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Are Flight Schools Doing Their Job


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Are Flight Schools Doing Their Job  

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  1. 1. Are schools doing a good job educating clients about life after training?

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    • Yes
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    • Not sure
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All,

 

For the sake of conversation, I am sharing an email that I received on the 4th of July. The email is from a gent who has already committed to helicopter training and has even chosen the school. In an effort to do more research on what lies ahead after training, he reached out to me with a couple questions.

 

EMAIL START

To whom it may concern,

I was hoping you could advise me on an unusual recruitment enquiry? In the next year, I’ll be completing the necessary PPL and CPL Helicopter Pilot courses, and then further appropriate specialist courses such as Instrument Rating, night flying, and flying the Euro copter or Bell.

 

I’m very eager to get my first shot in the Oil & Gas Sector as a Helicopter Pilot. I’m knowledgeable to the fact that once qualified, I’ll have little experience, and the industry tends to take preference towards experienced pilots. I’m highly motivated, and have a do whatever it takes attitude with regards to achieving my goals. Once qualified, I would be more than willing to volunteer my services as a co-pilot for 12 months in order to accumulate the necessary number of hours to become experienced. I’m highly mobile, and once qualified, I’d be willing to move to any geographic region.

 

I appreciate that a number of factors can change circumstances in the oil & gas sector in 12 – 24 months. My main enquiry is, once qualified, is there any likelihood that any aviation group in the North Sea or off West Africa, or in the Middle East, would take me on for 12 months as a volunteer co-pilot?

 

I look forwards to hearing from you at your convenience.

 

Kind regards,

name removed

EMAIL END

 

MY OBSERVATION

 

First, I do not begrudge the gent for his aspirations, creative thinking, and questions. Like many, he is not "in the know". Having said that, I am struck by the lack of knowledge about the industry in general, from people who are committing large sums of money to helicopter training. Especially in the wake of the SSH fallout in 2008. That was my primary reason for starting HeliSuccess and writing Ebooks on getting into the industry.

 

Hey flight schools......you have an obligation to educate your clients on what life will be like, and what career paths are likely for a client fresh out of helicopter pilot training. If you are not giving full disclosure, shame on you!

 

Your Thoughts?

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I am interested in seeing how this thread goes. I have found a few that I truely feel are upfront and honest. That honesty can slap a prospective student in the face, but I would much rather honesty than sugar coating.

 

Lyn, I agree that schools should be giving full disclosure. However, I also think it is irresponsible for a student to jump into an investment like this without doing some research on their own as well. Maybe I am biased because of my situation and due to the fact that I have been researching this for two years.

 

EDIT: need a button for "some"

Edited by gary-mike
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I agree that most flight schools seem to be upfront, however I do know some that do purposly sugar-coat the lifestyle and job market to get those students in the door. On the flip side, what do most CFIs know about the actual industry. I can come on here and ask questions, I can speculate about job postings, hour requirements and what the job entails, but at the end of the day the typical CFI doesn't really have any more information that anyone else who hasn't done the job. All we can do is look at the jobs being posted, give a few facts about what we know about the job and guess if these job postings mean the industry is coming around or still in the gutter.

I don't think most flight schools go out of their way to lie to a student, but I do believe that due to the lack of firsthand knowledge it's difficult to give a potential student or new student pilot an actual description of what will happen after they complete school or after they've put in their time as a CFI.

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My flight school is well aware of the reality and promotes no delusions to myself and any other student that comes through their door. I'm sure there are schools or individual instructors out there that sugar coat the status-quo.

 

With that said, I knew before even going to my school what the reality was because I did as much research on training requirements and industry norms, and asked questions here first, before taking my first demo flight.

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I agree with the posts so far. Any school or instructor that I personally know of will tell a person what to expect, if that person asks. Even if they don't, this information will be discussed eventually.

 

If a person comes to a school and says they want to get their commercial, the school will most likely say "sure thing, when do you want to start?".

 

Which should be shortly followed by some questions about goals.

 

To me, it sounds like this person is in the very beginning of asking questions. As in, perhaps this person has "decided" to get the ratings, but might have not actually talked serious with a school yet.

 

If this person is already training and the school has not talked about the realities of what to expect, then there are problems.

 

Edit: this statement "In the next year, I’ll be completing the necessary PPL and CPL Helicopter Pilot courses, and then further appropriate specialist courses such as Instrument Rating, night flying, and flying the Euro copter or Bell." leads me to believe this person has not (if in the US) been to a school because there is no night rating, and many schools will do instrument/commercial at the same time.

Edited by Pohi
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The owner of the school I attended was completely upfront with myself and other prospective students about how much money was involved all the way down to their dress (tattoos, earrings etc.) and job prospects working your way up from the bottom.

