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Big setback to my dream, what next?


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Feeling kind of down at the moment. After readying through a lot of the advice on here, I decided to raise all of the money prior to training to avoid any kind of debt. Unfortunately though I missed the boat on a school that seemed real promising. They offer a guaranteed job after completing the training and thus have a waiting list to fly. The next open slot is not for another 2 years, and requires an upfront deposit of a few thousand dollars to reserve it. My head is really cloudy at the moment as it seemed like the best place to go to ensure a nice track to success. All of the current and former instructors had nothing but good things to say about them; and always talked about how busy they were (tours & instructing). A spot had opened up a few months ago, but I declined because I didn't think I was financially ready; kind of regretting that now.

 

I know the "guaranteed job" part is subject to a lot of debate. It's possible that Mr. Magoo could be my CFI and perhaps not have the best or safest training. It is very alluring though as the intended school puts their instructors on salary and would be a nice place to stay for awhile.

 

My second choice was at a school who's helicopter recently went down due to a main blade departure (another thread). I believe they are getting a new helicopter soon, but until the NTSB comes out with an official word I am hesitant about going there if maintenance is in question.

 

What would you guys recommend? Put the deposit down, wait out the 2 years, and hit the books hard in the meantime? Or find another flight school and do whatever I can to ensure employment after I finish? Being a former fixed wing pilot and seeing the scarcity of instructing jobs, my biggest concern is jumping into helicopters and being hung out to dry after 65K and 200 hours.

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You already know what everyone is going to say about a school that guarantees you a job. But you asked, so I will get things going.

 

First of all, you already stated some good points about why this wouldn't be a good thing for a school to do. So as far as being good for you as a student, you don't know if you are getting a quality instructor.

 

The flip side is this: If you work there as a CFI................and so is everyone else who has ever gone to school there.......................how many students does each CFI have? There would never be a student pool big enough to support a staff of that many CFI's.

 

When you initially start training, of course you want to know if you have a shot at getting hired by the school, but your training should be your number one factor in deciding which school to train at. Once you are in school, it's as simple as being the one guy they would hire if only one slot opened up for you.

 

That's the way I am approaching my training time, and I *think* it's working out so far.

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The flip side is this: If you work there as a CFI................and so does everyone else who has ever gone to school there.......................how many students does each CFI have? There would never be a student pool big enough to support a staff of that many CFI's.

 

 

I completely agree that if any school says "yea we hire everybody!" then that's definitely a red flag as the student instructor ratio would obviously not work. What seemed interesting about this place is they only offer the "guaranteed position" to 3 people per year, which calls for a waiting list. So the combination of tours and students has them in and out in the right cycle.

 

I think my mind has made this school into the holy grail of flight training, and I'm not sure if it is true or not. When I compare them to every other school they always seem to rank the highest in terms of safety, quality, and progression. The only problem is that there is a waiting list, which is understandable.

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Short answer: no, I would never consider to put money up front to reserve a spot, for two years down the road. It is far more likely for any aviation company to close by then, than the actual thing eventually working out.

 

Maybe you are right about the school, and maybe it is the best flight school that has ever existed; but it makes one think "what kind of quality of instruction am I gonna get, when I already know that the instructors working there are not the best pilots/students, but just the three first that reserved the spot?"

 

I don't know, but it doesn't sound like something you should really be gloomy about. Quite the opposite...

 

just my $.02

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Feeling kind of down at the moment. After readying through a lot of the advice on here, I decided to raise all of the money prior to training to avoid any kind of debt. Unfortunately though I missed the boat on a school that seemed real promising. They offer a guaranteed job after completing the training and thus have a waiting list to fly. The next open slot is not for another 2 years, and requires an upfront deposit of a few thousand dollars to reserve it.

 

Your dreams haven't been set back a bit. You're just dreaming about the wrong place.

 

Guaranteed jobs? Rubbish.

 

No slots for two years? Who do they think they are? Warrant Officer Flight Training? Ridiculous. If they're a commercial school, they have openings year-round. What school doesn't?

 

Don't let them sell you snake oil. As a student you're a non-qualified number: you're someone who hopes to be somebody some day. You're not entering into stardom. You're not buying a slice of the future. You're paying a school that desperately needs your money to teach you to fly, and to get bare bones basic certification. That bare bones certification without any experience behind it means squat...but it's necessary and it's a start. It doesn't make you desirable or marketable or give you anything that you can hold up to the world to show yourself as worthy of hire. You come out with the absolute bare minimum, and that's it.

