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Hello,

I’m looking into heli training and was wondering if anyone has anything to say about these schools. I’ve seen some older post about them but was looking for something more recent. How important is it to train in the mountains? Much appreciative on any advice. I’m very new to this word and really just wont to make the best informed choice on this investment.

  1. Quantum Helicopters (AZ)
  2. Silverhawk aviation (ID)
  3. Red Eagle helicopters (MT)
  4. Montana Aero Inc
  5. Colorado Heli Ops

Any other recommendations?, I'm wanting to stay west of Texas if possible.

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Are you looking for a 141 school because you are planning on using the GI bill to help pay for it?

 

1. Never heard of Quantum, it looks like you'll get mountainous time there but not high altitude time since they're in Arizona. They fly the R22 and R44. Seems like an OK school, They offer a turbine transition in the R66 which is funny (do a search in the forums to read what people think about turbine transitions, most of us agree it's a crock and nobody should ever pay for it.) It would be a good idea to find out how many of their students get hired on by the school once they graduate. If they don't hire their students on, be very careful, you don't want to be job hunting with 200 hours of experience in this economy.

 

2. I've visited Silverhawk in Caldwell ID on several occasions and they're always really nice, they have clean offices and conduct themselves professionally and fly the R22 and the R44. It seems like they have a good size fleet and you won't have to wait for flights. Cons: They accept the GI bill and have a good graduation rate, the result is you may have to wait a long time for a job as a CFI or they may not offer you one at all. Do your research talk with the school or former students and ask them to be honest and tell you what chances you have at becoming an instructor at their school when you're done and if so how long you may have to wait.

 

3. Montana is a beautiful state to fly in and visit, Red Eagle flys the Schweizer which provides a bit more power at higher altitude but reduces your chances of getting a teaching job since there are more Robinson schools out there. Not a bad bird but career-wise not the best choice (read #5 below)

 

4. I don't think Montana Aero is a flight school for new pilots it looks like their training is more for the established pilot looking to add on long-line skills firefighting and stuff like that. I may be wrong however.

 

5. Colorado HeliOps won an award for their training method of using senario based training. So it seems legit, however the thing most concerning is that they use the Schweizer 300 and the R44. This isn't an arguement over which helicopter is better, this is an issue regarding your ability to get a job as an instructor once you're done with school. Approxamatly 70% of schools teach using Robinson Helicopters. Getting your flight training in a combination of these will hurt your ability to move on in the industry as an instructor (unless they hire all of their graduates back, then there's no problem). All the flight schools that fly Robbies won't want to hire you because of no R22 time, and you can get a job at a Schweizer school but you conned yourself out of a large chunk of the job market.

 

 

So after researching these and including my own recomendations I would encourage you to call all of these flight schools and find out your chances of getting on as an instructor when you graduate. If the chances are slim or none, find a different flight school. Find out how many students they have and get a feel of how busy you'll be once you become an instructor there. If there's only 6 students and 4 instructors, it may take you 10 years to get up high enough in hours to move on. Or find out if the schools have commercial work such as tours and sightseeing flights that the instructors get to do (or ask if they train their instructors as 135 that's FAA code for big-time commercial work like major tours or delivering passengers and cargo). These could change how fast you get your flight time and how many days you have to eat Ramen Noodles. If you have any other questions feel free to message me.

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In the area you covered with the schools you listed, you skipped a bunch of other options. As stated before, check out as many schools as you can to find the right fit. Of the schools you listed, the only one I have visited was Colorado heli-ops, which I was a great experience. Dennis seems to genuinely care about not only his students but the industry as a whole.

 

It seems like you are looking for something in the mountains so you may check these schools out also.

 

Guidance

Utah Heli

Upper limit

Mountain Ridge

Universal Helicopters

 

And many more further north and further west, all the ones I listed with the exception of Guidance are within 2-3 hrs of each other in northern Utah. They are also all within minutes of the Wasatch mountains, point being you could visit a lot of schools in one trip. Consider all options and make your own decision, people are going to be biased. Search the forum and figure out the questions you should ask when interviewing a school.

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I would hardly consider Quantum to be in an area that you could consider mountainous... That part of AZ is pretty flat. That's not to say they couldn't fly to a mountainous area...

 

Guidance is in the mountains. Any cross country flight made ends up going through mountains. Also, the airport they operate out of is at 5000 ft. So summer time makes things interesting. We are often pulling JUST under max power just to hover in a 22. Makes power management that much more challenging. Universal Helicopters is on the same airport as Guidance so they receive the same "benefit".

 

Everything I hear tells me that while it might not be worth it to pick a school JUST for the high altitude and mountain training, it does help you with aircraft control in the long run. I've often heard "If you can fly smoothly up high, down low won't be a problem at all"

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"...the airport they operate out of is at 5000 ft. So summer time makes things interesting. We are often pulling JUST under max power just to hover in a 22. Makes power management that much more challenging. Universal Helicopters is on the same airport as Guidance so they receive the same "benefit"."

