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Need Advice for Career Change


budcampo

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Hi All,

New to the Forum. I'm 27, own a construction business, and am a Marine Corps Veteran. I live 40 minutes away from College of the Sequoias Helicopter School in Paso Robles. My GI bill will cover the whole cost of the school.

Curious as to what all of you think of this school? I am curious how hard it is to land a job after finishing a school like this. From what I'm reading the next step is to hopefully land a job teaching to build my hours. But I'm curious how hard that is, and how long to get to the 1500-2000 flight hours mark that seems to be what is needed for a good job. With the first question aside, after I get the 1500-2000 hrs in, is it really possible or likely to land a job making $60k plus? I'm very concerned about actually making some money out of this within a few years after finishing school. I'm married and have a little boy, and am worried I'm going to be looking for a job for years?

 

Good career change idea??? I'm sick of construction....

Thanks so much in advance for your advice!!!

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I say go for it. You're only 27 and have training funded for you. Be forewarned the success rate after getting your CFI is approximately 25% and yes it will take several years to get enough hours to make $60K. If you really want to do it you can break in, but don't give up the construction thing. Is your wife willing to relocate anywhere?

 

Read back through the forum there is a lot of info and some strong opinions posted about your general question. I think almost anyone can become an employed helicopter pilot. However the majority do not make it. It involves a lot more work, dedication, sacrifice, and good timing (luck) than most realize starting out.

 

You have some advantages, but your family commitment may conflict. I'm glad I did it and feel it was worth the effort. Do your homework. There is no gaurantee, and it was a desperate situation as a low timer. Only you will know if the passion to fly is strong enough to carry you through.

 

Good luck

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Whistlerpilot made some excellent points, very well said. I agree 100% and will add my opinion. The reason there is such a low percentage of success is that most people have no idea how much work goes into the books when learning to fly. I had no idea I would have to study this much. My house has been turned into a helicopter study hall......white board in the living room, charts hanging on the kitchen walls, etc. I think a lot of people want to do it, until they realize how much work it is and how much time is sacrificed. Once they realize how much work it is, they jump ship. A lot of them also don't care to work hard because "they aren't paying for it". I think that the worst way to look at it. I see it as a gift that I don't intend to squander. I would never be able to do this if the VA wasn't footing the bill. I think you have a couple of advantages. You are young, and you are getting the training paid for (so am I). Another plus is that you were in the military. Assuming you have been deployed before and were with your wife, it can work out that if you have to take a job somewhere and not relocate the whole family, it is something you have done before. That's how my wife and I are treating it. If I get a job in the gulf or Alaska, my family will stay here and I will come home as often as I can. It's like a deployment, except no one is trying to kill me!

 

Good luck on your decision whichever way you go!

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Oh boy here we go again! For every working CFI to get past 1000 hours they will produce 5 new CFI's and then hopefully move on to another helicopter job. That then opens up a teaching job for one of those 5. Of course there are a few other avenues to getting hours and employment but teaching is the norm. That's why I threw out 25%

 

Nobody is actually keeping stats on all the low timers and how many make it, but unfortunately the reality is grim.

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You know, the sad fact about helicopters is that it isn't for everyone. A monkey can fly an airplane (I have airplane ratings as well so I'm not knocking it), but it takes some thinking to fly a helicopter. Some people just can't do it. But the fact of the matter is, if you are good at it, motivated, and patient, your school should hire you when a spot opens. Now that doesn't mean you'll get a job right after your CFII check ride but chances are they will want you. The truth is that not everyone is good at it, and deserves a CFI job.

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You know, the sad fact about helicopters is that it isn't for everyone. A monkey can fly an airplane (I have airplane ratings as well so I'm not knocking it), but it takes some thinking to fly a helicopter.

 

The monkey skills of flying are irrelevant: these are the most basic level of flying, and should become automatic after a time. The hardest part of learning this is paying for it.

 

Flying is about judgement. A lot of people get hurt or killed in fixed wing, just as in helicopters. Helicopter pilots are famous for talking up flying a helicopter, and talking down flying a fixed wing.

 

Fixed wing pilots are famous for making the mistake that a simple airplane is still an airplane, just as much as a complex one.

 

What's the difference between someone killed in a F18, vs. someone killed in a J3 cub? Not much. They're both dead. Same for someone who dies in a Jetranger. Dead.

 

Monkey skills of stick and rudder or pedals, cyclic, and collective, are basic. Judgement is something that can be suggested, but never really fully taught. It can only be learned.

 

I'm quite certain that I can run you through a ride in an airplane that will not only take your breath away but leave you questioning your statement. An aircraft is an aircraft, but what one does with it makes a world of difference, as does the aircraft itself. Flying in general isn't for everyone, but never under-estimate what you fly, whether it's a blimp, an airplane, a helicopter, or a hang glider.