 

With that in mind, if a school holds out to you that you're entering into some kind of wonder-agreement in which fireworks will happen upon graduation and in which you'll be orbiting the moon on a flowing tide of good will and job opportunities, they're offering you little more than a bald-faced lie.

 

The school exists not to promote you and not to hire you, but to take your money. The school accepts you because you have money. You go to the school because you think you can get the most bang for your buck at the school, which for someone learning to fly is little more than getting basic FAA certification and the possibility of interviewing for a job. If any one tells you anything else, they're lying to you. Let that digest for a few minutes: internalize it. Burn it into your brain and compare that understanding to whatever a school (or anyone else) tries to tell you. If there's a disparity, the school is lying.

 

What gets you a job upon completion of your training is your ability to compete. If you don't think you can do that, and if you don't think you'll be able to teach better than the next guy, relate to students better than the next, show excellent customer service, be a recruiter for the school, provide a positive image, fly the way and teach the way the school wants it done, and achieve a stellar pass record for your students, then it doesn't matter what kind of promises the school makes. It's all null and void if you don't live up to your own hype.

 

I attended a school as a youngster, which offered "job placement." I scraped and borrowed, and took some money obtained from the breakup of my parents and the sale of the house, to attend the school. I was already pilot certified, but it was an ag school...and they claimed that it was a sure way to get a job. Fresh out of high school and too smart for a fifth grader, I sunk everything i had into it, leveraged myself out the ying-yang, and begged, borrowed, and left home with a ratty shirt and lots of sharp pencils. Six months later, upon completion of the program (the school is no longer around, incidentally), the owner told me about his job placement: go buy a car, start driving, and ask every ag operator I saw for a job. Sooner or later, someone might hire me. That was his program.

 

In the six months I'd been there, some 30 or so students had completed the program. Not one had a job. I had 450 remaining on account, so I drew that, and bought a car for 450.00. I began driving and eventually ran out of gas and got two flat tires in a small town in Kansas. The operator there hired me, put me up in his house, and I went to work mixing chemicals, fixing tractors, and doing some ag work. I got a foot in the door. But it certainly wasn't a result of the ag school that promised a job.

 

The actual quality of the instruction you get isn't nearly as important as what you put into it. Like computers of old, "garbage-in, garbage-out" is the rule of the day. You are what you make yourself, and that includes your marketability and hire-ability and desirability when you complete the program. The school isn't interested in pie-in-the-sky promises; they're interested in what revenue you can turn for the school, and in how you'll affect the school's safety record and reputation. If you can be an asset to the school then you've probably got a job. If you are in the least bit questionable, assuming they're not having some kind of severe instructor shortage at the time, then you'll probably see the outside of the door looking back, rather than collecting a paycheck. Bottom line: it's up to you.

 

Your counsel to have your money in advance was well received. It's always sound advice. If a school tells you that you missed the slot, then you've simply been talking to the wrong school. Any number of schools can get you through your basic certification, and you won't find yourself any more certified with one than another. All flight schools are about the same when it comes to training and value received. Nobody really cares where you trained. Does having trained at Purdue or Embry Riddle matter a whit to any of the entry-level employers? Not really. You're just pilot-trash looking for a job; a dime-a-dozen copy and there are a hundred more just like you, ready and willing to take your place in a heart-beat. With that in mind, don't think that a school sees you as some special comodity that they just can't live without, or that an instructor slot is so sacred that it will remain inviolate for two years pending your eventual acceptance into the hallowed program. It just ain't so.

 

If brand X won't take you today, then go see brand Y.

 

The biggest draw to a school should be the number of openings that you can expect for internally-trained instructors after you graduate, and the cost of the school. Find a school that won't break the bank (all schools are about equal in terms of the certification you'll receive, but some cost more than others, and some have better success at getting students through in shorter times). Find a school that doesn't just hire three people every two years...find one that has a high turnover rate because they do a lot of training and because people are instructing for a short time and then moving on to other jobs. A school that only has three openings sounds very elite and special, but I'd much rather hedge my bets and go to a place that does volume business...some place where one will get trained quickly, where numerous positions are open all the time, and where future movement beyond the company is encouraged and expected, and even where assistance is given. Find a place that does volume flying, so you can fly as much as possible when you graduate; get that experience and "time" developed on a reasonable schedule, rather than scraping by one hour at a time for years on end.

 

Everything looks shiny and new at the moment. It won't always. Take what you can and don't get trapped into believing the shiny brochures or the slick talk. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there are many more schools out there than just one that will move you along toward your goals.

