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Preparing for Helo Career


bqmassey

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I'm just starting down this path. I'll be starting my private pilot training within a couple of weeks. Eighteen to 24 months from now, I should be a CFII with 200-225 hours (R22/R44), a bit of long-line and turbine time, and an associate's degree.

 

Obviously, I'll be putting in the time and effort to be the best little helicopter pilot I can be, but is there anything I should be thinking about outside of that? There's no point to sending out resumes about the hours I'm going to have, so what can I begin doing now to assist myself in the future?

 

I'd love to start "networking", but I'm not sure if it's worth the money to go to the helicopter events this early in the process. (Although I did go to Heli-Expo '08 in Houston and had a blast. Met a couple of you in person. Would love to go again, just for the kicks.)

 

Any thoughts for someone taking their first step? Shut up, fly, and study hard?

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Attend Heli success in Las Vegas, Nov. 3-5, 2012. Attend the FAASTeam presentations on the 3rd, HS on 4 & 5. Learn what the employers are looking for. Get guidance along the path to jobs and take advantage of the major helicopter networking event.

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Consider the necessity of turbine and long line. If the longline is in a piston sure why not use some of your commercial hours your building towards your 200 robinson time. Honestly most companies will train(PAY) you to learn to do the advance things like turbine and long line. Not that the skills wont help you in the future, but the majority of people in your shoes really dont need spend the money since it has no immediate benefits to you and your sooner than later bills to pay back. I spent about 68K on my student loans for 0 to CFII. Then for my bachelor's I had about 16K wrapped up in loans for the college degree. Then several more thousands in living expenses. Long story short- if your like the majority of us that have financial obligations and loans for training and interest accumulating for the next several years while you still dont make enough money as a CFI to make the loan payments and have to remain in school to keep the payment status away- then please save your self some extra grief financially and consider the necessity of the turbine and long line experience. If you still want it in a few years as a seasoned CFI that is bored and has made it out of the 1000 hour hole, then go for it with the money you would have used in the first place and have it set aside for later as a carrot for your making it to 1000 hours, then that might help you then. (again no offense for assuming that you might be in same boat as many about finances, if money is not of concern for you, then by all means consider the above and beyond curriculum). My 2 cents:)

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Attend Heli success in Las Vegas, Nov. 3-5, 2012. Attend the FAASTeam presentations on the 3rd, HS on 4 & 5. Learn what the employers are looking for. Get guidance along the path to jobs and take advantage of the major helicopter networking event.

 

I'd like to go, but I don't think it's worth a trip this year. I haven't even started my Private Pilot training yet. Hopefully this time next year, I'll be working on Comm or CFI, and this trip would be well worth it. Sounds like a great opportunity to meet reps from these companies in person.

 

Consider the necessity of turbine and long line. If the longline is in a piston sure why not use some of your commercial hours your building towards your 200 robinson time.

 

Thanks for the advice! You make very valid points. As a brand new CFI, $10,000 worth of turbine time might not help as much as $10,000 of Robbie time.

 

I definitely don't have the money for this, but the VA will be funding it, and the turbine time is wrapped up in the curriculum. I'm not sure if one can use the funding allocated for the B206 in the Robinson instead, but it may be worth looking into.

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With the VA helping out you'll be stuck to 141 curriculum programs I'd imagine. Might look for an operator that has a R44 as there external load aircraft with a 141 approved syllabus for the long line that would qualify for the VA. (I'm not well versed on the latest on the VA- alot has changed since 2005)

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Thanks for the advice! You make very valid points. As a brand new CFI, $10,000 worth of turbine time might not help as much as $10,000 of Robbie time.

 

I definitely don't have the money for this, but the VA will be funding it, and the turbine time is wrapped up in the curriculum. I'm not sure if one can use the funding allocated for the B206 in the Robinson instead, but it may be worth looking into.

 

Wow! I thought flight schools were taking advantage back when student loan momey was easy to get, by requiring R44 time,...now their one-upping it with VA money and the 206!,...Damn!

 

The Silverstate moto lives on!

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Any time the government pulls out its checkbook, there will be a line of people with their hands out trying to get as much as they can.

 

Flight schools are there to make money, if they could convince the government to pay for Skycrane time, I'm sure they wound be making that time part of the syllabus too.

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i used the VA to assist through my training. It paid 60% of the cost at the time. I just think its ridiculous that someone, somewhere convinced a bureaucrat that turbine time at $1000 an hour was needed.

 

Does anyone know, can you spend it on $30K worth of solo time or does that chunk have to be spent on turbine? Because not all VA approved schools have turbine helicopters.