 

You don't need to be in the mountains for challenging power management, especially in these tiny trainers! I've had the throttle wide open plenty of times down around sea level in a 300, and even the 22, a lot of times, won't hover OGE for off airport landings without busting MAP limits on hot days with two (average sized Americans) on board.

 

The only reason I would ever choose a mountain school over sea level is if I thought I'd have a better shot at employment, otherwise, mountain training,...big whoop!

 

If I were you, I'd seriously consider training in Florida. There are a ton of schools there as well as R44 tour operations, so plenty of places to try and find work!

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"...the airport they operate out of is at 5000 ft. So summer time makes things interesting. We are often pulling JUST under max power just to hover in a 22. Makes power management that much more challenging. Universal Helicopters is on the same airport as Guidance so they receive the same "benefit"."

 

You don't need to be in the mountains for challenging power management, especially in these tiny trainers! I've had the throttle wide open plenty of times down around sea level in a 300, and even the 22, a lot of times, won't hover OGE for off airport landings without busting MAP limits on hot days with two (average sized Americans) on board.

 

The only reason I would ever choose a mountain school over sea level is if I thought I'd have a better shot at employment, otherwise, mountain training,...big whoop!

 

If I were you, I'd seriously consider training in Florida. There are a ton of schools there as well as R44 tour operations, so plenty of places to try and find work!

 

If there were plenty of places to try and find work anywhere then we wouldn't have nearly as many brand new CFI's moaning about how they can't get a job.

 

My advice: Pick an area that has a reasonable selection of entry level jobs (tours, schools), but is also someplace you want to live and work. You mentioned you would rather not move east of Texas. There are plenty of helicopter-centric parts of the country on the west coast. Keep in mind though, there is NEVER a job gaurantee. A big school gives you a better shot, but that's still not a gaurantee.

 

Wherever you wind up looking, make your priority QUALITY instruction. If you can find a school with a good rep that is up on current training techniques, like Scenario Based Training, that ALSO has a high CFI turnover rate, go for that. Call local operators in the area and ask where their pilots did their training, obviously those schools did a good job and helped make those pilots successful.

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Hello,

I'm looking into heli training and was wondering if anyone has anything to say about these schools. I've seen some older post about them but was looking for something more recent. How important is it to train in the mountains? Much appreciative on any advice. I'm very new to this word and really just wont to make the best informed choice on this investment.

  1. Quantum Helicopters (AZ)
  2. Silverhawk aviation (ID)
  3. Red Eagle helicopters (MT)
  4. Montana Aero Inc
  5. Colorado Heli Ops

Any other recommendations?, I'm wanting to stay west of Texas if possible.

 

I suggest you do a lot more research and try to resist asking about particular flight schools. The reason for this is; you never really know who is answering the question, positive or negatively. Furthermore, your success will be directly proportional to your research. Therefore, you'll need to talk to people prior to making the decision where to train. "Talk" meaning verbal communication, not email or PM-ing.

 

The internet can provide some good information. However, it can also provide really bad information and with the amount of money you're going to invest, it shouldn't be left up to chance.

 

Take your time and do your research, in earnest.

Edited by Spike
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"...the airport they operate out of is at 5000 ft. So summer time makes things interesting. We are often pulling JUST under max power just to hover in a 22. Makes power management that much more challenging. Universal Helicopters is on the same airport as Guidance so they receive the same "benefit"."

 

You don't need to be in the mountains for challenging power management, especially in these tiny trainers! I've had the throttle wide open plenty of times down around sea level in a 300, and even the 22, a lot of times, won't hover OGE for off airport landings without busting MAP limits on hot days with two (average sized Americans) on board.

 

The only reason I would ever choose a mountain school over sea level is if I thought I'd have a better shot at employment, otherwise, mountain training,...big whoop!

 

 

That's fair, but I meant IGE hover. I do agree with the mountain training thing though. It definitely should not be something that will influence the decision making process. If it's at the school you choose, awesome, if not, no biggie.

 

What exactly does everyone consider a high turnover rate for CFIs? If the school maintains a CFI staff of 25, how many of those should be leaving every 6 months?

 

I also agree with what Spike said. It's easy to find two people who had very different experiences at the same school. No telling which one you'll be talking to.

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If you can find a school with a good rep that is up on current training techniques, like Scenario Based Training, that ALSO has a high CFI turnover rate, go for that. Call local operators in the area and ask where their pilots did their training, obviously those schools did a good job and helped make those pilots successful.

 

You raised a good point there Nightsta1ker with the scenario based training. Can you tell me what the difference between FITS and general scenario based training are? Is one just the FAA approved version?

I can see Colorado Heli-ops use scenario based training and north andover have implemented FITS.

 

Has anyone completed a scenerio based / FITS Approved training course?

If so what are your views/opinions?