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Just save up enough money to do each rating one at a time.

 

If I were you though (in other words if I could do it all over) I'd use whatever job/money I have now to get my PPL. Then I'd go to college, get a degree in a field that "actually" needs people (and pays well) and just fly for fun on the weekends!

 

...or you could just give in and go boatpix!,...as long as you don't mind the ethics issue?

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Written above (above pilot#476398's post too)is the honest to gawd truth. To add to that:

 

Don't let yourself get boxed in. Being flexible and adaptive is what is going to make your career (or break it if you can't be flexible and adaptive). In other words, if there is a will, there is a way. No school is going to make your career happen for you. You will (or you won't). As avbug said, find a busy school. If you walk in the door and they barely have time to talk to you, that's a good sign. If they are all over you like a used car salesman, beware. Contrary to most beliefs, a school that makes you feel like you are one of them, with a guaranteed shot at a job when you're done giving them your money, is probably not the place you want to be. A school where they are professional, tell you how it is, ask you tough questions like: "Are you sure this is for you?" And treat you fair but not like a star (because trust me, you're not), is where you should set down your bags and want to start training.

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Wow, AVBUG said it all pretty well...I don't have the time to write novels anymore! SO to recap: Save up money FIRST! I don't care what the "deal" is! Guaranteed jobs, I got some land to sell you too, and you are ALWAYS going to have to work hard to get from the 150-200 hour mark after finishing training and getting to at least 300 hours where you can do anything! That gap widens in places from job to job, but it's still there.

 

Good Luck! (and I mean that sincerely!)

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I’ve got good news and bad news....

 

The bad news is; it doesn’t appear like you’ll be attending the school that wanted upfront money in order to guarantee you a job. The good news is; it doesn’t appear like you’ll be attending the school that wanted upfront money in order to guarantee you a job……

 

With that, even though you say you’ve been reading the advice provided, it doesn’t seem like it any of it sunk in. That is, it’s been said over-and-over again; NEVER pay for a promise of a job nor any kind of “bulk” rate. Furthermore and again, it’s been said many times, if a school wants upfront cash, then they’re not above board. YOU PAY AS YOU GO. Usually, a grand up, till a grand flown. A grand up, till a grand flown. So-on-and-so-forth…..

 

Understand, throughout a helicopter career, in this business, the only true guarantee is; there are no guarantees. EVER….

 

Therefore, there is no reason to feel down about the situation. Actually, if you carefully read what is said in this thread, you may get a better picture of what you need to do in order to succeed with your goals. However, before you do anything, figure out what you really want to do. Specifically, I didn’t want to go to college, I wanted to be a helicopter pilot and fly for a living. So here I am. Believe me; getting paid to fly is a far greater achievement then simply flying for enjoyment. Basically, for a pilot, it’s the pinnacle in aviation. Nevertheless, figure it out and if this is something you truly desire, then save the cash to complete the training, in full…..

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Dreamers come into this industry all the time. On a Facebook page called, of all things, "Helicopter Pilots" a guy posted a question. He said he had his Comm cert for three years now, had a total of 200 hours, and wondered where he could build some time? Oh yeah, he's 31, lives out in Idaho, is married and has two kids. And a full-time job that not in aviation. And he wants to be a helicopter pilot. But he can't find a flying job, surprise-surprise.

 

I replied to him that this is why we old-timers usually counsel people to be very, very cautious when deciding to enter this industry. He replied back that he was misled about the job prospects that were available once he finished. This tells me that he *only* talked to the school he was about to attend. They promised to hire him and, um...didn't.

 

Back-dating a little, the guy graduated high school in 2000 and then spent four years in the U.S.M.C. So that would have put him starting flight training around 2004 or 2005. Well, helicopter forums like this one have been around forever. To say, "I was misled..." is not true. He just didn't do his homework, is all. Since the late 1990's there has been PLENTY of information online as to the state of the industry and the availability (or lack of same) of jobs for low-timers. I know, because I've been one of the "voices" on these forums forever in various identities and screennames (my views have not always been popular). This kid must have known how to use a computer and do a simple internet search...yes, even out in Idaho. But apparently he did not.

 

Or...

 

Or maybe he did, and he got the usual bullsh*t responses of, "Hell yeah! Come on in! You can do it! Follow your dream! You can make it!" Maybe he listened to those guys. Now, six or seven years later he's a 200-hour Comm/CFI/CFII with a house, pickup truck, wife, kids and a full-time non-flying job to support all of the aforementioned and no prospect of a flying job. And in all likelihood, little ability to pack up and move somewhere for an entry-level CFI job at some school halfway across the country that's never heard of him.