Edited by Flying Pig
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Any other advice?

 

Anything that you've thought "Man, I wish I would have ________ when I first got started."?

 

For instance

  • I have extra columns in my logbook. Is there anything that I should start tracking now, so that I don't have to go back through it all later?
  • Should I just go with the flow in training, or should I make a conscious effort to log time at night?
  • Should I start applying for credit cards, so that later I can pay someone $20,000 to fly their missions for them?
  • Should I use solo time to get away from the airport and log solo X/C time?
  • Anything that I might as well invest in now, such as a portable GPS, chart subscription, headset (I have one, but someone else reading this might not)

Things like that. Just looking for any kind of wisdom I can get. :)

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Any other advice?

 

Anything that you've thought "Man, I wish I would have ________ when I first got started."?

 

For instance

  • I have extra columns in my logbook. Is there anything that I should start tracking now, so that I don't have to go back through it all later?
  • Should I just go with the flow in training, or should I make a conscious effort to log time at night?
  • Should I start applying for credit cards, so that later I can pay someone $20,000 to fly their missions for them?
  • Should I use solo time to get away from the airport and log solo X/C time?
  • Anything that I might as well invest in now, such as a portable GPS, chart subscription, headset (I have one, but someone else reading this might not)

Things like that. Just looking for any kind of wisdom I can get. :)

 

- I wish I had done more research into the entry-level job market before I got into this!

 

- I started another thread on the other flight time catagories you should keep track of now, to make filling out the application form a little easier,...check it out!

 

- If you want to fly EMS get as much night time now as you can (I've seen posts from 200 to 500hrs unaided night). Doing your instrument at night seems to be a good way.

 

- Stay away from that 20k to work crap!

 

- If you want to use your solo time to just fly out to the coast and enjoy the scenery,...go for it! You may not get much chance to simply fly for the joy of flying, later on! Building xc time doesn't hurt either,...or night!

 

- At this point you should focus on mastering navigating with just the chart and your eyes (good old pilotage). You can get a GPS later,...after someone hires you to fly!

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I still dont understand the Boatpix discussions. Its a flight school correct? If you go to the school and end up with a CFII-H, which one could reasonably assume is about 200-ish total time, then what other "training" are you paying for after your check ride is completed? If you end up with a job as a CFI why would it only last 100hrs? Where does this "pay to work" issue come in?

 

Added later:

 

So from the site (honestly the first time Ive looked at it) You get your Commercial and then are paying to build time from 200-300 hours? What "training" are you doing between 200-300hrs if you dont opt for any additional ratings?

The total program, based on the web site looks to be $75,000 provided you hit all of your check rides at the minimums required and you don't even get an instrument rating or a CFI out of that? (HOLY COW tell me I missed something.)

The way the site reads, the instrument is an additional $10,000 and a CFI is an additional $5000? Thats north of $90,000 to get a CFI and an instrument provided you hit all of your check rides at the minimums.

Does that include a CFII? So again, correct if Im wrong, the "$75,000 program" only gets you a VFR/Commercial. All of the other stuff, Instrument, CFI, CFII are all extra? The 100hrs of time building you are paying for doesnt include those ratings?

 

One issue I do have right off the top though is "If you have $75,000 available in your checking account call us to enroll at 561-346-2816 and prepare to make payments in four phased monthly payments." Im not a big fan of paying money up front for flight training, EVER. I do see where you do offer the pay as you go option as well which is good. If someone asked me to give them money up front for flight training I would laugh and walk away. I would NEVER recommend anyone do that.

 

What if someone wanted to come to your school and just do CFII straight through without your time building option? No pictures of boats or anything. Just me and my instructor powering through and me moving on with my plastic cards in my pocket. Is that possible?

Edited by Flying Pig
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Lets say;

 

60hrs for the PPL (to be generous)

20hrs for the commercial

10hrs for the CFI

 

That's 90hrs total. You need 300hrs for that "job". What are you doing for that other 210hrs?,...and why does it take more hours to learn the "job" than it does to learn how to fly in the first place?

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Wow.... Ive spent waaaay more time on this than is probably healthy, but my brother sitting here with his VA asking me about flight schools has prompted my investigative senses....