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an old post on scenario based training I spotted:

 

http://helicopterforum.verticalreference.com/topic/13758-scenario-based-training/

 

It sounds to be a tremendous approach to training and I can only think it will turn out pilots who are more prepared to cope with the next steps in their career. Not to mention far more enjoyable whilst training.

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Pie,

 

Here is a link to FITS info http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/fits/

 

For a clear description of the FITS SBT Methodology go here

 

http://www.modernflighttraining.com/an-intro-to-fits-sbt-methodology/

 

E-mail me if you need more info

 

Mike

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What exactly does everyone consider a high turnover rate for CFIs? If the school maintains a CFI staff of 25, how many of those should be leaving every 6 months?

 

Well lets look at a typical school. 4 or 5 helicopters, maybe 5-10 instructors including the chief pilot. Some of those guys are going to stay just because they like teaching. Probably the chief pilot and their right hand man/woman. The rest want to move on at some point. When you consider the fact that most students that start don't finish their first rating, and those that do usually stop there, the number of pilots that go all the way through the program and finish with their CFII are probably only produced once or twice a year, if that. If you have a turn over rate of one CFI a year, which in my experience is not unreasonable to see, and you are one of two pilots that got their CFII that year, you have a 50% chance of getting hired. If you were the only one to finish that year, I would say you have a 100% chance. Larger schools are going to have a larger turnover.

 

This is a highly simplified scenario and there is a lot more that can play into it, but that's the kind of thing I have seen.

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That's fair, but I meant IGE hover. I do agree with the mountain training thing though. It definitely should not be something that will influence the decision making process. If it's at the school you choose, awesome, if not, no biggie.

 

You can barely hover IGE in a 22!,...that sucks! I suppose that means that you couldn't hover OGE at all? Well, I can see how this situation would make you a little smoother on the controls, but it sure does take the fun out of flying a helicopter!

 

I love to hover! :)

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You can barely hover IGE in a 22!,...that sucks! I suppose that means that you couldn't hover OGE at all? Well, I can see how this situation would make you a little smoother on the controls, but it sure does take the fun out of flying a helicopter!

 

I love to hover! :)

 

Yea, things can get interesting in a hurry if you're not on top of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Approxamatly 70% of schools teach using Robinson Helicopters. Getting your flight training in a combination of these will hurt your ability to move on in the industry as an instructor (unless they hire all of their graduates back, then there's no problem). All the flight schools that fly Robbies won't want to hire you because of no R22 time, and you can get a job at a Schweizer school but you conned yourself out of a large chunk of the job market.

 

A better combination would be a school that operates both Schweizers and R22s. And an R44 would make the combination even better. That way you could be qualified at about 98% of the schools out there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Since it hasn't been mentioned... Quantum currently has a foreign contract and is training a lot of Asians so their cfi's should be logging a steady amount of hours... Will the contract still be in effect when your ready to instruct is an unknown, but it does provide the current instructors with the ability to build the hours to move up...

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If you're thinking about training in California you might want to check out Specialized Helicopters, located in the Monterey/Santa Cruz bay area. They have a good web site you can check out to find out more about them. It's rare that you're not able to fly (year round) due to weather, unlike the Rocky Mountain States or even Arizona (due to heat, i.e., high density altitude).

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The only school that will guarantee you a job is my school. We fly R22's and R44's because that is where most of the entry level jobs are as operators such as myself want the reliability and thrift on our contracts. We are nationwide, have free housing in Florida and are 141 in our Hollywood, Florida location which is 20 miles from Miami to the South and 20 miles to Fort Lauderdale to the North. I don't know why you would want mountain time as what most everyone really wants is a guaranteed job and there are very few jobs in the mountains but a lot at sea level taking pictures of boats with my company. As we do three times as much photo work as primary training it is easy for us to give everyone a first job.

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The only school that will guarantee you a job is my school.

 

Are you saying you will guarantee a job to the following individuals?

 

A convicted felon?

A person who is a sex offender?

A drug addict?

An alcoholic?

What about a terrorist?

Someone who is suicidal?

Someone who has a fear of flying over water?

 

And yes, most of the above can get medicals and, can have access to large amounts of cash.

 

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Are you saying you will guarantee a job to the following individuals?

 

A convicted felon?

A person who is a sex offender?

A drug addict?

An alcoholic?

What about a terrorist?

Someone who is suicidal?

Someone who has a fear of flying over water?

 

And yes, most of the above can get medicals and, can have access to large amounts of cash.

 

You forgot;

 

A pilot with more than 300hrs who just gets their commercial rating with them (no cfi)!

 

Why does the pilot need to be a cfi to do photo flights? Because the "professional photographer" taking those pictures is really just another desperate time building pilot, and the only way they can both log PIC time, is for one to be a cfi!,...no matter how A-moral it is to log PIC time while taking pictures!,...not to bring "fudge" to this thread.

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