 

In other words, he's dicked.

 

I feel sorry for people like this. They want so badly to get paid to fly helicopters. They want it so badly that they lose their objectivity. They only listen to the positive things and elect to not hear nor pay attention to the negatives.

 

And so to the OP I will simply say: There are no guarantees. You plunk your money down, and you hope for the best. Have a goal, and work towards it. But for crying out loud, have a realistic goal, eh? If you're, say, in your 30's, and your life is already well underway, do you REALLY think you'll be able to: 1) Somehow pay to get 1,000 hours or so of flight time so you'll be marketable to a company like Temsco? Or, 2) Live on crappy CFI wages for a couple of years while you build up enough time that PHI or Bristow will hire you? Or do you think that YOU are going to be the lucky one...the exception to the rule and find a job at 200-250 hours?

 

THESE are the questions that need to be answered before you spend dollar-one on flight training.

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Dreamers come into this industry all the time. [...]

THESE are the questions that need to be answered before you spend dollar-one on flight training.

 

This is spot on. I've seen this same story so many times. Heck, last year I bought an almost new flight helmet from a 200hr guy just like that. He told me his sad story as I was picking it up, it was the end of his great dream. His wife and two young kids were at home, too. They were just building a new shed in the backyard of the house. The helmet was a steal.

 

The only thing I'd like to add to that: When you mention "mid 30s dreamers" it is actually not the age itself that is the problem, it is the life situation that comes with that age. Most people at that time are married, with kids, dog, mortgage etc.

If you are in your mid 30s or older but not nailed to the ground like that, age won't necessarily hold you back. Being a bit older than 20 can actually be a good thing if that means you got useful working experience or qualifications, like a truck DL or something.

Edited by lelebebbel
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Agreed, Lelebebbel. Right on! I used age 30 merely as a milepost. As you noted, by then we've got things going on - our course is pretty much set. Most "normal" people are married-with-children by that age or at least have incurred some serous debt...and it's VERY hard to switch over to a career that demands as much from us and gives back so little of tangible value as aviation.

 

Aviation attracts those of us who are, well, not normal. When I look around at my friends who are just starting out, I see a bunch of guys who would rather fly than f... well...this is a family forum so I won't finish that thought. But you get my drift. My friends have put their careers *first*, before committed relationships. Many of them can pack all of their worldly belongings into their car or truck. All of them are single. Or if they have girlfriends, the relationships are rocky, tenuously based on certain compromises that the pilots pretend to make and the girls pretend to believe. But everyone tacitly knows that if the "dream" job comes up across the country, that pilot is GONE in sixty seconds. The girl may follow...or she may not. (Probably the latter.)

 

One guy I know (I won't give the details because I think he reads this forum and knows who I am) has a good job flying turbine equipment. He's in his late-20's and was in (what he thought was) a very good, stable, committed relationship with the girl he was going to marry. At least, that was *his* plan. He thought this right up until the day she summarily kicked him to the curb without any warning a couple of months ago. He didn't see it coming. He was understandably devastated.

 

Why did it happen? Because he's a PILOT. He was plugging along, thinking everything was cool with the relationship, not paying too much attention to it. He thought he was giving her everything she needed, but apparently he wasn't. His primary focus was on his flying, because *that* is his true love (he's one of the guys I've known since before he took a single lesson). Like most pilots (including me) he loves flying first and foremost. Everything and everyone else comes in second. A distant second. It's weird.

 

But that's who we are. And that's who we need to be to "make it" when we're starting out in this biz. You keep everything loose, so you can pick up and go at a moment's notice. You don't buy a house; you rent and you try to keep from signing long-term leases in case Papillon calls and you have to leave for Vegas tomorrow. You buy only enough car so that you're not overwhelmed with debt. You sacrifice and you think that "one day" you'll be stable enough to have what "normal" people have. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

 

The trouble is, this "interim" state can last for years. It's frustrating and discouraging. My friend whose girlfriend/fiance dumped him is now considering two jobs, one of which would require him to move out of state...waaaay out of state. Would his betrothed have followed him? Who knows. *SHE* has a good job, so maybe no. The Idaho guy with 200 hours from the Facebook page? I think he's toast, to be honest.

