to be prefect; nobody is prefect but if you strive for mediocrity, then expect less than perfection.

 

Walk the walk; they simply avoid the talk...

 

As a student pilot, you should concentrate at the task at hand and that is, learning… Try not to get too far ahead of yourself as it can be detrimental to your learning. Over time, you can develop as an aviator by mimicking those in the business who you admire and trust. After that, life is cake……..

 

And no, I'm a far cry from being a great pilot....

Edited by Spike
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thanks spike that's exactly the response that I wanted to read. I really appreciate it!

I am thinking on a specific topic to reflect on, but it all seems like great advice.

thank you

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