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Help me build a list of other little known helicopter tour companies


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Many times I hear from student pilots and low time CFIs that they're going to get their "magic 1000" and go to Papillon or Sundance. I get the impression that many CFIs think that there on only 2 major tour companies out there. There are tours to be flown all over the US.

It's easy to see large tour companies in places like Vegas as "safe bets" but there's nothing shady or wrong by instead choosing to do tours elsewhere. I'm hoping this topic can be a place where knowledgeable pilots who know of good “not as well known” tour companies out where a green commercial pilot could consider going.

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If you're refering to tour companies that will hire a 1000hr pilot with no turbine experience, the only other one I know of is Tempsco in Alaska!

 

If you want to talk about R44 tour companies (who don't also offer flight instruction), then I'm sure there's a pretty desent sized list out there?,...somewhere?

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Classic Helicopters/Seattle Helitours operates 2 R44s and a B206 doing tours around Seattle. The chief pilot is also a DPE and can be a little tough on the pilots but I view that as a good thing. Not a horrible place to start. They would probably hire a 300 hour CFII with RHC Safety Course and you can work your way into a tour slot. You need 500 hours to fly tours in the R44. I will probably get a job there once I get my II (unless my current position expands to full time, which it may...).

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I talked to a low time guy in the Chattanooga area who "said" he was getting 100 hours/mo in JetRangers, and LongRangers, but very low pay. Just repeating what I was told, take it with a grain of salt. He didn't mention the name of the operation.

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I talked to a low time guy in the Chattanooga area who "said" he was getting 100 hours/mo in JetRangers, and LongRangers, but very low pay. Just repeating what I was told, take it with a grain of salt. He didn't mention the name of the operation.

 

No mystery, sounds like Smoky Mtn out of Sevierville. They fly 206/206L and will hire at 135 mins if you have the Bell factory course, last I heard, which was 5+yrs ago so YMMV. There are also a couple 135 ops in Branson, Missouri that fly r44s and will hire at 135 mins with not much else. Pay is brutal and they're 24-7-365 gigs but that's no different than your average CFI job. One is Chopper Charter and the other I think is a branch of Adventure Heli out of Cali. There's a mining operation in Kentucky that periodically hires an r44 pilot, I forget the name. I know of a few places in TX that chase/shoot hogs on the side of CFI work, another r44 tour gig in Myrtle Beach that is seasonal, same on the Outer Banks, NC and if I'm not mistaken Virginia Beach. Two in Seattle, one in Seaside, OR, and several on the California coast including, of course, several in LA alone. All around FL, not just that one that constantly advertises whose name I don't remember anyway, lol, and a couple in Louisiana even. One guy I know flew tours in St. Louis to/from a barge on the Mississippi. These are just the ones that I can remember off the top of my head while sitting here and I only live and fly on the West Coast. Practically anyone with an R44 can give pt91/119 tours. They're out there, you have to talk, dig, and travel. Don't spend your $$ on extra stuff that won't matter if you never get past 200hrs. Spend it networking (HAI, HeliSuccess, etc) and traveling to see what's out there. Most jobs are filled before the ad ever makes it to the internet (if it even does at all). The best way I've seen is to practice patience and make your own niche, it's not going to happen overnight anyway. Remember the turtle and the hare.

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Since Em mentioned LA tour operators I can chime in! Adventure flies an R44 Clipper, Elite has an R44, LiteFite an R44, Group 3 an R44, LAH, Star, JJ, and one more out of BUR. So just in LA alone I know of 8 R44's currently doing tours....and there's a couple more east of us that fly in. Oh yeah, Orbic has a 44 and a 66 doing tours as well.

 

Adventure used to have the Branson operation. They closed it last year after many years working it. They also have an operation in Vegas (Las Vegas Helicopters) and I have a buddy flying at Elite Helicopters-Vegas.

 

Like she said, there are R44 tour operators everywhere! Get your time in a 22, beg, borrow and ride along time in an R44 and then go network. You won't find a job....the job will find you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just one I spotted today:

 

Old City Helicopters, St Augustine, FL

 

Their ad is asking for 200 hrs Rotorcraft and 20 hours PIC to fly tours in the R44.

No mention about the salary but sounds like a nice starter gig.

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Just one I spotted today:

 

Old City Helicopters, St Augustine, FL

 

Their ad is asking for 200 hrs Rotorcraft and 20 hours PIC to fly tours in the R44.

No mention about the salary but sounds like a nice starter gig.

 

Yeah, they post two or three times a year, odd considering they only want 200hrs! Smells a little fishy if you ask me?

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Who is it that makes laps back and forth to Catalina? I think it's an Astar

 

I flew with a guy once that did that, his name was Matt,...but you're probably looking for a company name. :D

 

Anyone know who does those rides from a casino parking lot on the road to Hoover Dam?

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No mystery, sounds like Smoky Mtn out of Sevierville. They fly 206/206L and will hire at 135 mins if you have the Bell factory course, last I heard, which was 5+yrs ago so YMMV. There are also a couple 135 ops in Branson, Missouri that fly r44s and will hire at 135 mins with not much else. Pay is brutal and they're 24-7-365 gigs but that's no different than your average CFI job. One is Chopper Charter and the other I think is a branch of Adventure Heli out of Cali. There's a mining operation in Kentucky that periodically hires an r44 pilot, I forget the name. I know of a few places in TX that chase/shoot hogs on the side of CFI work, another r44 tour gig in Myrtle Beach that is seasonal, same on the Outer Banks, NC and if I'm not mistaken Virginia Beach. Two in Seattle, one in Seaside, OR, and several on the California coast including, of course, several in LA alone. All around FL, not just that one that constantly advertises whose name I don't remember anyway, lol, and a couple in Louisiana even. One guy I know flew tours in St. Louis to/from a barge on the Mississippi. These are just the ones that I can remember off the top of my head while sitting here and I only live and fly on the West Coast. Practically anyone with an R44 can give pt91/119 tours. They're out there, you have to talk, dig, and travel. Don't spend your $$ on extra stuff that won't matter if you never get past 200hrs. Spend it networking (HAI, HeliSuccess, etc) and traveling to see what's out there. Most jobs are filled before the ad ever makes it to the internet (if it even does at all). The best way I've seen is to practice patience and make your own niche, it's not going to happen overnight anyway. Remember the turtle and the hare.

 

Dang you named all the one's I would have named and then some. Smokey mt in Sevierville, TN does require bell factory course. They fly Longrangers. They also have an operation flying 1 Jetranger on the NC side of the Smokies. They typically get pilots from the local flight school Sevier County Choppers who also do tours in 44's. Their bread and butter is MX with a litte flight training and tours in the mix. There's also the competition up the road, Scenic Helicopters. They fly a couple jetrangers and r44. It's like a mini vegas without the casinos. All 3 of those places are with in 6 miles of each other. It's a great place to start out. Go to school at Sevier County and work ground crew at any of the tour places. The school is cheap but all the tours pay crap. It's just quick easy turbine time because they fly their azzes off during tour season.

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Yep, Rogers does the Dam Tours and Island Express does the Astars to Catalina.

 

Yepp it's called the "Dam Helicopter Company" (http://www.damhelicopterco.com/), which I always thought was cute. Flies 206's from the upper lot, and it is a part of Rogers Helicopters.

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