 

I say all of the above as a word of warning to the OP. Because there is so much more to consider than just whether the school you're planning to attend will hire you. So. Much. More.

 

Aviation is a bitch, I tell you.

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With relationships, a firm understanding about the truth of this business is required…

 

At the time, my girlfriend made a deal with me. She said she would follow me and my dream anywhere and everywhere as necessary, as long as we were married. Plus, kids would only enter into the picture when our lives were stable. Our promise was; we needed to have a life, before we could make a life. We married….

 

22 years and 2 kids later I can say without a doubt, my success had a partner. With that, I learned flying for a living isn’t the be-all-end-all thing I thought it to be. Truthfully, it’s a job that pays the bills and nothing more. What really matters is one’s LIFE because sooner-or-later, it happens to all of us….

 

I know many who are alone and will be forever just because of this business. Unfortunately, some convenience themselves the nomad lifestyle is cool and passing through divorcée after divorcée is attune to an American Gigolo. It’s not. With that, industry knowledge needs to be a “shared reality” with loved ones....

 

Again, this business is frustrating enough. Introducing personal (LIFE) frustration can be toxic. Therefore, when considering this as a career, a total LIFE goal is just as necessary as ones career goal coupled with a “shared reality”. These goals are inherently intertwined. Fail at one and the other may follow…..

Edited by Spike
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Great posts everyone they really help. I’ll just go through and pick some of the things I saw and respond to clarify where I stand and going forward.

 

 

The school exists not to promote you and not to hire you, but to take your money. The school accepts you because you have money. You go to the school because you think you can get the most bang for your buck at the school, which for someone learning to fly is little more than getting basic FAA certification and the possibility of interviewing for a job. “

 

I 100% agree about them being very interested in my money. That’s business. I don’t know if it’s to their credit or discredit, but it has been very difficult to get my foot in the door with them to even talk. I’m sure they would gladly with open arms take my money, but they are by no means pressing me for it or telling me about the great world of aviation. The owner seems to know what he’s talking about and states that he doesn’t want to put people out there at 200 hours with no job. I understand that “guarantee” is a bad word, but he doesn’t want someone training full time when he knows there won’t be a position for him to instruct.

 

 

“If you don't think you can do that, and if you don't think you'll be able to teach better than the next guy, relate to students better than the next, show excellent customer service, be a recruiter for the school, provide a positive image, fly the way and teach the way the school wants it done, and achieve a stellar pass record for your students, then it doesn't matter what kind of promises the school makes. It's all null and void if you don't live up to your own hype.”

 

Even though the job is guaranteed I still plan to act as if my butt is on the line. I don’t view this as a sigh of relief saying, life is now guaranteed. I want to be an ambassador of my school from day one and do whatever it takes. Your story is really amazing avbug, I admire your dedication. I am willing to cross the country to find a job. My only view with this place is that I can set up and know I’ll be in the area and possibility eliminate the frustration and anguish of traveling the country.

 

 

“The biggest draw to a school should be the number of openings that you can expect for internally-trained instructors after you graduate, and the cost of the school. Find a school that won't break the bank (all schools are about equal in terms of the certification you'll receive, but some cost more than others, and some have better success at getting students through in shorter times).”

 

This school has been the cheapest on paper, with a couple IFR R22s helping this. The program is set to take 6 months from 0-CFII as well. They fly pretty much full time.

 

 

Find a school that doesn't just hire three people every two years...find one that has a high turnover rate because they do a lot of training and because people are instructing for a short time and then moving on to other jobs.”

 

Well it’s more like 6 people every 2 years (3 a year sign on). I’m not experienced enough to know if this is good or bad, but the guy seems honest with the fact that he doesn’t want me unless there is a chance I’ll be able to instruct and give tours. The multiple past instructors I’ve talked (as well as one that was currently there), all emphasize how busy they were. Every conversation had “be prepared to stay BUSY!” always mentioned in it.

 

 

“…where numerous positions are open all the time, and where future movement beyond the company is encouraged and expected, and even where assistance is given.”

 

This is also constantly emphasized with all the previous instructors. I asked the owner, what if I wanted to stay here for awhile, and he looked at me with a somewhat puzzled look. They intend to get people out and on as fast as they can. Will this make them more money? Absolutely, but the interest is there not to have me being an instructor for an indefinite amount of time, but to move on to the next step. When I was there for a few flights the school seemed incredibly busy from my own perspective. The tours were in and out constantly with the R44, about 3 or 4 students in and out asking questions, and there was another who was soloing.