 

As for myself, I was also upfront with my students. Eager to answer any questions they had about what was to come but completely SHOCKED at their utter lack of knowledge and apparent disregard for what they were getting themselves into both financially and career wise. It's like they walk in with a checkbook and an idea that the want to be a helicopter pilot but know absolutely nothing about it.

 

I knew exactly what I was in for, from the dollars involved, to relocating to be a CFI, to what I wanted to do for my next career step after CFI, who the operators were, who I wanted to work for and who I didn't.

 

How about a little accountability on the part of the student?

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I totally agree with TXFirefly. I did tons of research prior to ever calling up a school, so that when I did call I knew if they were being honest with me and also so there were no surprises. I am often shocked at people that will call, walk in or even do an introductory flight, and have absolutely no clue about the training, cost, or industry. I even once had someone call and ask if once they could get their commercial rating in a few months and then go out and get a job with the local HEMS company.

 

I and most schools/instructors I know are very honest about how the training works and what the industry is like. The real problem seems to be the people who decide to become a helicopter pilot and because they've done absolutely no research, think that you go down to the local flight school with a few thousand dollars and in a couple months your out there collecting a good paycheck.

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I have lost many prospective customers because I "talked them out of it", while trying to inform them of the realities of the industry. It sucks for business, but I would rather them live happily ever after knowing it's not for them than spending tens of thousands of dollars and going nowhere, just so I can build some hours and bring in some revenue. I certainly was not informed when I started my training, then again, I didn't really ask...

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I tell any student pilot in training to make note of every low time job you see advertised. At some point those jobs will be open again, and you will have at least a starting point in you search for a job after you complete flight school. Most all never take the advise. Must be to hard to keep a folder with names addresses phone numbers. I been flying down for 38 years both airplanes and helicopter. I learned the hard way.

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They are flight schools. Not job schools. Not everyone who wants to fly a helicopter wants to do it for a living, or as their profession. It's just like almost any higher education institution to include votech. They educate you, not necessarily make you employable. Some welders learn to weld to build sculptures for aesthetic purposes, at least initially.

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I teach a fixed wing Private Pilot ground school about 2x's per year. In the course, one of the first things I talk about is why are people taking the course. In the classes, there are about 25 people. Many people are in the course think that Private+Instrument+Commercial= Decent paying job.

 

Sadly, I have crushed a couple middle aged desires for an exciting career change. Sadly, they waited to late in life to realize they wanted to fly for a living. On 2 separate occasions, I have refunded the money of people who were not aware of how life really worked and left with their heads down for the slow walk back to their cars. They were nice about it, "Hey, man, I was wondering if I could get a refund. I thought once you got your commercial you could get job with the airlines?" Me: "No, not really."

 

In my experience, schools arent dishonest. But if you dont ask, they arent going to offer up the reality.

Edited by Flying Pig
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While I believe flight schools are providing the service for which students pay for, it would appear some, if not most schools don’t understand what it takes to succeed beyond the training sector. Thus, the conundrum. A better question may be; is it their responsibility to do so? Sadly, I’d say no. However, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t….

 

You don’t need to go far to see the disparity. This forum is loaded with questions from prospective students who seem to be misinformed. While the internet can be a magnificent tool for research, at the entry level of this business, it is also an avenue for misdirection and confusion. Consequently, the inspiring student looks for security elsewhere and unfortunately, that “security” can be more concerned about profit….

 

While mentorship is great, most pilots won’t experience true mentorship beyond entry level. That is, beyond the CFI level. This is why *some* of us come here. We come here understanding this information gap and attempt to bridge this gap based upon our experience. After that, listening and believing seems to be the problem. Otherwise, things such as the SSH debacle may have never happened. That, and running take-offs……..

 

Fortunately for me, the school I attended not only prepared me for the “real world”, they didn’t BS me or provide any illusions. Maybe… That’s maybe, why I’m here today and 500ish VR posts and 273 JHAF posts later…..

 

Simply put, there is an obvious breach between the training sector and commercial sector and maybe that’s the way the industry wants it to be. If not, the answer is simple……

Edited by Spike
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It's funny how I just replied minutes ago to the R 66 ferry flight, then I see this. Thats the kind of crap that needs to stop. Just my two cents....thats all I have to my name after discovering helicopters dammit !!!

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I would agree most schools don't do a good job projecting the real industry. Business is business but what about ethics? There are honest people in this world/industry, which seem to be hard to come by but they are out there and my hat goes off to those that are doing the right things for this industry.

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Greetings,

 

Long time lurker, first time poster.

 

While I have no experience with civilian helicopter training (I'm military-trained), I don't think this scenario is any different than a student attending a college or university and studying for a degree in a given field. The student has an obligation to research his or her desired profession prior to investing a large sum of money in the required education. The University of Wherever is under no obligation to provide a job to a graduate (unless they specifically guarantee job placement) - the school is only obligated to provide the education for which the student is paying. There is no shortage of students who have dropped out of college, changed majors, or even graduated, only to pursue a different field than that for which they initially enrolled. It sounds to me like our profession is no different.

