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Wondering if anyone has some info/experience with helicopter flight schools in BC... Preferably something in or near the Vancouver area, or relatively close to the US/CAN border. (Within a few hours....I live in Seattle)


I have dual citizenship and have been interested in getting in contact with some schools up north to consider pursuing my flying in BC as well. I know it's a slightly different game, but want to start asking questions to get a better understanding.


I know a couple people here have flown in BC--any and all info/advice is appreciated.




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Hey J


I'm back in BC after my 3.5 year stint in Alaska! It's great to be "home" even if the US of A is my homeland.


I trained with Chinook Helicopters in Abbotsford BC which is right by the border 1.5 hours east of Vancouver. They are the best school I've seen anywhere (obviously have not seen them all) but it's really expensive in Canada now that the dollar is on par.


The other school in that area is Heli College Canada in Langley which also has a good reputation and flies the R22 instead of the Bell 47, R44 and Jetranger which Chinook uses.


They both do "conversion courses" to get your TC (Transport Canada) commercial helicopter license. There was another thread which outlined all the requirements which I'm sure you know by now. The written test is harder than the FAA and without the prep from the schools it would be a big study push. The flight test is pretty similar, more emphasis on navigation, no quick stop, and full down autos a possibility.


Here is a link which outlines all the steps to do a "Foreign Conversion" to TC



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Yeah it's really expensive in Canada, I payed $55K for the commercial course which is 100 hours. That was 90 hours Bell 47 and the last 10 on the Jetranger. I then went on to get my FAA commercial which took 20 hours and a week because I was able to use my glider PIC hours to top up the 150.


The difference with the FAA system and Canadian system is that I got a "flying" job that first spring out of school. Spent the summer near the arctic circle cleaning helicopters, the hangar, pumping fuel, washing and organising all the ops gear, answering phones, helping with logistics, and last but not least flying a Jetranger! Most of the flights were short but flew about 4 times a week. It was a start and I'm grateful for it. Over all I think it's an easier path to do the FAA flight instructing route, though no more certain of success.

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You will be way ahead of the "100 hour wonders", but out of sync with the Canadian system. Other 1000 hour pilots will have 900 hours of operational experience. The first season will be a challenge but once you get some experience it should progress. If you want to fly more than push a broom I would try Airborne Energy Solutions or Gemini for example. They both have R44 jobs servicing the gas patch. There is a tour company, Icefield Helicopters, that hires low timers flying Jetrangers around Banff/Jasper National Park. It's not high hours, and the pay is terrible but I know a few pilots who got a start that way. You will need to pay him for a Jetranger course and mountain flying course which will be close to your first season's pay. I don't think that is very ethical, but it saves the usual one to three years of ground crew it often takes to get flying in Canada. If you have some Jetranger time and over 500 hours there are jobs in Canada.

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You would have to be sponsored by a company to get a work visa. Prior to 2008 that was pretty common but now it's harder because the company has to prove that there isn't a qualified Canadian pilot who can do the job.

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So, if I read this correctly its;


- First get your medical while still in the States, because that can take a while.

- Contact the school to reserve a spot and start the student visa process.

- Start studying/taking practice tests, because there's a butt load more than what we already learned here.

- Go to Canada and do the training.

- Find someone willing to hire you THEN hope they can get a work visa for you.

- Spend maybe 5-10k

- Have at least 500 hours (preferebly some 206 time)

- Have at least 10 hours under the hood


Am I missing anything?

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I don't think you need a student visa to do a conversion course, only if you are doing the whole commercial program from scratch and will be in the country for an extended period. At least you don't have to go through the TSA foreign student hassle and get finger printed.


You forgot you need a passport to get across the border.



There is no Canadian company that will sponsor a low time pilot because there is no shortage of unemployed low timers in Canada too.


It would be easier to marry a Canadian...

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I'm begining to question how healthy my dedication to keeping doors open in the helicopter industry is whenI I gave marry a canadian more then 2 seconds of thought. Not that marrying a canadian would be a bad thing but that having more places to send resumes to probably isnt the best of reasons...

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