 

 

“ If you walk in the door and they barely have time to talk to you, that's a good sign. If they are all over you like a used car salesman, beware.”

 

This school is precisely that, and to be honest it’s a bit frustrating and counter to the welcoming arms most schools are. They are exactly the opposite of a used car salesman. They would obviously like the money and the sign up, but as mentioned above, they seem like they could care less if I joined or not.

 

 

“Furthermore and again, it’s been said many times, if a school wants upfront cash, then they’re not above board. YOU PAY AS YOU GO.”

 

I 100% agree about not paying 60K all at once (silver state comes to mind). However, I slightly disagree about strictly paying as you go. A lot schools, this one included, offers a 10 hour block rate. The deposit is exactly that amount and offers ~$20 discount. I have no plans to give them any more than I should, but paying for 10 hour block rates as a full time student seems like a good risk/reward ratio. My only struggle right now is the deposit to reserve a spot, which I’ve never seen before and having a hard time comprehending.

 

 

To Nearly Retired:

 

I’m actually at a point in my life where I’m college educated with a good degree, have no debt, have no house, an understanding girlfriend (HA!), a relatively supportive family (not of my own), very mobile, and have the money to see it through. This led me to the school in question, which I thought seemed the most promising. I feel like I'm in a good position, as recommended by the many posts on this forum; I just want to make sure the rose colored glasses are off and I'm not making a big mistake.

 

 

So to summarize, I don’t want this school to come out to look like B--- P--, but here are the categories:

 

#1 Safety: Very satisfied. No accidents, helicopters are very well maintained with all of them being Instrument rated.

 

#2 Price: Top 95 percentile.

 

# 3 Instruction: My instructor I had during my discovery flight was great. Very professional. Is he the best? Probably not. Not sure what to rank this category as I absolutely agree with everyone here. The instructor is just the person who signed up the quickest. Not sure what to think about this, as someone mentioned they are merely a number to the FAA. In fixed wing I’ve had good instructors and I’ve had bad instructors, all from the same school. I really am not concerned about this as I can always change the instructor if we don’t’ jive.

 

# 4 Progression: Excellent. I know “guaranteed” is a bad way to put it. Just as a different viewpoint, I think the owner doesn’t want to have me come with the expectation of instructing if there’s not going to be any space available.

 

# 5 Busy School: Very Satisfied. Popular tour destination and instruction. R44 time is built very quickly there as well.

 

 

So by all the categories they always rank ahead of the competition. If you were to subtract the "guaranteed" job part, I think they would be an exceptional place to train. As I said with all of the former instructors, I haven't found one bad review yet. Some of them actually "disagreed" with the guaranteed job part, but still felt the school was good and were happy to have that.

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Why did it happen? Because he's a PILOT. He was plugging along, thinking everything was cool with the relationship, not paying too much attention to it. He thought he was giving her everything she needed, but apparently he wasn't. His primary focus was on his flying, because *that* is his true love (he's one of the guys I've known since before he took a single lesson). Like most pilots (including me) he loves flying first and foremost. Everything and everyone else comes in second. A distant second. It's weird.

 

Garbage. She didn't kick him to the curb because he's a pilot. She bailed for other reasons...the most obvious from your description being tha the wasn't attentive enough.

 

You're referring the ubiquitous and mythical "AIDS" or "aviation induced divorce syndrome." That's all it is. A myth.

 

I'm divorced. Re-married, too. It would be really easy to blame the breakup of my marriage on aviation, but that would be a lie, as is the blame in all marriage failures upon aviation. Scratch beneath the surface a little more, and you'll find the real reasons.

 

Commercial aviation is what it is: a business. It operates on a razor-thin profit margin. My personal work history covers about ten pages. It's almost embarrassing when starting a new job, filling out the work-history portions. It takes forever. I have to keep asking for more forms. When doing 135 work or 121 work, getting the PRIA (prior records improvement act paperwork) done is a real bear. Does that sort of thing take a toll on a marriage? It can. I've had a lot of addresses over the years; pages of them. Lots of states, several countries and continents. (most of them, actually). Sometimes work happened suddenly; call late in the evening, gone early in the morning, not home for ten months or more). Absolutely it can be rough.

 

Lots of industries have difficulties, long hours, changes, upticks, and downswings. Not just aviation. Again, look a little beneath the veneer and find that the real cause of failures in marriages isn't the job. It might be the lack of attention to the other partner. It might be a host of reasons, but it's not the job.