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I agree with you on the decision making. Poor decision making skills is a real killer. However, you can't tell me that flying an airplane isn't mostly by the book, cold calculated decisions. Look at airline pilots, they have paperwork that tells them exactly what fuel load to put on, how much they'll burn for taxi, and what they will land with. Not a very hard job, I used to work for an airline, and they weren't the brightest bunch. Every once in a while you would get a "good" pilot who could actually start one engine while the other is still running up (before roll back) and that was impressive....wow....they could multitask... My point is that most anyone could fly an airplane, but this is not true for helicopters, that is where I disagree. The closest thing airplanes have with helicopters is a tail dragger.

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Oh my. You should familiarize yourself with the ifr helicopter world and then reevaluate your statement. Not much difference between them and airline pilots. Autopilot does the flying, the pilot just pumps fuel and makes radio calls.

 

Yeah, a 22 is touchy and will get loopy if you let go of the controls, but if you get into a more technologically advanced helicopter, there are things like the "auto hover" button.

 

Im all about trash talking fixed wing pilots, but what we do as helicopter pilots isn't magic.

 

And, I've yet to find a person I couldnt teach to fly a helicopter(and I'm not even a good instructor). All it takes is money.

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True, but I doubt (and I could be completely wrong as I have no experience) a HEMS pilot would get a release from dispatch telling them how much fuel to take, their flight plan, and what to expect. I love flying IFR, don't get me wrong, it's just too straight forward. Tune this freq, follow this airway, shoot this approach, if you can read, you can fly IFR, not that difficult.

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I completely disagree with that jjsemperfi, the time in which it takes someone to receive a rating has no projection of their pilot skills at all. People all learn at different paces and ultimately the person taking more hours reached the same standard or even better than the person that only took 45 hours to achieve the rating.

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Part 61 is definitely rough, that how I got my license in 5 months and 90 hours. There are also setbacks that are uncontrollable to the student such as breaks due to illness, as well as losing instructors. I lost 2 instructors to tour companies during my training. Its just practice, has nothing to do with intelligence, of course there is going to be a lack of skill until you practice and further develop those skills into the standard. Motivation may be a problem for some but a well motivated individual will push through setbacks and get the license in however many hours it takes them and will have proficient pilot skills at the end. Look at two 1000 hour pilots, there skill set will be pretty close to each other and neither of them will be asked in a professional setting how many hours it took them to acquire their private license.

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Absolutely agree with you. I had to delay my CFI 6 months because I was working 2 jobs. I know how set backs go. What I'm saying is that most students WITH the motivation and interest and no set backs are going to finish in around 60 hours max. Most students with no set backs who finish in 100 are just not cut out to fly helicopters.

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Sure, although they have 115 to 150 hours to practice practice practice after that. I hope they would get it by 250 hours.... Just saying, might seem harsh, but at our school, we tell people straight up if they might not be cut out for helicopters. Doesn't mean we kick them out, we just let them know. Some move on and truck through it, but chances are, they won't be hired.

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Hi All,

New to the Forum. I'm 27, own a construction business, and am a Marine Corps Veteran. I live 40 minutes away from College of the Sequoias Helicopter School in Paso Robles. My GI bill will cover the whole cost of the school.

Curious as to what all of you think of this school? I am curious how hard it is to land a job after finishing a school like this. From what I'm reading the next step is to hopefully land a job teaching to build my hours. But I'm curious how hard that is, and how long to get to the 1500-2000 flight hours mark that seems to be what is needed for a good job. With the first question aside, after I get the 1500-2000 hrs in, is it really possible or likely to land a job making $60k plus? I'm very concerned about actually making some money out of this within a few years after finishing school. I'm married and have a little boy, and am worried I'm going to be looking for a job for years?

 

Good career change idea??? I'm sick of construction....

Thanks so much in advance for your advice!!!

 

The real knowledge you seek cannot be gained on an internet forum. Truly, what you are talking about is a career decision which can, or could, affect you and your families’ future, or hardship, forever. Do you really expect to find that kind of advice on an internet forum? With all due respect, you’ll find helicopter enthusiasts on helicopter forums just as Police enthusiasts on cop websites and Plumbers or Grape Farmers on their respective websites. The list is endless. With that, I’ll ask. What other career ideas do you have? Is fly helicopters for a living something that burns inside your gut? Or, is it something you just thought it would be cool to do? Simply put, if you want the straight poop from me, you’ll need to convince me this is right for you and your current questions haven’t done that so far. However, what I can tell you is; yes, 60K is doable at 2000 hours-ish.....

 

The ball is your court…

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Flying is about judgement.

 

F’n a.

 

It’s truly pathetic, for whatever reason, that some of today’s youngsters can’t seem to wrap their brains around this fact. A pilot’s judgment while behind the controls of an aircraft is what separates a good pilot from a great pilot. P-E-R-I-O-D……… Otherwise, you’re basically flying on luck alone…..

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