 

So you need at least 150hrs min to get a commercial. Add another 15ish for CFI if you are on top of your game. Provided you didnt get a CFII or an instrument, you are looking at about 135hrs worth of additional time building if I did my math right. So how I read it is that the 100 hours of "training" is actually the student front loading/funding the photo operation side of the business correct? Interesting business model I guess. Because I cant imagine people are spending 10s of thousands of dollars monthly on pictures of their boats. Lets face it, you arent funding helicopters flying around all day off of people buying pictures. You cant do PTS oriented training flying around and taking pictures of boats. So students pay for an additional 100 hours is then used to fund taking off and flying around peoples boats while the actual CFI/ photographer snaps photos? So for those 100 hours, you as the student are paying to fly their photographer around, who is no doubt logging dual instruction given. Thats why the school wants the entire $75,000 funded up front because it keeps the photo side of the business "in business".

So for those 100 hours, can I take that time and go wherever I want solo or does it have to be 100hrs of photo operations with an instructor? Because you call it "training" which implies I am going to be flying at the direction of a CFI and learning some skill. That would really suck for the company and the CFI-photographer If I decided I wanted to take my 100hrs additional and do solo night xcty. Did I figure it out?

 

Now, as the CFI..... I guess it could be pretty cool because your students have already paid for their time, so they WILL want to fly. So you would probably rack up hours pretty quick. The only thing is after youve added your CFI, your instrument and your CFII you will now have an approximate $90,000 student loan to pay off. I had a student loan that was about $25,000 and my payment was about $400 a month. Enjoy eating with a loan repayment pushing $90K.

 

Now after Im a CFI employed by Boatpix, how long can they stay? Can a CFI stay on for 1500-2000hrs? I know plenty of 1500-1700hr CFIs who cant find entry level jobs. Or is there a limit on how long I can stay in order to make room for the CFI I am training up?

 

OK, I think Im done....... Am I close? If Im wrong, tell me. Because thats what my little bro and I put together reading the web site. the majority of CFII's I know are finishing up at about 200hrs. Interesting that your insurance "requires" the additional 100hrs when other schools are hiring CFIs with hours in the 200s or less.

Edited by Flying Pig
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I got this off the site;

 

"After the private helicopter license you'll do almost exclusively photo and will learn this skill that is valuable to our photo contract and making you a valuable pilot to us."

 

I'm a bit confused. I thought you had to be a commercial pilot to do photo flights?

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So,

 

- 35hrs to get your PPL (according to the site)

- Then you start taking pictures for I guess 95hrs?

- Then 20hrs for commercial =150.

- You still need 200 to teach, so, what, another 40hrs taking pictures, then 10hrs for the CFI?

- Then what? You still need 300 to get hired, so, is it another 100hrs taking pictures?

 

...or will they actually hire you at 200hrs to teach, and then at 300hrs start paying you to take pictures?

 

Anyway, they pay you from 300hrs to 400hrs, then what? I've never read a post from someone saying they are a 1200hr boatpix pilot!

Edited by eagle5
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I read this stuff and see flaws in our industry and especially for the beginners. I've lived it and survived and can see some areas of improvements that can be made for the beginners. Why doesn't the majority of flight schools HELP students into this industry, not sucker them for there money! (I commend the ones that are helping, but they are few and far between). A stinking commercial license is 150 hours, plenty of time to prepare the instrument and future CFI/CFII. No burning holes in the sky, fly them at night for instruments and build lots of cross country day/night to prepare for the ATP. Get 70 hours instrument time with your money as a student so that over the years your brush up instrument flights will finish you and have a some time to prepare to meet the 75 hours of instruments for ATP. HARDLY ANY SCHOOL HELPS AND TRULY PREPARES A "PROFESSIONAL" PILOT. They all want your money and you should be on "buyer beware" mode with anyone. Again, 150 hours and why additional 10 hours for CFI and another for CFII, make them ready in that 150 hours, take the check rides, then brush up a few hours on what was taught pre-commercial, aren't they going to be an instructor, so why pretend to build them as a commercial pilot when hardly anyone can utilize the commercial license beyond instructing, so make them a d@mn good instructor from the beginning! Take away the smoke and mirrors and HELP our future PROFESSIONALS! If we trained our students to become instructors during commercial training, maybe we could fix the industry and make good instructors and get the intermediate job market to lower there hiring hours for the 1000 to 2000 hour instructor that is stuck and blocking the ladder for the newbies.

Edited by HeliFun
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True, if done right, you could take your CFI/II checkrides the day after you take your commercial at 150. In fact, there was a CFII not too long ago who couldn't find work with around 170hrs.

 

The problem is, there's no incentive for schools to teach in fewer hours. There's no reason for employers to lower minimums,...in fact they keep raising them!

 

The system will never change, no matter how better prepared the entry-level pilot is, because its not about skill or knowledge, or experience! Its about volume! There's just too many of us to go around, that's why the system is what it is!

Edited by eagle5
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