 

My ex in-laws used to complain that I was a pilot. They urged my wife to leave. I was told from the beginning, having been a pilot long before I met her, that I should get out of aviation and find a real job. Be a man, they said. They were rural, redneck hillbilly types, and they thought that I ought to be a worker on a county road crew, rather than gallavanting around the country as an aviator. Later when I put my family in a house on a lake with no traffic, only a quiet cul de sac, near a church and a school, they complained that I was wasting money on a "mansion," and ignoring my families needs. They urged her to leave, and eventually she did...for an abandoned trailer on an indian reservation (and a series of other men, and failed marriages). Go figure.

 

I'm sure there's more I have to learn about commercial aviation, but at this stage in my life, I'm sure that there's not much more. I've got a fairly good handle on it. Frankly, there's no place I'd rather be.

 

I've met a lot of people who wanted desperately to get out of their jobs and to get into aviation. I've met quite a few who have done just that.

 

I've never met anyone who wanted to get out of aviation to go do something else.

 

Many years ago I worked in the heavy tanker industry, fighting fires. I was on a raft trip on a day off one day, accompanying a co-worker, who was vice-president of the company, and a long-time aviator. On the raft was a young lady who asked our occupations, and when he told her what we did, she asked what everyone always asked: do you want to be an airline pilot some day? He looked a little amused and also a little embarrassed, as he didn't want to sound trite, but he said slowly in measured words, "that would be...a...step...down." I nearly fell over the side of the boat laughing. He was right.

 

The people who have the hardest time understanding the industry are those who try to bend it to fit their preconceived notions of what the industry should be. Don't do that. It is what it is. It's not responsible for your marriage. It's not responsible for anything else in your life, beyond what you let it be.

 

When I got back this summer, having been gone for an extended period of time, I fully expected to be home a short while and then turn around for Afghanistan (again). I won't lie; there's a certain attraction to working downrange, and I feel a certain comfort level in austere locations. However, I made the call to remain at home for the winter, and am turning wrenches at the moment. Not out of aviation, but I'm staying on the ground for a few months in order to concentrate on home matters. I'm wearing several hats, as I often do, taking several different paychecks, as I often have, and that's life. It is what we make it to be.

 

Starting out in aviation is tough. For those who have picked helicopters, you've also limited your options in aviation. You've also picked the most magical of those options. Many find that they fly helicopters for so many years, and then move into fixed wing because of the income, a little more stability, upward mobility, and many other reasons...but I've never met a soul who did that who didn't say that they greatly missed flying helicopters, and that had always been the best part. I work with a gentleman presently who was injured in a terrible helicopter crash years ago, and despite his life-long injuries today, he still misses flying the helicopters. He flies his own fixed wing airplane, but he misses the helicopters.

 

In rotorwing aviation, you have a cap on what you'll be making. You'll do much better than fixed wing pilots initially, and you'll get about a ten to fifteen year headstart on your career going rotorwing. You'll be flying turbine equipment in commercial operations as pilot in command long, long before your fixed wing counterparts. They'll eventually catch up, however, and somewhere in there is the transition point economically; they'll spend the rest of their career making progressively higher salaries, while yours won't increase much more. There are alway exceptions on both sides, and there are always advantages and disadvantages on both sides. Nobody will ever be able to accuse your career track of being less interesting, however. The level of reward is not always monetary, and the level of fulfillment in one's job is hardly just a paycheck.

 

When one goes to work in the morning on an 9-5 job, one may love or hate one's job. It's a big chunk of one's life to spend watching a clock, hoping for it to end. Those who fly, however, generally go to work hoping for the day to start, and are quite satisfied when it ends. More importantly, they are satisfied during the day, too, and therein lies the big difference. Me? I'm a grey-haired kid in a candy store. As a kid in high school, I couldn't wait to get behind the wheel or get on a motorcycle, and couldn't wait to start flying. I started as a teenager, and that same gotta-get-behind the motor mentality hasn't ever gone away. I can go a few days without flying, but I do miss it.

 

What it does for you is up to you, but do you really want to give up the industry before you really know what it's about?

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Anyone know what school this is that sounds so wonderful? These threads are so long I may have missed it.

I was going to ask the same question, and no, you didn't miss it!