 

That said, hopefully the faculty of the college/university...or the instructors at the flight school...are professional enough to provide guidance and mentorship about the realities of Junior's field as they educate him.

 

If they fail to do this, perhaps Junior needs to take his money elsewhere.

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It's funny how I just replied minutes ago to the R 66 ferry flight, then I see this. Thats the kind of crap that needs to stop. Just my two cents....thats all I have to my name after discovering helicopters dammit !!!

 

Just read the post and totally agree.

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The job of a flight school is to create pilots,...that's it! If you don't do your own research on how the job market is, then you have no one to blame but yourself if you cannot find a job!

 

Flight schools are no different from any other trade school (trucking, mechanic, cooking, etc...), or used car salesmen for that matter! They're trying to sell you a product, its up to you if you want to believe their sales pitch!

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Ok first, did anyone click the link to that R66 school's website? English does not seem to be a first language for the web designer? Curious.

 

Second, I have definitely crushed more than a few pipe dreams along the way. It's frustrating and sad to explain to people that buying a CPL doesn't buy you a hotshot, hollywood, helicopter pilot job. I trained and taught in the NW where the CP will be the first to deliver reality to anyone who walks in the door, he's been watching it for 20yrs. I showed up with more than what I would consider the basic familiarity with the civilian helicopter industry and he still tried to talk me out of it over 5 years ago. No fancy office, no flashing signs, not even any real advertising just word of mouth. You had to WANT to be there to even find the place, lol, and REALLY want to be there to go back :lol: !! People who truly seek this career and all it entails are not just wooed by a glamorous image and will not be dissuaded by brutal honesty. I think it's a testament to that school culture that I had all incredible, motivated, dedicated, prepared students who are now all working CFIs themselves both there and around the country. The rest apparently didn't like the answers to their initial questions and just never came back :blink:. I enjoyed my full-time teaching experience so much that I have occasionally returned on my weeks off to help out when there is a need. To answer the original topic, I can't speak to what other flight schools are saying and I agree that due diligence is the primary responsibility of the consumer, but honesty (integrity) has not hurt business where I was one little bit. Business there has about tripled in the last 3 years.

 

I've definitely had plenty of opportunities to call him up and say "you told me so!" :P

 

HG03

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I tell any student pilot in training to make note of every low time job you see advertised. At some point those jobs will be open again, and you will have at least a starting point in you search for a job after you complete flight school. Most all never take the advise. Must be to hard to keep a folder with names addresses phone numbers. I been flying down for 38 years both airplanes and helicopter. I learned the hard way.

 

I've done that. The problem is I didn't really need a folder, they all fit on one index card! Low time pilot jobs are almost never advertised, and pretty much always word of mouth,...know someone who knows someone who knows someone, at the right time, and at the right place!

 

That's not what the school said, no! They said there was a shortage of pilots, and named several jobs I could be doing right out of training! I learned the hard way, that a fool and his money are soon parted!

 

Schools are definitely doing their job,...telling you exactly what you want to hear!

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I've done that. The problem is I didn't really need a folder, they all fit on one index card! Low time pilot jobs are almost never advertised, and pretty much always word of mouth,...know someone who knows someone who knows someone, at the right time, and at the right place!

 

That's not what the school said, no! They said there was a shortage of pilots, and named several jobs I could be doing right out of training! I learned the hard way, that a fool and his money are soon parted!

 

Schools are definitely doing their job,...telling you exactly what you want to hear!

 

Not all schools. One of the first things I do when I meet with a student is have "the talk", and it usually goes something like this:

 

"So, why helicopters? ... Uh huh... And what makes you think this is for you? ... Uh huh ... Have you really considered the cost of training? ... Uh huh... And what kind of work do you expect to be doing when you get done with all this expensive training? ... Uh huh... Ok... well, let me tell you how it's probably going to turn out.... First, you are going to spend all this money. The training is not all glamour and action, there is a TON of book work and study involved as well as multiple tests you will have to take. Then, when you get done with all this challenging training (which for the cost and the time it will take you, you could have gotten at least an AS degree in something), you had better hope that we need a new flight instructor or you very well might be sitting around letting your license mold to the curve of your derriere! Now... don't get me wrong, there are ways to make it happen for you, but it's not always going to be easy, it's definitely not going to pay well, and you are going to break the bank taking the chance."

 

After this little spiel, or one like it, most people go for their intro flight, pay their $150 and never come back. A few are crazy enough to stay, and we have to make our ends meet off of the few that stick it out. My goal, at that point, is to do everything in my power to create a pilot that is capable of passing that first flight interview. The rest is up to them.

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