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Does anyone have any information on the following: How does the process breakdown for learning to fly different types of helicopters? If you start in a trainer (R22/R44/S300CBi/etc.), how does the progression work for larger and/or more complicated aircraft (turbines, etc.)? Is this done through formal training (schools, etc.) or OJT from an employer? Is this based on how many hours you have accumulated? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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Here is how it typically works. You start out in small pistons. You get your ratings throught CFII and try and get a job instructing. You instruct until you have (typically) 1500 hours of flight time or so. Then you start applying for jobs with turbine operators. You have several choices of companies/careers that will take a 1500 hour piston pilot and transition them to turbine. The tour industry takes a few candidates every year (Alaska, Hawaii, Grand Canyon, and a few other places have large companies that pick up a handful of newer pilots every season). You may also apply for a job in the GOM. I have known several pilots that have gotten picked up down there and gotten turbine transitions. There are other options as well, like flying in the South Pacific off of Tuna boats. I know a few guys that have built a couple hundred hours of turbine a season out there, if you can stomach living on a boat for a year. Don't forget the military. If you make the cut to be a pilot, you will start out in small turbines and work your way into BIG turbines pretty quickly. Getting a job when you get out should be pretty easy. I know former CW2's that got out with less than 1000 TT and got jobs in EMS and LE or with power companies.

 

These are not the only ways into the industry, but they are the most common. From there, your opportunities and choices can be pretty diverse. As I have said before, ask 10 successful helicopter pilots how they got to where they are and they will all tell you a different story.

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For the civilian route you can learn in either the R22/R44/S300 depending on the school you pick, and how much you weigh. A good way to go could be;

 

PPL - R22

Instrument - S300

Com - R22, (perhaps some cheap time-building in the R44 to get the 25hrs needed to teach in it)

CFI - R22 (to get the CFI endorsement)

CFII - S300 (or the R44 to get the CFI endorsement)

 

After reaching 1000-2000hrs you can get company paid training to fly a Jet Ranger/Astar/Ecostar, etc. Then if you want to get into twins you can move into an SIC position in the GOM.

 

The only training you should have to pay for is PPL-CFII, everything else should be paid for by your new employer.

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