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Nearly Retired as usual is correct in his observation. I will add my two cents. Student starts are at a very very low point right now and has been for some time. Why am I mentioning this, well your first job is going to be a flight instructor to built up that "1000 Hours" so you can then get a real job. You need students to enroll in flight school so you can built your time, its sort of a pyramid thing, that is also the reason there will never ever be a pilot shortage. That Flight School is full of it. Call up the AOPA and ask about the current state of student starts, and remember this the norm in a 70% drop out rate for number that start to the number that actually gets a certificate. My guess that the student load at flight schools are way down even more so for the helicopter end of things. But hey the view is great, that is till you wake up one fine morning and find out you have much to show for it. Go to flight school if you have to, but do so with your eyes open to what the profession really is not what you think it is or wish it to be.

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Respectfully.....

 

You asked and we answered. By your last extensively long post, it appears you already made the decision and are attempting to convenience others, and yourself, that is the RIGHT decision. If so, why ask in the first place? Truly, there is no reason to start a thread asking advice when you already deep-down know the answer. I mean really, what were you thinking? If you paint a picture of a helo-flight-school Shangri-La it’s somehow different than what we’ve seen and experienced? As I said in my first post, it appears you’re not listening, or at minimum, not hearing. It’s painfully obvious you are sold on this school so move forward and own your decision……..

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Yeah Spike, this guy is completely sold on "his" school all right. His mind is made up. He was probably just looking for affirmation when he made his original post. And, what with our human tendency to hear only what we want to hear, he probably got it. When he gets his ratings and that guaranteed job I hope he comes back and reports to us how it all went. I know I'll be interested!

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Respectfully.....

 

You asked and we answered. By your last extensively long post, it appears you already made the decision and are attempting to convenience others, and yourself, that is the RIGHT decision. If so, why ask in the first place? Truly, there is no reason to start a thread asking advice when you already deep-down know the answer. I mean really, what were you thinking? If you paint a picture of a helo-flight-school Shangri-La it’s somehow different than what we’ve seen and experienced? As I said in my first post, it appears you’re not listening, or at minimum, not hearing. It’s painfully obvious you are sold on this school so move forward and own your decision……..

 

Thanks Spike. My long post was just to clarify some of the misinformation and yes, it is human nature to reenforce a previously made decision. I agree it's sad that I'm supporting a school that could really care less about me, but I want to make sure it is emphasized that the atmosphere and sales tactics are not what many think (a particular one comes to mind on here). I just saw a lot of "don't go for the 'guaranteed job', go for a busy school!", but they are in fact the busiest school I have found. So I'm not trying to necessarily hunker down in my decision, I'm just trying to point out that they are in fact a good school in the other categories with the set back of having a "guaranteed job". If I would have framed it more of: "the school doesn't want me to train because they don't think I'll be able to instruct there because of those already in training", would their be praise of honesty and commending the owner for giving it to me straight? Perhaps I've already made my decision, and in a sense I have, but the wait has me second guessing it, so I am wide open to opinions. It's not that I'm ignoring them, I'm just trying to give the honest information counter to what many believe.

 

Here are multiple situations that I've found:

 

School 1: Training costs 83K and only brings you to 175 hours [X]

School 2: School only uses R44s [X]

School 3: Only has 1 R22 and doesn't list CFI or CFII training as part of the program [X]

School 4: All of the staff and CFIs have the same last name and appears to be family owned and wanting to stay that way [X]

School 5: Physically visiting and appears to be a ghost town in conjunction with a remote location [X]

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You’re in FL right? If you want to see a busy school, go visit Bristow (wait till after the holidays as most students go home). Last time I was there, it was same as when it was HAI, meaning; extremely busy…

 

So wait 2 years…… Let those who don’t hesitate get the jobs and build the time. By the time you enter flight school, those guys may have logged hundreds of hours as instructors. After that, they’ll be accepting other glorious opportunities you missed…. The saying goes; “He who hesitates is lost”....

 

If I were to list the circumstances which allowed me upward mobility in this industry, being available would be near the top, right next to never hesitating. If the phone rang with an opportunity to fly, I never hesitated, and always said yes. This, numerous times, put me in the right place at the right time and allowed me to get to know the right people. These are the 2 best elements a pilot can have for future endeavors…..

 

Plus, understand the statement: THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. There is no guarantee your school will even be in business in 2 years. There is no guarantee the school won’t change ownership and adopt different practices and policies. There is no guarantee you’ll be hired -ever. There is no guarantee the cost of training won’t rise significantly. There is no guarantee the economy won’t again take a dump in 2 years and cripple this industry with thousands of layoffs. There is no guarantee your LIFE won’t change to the point of eliminating this endeavor altogether....

 

In the end, it’s your call……..

Edited by Spike
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